Recent Faculty Publications
Published by the University of California Press, Sara Friedman's newest book, Exceptional States: Chinese Immigrants and Taiwanese Sovereignty, is now available. According to the press, "Exceptional States examines new configurations of marriage, immigration, and sovereignty emerging in an increasingly mobile Asia where Cold War legacies continue to shape contemporary political struggles over sovereignty and citizenship. Focused on marital immigration from China to Taiwan, the book documents the struggles of these women and men as they seek acceptance and recognition in their new home. Through tracing parallels between the predicaments of Chinese marital immigrants and the uncertain future of the Taiwan nation-state, the book shows how intimate attachments and emotional investments infuse the governmental practices of Taiwanese bureaucrats charged with regulating immigration and producing citizenship and sovereignty. Its attention to a group of immigrants whose exceptional status has become necessary to Taiwan’s national integrity exposes the social, political, and subjective consequences of life on the margins of citizenship and sovereignty."
Heather Blair's book, Real and Imagined: The Peak of Gold in Heian Japan, is now available from the Harvard University Press. According to the press, "During the Heian period (794–1185), the sacred mountain Kinpusen, literally the “Peak of Gold,” came to cultural prominence as a pilgrimage destination for the most powerful men in Japan—the Fujiwara regents and the retired emperors. Real and Imagined depicts their one-hundred-kilometer trek from the capital to the rocky summit as well as the imaginative landscape they navigated. Kinpusen was believed to be a realm of immortals, the domain of an unconventional bodhisattva, and the home of an indigenous pantheon of kami. These nominally private journeys to Kinpusen had political implications for both the pilgrims and the mountain. While members of the aristocracy and royalty used pilgrimage to legitimate themselves and compete with one another, their patronage fed rivalry among religious institutions. Thus, after flourishing under the Fujiwara regents, Kinpusen’s cult and community were rent by violent altercations with the great Nara temple Kōfukuji. The resulting institutional reconfigurations laid the groundwork for Shugendō, a new movement focused on religious mountain practice that emerged around 1300. Using archival sources, archaeological materials, noblemen’s journals, sutras, official histories, and vernacular narratives, this original study sheds new light on Kinpusen, positioning it within the broader religious and political history of the Heian period."
Manling Luo's book, Literati Storytelling in Late Medieval China, is now available from the University of Washington Press. According to the press, "Scholar-officials of late medieval China were not only enthusiastic in amateur storytelling, but also showed unprecedented interest in recording stories on different aspects of literati life. These stories appeared in diverse forms, including narrative poems, "tales of the marvelous," "records of the strange," historical miscellanies, and transformation texts. Through storytelling, literati explored their own changing place in a society that was making its final transition from hereditary aristocracy to a meritocracy ostensibly open to all. Literati Storytelling shows how these writings offer crucial insights into the reconfiguration of the Chinese elite, which monopolized literacy, social prestige, and political participation in imperial China." Paul Kroll of the University of Colorado states that the book is " of startling originality, which studies an area of late medieval Chinese culture that has been scanted for too long . . . one of the most enjoyable and enlightening books I have read in years. It will reshape much of the received picture of late medieval literature and history."
Published by the Oxford University Press, Michael David Kaulana Ing's book, The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism, is the first monograph in English about the Liji. According to the press, "Ing describes how early Confucians coped with situations where their rituals failed to achieve their intended aims. In contrast to most contemporary interpreters of Confucianism, Ing demonstrates that early Confucian texts can be read as arguments for ambiguity in ritual failure. If, as discussed in one text, Confucius builds a tomb for his parents unlike the tombs of antiquity, and rains fall causing the tomb to collapse, it is not immediately clear whether this failure was the result of random misfortune or the result of Confucius straying from the ritual script by building a tomb incongruent with those of antiquity. The Liji (Record of Ritual)--one of the most significant, yet least studied, texts of Confucianism--poses many of these situations and suggests that the line between preventable and unpreventable failures of ritual is not always clear. Ritual performance, in this view, is a performance of risk. It entails rendering oneself vulnerable to the agency of others; and resigning oneself to the need to vary from the successful rituals of past, thereby moving into untested and uncertain territory. Ing's book is the first monograph in English about the Liji--a text that purports to be the writings of Confucius's immediate disciples, and included in the earliest canon of Confucian texts called ''The Five Classics,'' several centuries before the Analects. It challenges some common assumptions of contemporary interpreters of Confucian ethics--in particular the idea that a cultivated ritual agent is able to recognize which failures are within his sphere of control to prevent and thereby render his happiness invulnerable to ritual failure."
