Dear Cross-Currents readers,
We are pleased to present you with the thirty-fourth quarterly issue of the open-access e-journal Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review. Regrettably, this is the journal’s final online issue. The final print issue—featuring content from the December 2019 and March 2020 online issues—is scheduled to be published in May 2020.
The Research Institute of Korean Studies at Korea University (KU) has underwritten the costs of producing the journal since its start nearly ten years ago, but this has become an unsustainable financial commitment. Our unsuccessful search for alternate sources of funding over the past year has revealed just how difficult it is to launch and maintain an open-access humanities/social science journal. This realization makes KU’s support over the years all the more remarkable.
Fortunately, we have arranged for Cross-Currents to be archived and to remain open-access. We are in the process of transferring the content of the thirty-four issues to eScholarship, a publishing platform that serves as the institutional repository for the ten University of California campuses and is managed by the California Digital Library. Later in the spring, we will announce the public availability of this resource, and how to access it, via H-ASIA and Facebook. Also, University of Hawai'i Press will soon be offering back issues of our print journal at 50 percent off the cover price. Please check the home page of the March 2020 issue or our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/crosscurrentsjournal) for updates on how to take advantage of this sale.
The March 2020 issue includes three individually submitted articles. Andrew Kauffman (Indiana University) explores the cultural afterlife of the socialist martyr Wang Erxiao in mid-twentieth-century China in order to show how “the heroic sacrificial death of the boy both powered and imperiled the Communist-led revolution and the construction of a new, socialist society.” Joseph Jeong-il Lee (Northeast Asian History Foundation) traces how the Chosŏn court and ruling elites responded to the Revolt of Wu Sangui (1673–1678) and its aftereffects, thus revealing the links between the realpolitik of Chosŏn and the longue durée of Pax Manjurica, Pax Mongolica, and Pax Sinica. Tommy Tran (University of California, Merced) examines travel literature (kihaeng) written by three Cheju Island authors responding to or criticizing trends in Cheju cultural tourism since the early 2000s.
This issue also includes four review essays covering nine recent publications in Asian studies. In the first review essay, John P. DiMoia (Seoul National University) introduces us to 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. Both books 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.”
Youngmi Lim (Musashi University) writes that David Leheny’s Empire of Hope: The Sentimental Politics of Japanese Decline, which is devoted to Japan’s concern about its global reputation in “softer” realms, is nicely supplemented by Voice of the Korea Minority in Postwar Japan: Histories Against the Grain by Erik Ropers, a volume committed to tackling one of the most contentious inter-Northeast Asian geopolitical issues: history writing about prewar Japan and the total mobilization of Korean colonial subjects into Japan’s war. Lim notes that both authors make their readers think about the ways in which they consume historical narratives and representations of national or collective emotion. “So much rests,” she asserts, “on what we want to feel about ourselves and to which community we wish to belong.”
In the third review essay, Sherzod Muminov (University of East Anglia) puts Jeremy A. Yellen’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: When Total Empire Met Total War, Benjamin Uchiyama’s Japan’s Carnival War: Mass Culture on the Home Front, 1937–1945, and Bill Sewell’s Constructing Empire: The Japanese in Changchun, 1905–45 in conversation with one another. Read together, these books “challenge facile assumptions and help us reconsider Japan’s imperial adventures as complex transnational interactions” and “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.”
In the final review essay, Albert L. Park (Claremont McKenna College) recommends reading From Domestic Women to Sensitive Young Men: Translating the Individual in Early Colonial Korea by Yoon Sun Yang and Rules of the House: Family Law and Domestic Disputes in Colonial Korea by Sungyun Lim together. The authors “write eloquently about the gendering of society and its negotiation by a variety of parties through two languages—literature and the law” and thus, taken together, “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.”
Yanbo Li’s photo essay, “Deconstructing Modernity: Unsettled Urban Living in a Changing Shanghai,” documents how capitalism, which effectively built the community and autonomy of Shanghai, has also caused the widespread disappearance of the city’s historic districts and traditional lifestyle. Li’s images of daily life present three typical situations—demolition and relocation, remaining in place, and uncertainty—in which vulnerable communities have been displaced, constrained, and abandoned, thus documenting the “fading splendor” of what is now China’s most populous urban area and a global financial hub.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue. Thank you to all of our readers, contributors, reviewers, editorial board members, copy editors, and tech help for sharing their time and expertise with us over the past ten years.
Wen-hsin Yeh and Hyongchan Kim