Note to Readers

John Lie, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University



September 2014

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

We are pleased to present you with the twelfth quarterly issue of the Cross-Currents e-journal.

This theme of this issue—“Islam in China/China in Islam”—was proposed to us by guest editors Matthew S. Erie (Princeton) and Allen Carlson (Cornell) and builds on a successful conference on “The Everyday Life of Islam: Focus on Islam in China,” held in 2012 at Cornell University. The theme is timely, given the current unrest centered in northwestern Xinjiang, and the topic dovetailed closely with a conference on “Forms of Exchange: China and the Muslim World,” held at UC Berkeley’s Institute of East Asian Studies in April 2013.

As Erie and Carlson state in their introduction, the relationship between China and Islam “is not one of opposition, but rather one of cultural, linguistic, and economic imbrication.” Yet, or perhaps therefore, the topic of China’s position in expanding global discourses on Islam is “one of the most sensitive topics for scholarship in and on China.” The five articles featured in this issue examine the status of Muslim minorities as citizens of a socialist state and cultural subjects of China and nuance the study of Muslim minorities in contemporary politics. The epilogue by Jonathan Lipman (Mount Holyoke) articulates the themes that unify this special issue and highlights the collection’s diverse perspectives and contributions.

This issue also includes a review essay by Robert Moorehead (Ritsumeikan) that discusses two new contributions to the study of minority groups in Japan: Mark K. Watson’s Japan’s Ainu Minority in Tokyo: Diasporic Indigeneity and Cultural Politics (Routledge, 2014) and On the Margins of Empire: Buraku and Korean Identity in Prewar and Wartime Japan (Harvard, 2013) by Jeffrey Paul Bayliss. Moorehead finds that these new works address “two key analytical foci—social class and indigeneity—that have tended to be missing” from new scholarship aimed at debunking notions of Japanese uniqueness in political discourse.

Cross-Currents editorial board member Peter Zinoman (UC Berkeley) and Gary Kulik (former editor of American Quarterly) have coauthored a lengthy review of Nick Turse’s New York Times best seller, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (Metropolitan Books, 2013). Zinoman and Kulik explore what they see as the “isolation of Turse’s approach from current trends in the historical study of military violence against civilians” and point to the need for scholars of the war to “move beyond the agenda-driven scholarship of both the left and the right” that “remains mired in the politics of the 1960s.” Cross-Currents has invited Turse to engage in a discussion with our reviewers, and we hope he will make use of the journal’s interactive website to do so.

This issue’s “Readings from Asia” feature by Adam Bohnet (King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario) introduces a new publication by Korean historian Pae Usŏng titled Chosŏn kwa Chunghwa: Chosŏn i kkumkkugo sangsanghan segye wa munmyŏng [Chosŏn and Chunghwa: The world and civilization that Chosŏn dreamt and imagined] (Tolbegae, 2014). In his review—“A New Discussion of Sino-Korean Relations during the Chosŏn Period”—Bohnet praises Pae for preserving “the messiness and complexity of Chosŏn’s engagement with China” and revealing Chunghwa consciousness to be “neither identical to, nor in contradiction with, modern nationalism, but instead a different ideology (or set of ideologies) following a logic of its own.”

This issue’s photo essay—“Reimagining the Silk Road”—features images taken by Matthew S. Erie, one of this issue’s guest editors, during his travels throughout northwest China over the past ten years. These photographs explore the “material and imagined” concept of the “New Silk Road” from the viewpoint of those who live along or near it and put faces on the richly syncretic culture of the region.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that Laura C. Nelson, professor of gender and women’s studies at UC Berkeley and chair of IEAS’s Center for Korean Studies, has joined the Cross-Currents editorial board. We welcome Laura and look forward to her fresh perspective.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue. As always, we look forward to receiving your feedback. Be sure to register here on our website in order to leave comments for our contributors and join the conversation.


John Lie and Sungtaek Cho