An Edo Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Mega city, 1750-1850 is edited by Sumie Jones with Kenji Watanabe. During the eighteenth century, Edo (today’s Tokyo) became the world’s largest city, surpassing London and Paris. Its rapidly expanding population and flourishing economy encouraged innovative and ambitious young writers to look beyond the established categories of poetry, drama, and prose, banding together to invent completely new literary forms that focused on the fun and charm of Edo. Their writings were sometimes witty, satirical, wild, and bawdy, and other times sensitive, wise, and polished. Japan’s current media culture originated at the time in Edo, where the masses demanded visual presentations and performances in all types of activities. Readers and spectators, now with higher literacy than ever before, came to rule the market, and they favored graphic fiction, kabuki plays and polychrome ukiyo-e prints, all of which often shared the same themes, characters, and even jokes. Popular interest in sex and entertainment focused attention on the theatre district and “pleasure quarters,” which became the chief backdrops for the literature and arts of the period. Among the bestsellers that developed during the early nineteenth century were serialized heroic epics, revenge dramas, ghost and monster stories, romantic melodramas, and comedies that featured common folk. This anthology consists of an accessible introduction to the period’s society and the role of literature and arts in its culture and a great variety of works that are expertly translated. This collection is meant to entertain and enlighten students and interested readers of Japanese literature as well as of popular culture in general. Published by the University of Hawaii Press.
Published by Columbia University Press, Gardner Bovingdon’s first book, The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land, is now available. According to the press, “For more than half a century many Uyghurs, members of a Muslim minority in northwestern China, have sought to achieve greater autonomy or outright independence. Yet the Chinese government has consistently resisted these efforts, countering with repression and a sophisticated strategy of state-sanctioned propaganda emphasizing interethnic harmony and Chinese nationalism. After decades of struggle, Uyghurs remain passionate about establishing and expanding their power within government, and China’s leaders continue to push back, refusing to concede any physical or political ground. Beginning with the history of Xinjiang and its unique population of Chinese Muslims, Gardner Bovingdon follows fifty years of Uyghur discontent, particularly the development of individual and collective acts of resistance since 1949, as well as the role of various transnational organizations in cultivating dissent. Bovingdon’s work provides fresh insight into the practices of nation building and nation challenging, not only in relation to Xinjiang but also in reference to other regions of conflict. His work highlights the influence of international institutions on growing regional autonomy and underscores the role of representation in nationalist politics, as well as the local, regional, and global implications of the “war on terror” on antistate movements. While both the Chinese state and foreign analysts have portrayed Uyghur activists as Muslim terrorists, situating them within global terrorist networks, Bovingdon argues that these assumptions are flawed, drawing a clear line between Islamist ideology and Uyghur nationhood.”
Marvin Sterling’s first book, Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae, and Rastafari in Japan, is now available from Duke University Press. According to the press, “In Babylon East, anthropologist Marvin D. Sterling traces the history of the Japanese embrace of dancehall reggae and other elements of Jamaican culture, including Rastafari, roots reggae, and dub music. Sterling provides a nuanced ethnographic analysis of the ways that many Japanese involved in reggae as musicians and dancers, and those deeply engaged with Rastafari as a spiritual practice, seek to reimagine their lives through Jamaican culture. Sterling considers Japanese performances and representations of Jamaican culture in clubs, competitions, and festivals; in the city and the countryside; in song lyrics and music videos; and on websites; and in texts including reggae magazines, travel writing, fiction, and self-help books. He illuminates issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class as he discusses topics ranging from the cultural capital that Japanese dancehall artists amass by immersing themselves in dancehall culture in Jamaica, New York, and England, to the use of Rastafari as a means of critiquing class difference, consumerism, and the West’s and Japan’s colonial pasts. Encompassing the reactions of Jamaica’s artists to Japanese appropriations of Jamaican culture, and the two countries’ relative positions in the world economy, Babylon East is also a rare ethnographic analysis of Afro-Asian cultural exchange and global discourses of blackness beyond the African diaspora.”
