Publications

2009
China during the Great Depression: Market, State, and the World Economy, 1929–1937
T. Shiroyama, China during the Great Depression: Market, State, and the World Economy, 1929–1937. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The Great Depression was a global phenomenon: every economy linked to international financial and commodity markets suffered. The aim of this book is not merely to show that China could not escape the consequences of drastic declines in financial flows and trade but also to offer a new perspective for understanding modern Chinese history. The Great Depression was a watershed in modern China. China was the only country on the silver standard in an international monetary system dominated by the gold standard.

Fluctuations in international silver prices undermined China’s monetary system and destabilized its economy. In response to severe deflation, the state shifted its position toward the market from laissez-faire to committed intervention. Establishing a new monetary system, with a different foreign-exchange standard, required deliberate government management; ultimately the process of economic recovery and monetary change politicized the entire Chinese economy. By analyzing the impact of the slump and the process of recovery, this book examines the transformation of state–market relations in light of the linkages between the Chinese and the world economy.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

Introduction

Index

Critical Aesthetics: Kobayashi Hideo, Modernity, and Wartime Japan
J. Dorsey, Critical Aesthetics: Kobayashi Hideo, Modernity, and Wartime Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

This study revolves around the career of Kobayashi Hideo (1902–1983), one of the seminal figures in the history of modern Japanese literary criticism, whose interpretive vision was forged amidst the cultural and ideological crises that dominated intellectual discourse between the 1920s and the 1940s.

Kobayashi sought in criticism a vehicle through which to rhetorically restore to the artistic work an aura of concreteness that precluded interpretation and instead inspired awe, to somehow recover a literary experience unmediated by intellectual machinations. In adhering firmly to this worldview for the duration of World War II, Kobayashi came to assume a complex stance toward the wartime regime. Although his interweaving of aesthetics and ideology exhibited elements of both resistance and complicity, his critical ethos served ultimately to undergird his wartime fascist stance by encouraging acquiescence to authority, championing patriotism, and calling for more vigorous thought control.

Treating Kobayashi’s influential works and the historical context in which they are rooted, James Dorsey traces the emergence of a modern critical consciousness in conversation with such concerns as the nature of materiality in capitalist culture, the relationship of narrative to subjectivity, and the nostalgia for beauty in a time of war.

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Prologue

Introduction

Index

Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature
K. L. Thornber, Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

By the turn of the twentieth century, Japan’s military and economic successes made it the dominant power in East Asia, drawing hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese students to the metropole and sending thousands of Japanese to other parts of East Asia. The constant movement of peoples, ideas, and texts in the Japanese empire created numerous literary contact nebulae, fluid spaces of diminished hierarchies where writers grapple with and transculturate one another’s creative output.

Drawing extensively on vernacular sources in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, this book analyzes the most active of these contact nebulae: semicolonial Chinese, occupied Manchurian, and colonial Korean and Taiwanese transculturations of Japanese literature. It explores how colonial and semicolonial writers discussed, adapted, translated, and recast thousands of Japanese creative works, both affirming and challenging Japan’s cultural authority. Such efforts not only blurred distinctions among resistance, acquiescence, and collaboration but also shattered cultural and national barriers central to the discourse of empire. In this context, twentieth-century East Asian literatures can no longer be understood in isolation from one another, linked only by their encounters with the West, but instead must be seen in constant interaction throughout the Japanese empire and beyond.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China
M. S. Muscolino, Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Among the environmental challenges facing us is alleviating the damage to marine ecosystems caused by pollution and overfishing. Coming to grips with contemporary problems, this book argues, depends on understanding how people have historically generated, perceived, and responded to environmental change. This work explores interactions between society and environment in China’s most important marine fishery, the Zhoushan Archipelago off the coast of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, from its nineteenth-century expansion to the exhaustion of the most important fish species in the 1970s.

This history of Zhoushan’s fisheries illuminates long-term environmental processes and analyzes the intersections of local, regional, and transnational ecological trends and the array of private and state interests that shaped struggles for the control of these common-pool natural resources. What institutions did private and state actors use to regulate the use of the fishery? How did relationships between social organizations and the state change over time? What types of problems could these arrangements solve and which not? What does the fate of these institutions tell us about environmental change in late imperial and modern China? Answering these questions will give us a better understanding of the relationship between past ecological changes and present environmental challenges.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

From Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan's Keynes
R. J. Smethurst, From Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan's Keynes. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

From his birth in the lowest stratum of the samurai class to his assassination at the hands of right-wing militarists, Takahashi Korekiyo (1854–1936) lived through tumultuous times that shaped the course of modern Japanese history. Takahashi is considered “Japan’s Keynes” in many circles because of the forward-thinking (and controversial) fiscal and monetary policies—including deficit financing, currency devaluation, and lower interest rates—that he implemented to help Japan rebound from the Great Depression and move toward a modern economy.

