Note to Readers

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

Yeh, Wen-hsin, and Sungtaek Cho. 2018. "Note to Readers." Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (e-journal) 28: i–ii.

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September 2018

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

We are pleased to present you with the twenty-eighth quarterly issue of the open-access e-journal Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review.

The theme of this special issue—“Writing Revolution Across Northeast Asia”—was chosen by guest editor Steven S. Lee (University of California, Berkeley) with the purpose of “revisiting Russian and Soviet visions of revolution and their fraught, indelible imprint on China, Japan, and Korea” primarily through a focus on literary circulation. Together, the contributors—Heekyoung Cho (University of Washington), Jeehyun Choi (University of California, Berkeley), Katerina Clark (Yale University), Sunyoung Park (University of Southern California), and Vladimir Tikhonov (University of Oslo)—unearth what Lee describes in his introduction as a “latent, variegated internationalism behind established authors and concepts—not to drape the interwar years with nostalgia or regret, but to articulate long-lost spatial and historical constellations geared toward reimagining the present.” In his afterword to the issue, Edward Tyerman (University of California, Berkeley) highlights the ways in which the collection brings together two regions—Russia/Eurasia and East Asia—traditionally held apart by the spatial divisions of area studies, thereby offering “productive insights into how these two spaces and their interactions might de-center hegemonic models of global space, global history, and world literature in the early twentieth century.”

This issue also features two review essays covering five new and recent publications on East Asia. In the first essay, Tong Lam (University of Toronto) discusses Terrence Jackson’s Network of Knowledge: Western Science and the Tokugawa Information Revolution, Seth Jacobowitz’s Writing Technology in Meiji Japan: A Media History of Modern Japanese Literature and Visual Culture, and Thomas S. Mullaney’s The Chinese Typewriter: A History. Lam considers these works as “part of the larger trend of rewriting the history of modern East Asia in light of the region’s rapid economic and technological development,” a trend that has evolved in response to the outdated narrative of East Asian societies simply as “latecomers catching up with the West by traveling on the same historical path.”

In the second review essay, Matthew Mosca (University of Washington) discusses the study of Manchuria by exploring the methodologies and localized topics of Shuang Chen’s State-Sponsored Inequality: The Banner System and Social Stratification in Northeast China and Seonmin Kim’s Ginseng and Borderland: Territorial Boundaries and Political Relations Between Qing China and Chosŏn Korea, 1636–1912. Mosca concludes that “the well-focused research offered by Kim and Chen allows us to build, place by place and layer by layer, a richer picture of Qing Manchuria and the surrounding area.”

This issue of Cross-Currents also features a photo essay, “The Relics of Empire: Resource Extraction and the Making of Modern Xinjiang,” created by Judd C. Kinzley (University of Wisconsin, Madison). Kinzley’s photographs and accompanying essay examine the material detritus scattered across the northern half of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the wake of Soviet agents seeking a claim to the wealth of this border region in the early twentieth century. He concludes that “reframing relics, reshaping historical narratives, and reeducating indigenous populations are all part of a single, emergent border policy that seeks to sanitize Xinjiang’s complex history of political, economic, and ethno-cultural connections to Eurasia in a way that bolsters Chinese state claims to the region and its rich resource wealth.”

Finally, in our “Readings from Asia” section, Cheehyung Harrison Kim (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa) reviews Kim Jaeung’s “meticulously researched and well-written book,” Pukhan cheje ŭi kiwŏn: Inmin wi ŭi kyegŭp, kyegŭp wi ŭi kukka 북한 체제의 기원–인민 위의 계급, 계급 위의 국가 [The origin of North Korea’s class structure: Class above people, state above class]. The reviewer praises Kim Jaeung for showing that North Korea’s class structure is a “complex historical formation, imbued with the powerful notion of ‘people’s democracy’ and the radical vision of empowering the formerly downtrodden, although the practice also entailed harsh discrimination of certain segments of the population.”

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