Cross-Currents e-Journal (No. 32)

ISSN
2158-9674
Editors' Note

Articles

Beyond Comparison: Japan and Its Colonial Empire in Transimperial Relations

Satoshi Mizutani, Doshisha University
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Focusing on the three-year period starting in 1904, the very beginning of Japan’s colonization of Korea, this article demonstrates how the idea of British rule in Egypt as a model of colonial rule played a critical role in the emergence of Korea as a protectorate. The article not only describes the scope and limits of Egypt as a model but also helps to reveal the motivations of those Japanese involved in the comparative debate; How did they promote―or oppose―this model, and to what effect? Why and how did they compare this model with other models, which one did they prefer, and for what reasons? By exploring these questions through an examination of relevant historical sources, the author argues that, on several grounds, Japan’s initial colonization of Korea can be plausibly and effectively framed as a subject of “transimperial history” that takes seriously the influence of the “politics of comparison.” The article also demonstrates that the theories and practices concerning the Egypt model can be fully understood only by seeing how the comparative views of the involved Japanese policymakers and intellectuals were influenced by the ways actors in other empires—namely, the British and French empires—had practiced their own “politics of comparison” with their specific motives and agendas.

Keywords: Korea, Egypt, Tunisia, protectorate, colonialism, transimperial, politics of comparison, Japanese Empire, British Empire, French Empire, East Asia, Africa

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Akiyoshi Nishiyama, Kyoritsu Women's University
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The history of German-Japanese relations prior to 1914 has often been characterized by the similarities between the two newly established nations and the transfer of knowledge between them—mostly from Germany to Japan—for the sake of building a modern nation-state. This article critically reconsiders that view, particularly with regard to school and language education, by taking the colonial dimension into consideration. By focusing on reports commissioned by the colonial government in Korea and an inquiry by that of Taiwan on the eve of the First World War, the author shows that the Japanese colonial empire increasingly paid attention to Imperial Germany alongside other colonial powers such as Great Britain and France. It is striking that the Japanese search for a model or a reference point shifted between Germany’s remote overseas colonies and metropole borderlands with minorities, such as Prussian Poland and Alsace-Lorraine, and that the colonial governments in Korea and Taiwan addressed them on their different agendas. After 1918, Germany was no longer a role model; however, it came to serve as a history lesson or negative foil justifying self-praise by Japan and was, at the same time, used by the colonized people to strengthen their self-assertion.

Keywords: German Empire, borderlands, colonies, Alsace-Lorraine, Prussian Poland, school politics, transfer of colonial knowledge

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Chizuru Namba, Keio University
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This article seeks to clarify the relationships that formed among the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese when they coexisted in Indochina during the Second World War. The French and the Japanese jointly ruled Indochina, due to their respective interests in preserving suzerainty and securing bases for the Pacific War. These two groups maintained constant mutual awareness in this complicated and unstable relationship while avoiding conflict and seeking the support of the Vietnamese population. However, despite efforts of French and Japanese authorities, the contradiction of mutual coexistence between France, as the “missionary of civilization,” and Japan, as the “liberator of Asia” from Western colonialism, could not be concealed. Whereas the Japanese government’s policy of “maintaining peace” in Indochina ensured that interactions between the Japanese and Vietnamese were limited, the relationship between the French and the Vietnamese shifted during this time, with the effect of stimulating the local population’s identity and leading to France laying the groundwork for postwar decolonization. By examining the quotidian facets of the Franco-Japanese rule of Indochina, this article reveals how mutual encounters among the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese undermined French colonization and Japanese occupation.

