Cross-Currents E-Journal (No. 6)

March 2013
Editors' Note
Wen-hsin Yeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University


Wennan Liu, Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Western knowledge about the injurious effects of cigarette smoking on smokers’ health appeared in the late nineteenth century and was shaped by both the Christian temperance movement and scientific developments in chemistry and physiology. Along with the increasing import of cigarettes into China, this new knowledge entered China through translations published at the turn of the twentieth century. It was reinterpreted and modified to dissuade the Chinese people from smoking cigarettes in two anti-cigarette campaigns: one launched by a former American missionary, Edward Thwing, in Tianjin, and a second by progressive social elites in Shanghai on the eve of the 1911 Revolution. By examining the rhetoric and practice of the campaigns, I argue that the discourse of hygiene they deployed moralized the individual habit of cigarette smoking as undermining national strength and endangering the future of the Chinese nation, thus helping to construct the idea of a nationalized body at this highly politically charged moment.

Jia Si, Fudan University

This article examines the introduction of English to the treaty port of Shanghai and the speech communities that developed there as a result. English became a sociocultural phenomenon rather than an academic subject when it entered Shanghai in the 1840s, gradually generating various social activities of local Chinese people who lived in the treaty port. Ordinary people picked up a rudimentary knowledge of English along trading streets and through glossary references, and went to private schools to improve their linguistic skills. They used English to communicate with foreigners and as a means to explore a foreign presence dominated by Western material culture. Although those who learned English gained small-scale social mobility in the late nineteenth century, the images of English-speaking Chinese were repeatedly criticized by the literati and official scholars. This paper explores Westerners’ travel accounts, as well as various sources written by the new elite Chinese, including official records and vernacular poems, to demonstrate how English language acquisition brought changes to local people’s daily lives. I argue that treaty-port English in nineteenth-century Shanghai was not only a linguistic medium but, more importantly, a cultural agent of urban transformation. It gradually molded a new linguistic landscape, which at the same time contributed to the shaping of modern Shanghai culture.

Igor Chabrowski, European University Institute

Chongqing’s “guide songs” form an interesting subgenre among the broad category of haozi 號子 (workers’ songs). These early twentieth-century songs were a form of rhythm-based oral narrative describing Chongqing’s urban spaces, river docks, and harbors. Each toponym mentioned in the lyrics was followed by a depiction of the characteristic associations, whether visible or symbolic, of the place. This article aims to analyze the verbal images of Chongqing presented in these songs in order to understand how the city was remembered, reproduced, and represented. The article deconstructs representations of the city produced by the lower classes, mainly by Sichuan boatmen, and links culturally meaningful images of urban spaces with the historical experiences of work, religion, and historical-mythical memory. It also points to the functions that oral narratives had in the urban environment of early twentieth-century Chongqing. Rhythmic and easy to remember, the songs provided ready-to-use guides and repositories of knowledge useful to anyone living or working there. A cross between utilitarian resource books and cultural representations, they shaped modes of thinking and visualizations of urban spaces and Chongqing. Finally, this article responds to the need to employ popular culture in our thinking about Chinese cities and the multiplicity of meanings they were given in pre-Communist times.

Garrett Washington, College of Wooster

In 1915, with the support of Jōdo Shinshū (True Pure Land) Buddhism’s Higashi Honganji sect and dozens of private Buddhist donors, Buddhist priest Chikazumi Jōkan erected a new, one-of-a-kind Buddhist meeting hall in Tokyo, the Kyūdō Kaikan. Chikazumi conceived of the building as a clear and deliberate spatial challenge to the crowded Protestant churches and lecture halls of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Tokyo. He chose prominent Western-style architect Takeda Goichi (1872–1938), rather than a traditional Japanese shrine or temple carpenter, to design it. The new building, in tandem with the adjacent Kyūdō Gakusha (Salvation Dormitory) that Chikazumi established in 1902, spoke to, and significantly impacted, the socio-moral, intellectual, and religious life of hundreds of young Tokyoites. These two buildings represented a response to Protestant Christianity’s popularity and relevance like no other in imperial Japan. In order to achieve the religious evangelism and suprasectarian reform that he envisioned for Buddhism, Chikazumi proved willing to apply observations made in the West and appropriate practical Western Christian architectural features. Through an analysis of drawings, photographs, periodicals, institutional records, and other sources, this article tells the story of the rare fusion of opposites as Chikazumi equipped Buddhism to compete with Protestantism for the attention and devotion of the educated elite.

Sue-Je L. Gage, Ithaca College

This article focuses on the relationships between the U.S. military, race, masculinity, and power in South Korea. I argue that notions of empire are played out in off-base interactions among U.S. soldiers themselves, but also between U.S. soldiers and non-U.S. military others, particularly in the post-9/11 “war on terror” era. In these strategic interplays, soldiers often carry stereotypes held in the United States, but also reinforced by their identities and training as U.S. soldiers. Globalization trends and international relations also influence modes of communication and relations within this hierarchically ranked system and structure. This article discusses how power, gender, race, and racisms play out in the camptowns of South Korea by using an ethnographic lens to link the human face with empire.

Review Essays, Notes & Bibliographies

Robert Culp, Bard College

Understanding society and building the national community were, in many ways, paired common goals for China’s intellectuals and political leaders during the first half of the twentieth century. Complementary new books by Tong Lam and Janet Chen illuminate key dynamics of those processes. Lam’s A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900–1949 tracks the development of the social survey movement (shehui diaocha yundong) during the first half of the twentieth century. Chen’s Guilty of Indigence: The Urban Poor in China, 1900–1953 analyzes efforts to explain poverty, categorize the poor, and extend to the needy “active relief,” which was meant to transform them from “parasites” into productive citizens. Together the books demonstrate how new systems of knowledge served to map the social field and how institutions of governance defined and reshaped social groups for the project of national mobilization, with Lam concentrating more on the development of modern technologies of knowledge and Chen focusing more on the development of governmental institutions and the imposition of social discipline...

Nam-lin Hur, University of British Columbia

In Bonds of the Dead, Mark Rowe, who focuses on “the grave as the center of the ancestral orbit” in Japanese mortuary practices, observes that, due to the gradual loss of its gravitational pull, “the economic and social bedrock of temple Buddhism in Japan has eroded to the point where even its continued existence is publicly called into question” (222). Here, Rowe speaks to the decline of what is commonly known as the danka system. In contrast, in Nature’s Embrace, Satsuki Kawano finds that the dominance of Buddhist death-related rituals couched in the tradition of the danka system remains by and large intact...