Dear Cross-Currents readers,
We are pleased to present you with the thirty-first quarterly issue of the open-access e-journal Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review.
In this special issue on “Buddhist Art of Mongolia: Cross-Cultural Connections, Discoveries, and Interpretations,” guest editor Uranchimeg Tsultemin (IUPUI) has brought together four research articles and two photo essays that address the specific qualities of Mongolian Buddhist artworks by placing them in the historical, political, and social context of Inner Asia, and specifically the Tibet-Mongolia interface. The articles by Uranchimeg herself, Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz (University of Bern), Vesna A. Wallace (UC Santa Barbara), and Isabelle Charleux (CNRS) demonstrate the specific ways—ritual, architectural, artistic, and textual (including translations and illustrated manuscripts)—through which scholars can deduce that the associations the Mongols built during the Qing dynasty were used to establish their own tradition of Buddhist culture. The two photo essays—“In Search of the Khutugtu’s Monastery: The Site and Its Heritage,” curated by Sampildondovin Chuluun (Academy of Sciences, Mongolia), and “Shambala and the Prague Thangka: The Myth’s Visual Representation” curated by Luboš Bělka (Masaryk University)—supplement the articles by Tsultemin and Kollmar-Paulenz, respectively.
This issue also features three articles in addition to the thematically related contributions. An article by Matthew Galway (University of Melbourne) aims to uncover the link between Hou Yuon’s application of Marxist theory to understand inequality and underdevelopment in his homeland and, more broadly, to fill the gap between the Paris Group Cercle Marxiste and many of its members’ leap to “pure socialism” and “total equality” in founding Democratic Kampuchea. Clara Iwasaki (University of Alberta) examines the multiple ways Chinese writers depicted the incorporation of female national subjects into the struggle to liberate Manchuria after it was annexed by Japan in 1932, focusing on three short works by Xiao Hong. Iris Ma (University of Notre Dame) explores what granted the female knight-errant character such enduring popularity among writers, readers, publishers, and officials during the first half of the twentieth century and how the writers resisted the prevailing discourse on Chinese womanhood of their times while imagining female heroism.
This issue also includes four review essays covering nine new and recent publications. The first essay, by Adam Bohnet (King’s University College), discusses Remaking the Chinese Empire: Manchu-Korean Relations, 1616–1911 by Yuanchong Wang and A Genealogy of Dissent: The Progeny of Fallen Royals in Chosŏn Korea by Eugene Y. Park, books that, respectively, explore diplomatic and social history. These two works together suggest a widening horizon of Chosŏn-dynasty studies in English.
In another review essay, Stéphane Gros (CNRS) writes about Miaoyan Yang’s Learning to Be Tibetan: The Construction of Ethnic Identity at Minzu University of China and Yuqing Yang’s Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia, books that offer rich case studies and stimulating discussions of the entangled relationships between ethnicity, representation, and nation-building. In particular, Gros explains, they “illuminate how minorities can foster a collective identity and existence outside, but necessarily in dialogue with, the Han-centric mainstream in ways that are not overtly oppositional but nevertheless have potential to produce localized subversions of the myth of harmony.”
In the third review essay, Wenqing Kang (Cleveland State University) reviews Elisabeth L. Engebretsen’s Queer Women in Urban China: An Anthropology and Hongwei Bao’s Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China. Together, these two books offer a rich picture of queer life and politics in China during the first decade of the new millennium.
In the fourth review essay, Alicia Volk (University of Maryland) puts into conversation with one another three works that look at imperial Japan through its diverse visual, material, and literary cultures from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries: Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan by Philip Hu et al., The Politics of Painting: Fascism and Japanese Art during the Second World War by Asato Ikeda, and Aesthetic Life: Beauty and Art in Modern Japan by Miya Elise Mizuta Lippit. Taken together, these publications "put into productive dialogue an array of media, modes, and genres that were radically transformed via Japan's ongoing contact with Europe and America and its transformation into a modernized nation-state."
Finally, in our “Readings from Asia” section, Young-Suk Lee (Gwangju University) reviews Eunhee Lee’s Sŏlt’ang, kŭndaeŭi hyŏngmyŏng: Han’guk sŏlt’ang sanŏpkwa sobiŭi yŏksa 설탕, 근대의 혁명: 한국 설탕 산업과 소비의 역사 [Sugar, the modern revolution: The history of Korea’s sugar industry and consumption], a Korean-language publication that presents “an important channel through which we can understand the major social changes in South Korea—modernization, industrialization, and globalization—in the twentieth century, [a channel that] reveals how ordinary individuals’ lives were structurally connected to the major changes in the society.”
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 Hyongchan Kim