Keywords: Indochina, Japan, Vietnam, French colonization, Japanese empire, Second World War, Pacific War, colonization, decolonization

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Aaron Peters, University of Toronto
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With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 and the 1931 Manchurian Incident, Japanese intellectuals and business leaders appealed to the language of self-determination and Pan-Asianism to advocate for domestic reform and imperial expansion. At the same time, Indian nationalists in Japan, such as Rash Behari Bose, Anand Mohan Sahay, Aiyappan-Pillai Madhavan Nair, and others, viewed the creation of Manchukuo in 1932 as evidence of Japanese sincerity toward Asian nationalism, as well as a model of development that India and Asia should follow. These invocations were used to legitimize their own nation-building projects and critique trends within the mainstream Indian nationalist movement. This article analyzes the encounters between Japan, India, and the Indian merchant diaspora in East Asia from 1931 to 1938. The author argues that Japanese Pan-Asianists as well as some Indian nationalists sought to legitimize their own national and transnational projects during this period by appealing to a common Asian civilization that was mediated through a politics of comparison and deflection. The article also demonstrates that comparisons often occluded the issue of imperial violence and revealed the limitations of accepting nationalism and the nation-state as the foundation of civilizational discourse and transnational community.

Keywords: Pan-Asianism, Japan, India, Indian diaspora, Manchukuo, politics of comparison, Rash Behari Bose, Anand Mohan Sahay, Aiyappan-Pillai Madhavan Nair, Mahendra Pratap, Ōkawa Shūmei, Nakatani Takeyo, Indian merchants, Kobe, Yokohama, nationalism, imperialism, political economy, comparative colonialism

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Review Essays, Notes & Bibliographies

Gil-Soo Han, Monash University
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Jinsoo An’s Parameters of Disavowal: Colonial Representation in South Korean Cinema is a “serious re-enactment of [the] history” (27) of Korean nationalism intertwined with the legacy of Japanese colonialism, the film industry, and Koreans, as depicted in Korean cinema. The author brings together numerous films and provides a comprehensive and insightful picture of them in the broader historical context of modern Korea. Each of the films examined in the book represents Korean nationalist sentiments coupled with intimate human emotions and romance...

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Gil-Soo Han, Monash University
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A life without music is inconceivable. And all kinds of music in the contemporary world, whether performed live or captured digitally, are now closely intertwined with technology, which brings and binds together human and nonhuman subjects. It is this advanced technology that has brought about particular features of “liveness” to music. Suk-Young Kim’s K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance takes up K-pop as a case worth exploring. Kim studies “K-pop’s liveness as a specific mode of human contact” with reference to historical, social, and cultural factors, claiming that it is through human contact that we feel alive and connected to each other (5)...

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Madeline Y. Hsu, University of Texas, Austin
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The field of Chinese migration studies is thriving, as demonstrated by three recent publications by highly accomplished senior scholars, including pioneering historian Wang Gungwu, sociologist Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, and historians Gregor Benton and Hong Liu. Together, this trio of books significantly develops the fields of migration and Chinese overseas studies, and each articulates key aspects of these interlocking fields in a distinctive way. Ho’s short monograph draws on ethnographic studies of contemporary Chinese immigrants in Canada, Singapore, and returnees to China to frame conceptual terms that enable scholars to acknowledge, categorize, and analyze complex layers of migrant experiences. These migrants participate in multiple diasporas and encounter varied practices of ethnic inclusion, exclusion, and institutional and ideological conceptions of citizenship. Benton and Liu provide a sweeping survey of qiaopi (remittance letters) as tensile, nongovernmental systems through which Chinese migration networks and societies circulated the finances that motivated so much of their mobility. These authors take a three-pronged approach, which makes available in English an overview of the extensive Chinese-language scholarship on qiaopi, descriptions of extant archival holdings of the documents, and authoritative analysis of the implications of this subfield. Wang’s volume takes an entirely different approach as a memoir depicting the first two decades of the life of the scholar who established the field of Chinese overseas studies...