Richard J. Smethurst’s engaging biography underscores the profound influence of the seven-time finance minister on the political and economic development of Japan by casting new light on Takahashi’s unusual background, unique talents, and singular experiences as a charismatic and cosmopolitan financial statesman.

Along with the many fascinating personal episodes—such as working as a houseboy in California and running a silver mine in the Andes—that molded Takahashi and his thinking, the book also highlights four major aspects of Takahashi’s life: his unorthodox self-education, his two decades of service at the highest levels of government, his pathbreaking economic and political policies before and during the Depression, and his efforts to stem the rising tide of militarism in the 1930s. Deftly weaving together archival sources, personal correspondence, and historical analysis, Smethurst’s study paints an intimate portrait of a key figure in the history of modern Japan.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

Introduction

Index

Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak (Nanyue 南嶽) in Medieval China
J. Robson, Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak (Nanyue 南嶽) in Medieval China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Throughout Chinese history mountains have been integral components of the religious landscape. They have been considered divine or numinous sites, the abodes of deities, the preferred locations for temples and monasteries, and destinations for pilgrims. Early in Chinese history a set of five mountains were co-opted into the imperial cult and declared sacred peaks, yue, demarcating and protecting the boundaries of the Chinese imperium.

The Southern Sacred Peak, or Nanyue, is of interest to scholars not the least because the title has been awarded to several different mountains over the years. The dynamic nature of Nanyue raises a significant theoretical issue of the mobility of sacred space and the nature of the struggles involved in such moves. Another facet of Nanyue is the multiple meanings assigned to this place: political, religious, and cultural. Of particular interest is the negotiation of this space by Daoists and Buddhists. The history of their interaction leads to questions about the nature of the divisions between these two religious traditions. James Robson’s analysis of these topics demonstrates the value of local studies and the emerging field of Buddho–Daoist studies in research on Chinese religion.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps and Figures

Introduction

Index

Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia under the Mongols
D. M. Robinson, Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia under the Mongols. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The rise of the Mongol empire transformed world history. Its collapse in the mid-fourteenth century had equally profound consequences. Four themes dominate this study of the late Mongol empire in Northeast Asia during this chaotic era: the need for a regional perspective encompassing all states and ethnic groups in the area; the process and consequences of pan-Asian integration under the Mongols; the tendency for individual and family interests to trump those of dynasty, country, or linguistic affiliation; and finally, the need to see Koryo Korea as part of the wider Mongol empire.

Northeast Asia was an important part of the Mongol empire, and developments there are fundamental to understanding both the nature of the Mongol empire and the new post-empire world emerging in the 1350s and 1360s. In Northeast Asia, Jurchen, Mongol, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese interests intersected, and the collapse of the Great Yuan reshaped Northeast Asia dramatically. To understand this transition, or series of transitions, the author argues, one cannot examine states in isolation. The period witnessed intensified interactions among neighboring polities and new regional levels of economic, political, military, and social integration that explain the importance of personal and family interests and of Korea in the Mongol state.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

2008
The Age of Visions and Arguments: Parliamentarianism and the National Public Sphere in Early Meiji Japan
K. H. Kim, The Age of Visions and Arguments: Parliamentarianism and the National Public Sphere in Early Meiji Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The Meiji Restoration of 1868 inaugurated a period of great change in Japan; it is seldom associated, however, with advances in civil and political rights. By studying parliamentarianism—the theories, arguments, and polemics marshaled in support of a representative system of government—Kyu Hyun Kim uncovers a much more complicated picture of this era than is usually given.

Bringing a fresh perspective as well as drawing on seldom-studied archival materials, Kim examines how parliamentarianism came to dominate the public sphere in the 1870s and early 1880s and gave rise to the movement among local activists and urban intellectuals to establish a national assembly. At the same time, Kim contends that we should confront the public sphere of Meiji Japan without insisting on fitting it into schemes of historical progress, from premodernity to modernity, from feudalism to democracy. The Japanese state was inextricably linked, in its origins as well as its continuing growth, to the self-transformation of Japanese society. One could not change without effecting a change in the other. The Meiji state’s efforts to ensure that the state and society were connected only through channels firmly controlled by itself were constantly and successfully contested by the public sphere.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps, Figures, and Tables

Introduction

Index

Lost Soul: "Confucianism" in Contemporary Chinese Academic Discourse
J. Makeham, Lost Soul: "Confucianism" in Contemporary Chinese Academic Discourse. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Since the mid-1980s, Taiwan and mainland China have witnessed a sustained resurgence of academic and intellectual interest in ruxue—“Confucianism”—variously conceived as a form of culture, an ideology, a system of learning, and a tradition of normative values. This discourse has led to a proliferation of contending conceptions of ruxue, as well as proposals for rejuvenating it to make it a vital cultural and psycho-spiritual resource in the modern world.

