Note to Readers

Wen-hsin Yeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University


June 2017

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

We are pleased to present you with the twenty-third quarterly issue of the open-access Cross-Currents e-journal.

This special issue builds on our commitment to featuring new research on East Asian cartography (see the June 2014 and December 2016 issues). It includes four research articles focused on the theme “Maps and Their Contexts: Reflections on Cartography and Culture in Premodern East Asia.” In his introduction, guest editor Robert Goree (Wellesley) writes that the goal of this special issue is to “enliven debate about the forms, messages, and uses of cartography in the East Asian past by grappling with the particular properties of spatial representation in the Sinosphere.” The articles by Fan Lin (Leiden University), Talia Andrei (Columbia University), Robert Goree, and Jonas Rüegg (Harvard University) cover a wide range of material that calls into question normative Eurocentric notions of what maps should be: local maps produced during the Southern Song period (1127–1279); sixteenth-century Japanese pilgrimage mandalas (sankei mandara); eighteenth-century illustrations in popular Japanese geographic encyclopedias known as meisho zue; and Tokugawa-period (1603–1867) maps of the Ogasawara Islands, respectively. In Goree’s words, “By illuminating the many contexts where we find East Asian maps, both in terms of the material forms they took and the social and political circumstances in which they were embedded, these contributions offer insights into the inseparability of cartographic ideas and practices from the complexity of human affairs.”

This issue also features four multibook review essays, one of the mainstays of Cross-Currents. The first essay, by David A. Bello (Washington and Lee University), reviews Kwangmin Kim’s Borderland Capitalism: Turkestan Produce, Qing Silver, and the Birth of an Eastern Market (Stanford, 2016) and Jonathan Schlesinger’s A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule (Stanford, 2017), two works that are “representative of a growing body of Qing scholarship in English that delineates the empire within multilingual parameters that do not marginalize its borderlands.” Zvi Ben-Dor Benite (New York University) offers our readers a magnificent survey of scholarship on China’s Islam and China’s Muslim population, including a close look at three recent works that represent the newest phase of this scholarship: Matthew S. Erie’s China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge, 2016), Jonathan Lipman’s edited collection Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the 17th to the 21st Century (Edinburgh, 2016), and Roberta Tontini’s Muslim Sanzijing: Shifts and Continuities in the Definition of Islam in China (Brill, 2016). These works, Ben-Dor Benite asserts, make the study of Chinese Islam and its history meaningful and useful to the greater community of scholars of Islam in general.

The review essay by Ann Waltner (University of Minnesota) considers the ways “the woman question” is posed in two contexts—early modern Japan and early Maoist China—through a close reading of Marcia Yonemoto’s The Problem of Women in Early Modern Japan (University of California, 2016) and Wang Zheng’s Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1964 (University of California, 2017). Waltner finds that both of these texts are “about problems of the domestic and the ways in which the domestic intersects with the state, or, to put it more generally, with the public.” Both are also “haunted by the specter of Confucianism and Confucian family ethics” and by the present (in that the problems raised in them are still a long way from being resolved). The fourth review essay, by John K. Whitmore (University of Michigan) discusses two new publications concerned with the Sino-Viet borderlands in the premodern age: Kathlene Baldanza’s Ming China and Vietnam: Negotiating Borders in Early Modern Asia (Cambridge, 2016) and Imperial Bandits: Outlaws and Rebels in the China-Vietnam Borderlands (Washington, 2017) by Bradley Camp Davis. Whitmore writes that, taken together, these works offer a “rich mixture of analysis of the contemporary textual record, written and oral, as well as critiques of recent studies from Vietnam, China, and elsewhere.”

In this issue’s “Readings from Asia” section, Satoshi Mizutani (Doshisha University) introduces English-language readers to Komagome Takeshi’s Sekaishi no naka no Taiwan shokuminchi shihai—Tainan chōrō chugakkō kara no shiza 世界史のなかの台湾植民地支配 : 台南長老教中学校 からの視座 [Colonial rule in Taiwan in world history—From the perspective of the Tainan Presbyterian Middle School] (Iwanami Shoten, 2015). Mizutani shows how Komagome, one of Japan’s leading experts on Japanese colonial education and Japanese colonialism in general, goes beyond the conventional limits of empire history studies in this book by “plac[ing] strong emphasis on the importance of engaging with the aspirations and claims of the colonized” and by “foreground[ing] historical settings that may be called ‘trans-imperial.’” Mizutani concludes that, “with its exposition of the violent nature of colonial education, the book offers a much-needed corrective to the prevailing myth―politically exploited by Japanese conservatives―that the colonization of Taiwan was smoothly accomplished because its people were supposedly more ‘pro-Japanese’ than other colonized peoples, like the Koreans.” The reviewer deems this book a “must-read.”

Lastly, this issue features a fascinating photo essay curated by Xi Chen (University of California, San Diego). “Visualizing Early 1970s China through the Lens of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS) Friendship Delegations” is a remarkable collection of photographs contributed by members of the CCAS delegations that traveled to China in 1971 and 1972, images that, along with Chen’s accompanying essay, provide firsthand insight into events that preceded the normalization of China–U.S. relations and also present a panoramic view of cultural and social conditions in China during the Cultural Revolution. The images are part of a digitized collection of more than two thousand slides that is being developed at the University of California, San Diego, Library.

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.

Wen-hsin Yeh and Sungtaek Cho