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Angela Ki Che Leung, University of Hong Kong
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Chieko Nakajima’s Body, Society, and Nation: The Creation of Public Health and Urban Culture in Shanghai takes a comprehensive approach in covering a wide range of public health topics from the late Qing to the 1950s. Nicole Elizabeth Barnes’s Intimate Communities: Wartime Healthcare and the Birth of Modern China, 1937–1945 focuses on the gender aspect of public health organization, especially nursing and midwifery, in a time of national crisis. Emily Baum’s Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China is specifically about Chinese agency in the modern construction of insanity and mental illness as knowledge and practice. All three books are inspired by Ruth Rogaski’s pioneering work on “hygienic modernity” based on treaty-port Tianjin (2004) and Sean Lei’s seminal study on the construction of modern Chinese medicine as a mongrel body of knowledge resembling “neither donkey nor horse” (2014). The books reviewed here contribute new, intriguing layers of complexity to the narrative of China’s modernity framed in terms of the increasingly medicalized body’s pivotal importance in the process of state-building...

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Recent Publications on Vietnam

Liam C. Kelley, Universiti Brunei Darussalam
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A body of scholarship that began to emerge in the 1990s examined the southern half of Vietnam in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, an area known variously as Đàng Trong or Cochinchina. Those works depicted Vietnamese society in that region as different from the society in the North, one distinction being that there was supposedly less scholarship and literature in the South. Although that may have been true on a quantitative level, Claudine Ang’s new book, Poetic Transformations: Eighteenth-Century Cultural Projects on the Mekong Plains, demonstrates that literary writings were important in the South during that period, and that we can learn a good deal about the region and its society through those writings...

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Tam T. T. Ngo, Max Planck Institute and Radboud University
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The Battle of Điện Biên Phủ is one of the most important lieux de mémoire (sites of memory) of the contemporary Vietnamese nation-state, and, beyond that, of the anticolonial struggle in Asia and Africa. Its end on May 7, 1954 signified a resounding military victory of a colonized people against the French after the Second World War. As such, the battle anticipates the later victory of the Communist North over South Vietnam and its American allies. The siege of the French troops at Điện Biên Phủ and their surrender was not only a feat of military strategy but also a lesson for a future of warfare that followed the creation of the seventeenth-parallel division that has served as the practical political boundary between North and South Vietnam. The danger of a lieu de mémoire is that it is lifted to a symbolic position outside history and geography. In his thoroughly researched book, Contested Territory: Điện Biên Phủ and the Making of Northwest Vietnam, Christian C. Lentz returns the battle site to its historical geography, especially the making of Northwest Vietnam...

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Patricia Pelley, Texas Tech University
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The three decades of warfare that ravaged Vietnam from 1945 to 1975 produced, temporarily, two competing polities: the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV, also known as North Vietnam) and the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, also known as South Vietnam). At the conclusion of these wars, a single state, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, emerged. As Olga Dror emphasizes in her introduction to Making Two Vietnams: War and Youth Identities, 1965–1975, the literature on this topic is more than extensive: on the years 1955–1975 alone, there are approximately thirty thousand volumes. The vast majority of these works, however, dwell on military and sociopolitical dynamics. Relegating Vietnamese people to the background, they tend to focus on the American experiences of the war. To push discussions of the Vietnam War in a new direction, Dror delves into the experiences of children and adolescents in the North and in the South...

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Allison Truitt, Tulane University
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One of the foundational concepts in anthropology is the gift as formulated by French sociologist Marcel Mauss nearly a hundred years ago. Conventionally defined as a three-step process of giving, receiving, and returning, the gift’s role in sociality lies not so much in the giving or even reciprocating, but in the ongoing cycles of exchange and mutual obligations. In Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam, anthropologist Ivan V. Small deploys the Maussian gift to reflect on remittance, one of the primary conduits through which Vietnamese in the United States maintain ties with family and friends who remain in Vietnam. Small does more than update the gift by situating it within ethnographic contexts of the twenty-first century. Through what he calls an orthogonal analysis, he skillfully juxtaposes his theoretical reflections with those of people he interviewed, to show how disjunctures between what the gift is supposed to do and what it actually achieves incite people to imagine different life worlds (72). The crux of his argument is that remittances are often in the form of money. Sent as gifts but arriving as money, remittances are emblematic of overseas Vietnamese, or Việt Kiề̀u—familiar yet strange, and highly mobile...

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