This study aims to show how ruxue has been conceived in order to assess the achievements of this enterprise; to identify which aspects of ru thought and values academics find viable, and why; to highlight the dynamics involved in the ongoing cross-fertilization between academics in China and Taiwan; and to examine the relationship between these activities and cultural nationalism.

Four key arguments are developed. First, the process of intellectual cross-fertilization and rivalry between scholars has served to sustain academic interest in ruxue. Second, contrary to conventional wisdom, party-state support in the PRC does not underpin the continuing academic discourse on ruxue. Third, cultural nationalism, rather than state nationalism, better explains the nature of this activity. Fourth, academic discourse on ruxue provides little evidence of robust philosophical creativity.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Out of the Alleyway: Nakagami Kenji and the Poetics of Outcaste Fiction
E. Zimmerman, Out of the Alleyway: Nakagami Kenji and the Poetics of Outcaste Fiction. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The writer Nakagami Kenji (1946-1992) rose to fame in the mid-1970s for his vivid stories about a clan scarred by violence and poverty on the underside of the Japanese economic miracle. Drawing upon the lives, experiences, and languages of the burakumin, the outcaste communities long discriminated against in Japanese society as a defiled underclass, Nakagami’s works of fiction and nonfiction record with vitality and violence the realities—actual and imagined—of buraku culture.

In this critical study of Nakagami’s life and oeuvre, Eve Zimmerman delves into the writer’s literary world, exploring the genres, forms, and themes with which Nakagami worked and experimented. These chapters trace the biographical thread running through his works while foregrounding such diverse facets of his writing as his interest in the modern possibilities of traditional myths and forms of storytelling, his deployment of shocking tropes and images, and his crafting of a unique poetic language.

By bringing to the fore the literary urgency and social engagement that informed all aspects of Nakagami’s creative and intellectual production, from his works of prose and poetry to his criticism, this book argues eloquently and effectively for us to appreciate Nakagami as a distinctive and relevant voice in modern Japanese literature.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Index

The Readability of the Past in Early Chinese Historiography
W. -yee Li, The Readability of the Past in Early Chinese Historiography. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The past becomes readable when we can tell stories and make arguments about it. When we can tell more than one story or make divergent arguments, the readability of the past then becomes an issue. Therein lies the beginning of history, the sense of inquiry that heightens our awareness of interpretation. How do interpretive structures develop and disintegrate? What are the possibilities and limits of historical knowledge?

This book explores these issues through a study of the Zuozhuan, a foundational text in the Chinese tradition, whose rhetorical and analytical self-consciousness reveals much about the contending ways of thought unfolding during the period of the text’s formation (ca. 4th c. B.C.E.). But in what sense is this vast collection of narratives and speeches covering the period from 722 to 468 B.C.E. “historical”? If one can speak of an emergent sense of history in this text, Wai-yee Li argues, it lies precisely at the intersection of varying conceptions of interpretation and rhetoric brought to bear on the past, within a larger context of competing solutions to the instability and disintegration represented through the events of the 255 years covered by the Zuozhuan. Even as its accounts of proliferating disorder and disintegration challenge the boundaries of readability, the deliberations on the rules of reading in the Zuozhuan probe the dimensions of historical self-consciousness.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Some Assembly Required: Work, Community, and Politics in China's Rural Enterprises
C. Chen, Some Assembly Required: Work, Community, and Politics in China's Rural Enterprises. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

One linchpin of China’s expansion has been township and village enterprises (TVEs), a vast group of firms with diverse modes of ownership and structure. Based on the author’s fieldwork in Zhejiang, this book explores the emergence and success of rural enterprises.

This study also examines how ordinary rural residents have made sense of and participated in the industrialization engulfing them in recent decades. How much does TVE success depend on the ruthless exploitation of workers? How did peasants-turned-workers develop such impressive skills so quickly? To what extent do employees’ values affect the cohesion and operations of companies? And how long can peasant workers sustain these efforts in the face of increasing market competition?

