Note to Readers

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


September 2017

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

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

In her introduction, guest editor Anna Belogurova (Freie Universität Berlin) explains that the six featured articles all 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).” The contributors to this special issue—“Naming Modernity: Rebranding and Neologisms during China’s Interwar Global Moment in Eastern Asia”—are David Ownby (Université de Montréal), Craig A. Smith (Australian National University), Anna Belogurova, Tatiana Linkhoeva (New York University), Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus (Goethe University Frankfurt), and Matthew Galway (University of British Columbia). Their work examines a wide range of thematically connected events: the modernization of Chinese popular religious traditions, such as Tiandijiao; Chinese Communists posing Sun Yat-sen’s principle of an alliance of the oppressed as a form of Comintern internationalism; the Chinese Nationalist Party’s reinvention of the idea of a China-centered Asian alliance by borrowing the organizational imagination of the League of Nations and the Comintern; the Japanese Communist Party’s focus on the Chinese Revolution; Korean students’ appropriation of Asianism for the needs of the Korean independence movement; and Mao’s Sinified Marxism, which was further adapted in Pol Pot’s postwar Cambodia.

This issue also features four multibook review essays. The first essay, by Pascal Bourdeaux (École Pratique des Hautes Études), reviews three recent publications about contemporary Vietnamese religions, revealing the recent and complex enlargement of this field: George Dutton’s A Vietnamese Moses: Philiphê Binh and the Geographies of Early Modern CatholicismTâm T. T. Ngô’s The New Way: Protestantism and the Hmong in Vietnam, and Janet Alison Hoskins’s The Divine Eye and the Diaspora: Vietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism. In the second review, David Faure (Chinese University of Hong Kong) evaluates the benefits and shortcomings of what he calls “the ‘Chinese diaspora’ approach to history’” in his discussion of Chin-keong Ng’s Boundaries and Beyond: China’s Maritime Southeast in Late Imperial Time and Steven B. Miles’s Upriver Journeys: Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570–1850.

In her review essay, Robin Kietlinski (City University of New York – La Guardia Community College) notes that Jessamyn Abel’s The International Minimum: Creativity and Contradiction in Japan’s Global Engagement, 1933–1964 and Stefan Huebner’s Pan-Asian Sports and the Emergence of Modern Asia, 1939–1974 fill a gap in the literature by shedding light on internationalism in the context of sporting events in East Asia: “how sports…played a crucial role in how countries viewed themselves and how they came to be viewed by others before, during, and after the world wars.” Lastly, Jinba Tenzin (National University of Singapore) considers the methodological dilemma created by “striving to go beyond the circumscription of area studies” in his review of two recent publications on borders, frontiers, and margins in China: Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China by Megan Bryson and Contesting the Yellow Dragon: Ethnicity, Religion, and the State in the Sino-Tibetan Borderland by Xiaofei Kang and Donald S. Sutton.

This issue’s “Readings from Asia” section features a translation of a review by May Bo Ching (City University of Hong Kong) of Helen F. Siu’s Tracing China: A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey. The review, originally published in Chinese, considers Siu’s theoretical contributions to anthropology over decades of conducting fieldwork in China. Ching’s review captures an instance of a Chinese reading of a comprehensive overview of the work of an American-based scholar. The text is from Asia, and so is the political context in which it was first published and received. By including the essay in this open-access, English-language forum, we aim to increase its exposure beyond its original, Chinese-speaking audience.

This issue also features a photo essay titled Oboo Sacred Monuments in Hulun Buir: Their Narratives and Contemporary Worship” and curated by Aurore Dumont (Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités [GSRL]). Oboo—holy monuments that are shrines to local deities and worshipped by local people to ensure prosperity and protection against misfortune—are both religious sites and territorial markers. Taken together, Dumont’s images and text allow the viewer to historically contextualize current ritual practices and consider the roles these stone cairns play in how locals narrate the past and how they understand their connection to the surrounding grasslands.

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