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positions: east asia cultures critique 9.3 (2001) 497-499

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Editor's Introduction

In “Citizenship, Inheritance, and the Indigenizing of ‘Orang Chinese’ in Indonesia,” Filomeno Aguilar traces the Indonesian use of the derogatory term Cina, when referring to the Chinese minority in their country. The modern history of Indonesia includes an important history of successive generations of Chinese born in or who migrated to that country. They adapted in Indonesian society and sometimes became financially successful. But the use of Cina, often politically inspired, denies history and therefore change to them. Cina reduces the Chinese minority into a static internalized other to the pribumi Indonesians. Ideology cuts history into a set of binaries, dynamic/static, native/alien. This is the political distortion of history that underlies the anti-Chinese riots of 1998.

In “3rdness: Filming, Changing, Thinking Hong Kong,” Ka-Fai Yau sees a new Hong Kong cinema as political responses to the geohistorical situations from the early 1980s to around 1997. He is not generalizing about Hong [End Page 497] Kong cinema as a whole. Instead, Yau utilizes Deleuze’s typing of cinematic time-images to analyze the different mixtures of the indiscernible, the actual, and the possible in Wong Kar-wai’s Center Stage, of spectral recollection in Stanley Kwan’s Rouge, and of falsifying memories in Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile. These works are not mere imitation or repetition of the West, but new possibilities in another place, another time. Yau agrees with Deleuze that nationality, authorship, genres, canons, and stylistics are not abstract problematics but are realized by the workings of history, geography, and representation.

Christian de Pee’s “Premodern Chinese Weddings and the Divorce of Past and Present” is a historiography of the study of the Chinese wedding. De Pee argues that the assumption of universal linear development underlies much of modern scholarship on China. To emphasize the modernity, which is to say the progress, of the Chinese nation-state, historical narrative traces a continuous development from the past to the present, whether the topic be wedding, family, woman, individual, or nation. By reading into texts what we expect to get out of them, we project a development leading to the present. To get at Chinese “pasts,” contemporary scholars, both Chinese and other, must first of all abandon the unilinear past required by a unique modern present, so as to be able to distinguish among genres, discourses, texts, and extratextual realities in the pasts.

Nina Cornyetz’s article, “Amorphous Identities, Disavowed History: Shimada Masahiko and National Subjectivity,” reinforces the points that are made in all three articles. She shows how Shimada Masahiko situates his 1986 novel, I Am an Automaton, in the interstices of genre, identity, and national alignments, in order to explore the possibilities of an unrelenting in-betweenness. Signs operate differently in a world exposed by genealogy. The fragmented, polymorphous, pastiched signs in Masahiko’s work reflect the postmodern conditions of late-twentieth-century Japan.

We have in this issue three commentaries on contemporary issues. Kim Puja reports on the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal for the Trial of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, held in Tokyo in December 2000. Kim is a second-generation Korean resident in Japan, involved in the organizing of the tribunal. The tribunal, the effort of an alliance of international organizations, seeks to amend the work of the 1946 International Military [End Page 498] Tribunal for the Far East, which sidestepped wartime crimes against women. The well-attended five-day session included sixty-four survivors of crimes from nine countries and more than three hundred journalists, foreign and Japanese. It ended with the findings that the Showa emperor was guilty and that the Japanese government bears state responsibility for the war crimes.

Hyun Sook Kim, a Korean American, reports on her recent trip to South Korea and Vietnam. From 1964 to 1973, about three hundred thousand South Korean soldiers fought alongside the Americans in the war against North Vietnam. Now, she finds Korean war veterans, Korean peace activists, and Vietnamese civilian victims of the war cannot agree on the memorializing and the history of the war, nor on the languages of disavowal...


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