Cross-Currents e-Journal (No. 34)

ISSN
2158-9674
Editors' Note

Articles

Andrew Kauffman, Indiana University
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Recent scholarship in modern Chinese studies has established the centrality of the figure of the child in modern configurations of nationhood. Yet very few studies have focused on the motif of child martyrdom and its place within Chinese socialist culture. By exploring the cultural afterlife of the socialist martyr Wang Erxiao in mid-twentieth-century China, this article shows how the heroic sacrificial death of the boy both powered and imperiled the Communist-led revolution and the construction of a new, socialist society. The author argues that, on the one hand, the figure of the socialist child martyr embodied the desire for the child to play a more active role in the Communist revolution and in the creation of a socialist utopia. On the other hand, in lionizing the heroic death of the child—the so-called revolutionary successor—stories like Wang Erxiao’s also posed an existential threat to the socialist community and brought to the fore tensions intrinsic to politicizing and aestheticizing the death of a child. By examining the relationship between children, violence, and sacrificial death, this article highlights the desires and anxieties embedded within the socialist project to create an image of the “new child.”

Keywords: child martyrdom, Wang Erxiao, War of Resistance against Japan, socialist literature, Boy Scouts, Alain Badiou

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Joseph Jeong-il Lee, Northeast Asian History Foundation
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During the Ming-Qing transition period, Chosŏn Korea (1392–1910) tried to articulate geopolitical change on its own terms by prioritizing state security. The way the Chosŏn court and ruling elites responded to the Revolt of Wu Sangui (1673–1681) and its aftereffects offers a snapshot of their accommodationist strategy for survival. This article explores how the court and elites maintained a policy of noninvolvement in association with domestic stability for social integration and self-strengthening for border defense. The author reveals the way the Chosŏn court and ruling elites handled the ongoing unexpected situations caused by Qing China, the anti-Qing force, and the Mongols. This approach helps contextualize the links between the realpolitik of Chosŏn and the longue durée of Pax Manjurica, Pax Mongolica, and Pax Sinica and promotes further inquiry into the international relations of East Asia from a transhistorical perspective.

Keywords: Chosŏn-Ming alliance, Ming loyalism, Mongols, realpolitik, Revolt of Wu Sangui, state security, Qing dynasty

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Tommy Tran, University of California, Merced
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Cheju kihaeng, a small yet growing genre of academicized travel writing, looks at Cheju Island as existing in a liminal time and space or as a position. Writing amidst as well as against tourism’s dominance on Cheju, kihaeng writers emphasize engagement with localities as vantage points from which one can not only recover long-ignored or suppressed subjectivities but also reject notions of Korean homogeneity. This article examines the books of Cheju historian and high school teacher Yi Yǒngkwǒn, journalist Kim Hyǒnghun, and former Provincial Office of Education director Mun Yǒngt’aek. Although these three authors share the overall objective of writing kihaeng literature from a Cheju islander’s perspective, their scope and interests demonstrate overlapping and sometimes divergent approaches to grounding history in the island’s geography as they respond to or criticize trends in Cheju cultural tourism since the early 2000s. These three authors’ treatment of local history and what it means to identify as a Cheju person reveals multiple complex layers and anxieties about how to begin to define as well as interrogate a notion of the Chejudodaun (Cheju-esque).

Keywords: Cheju, Jeju Island, kihaeng, tapsa, travel writing, heritage, cultural tourism, South Korea

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Review Essays, Notes & Bibliographies

John P. DiMoia, Seoul National University
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The two books under review here—Monica Kim’s Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: The Untold History and David Cheng Chang’s Hijacked War: The Story of Chinese POWs in the Korean War—each offer an extended examination of how the breakup and reconstitution of the Japanese Empire, the Chinese civil conflict (1945–1949), and, ultimately, the Korean War (1950–1953) collectively represent a mid-twentieth-century set of ruptures involving contested conceptions of the nation, economy, and underlying foundations of personal identity. Far from a complete, legible set of events, the Korean War represents fiercely contested space and, as such, provides a powerful motivation for undertaking new methodological approaches. Moreover, it is a force that continues to drive conflicts among the various parties involved...

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Youngmi Lim, Musashi University
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David Leheny’s Empire of Hope: The Sentimental Politics of Japanese Decline and Erik Ropers’s Voices of the Korean Minority in Postwar Japan: Histories against the Grain both contribute to our broader and deeper understanding of contemporary Japan. Leheny and Ropers provide readers with rich case studies to explore contentious national collective sentiment and identity. The monographs rely heavily on critical discourse analysis while epistemologically evoking contemporaneous social and political contexts. Respectively, Leheny and Ropers explore politics and historiography, which cannot be fully explained by rationality or empirical evidence alone. Both authors delve into the complex discursive politics of this age of uncertainty in the postindustrial world order, a discourse that remains deeply embedded in our everyday worldview today....

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Sherzod Muminov, University of East Anglia
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These three new books shed light on some of the understudied dimensions of Japan’s imperial project, thus expanding our knowledge of the Japanese Empire and World War II in East Asia. They challenge facile assumptions and help us reconsider Japan’s imperial adventures as complex transnational interactions. Read together or separately, these volumes enrich the Anglophone understanding of Japan’s war and empire with new evidence gleaned from archives and introduce compelling terms and concepts that refresh the by-now dated insights of their scholarly predecessors. Jeremy A. Yellen’s The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere delves into the making (and unmaking) of Japan’s eponymous new order for Asia, Benjamin Uchiyama’s Japan’s Carnival War uncovers carnivalesque dimensions of culture and life on the domestic front during the Asia-Pacific War, and Bill Sewell’s Constructing Empire seeks the civilian traces of imperial construction by zooming in on the history of Japanese in Changchun. Although different in approach and focus, these three books,  echo one another in significant ways in their analyses of the total war, the mass media’s role in reporting and recreating the conflict in the public realm, and the varying facets of the new order that Japan sought to impose on Asia and the world...

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Albert L. Park, Claremont McKenna College
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Yoon Sun Yang’s From Domestic Women to Sensitive Men: Translating the Individual in Early Colonial Korea and Sungyun Lim’s Rules of the House: Family Law and Domestic Disputes in Colonial Korea should be read together, because they complement each other nicely. Both authors write eloquently about the gendering of society and its negotiation by a variety of parties through two languages—literature and the law. Together, they accomplish what any scholarly book should do—that is, become the means to investigate, interrogate, and gain new perspectives on larger and broader categories and concepts that are questioned not only within Korean studies but also in other fields...

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