The articles in this special issue work toward what guest editor Jing Tsu calls an “interconnected global history” of Chinese language politics. Professor Tsu’s introduction offers an overview of the subject and points out emerging perspectives and analytical approaches. The creation of a national language was seen by many political activists as a key step toward unifying the Chinese nation. Jin Liu’s article analyzes the place of local languages—or fangyan—in the thinking of twentieth-century language reformers. Mårten Söderblom Saarela explores the overlooked history of alphabetic schemes for Chinese that employed Chinese characters or Manchu script rather than Western letters. Flora Shao uses the genre of folk song to examine the tense intersection of dialect studies and linguistic nationalism in the 1920s. Gina Tam, who organized the 2015 Association for Asian Studies panel at which most of these essays were originally presented, concludes the special issue with a study of dialect history after 1949, analyzing how the relationship between a new standard spoken language (Putonghua) and dialects was understood by aspiring scientific Marxist linguists. Associate editor Zhao Ma worked with Professor Tsu to oversee the editorial process for this special issue.
The issue also presents three book reviews: Yun Xia reviews Lisa Tran’s study of marriage and monogamy in twentieth-century China, Alvin K. Wong reviews Petrus Liu’s work on queer cultures in Taiwan and in the People’s Republic of China, and Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley reviews David Pietz’s history of the Yellow River. [End Page 209]