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His Life, Times, and Legacy
Looking at the life and legacy of Emperor Yang (569–618) of the brief Sui dynasty in a new light, this book presents a compelling case for his importance to Chinese history. Author Victor Cunrui Xiong utilizes traditional scholarship and secondary literature from China, Japan, and the West to go beyond the common perception of Emperor Yang as merely a profligate tyrant. Xiong accepts neither the traditional verdict against Emperor Yang nor the apologist effort to revise it, and instead offers a reassessment of Emperor Yang by exploring the larger political, economic, military, religious, and diplomatic contexts of Sui society. This reconstruction of the life of Emperor Yang reveals an astute visionary with literary, administrative, and reformist accomplishments. While a series of strategic blunders resulting from the darker side of his personality led to the collapse of the socioeconomic order and to his own death, the Sui legacy that Emperor Yang left behind lived on to provide the foundation for the rise of the Tang dynasty, the pinnacle of medieval Chinese civilization.
Local Resistance to Qing Expansion
This historical investigation describes the Qing imperial authorities’ attempts to consolidate control over the Zhongjia, a non-Han population, in eighteenth-century Guizhou, a poor, remote, and environmentally harsh province in Southwest China. Far from submitting peaceably to the state’s quest for hegemony, the locals clung steadfastly to livelihood choices—chiefly illegal activities such as robbery, raiding, and banditry—that had played an integral role in their cultural and economic survival. Using archival materials, indigenous folk narratives, and ethnographic research, Jodi L. Weinstein shows how these seemingly subordinate populations challenged state power.
Culture, Ethnicity, and Frontier in Early Modern China
Focusing on the Ming (1368-1644) and (especially) the Qing (1364-1912) eras, this book analyzes crucial moments in the formation of cultural, regional, and religious identities. The contributors examine the role of the state in a variety of environments on China's "peripheries," paying attention to shifts in law, trade, social stratification, and cultural dialogue. They find that local communities were critical participants in the shaping of their own identities and consciousness as well as the character and behavior of the state. At certain times the state was institutionally definitive, but it could also be symbolic and contingent. They demonstrate how the imperial discourse is many-faceted, rather than a monolithic agent of cultural assimilation.
Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World
In the groundbreaking Empire of Dogs, Aaron Herald Skabelund examines the history and cultural significance of dogs in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan, beginning with the arrival of Western dog breeds and new modes of dog keeping, which spread throughout the world with Western imperialism. He highlights how dogs joined with humans to create the modern imperial world and how, in turn, imperialism shaped dogs' bodies and their relationship with humans through its impact on dog-breeding and dog-keeping practices that pervade much of the world today.
In a book that is both enlightening and entertaining, Skabelund focuses on actual and metaphorical dogs in a variety of contexts: the rhetorical pairing of the Western "colonial dog" with native canines; subsequent campaigns against indigenous canines in the imperial realm; the creation, maintenance, and in some cases restoration of Japanese dog breeds, including the Shiba Inu; the mobilization of military dogs, both real and fictional; and the emergence of Japan as a "pet superpower" in the second half of the twentieth century. Through this provocative account, Skabelund demonstrates how animals generally and canines specifically have contributed to the creation of our shared history, and how certain dogs have subtly influenced how that history is told. Generously illustrated with both color and black-and-white images, Empire of Dogs shows that human-canine relations often expose how people-especially those with power and wealth-use animals to define, regulate, and enforce political and social boundaries between themselves and other humans, especially in imperial contexts.
Activism, Aid, and NGOs
Julie Hemment's engrossing study traces the development encounter through interactions between international foundations and Russian women's groups during a decade of national collapse. Prohibited from organizing independently under state socialism, women's groups became a focus of attention in the mid-1990s for foundations eager to promote participatory democracy, but the version of civil society that has emerged (the "third sector") is far from what Russian activists envisioned and what donor agencies promised. Drawing on ethnographic methods and Participatory Action Research, Hemment tells the story of her introduction to and growing collaboration with members of the group Zhenskii Svet (Women's Light) in the provincial city of Tver'.
The Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds
The story of two women from worlds that could not seem farther apart—imperial China and the American Midwest—who found common ground before and after one of the greatest clashes between East and West, the fifty-five-day siege of the Beijing foreign legations known as the Boxer Uprising. Using diaries, letters and untapped sources, The Empress and Mrs. Conger traces the parallel lives of the Empress Dowager Cixi and American diplomat’s wife Sarah Pike Conger, which converged to alter their perspectives of each other and each other’s worlds.