Michiko Suzuki’s first book, Becoming Modern Women: Love and Female Identity in Prewar Japanese Literature and Culture, is now available from Stanford University Press. According to the press, “Presenting a fresh examination of women writers and prewar ideology, this book breaks new ground in its investigation of love as a critical aspect of Japanese culture during the early to mid-twentieth century. As a literary and cultural history of love and female identity, Becoming Modern Women focuses on same-sex love, love marriage, and maternal love—new terms at that time; in doing so, it shows how the idea of “woman,” within the context of a vibrant print culture, was constructed through the modern experience of love. Author Michiko Suzuki’s work complements current scholarship on female identities such as “Modern Girl” and “New Woman,” and interprets women’s fiction in conjunction with nonfiction from a range of media—early feminist writing, sexology books, newspapers, bestselling love treatises, native ethnology, and historiography. While illuminating the ways in which women used and challenged ideas about love, Suzuki explores the historical and ideological shifts of the period, underscoring the broader connections between gender, modernity, and nationhood.”
Winner of Columbia University's Weatherhead East Asian Institute 2007-08 First Book Award, Scott O’Bryan’s The Growth Idea: Purpose and Prosperity in Postwar Japan is now available from the University of Hawai’i Press. According to the press, “Our narratives of postwar Japan have long been cast in terms almost synonymous with the story of rapid economic growth. Scott O’Bryan reinterprets this seemingly familiar history through an innovative exploration, not of the anatomy of growth itself, but of the history of growth as a set of discourses by which Japanese ‘growth performance’ as ‘economic miracle’ came to be articulated. The premise of his work is simple: To our understandings of the material changes that took place in Japan during the second half of the twentieth century we must also add perspectives that account for growth as a new idea around the world, one that emerged alongside rapid economic expansion in postwar Japan and underwrote the modes by which it was imagined, forecast, pursued, and regulated. In an accessible, lively style, O’Bryan traces the history of growth as an object of social scientific knowledge and as a new analytical paradigm that came to govern the terms by which Japanese understood their national purposes and imagined a newly materialist vision of social and individual prosperity. . . . O’Bryan also presents surprising accounts of the key role played by the ideal of full employment in national conceptions of recovery and of a new valorization of consumption in the postwar world that was taking shape.”
Winner of the 2009 Chicago Folklore Prize, Michael Dylan Foster’s first book, Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai, is now available from the University of California Press. According to the press, “Water sprites, mountain goblins, shape-shifting animals, and the monsters known as yōkai have long haunted the Japanese cultural landscape. This history of the strange and mysterious in Japan seeks out these creatures in folklore, encyclopedias, literature, art, science, games, manga, magazines, and movies, exploring their meanings in the Japanese cultural imagination and offering an abundance of valuable and, until now, understudied material. Michael Dylan Foster tracks yōkai over three centuries, from their appearance in seventeenth-century natural histories to their starring role in twentieth-century popular media. Focusing on the intertwining of belief and commodification, fear and pleasure, horror and humor, he illuminates different conceptions of the ‘natural’ and the ‘ordinary’ and sheds light on broader social and historical paradigms—and ultimately on the construction of Japan as a nation.”
Michael Robinson’s newest book, Korea’s Twentieth-Century Odyssey: A Short History, is now available from the University of Hawai‘i Press. According to the press, “Korea’s Twentieth-Century Odyssey is designed to provide readers with the historical essentials upon which to unravel the complex politics and contemporary crises that currently exist in the East Asian region. Beginning with a description of late-nineteenth-century imperialism, Michael Robinson shows how traditional Korean political culture shaped the response of Koreans to multiple threats to their sovereignty after being opened to the world economy by Japan in the 1870s. He locates the origins of both modern nationalism and the economic and cultural modernization of Korea in the twenty years preceding the fall of the traditional state to Japanese colonialism in 1910.”
Richard Rubinger’s new book, Popular Literacy in Early Modern Japan, is now available from the University of Hawai‘i Press. According to the press description, “The book begins by tracing the origins of popular literacy up to the Tokugawa period and goes on to discuss the pivotal roles of village headmen during the early sixteenth century, a group extraordinarily skilled in administrative literacy using the Sino-Japanese hybrid language favored by their warrior overlords. Later chapters focus on the nineteenth-century expansion of literacy to wider constituencies of farmers and townspeople. Using direct measures of literacy attainment such as village surveys, election ballots, diaries, and letters, Rubinger demonstrates the spread of basic reading and writing skills into virtually every corner of Japanese society. The book ends by examining data on illiteracy generated from conscription examinations given by the Japanese army during the Meiji period, bringing the discussion into the twentieth century.”