Introduction to "Naming Modernity: Rebranding and Neologisms during China’s Interwar Global Moment in Eastern Asia"

Anna Belogurova, Freie Universität Berlin
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Abstract

The six articles in this special issue of Cross-Currents present case studies in which the national has been “rebranded” as international, and international ideas and institutions have been recast as local in China, Japan, and Korea during the interwar global internationalist moment (1919–1937). Of course, such rebranding was not the conscious goal of the Japanese Communist Party’s (JCP’s) focus on the Chinese Revolution, of the modernization of Chinese popular religious traditions such as Tiandijiao, of Korean students’ appropriation of Asianism for the needs of the Korean independence movement, of Chinese Communists posing Sun Yat-sen’s principle of an alliance of the oppressed as a form of Comintern internationalism, or of the reinvention by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang, or GMD) of the idea of a China-centered Asian alliance based on borrowing the organizational imagination of the League of Nations and the Comintern. Yet behind all of these examples lies a process of organizational borrowing and blending in key areas such as religion, nationalism, and external conduct. These efforts, in turn, rebranded the resulting identities, institutions, and ideas as “modern.” Moreover, ideas and images that had emerged between the wars were then adopted in the same mode after the war in Southeast Asia. Mao’s Sinified Marxism, the best-known adaptation of the interwar period, became the inspiration for further adaptation in Pol Pot’s postwar Cambodia...