It's been a pilgrimage for Annie Dillard: from Tinker Creek to the Galapagos Islands, the high Arctic, the Pacific Northwest, the Amazon Jungle--and now, China. This informative narrative is full of fascinating people: Chinese people, mostly writers, who encounter American writers in various bizarre circumstances in both China and the U.S. There is a toasting scene at a Chinese banquet; a portrait of a bitter, flirtatious diplomat at a dance hall; a formal meeting with Chinese writers; a conversation with an American businessman in a hotel lobby; an evening with long-suffering Chinese intellectuals in their house; a scene in the Beijing foreigners' compound with an excited European journalist; and a scene of unwarranted hilarity at the Beijing Library. In the U.S., there is Allen Ginsberg having a bewildering conversation in Disneyland with a Chinese journalist; there is the lovely and controversial writer Zhang Jie suiting abrupt mood changes to a variety of actions; and there is the fiercely spirited Jiange Zilong singing in a Connecticut dining room, eyes closed. These are real stories told with a warm and lively humor, with a keen eye for paradox, and with fresh insight into the human drama.
Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China
Enemies of Civilization is a work of comparative history and cultural consciousness that discusses how “others” were perceived in three ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. Each civilization was the dominant culture in its part of the world, and each developed a mind-set that regarded itself as culturally superior to its neighbors. Mu-chou Poo compares these societies’ attitudes toward other cultures and finds differences and similarities that reveal the self-perceptions of each society. Notably, this work shows that in contrast to modern racism based on biophysical features, such prejudice did not exist in these ancient societies. It was culture rather than biophysical nature that was the most important criterion for distinguishing us from them. By examining how societies conceive their prejudices, this book breaks new ground in the study of ancient history and opens new ways to look at human society, both ancient and modern.
A History of Insurance in Hong Kong, 1841-2010
Insurance is one of Hong Kong's oldest industries. In the nineteenth century the lucrative trade between China and Europe carried many risks — piracy, warfare, fire, loss of goods, and other mishaps. Dozens of different insurance firms — some home-grown, others imported — established themselves in the colony to protect ships and their cargoes. With the diversification of Hong Kong’s economy into manufacturing and services, and the development of life and health insurance policies, Hong Kong became a global centre of insurance. The industry continues to transform itself today through changing practices and new lines of business. This is the first comprehensive history of Hong Kong’s insurance industry, and argues its central importance in the economy. Typhoons, shipwrecks, fires, wars, political turbulence and unexpected events of all kinds provide a dramatic background to a fascinating survey. The book is richly illustrated with photographs and documents.
On Location, Travel, and the Cinematic Geography of U.S. Orientalism
Whereas some other scholars read selected films mainly to illustrate political arguments, Roan never loses sight of the particularities of film as a distinctive cultural form and practice. Her drive to see 'cinema as a mechanism of American orientalism' results in not just a textual analysis of these films, but also a history of their material production and distribution. ---Josephine Lee, University of Minnesota "Envisioning Asia offers an exciting new contribution to our understandings of the historical developments of American Orientalism. Jeannette Roan deftly situates changing cinematic technologies within the context of U.S. imperial agendas in this richly nuanced analysis of 'shooting on location' in Asia in early 20th century American cinema." ---Wendy Kozol, Oberlin College "Through her vivid illustration of the role of American cinema in the material, visual, and ideological production of Asia, Jeanette Roan takes the reader on a journey to Asia through a very different route from the virtual travel taken by the viewers of the films she discusses." ---Mari Yoshihara, University of Hawai'i at Manoa The birth of cinema coincides with the beginnings of U.S. expansion overseas, and the classic Hollywood era coincides with the rise of the United States as a global superpower. In Envisioning Asia, Jeanette Roan argues that throughout this period, the cinema's function as a form of virtual travel, coupled with its purported "authenticity," served to advance America's shifting interests in Asia. Its ability to fulfill this imperial role depended, however, not only on the cinematic representations themselves but on the marketing of the films' production histories---and, in particular, their use of Asian locations. Roan demonstrates this point in relation to a wide range of productions, offering an engaging and useful survey of a largely neglected body of film. Not only that, by focusing on the material practices involved in shooting films on location---that is, the actual travels, negotiations, and labor of making a film---she moves beyond formal analysis to produce a richly detailed history of American interests, attitudes, and cultural practices during the first half of the twentieth century. Jeanette Roan is Adjunct Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts and author of "Exotic Explorations: Travels to Asia and the Pacific in Early Cinema" in Re/collecting Early Asian America: Essays in Cultural History (2002). Cover art: Publicity still, Tokyo File 212 (Dorrell McGowan and Stuart McGowan, 1951). The accompanying text reads: "Hundreds of spectators gather on the sidelines as technicians prepare to photograph a parade scene in 'Tokyo File 212,' a Breakston-McGowan Production filmed in Japan for RKO Radio distribution." Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.