The author argues that the resilience of these factories has as much to do with how authority is defined and how people interact as it does with the ability to generate profits. How social capital was deployed and replenished at critical moments was central to the eventual rise and consolidation of these enterprises as effective, robust institutions. Without mutual respect, company leaders would have found it impossible to improve their firms’ productivity, workplace stability, and long-term viability.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Index

War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945-2005
F. Seraphim, War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945-2005. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Japan has long wrestled with the memories and legacies of World War II. In the aftermath of defeat, war memory developed as an integral part of particular and divergent approaches to postwar democracy. In the last six decades, the demands placed upon postwar democracy have shifted considerably—from social protest through high economic growth to Japan’s relations in Asia—and the meanings of the war shifted with them.

This book unravels the political dynamics that governed the place of war memory in public life. Far from reconciling with the victims of Japanese imperialism, successive conservative administrations have left the memory of the war to representatives of special interests and citizen movements, all of whom used war memory to further their own interests.

Franziska Seraphim traces the activism of five prominent civic organizations to examine the ways in which diverse organized memories have secured legitimate niches within the public sphere. The history of these domestic conflicts—over the commemoration of the war dead, the manipulation of national symbols, the teaching of history, or the articulation of relations with China and Korea—is crucial to the current discourse about apology and reconciliation in East Asia, and provides essential context for the global debate on war memory.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Index

When Our Eyes No Longer See: Realism, Science, and Ecology in Japanese Literary Modernism
G. Golley, When Our Eyes No Longer See: Realism, Science, and Ecology in Japanese Literary Modernism. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

As industrial and scientific developments in early-twentieth-century Japan transformed the meaning of “objective observation,” modern writers and poets struggled to capture what they had come to see as an evolving network of invisible relations joining people to the larger material universe. For these artists, literary modernism was a crisis of perception before it was a crisis of representation. When Our Eyes No Longer See portrays an extraordinary moment in the history of this perceptual crisis and in Japanese literature during the 1920s and 1930s.

The displacement in science of “positivist” notions of observation by a “realist” model of knowledge provided endless inspiration for Japanese writers. Gregory Golley turns a critical eye to the ideological and ecological incarnations of scientific realism in several modernist works: the photographic obsessions of Tanizaki Jun’ichiro’s Naomi, the disjunctive portraits of the imperial economy in Yokomitsu Riichi’s Shanghai, the tender depictions of astrophysical phenomena and human–wildlife relations in the children’s stories of Miyazawa Kenji.

Attending closely to the political and ethical consequences of this realist turn, this study focuses on the common struggle of science and art to reclaim the invisible as an object of representation and belief.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

Index

Emplacing a Pilgrimage: The Ōyama Cult and Regional Religion in Early Modern Japan
B. Ambros, Emplacing a Pilgrimage: The Ōyama Cult and Regional Religion in Early Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Towering over the Kanto Plain, the sacred mountain Ōyama (literally, “Big Mountain”) has loomed large over the religious landscape of early modern Japan.

By the Edo period (1600–1868), the revered peak had undergone a transformation from secluded spiritual retreat to popular pilgrimage destination. Its status as a regional landmark among its devotees was boosted by its proximity to the shogunal capital and the wide appeal of its amalgamation of Buddhism, Shinto, mountain asceticism, and folk beliefs. The influence of the Ōyama cult—the intersecting beliefs, practices, and infrastructure associated with the sacred site—was not lost on the ruling Tokugawa shogunate, which saw in the pilgrimage an opportunity to reinforce the communal ideals and social structures that the authorities espoused.

Barbara Ambros provides a detailed narrative history of the mountain and its place in contemporary society and popular religion by focusing on the development of the Ōyama cult and its religious, political, and socioeconomic contexts. Richly illustrated and carefully researched, this study emphasizes the importance of “site” or “region” in considering the multifaceted nature and complex history of religious practice in Tokugawa Japan.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

Introduction

Index

Gendering Modern Japanese History
B. Molony and K. Uno, Ed., Gendering Modern Japanese History. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

In the past quarter-century, gender has emerged as a lively area of inquiry for historians and other scholars, and gender analysis has suggested important revisions of the “master narratives” of national histories—the dominant, often celebratory tales of the successes of a nation and its leaders. Although modern Japanese history has not yet been restructured by a foregrounding of gender, historians of Japan have begun to embrace gender as an analytic category.

The sixteen chapters in this volume treat men as well as women, theories of sexuality as well as gender prescriptions, and same-sex as well as heterosexual relations in the period from 1868 to the present. All of them take the position that history is gendered; that is, historians invariably, perhaps unconsciously, construct a gendered notion of past events, people, and ideas. Together, these essays construct a history informed by the idea that gender matters because it was part of the experience of people and because it often has been a central feature in the construction of modern ideologies, discourses, and institutions. Separately, each chapter examines how Japanese have (en)gendered their ideas, institutions, and society.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

The Japanization of Modernity: Murakami Haruki between Japan and the United States
R. M. Suter, The Japanization of Modernity: Murakami Haruki between Japan and the United States. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Murakami Haruki is perhaps the best-known and most widely translated Japanese author of his generation. Despite Murakami’s critical and commercial success, particularly in the United States, his role as a mediator between Japanese and American literature and culture is seldom discussed.

