Note to Readers

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


December 2017

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

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

In their introduction, the three guest editors of this special issue on “Binding Maritime China: Control, Evasion, and Interloping”—Eugenio Menegon (Boston University), Philip Thai (Northeastern University), and Xing Hang (Brandeis University)—postulate that “state control, evasion from that control, and interloping within the interstices of China’s maritime world literally bound an array of actors and locales for distinct but interrelated goals, from the early modern era to the modern era.”

The contributors are Leonard Blussé (Leiden University), Eugenio Menegon, Peter C. Perdue (Yale University), Peter Thilly (University of Mississippi), and Steven Pieragastini (Boston College). Blussé’s article is an adaptation of the keynote address he gave at the conference that inspired this special issue. He offers us a selective, yet perceptive and stimulating, overview of the intersection of scholarship, cultural sentiments, and policy decisions that have interpreted and manipulated China’s attitude to the maritime world since the 1970s. The other articles present a thought-provoking variety of case studies on the intersections of control, evasion, and interloping from the early modern period to the modern period.

This issue also features five review essays covering nine new and recent publications on East Asia. In the first essay, Sabine Frühstück (University of California, Santa Barbara) writes that D. Colin Jaundrill’s Samurai to Soldier: Remaking Military Service in Nineteenth-Century Japan and Nicolas Schillinger’s The Body and Military Masculinity in Late Qing and Early Republican China: The Art of Governing Soldiers are “full of excellent reasons for historians to take the militarism of modernity [a topic historians have by and large hesitated to explore] most seriously.” Bill Hayton (Chatham House) finds that Steve Chan’s China’s Troubled Waters: Maritime Disputes in Theoretical Perspectives and Do Thanh Hai’s Vietnam and the South China Sea: Politics, Security and Legality offer two perspectives—in effect, the “Chinese” and “Vietnamese” views of the situation in the South China Sea—that indicate to the reader that the region’s problems will endure.

In his review of Maggie Clinton’s Revolutionary Nativism: Fascism and Culture in China, 1925­­–1937 and Reto Hofmann’s The Fascist Effect: Japan and Italy, 1915–1952Fabio Lanza (University of Arizona) highlights the crucial contributions these two books make in their analyses of Chinese and Japanese fascisms as global yet localized phenomena, as “forms of politics that were deeply intertwined with specific contingencies and the worldwide sweep of colonial capitalism.” Sherzod Muminov (University of East Anglia) reviews Yukiko Koga’s Inheritance of Loss: China, Japan, and the Political Economy of Redemption after Empire and Hiro Saito’s The History Problem: The Politics of War Commemoration in East Asia, books that enrich the debate on the outcomes of the Second World War in East Asia, because they “illuminate the obstacles on the way to reconciliation, but also highlight the potential for compromise.” Lastly, Jong-chun Park (Korea University) focuses on the importance of Laurel KendallJongsung Yang, and Yul Soo Yoon’s God Pictures in Korean Contexts: The Ownership and Meaning of Shaman Paintings, which contributes to academic discussions of “material religion” and to understandings of how Korean shamanism “was transformed through its link to modernity using shaman paintings as subject matter.”

This issue of Cross-Currents also features a vibrant photo essay titled “Buddhist Revelations in Davaakhuugin Soyolmaa’s Contemporary Mongolian Art.” Soyolmaa’s “approach to visualizing and personifying Buddhist concepts in boldly creative compositions” is explained by curator Uranchimeg Tsultemin (University of California, Berkeley) in her accompanying essay. We are pleased to share these unconventional and idiosyncratic paintings of Buddhist deities with you.

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