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  • Editor’s Introduction
  • Tani E. Barlow

This general issue opens with a discussion of scholarship on the popular fiction writer Edogawa Rampo and why earlier efforts to understand his significance invite rebuke. That is Yoshikuni Igarashi's opening gambit in his essay "Edogawa Rampo and the Excess of Vision: An Ocular Critique of Modernity in 1920s Japan." The larger stake at issue is how to rethink Rampo's work in the absence of the conventional, nostalgic framing categories of "tradition" and "modernity." Into that breech, Igarashi proposes a productive and fresh reading. It pairs Edogawa not with his alleged time or "age," but with a European thinker whose work turns out to be strikingly similar to his own: that person is Jacques Lacan. If, as Igarashi contends, Rampo's fiction documents the reorganization of the body in the scopic field of modern Japan, then it parallels in a fictional register the visual theory of ego, a formation that Rampo's contemporary, Lacan, was just working out. Rampo and Lacan also shared modernist technologies such as the Bertillon [End Page 295] and fingerprint systems, war photojournalism, and the panorama. This essay intimates that theories of self in ocular relation to a new, modernist world of objects are parts of the same global event. Thus, Igarashi's scholarship not only contributes to repositioning Rampo in the Japanese national literary canon, but also suggests better ways to use the Lacan patrimony. More than a universalizing prescription, the heritage of Lacanian Freudianism becomes, in Igarashi's hands, another historical symptom marking a significant moment in global time.

Weigang Chen's "Peripheral Justice: The Marxist Tradition of Public Hegemony and Its Implications in the Age of Globalization" at first blush appears to have little in common with Igarashi's work. Chen is preoccupied with rethinking social theory and, in particular, evaluating Chinese theorists during the era between the bourgeois 1920s and postsocialism. In fact, his essay presents a similar reading strategy to that of Igarashi. In demonstrating that the framework of China's (or Asia's) delayed development is not a sufficient explanation for social theory, Chen takes up the historical logics of Eurocentrism and liberalism to make the following arguments: (1) the historic role of the European bourgeoisie is contingent, which is to say not inextricably linked to Enlightenment thought as such and (2) that the heritages of peripheral Marxism from Italian, Chinese, Russian, and German Marxists offer a possible means to re-center Enlightenment ethics and general theory. In other words, peripheralized social theory projects might, indeed should, reclaim the gains that European bourgeois social theory and social experience have historically established. This Chen seeks to illustrate through his persistent criticisms of mainstream Euro-American social theory and an ethically discredited Chinese Communist Party "Confucian Marxism." The objective that social theory broadly construed ought to seek, then, is a broader, more thoroughly globalized, less Eurocentered logic of justice. "Peripheral justice" is the name Weigang Chen gives to this project.

If it can be argued that Igarashi and Chen effectively demonstrate the continuing value of undoing Eurocentered logics, eschewing conventional binary impasses, abandoning stale analytical positions for fresh terrain, Ya-Chung Chuang accomplishes a similar task but through a field study and analysis of mobilization politics in a Taipei city shequ. Chuang's objective in [End Page 296] "Place, Identity, and Social Movements: Shequ and Neighborhood Organizing in Taipei City" is to explain how local residents latched onto a formalist administrative fiction, the shequ—an accidental effect of a U.N. version of "local" in "local development" rhetoric—and used it as a real space for mobilization. In the process of this discussion, Chuang introduces the social actors. These include students, residents, car drivers, newcomers, housewives, college professors, real estate developers, generations of unaccountable government officials, and shop owners, whose desires and objectives meshed in the struggle for rights to use an urban park and its banyan forest. The value of this essay goes beyond its obvious use as a case history for urban politics. Its deft use of participant observation and the incorporation of a generation of social movement theory enable Chuang to suggest new means of re-centering political theory and practice...


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pp. 295-298
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