Bringing a comparative perspective to the study of Murakami’s fiction, Rebecca Suter complicates our understanding of the author’s oeuvre and highlights his contributions not only as a popular writer but also as a cultural critic on both sides of the Pacific. Suter concentrates on Murakami’s short stories—less known in the West but equally worthy of critical attention—as sites of some of the author’s bolder experiments in manipulating literary (and everyday) language, honing cross-cultural allusions, and crafting metafictional techniques. This study scrutinizes Murakami’s fictional worlds and their extraliterary contexts through a range of discursive lenses: modernity and postmodernity, universalism and particularism, imperialism and nationalism, Orientalism and globalization.

By casting new light on the style and substance of Murakami’s prose, Suter situates the author and his works within the sphere of contemporary Japanese literature and finds him a prominent place within the broader sweep of the global literary scene.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368–1644)
D. M. Robinson, Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368–1644). Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

This collection of essays reveals the Ming court as an arena of competition and negotiation, where a large cast of actors pursued individual and corporate ends, personal agency shaped protocol and style, and diverse people, goods, and tastes converged. Rather than observing an immutable set of traditions, court culture underwent frequent reinterpretation and rearticulation, processes driven by immediate personal imperatives, mediated through social, political, and cultural interaction.

The essays address several common themes. First, they rethink previous notions of imperial isolation, instead stressing the court’s myriad ties both to local Beijing society and to the empire as a whole. Second, the court was far from monolithic or static. Palace women, monks, craftsmen, educators, moralists, warriors, eunuchs, foreign envoys, and others strove to advance their interests and forge advantageous relations with the emperor and one another. Finally, these case studies illustrate the importance of individual agency. The founder’s legacy may have formed the warp of court practices and tastes, but the weft varied considerably. Reflecting the complexity of the court, the essays represent a variety of perspectives and disciplines—from intellectual, cultural, military, and political to art history and musicology.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Index

Deliverance and Submission: Evangelical Women and the Negotiation of Patriarchy in South Korea
K. H. Chong, Deliverance and Submission: Evangelical Women and the Negotiation of Patriarchy in South Korea. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

South Korea is home to one of the most vibrant evangelical Protestant communities in the world. This book investigates the meanings of—and the reasons behind—an intriguing aspect of contemporary South Korean evangelicalism: the intense involvement of middle-class women. Drawing upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Seoul that explores the relevance of gender and women’s experiences to Korean evangelicalism, Kelly H. Chong not only helps provide a clearer picture of the evangelical movement’s success in South Korea, but interrogates the global question of contemporary women’s attraction to religious traditionalisms.

In highlighting the growing disjunction between the forces of social transformation that are rapidly liberalizing modern Korean society, and a social system that continues to uphold key patriarchal structures on both societal and familial levels, Chong relates women’s religious involvement to the contradictions of South Korea’s recent socio-cultural changes and complex engagement with modernity. By focusing on the ways in which women’s religious participation constitutes—both spiritually and institutionally—an important part of their effort to negotiate the problems and dilemmas of contemporary family and gender relations, this book explores the contradictory significance of evangelical beliefs and practices for women, which simultaneously opens up possibilities for gender negotiation/resistance, and for women’s redomestication.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables

Introduction

Index

Men of Letters within the Passes: Guanzhong Literati in Chinese History, 907–1911
C. W. Ong, Men of Letters within the Passes: Guanzhong Literati in Chinese History, 907–1911. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The main theme of this book is the interaction between two “places,” China and Guanzhong, the capital area of several dynasties. It addresses such questions as What do we mean by “local”? Did the inhabitants of a locality believe that being “local” required them to assume a certain identity? If so, how did they talk and write about it? Were there spatial and temporal differences in the representation of locales? This work examines how Guanzhong literati conceptualized three sets of relations: central/regional, “official”/“unofficial,” and national/local. It further traces the formation over the last millennium of the imperial state of a critical communal self-consciousness, the role of this consciousness in constructing a local identity and promoting an “unofficial” space for nonofficial elite activism, and the effect of the presence (or absence) of this consciousness on literati views of central-regional relationships. The issue here is not whether there can be a shared national culture, but whether this culture can be perceived as having regional variations and therefore contributing to the formation of a local identity.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps

Introduction

Index

Pages