A Note to Our Readers

Wen-hsin Yeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University

March 2013

Dear Cross-Currents readers,

We are pleased to present you with the sixth online issue of the Cross-Currents e-journal.

This issue features five research articles on a range of topics, including: anti-cigarette campaigns in pre-1911 China, treaty-port English in nineteenth-century Shanghai, the guide songs of Sichuan boatmen, the influence of Christian church architecture on Buddhist spaces in imperial Japan, and race and gender relations in U.S. camptowns in Korea. Individually and taken together, these articles represent our journal’s commitment to presenting you with new cross-cultural scholarship on East Asia.

Wennan Liu’s article, “Moralized Hygiene and Nationalized Body: Anti-Cigarette Campaigns in China on the Eve of the 1911 Revolution” addresses the question of how the Christian discourse of anti-cigarette smoking became a Chinese discourse in the treaty ports of Tianjin and Shanghai in the first decades of the twentieth century. Exactly how did this Christian discourse interact with the dominant Chinese discourse of national wealth, power, and citizenship so as to produce a modern Chinese discourse against smoking? In this focused study of a broad range of Tianjin and Shanghai publications on anti-cigarette campaigns, Liu takes into account the textual genealogies, translingual practices, and social networks that went into the production of the texts and offers a new take on the Chinese construction of a nationalized body via the discourse of weisheng (“guarding health”).

English emerged over the course of the nineteenth century as a globalizing language of trade in East Asian waters. Shanghai saw the rise of a unique brand of yangjingbang (treaty-port) English in the aftermath of the Opium War (1839–42). Treaty-port English provided the means of livelihood for a growing number of Chinese commoners who had little competence in classical Chinese, the language to bureaucratic success in imperial China. In her article, “Treaty-Port English in Nineteenth-Century Shanghai: Speakers, Voices and Images,” Jia Si looks beyond the socio-political significance of the emerging yangjingbang English into the formation of a community of yangjingbang users, in order to assess the significance of the language in the production of a new urban culture.

No urban space is without historical memories. Yet how to best write a bottom-up social history—beyond the mediation of the top-down municipal archives—for a place such as Chongqing represents an intellectual challenge at the cutting edge. Igor Chabrowski’s “Representing and Coping with Early Twentieth-Century Chongqing: ‘Guide Songs’ as Maps, Memory Cells, and Means of Creating Cultural Imagery” calls upon the memorized songs of the laboring masses to reconstruct a map of the city that was timed to the rhythms and perspectives of those who were experiencing it on foot, at a time before the industrial age of mechanization.

One man, Chikazume Jōkan masterminded the construction of two True Pure Land buildings (the Kyūdō Kaikan and the Kyūdō Gakusha) in Tokyo in the first decade of the twentieth century. In “Fighting Brick with Brick: Chikazumi Jōkan and Buddhism’s Response to Christian Space in Imperial Japan,” Garrett Washington argues that these two buildings were the answers of a single Buddhist priest both to the state-sponsored Shinto shrines and the Christian Protestant churches crowding the Japanese urban landscape at its time. Jōkan was successful, Washington believes, and there were photographs, drawings, archival records, and journal articles to prove the attraction of the Kyūdō enterprises to Tokyo’s educated elite.

A variety of institutions, American as well as Korean, built up a popular image in the mid-twentieth century of the typical American soldier as a white male standing on guard in defense of the values of freedom and democracy. In “‘We’re Never Off Duty’: Empire and the Economies of Race and Gender in the U.S. Military Camptowns of Korea,” Sue-Je L. Gage revisits this image a half-century later on the ground in American camptowns, such as Camp Casey, on the borders of North and South Korea. She asks: how does this image live up to changes over time? What are the social ramifications of its imperatives with regard to issues of gender, race, and imperialism?

In addition to these articles, you will also find two review essays in this issue. The first essay, by Robert Culp (Bard College) discusses how new systems of knowledge in post-imperial China served to map the social field and how institutions of governance defined and reshaped social groups for the project of national mobilization. Culp’s essay draws its inspiration from two recent publications: Tong Lam’s A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900–1949 (UC Press, 2011) and Janet Y. Chen’s Guilty of Indigence: The Urban Poor in China, 1900–1953 (Princeton, 2012).

In the second review essay Cross-Currents editorial board member Nam-lin Hur (University of British Columbia) explores the legacies of the danka system (the affiliation between patron families and funerary Buddhist temples) through a discussion of Mark Rowe’s Bonds of the Dead: Temples, Burial, and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Satsuki Kawano’s Nature’s Embrace: Japan’s Aging Urbanites and New Death Rites (University of Hawaii Press, 2010).

For this issue’s “Readings from Asia” section, Reitaku University professor Sakurai Ryōju kindly accepted our invitation to provide a synopsis of his China’s Xinhai Revolution and Political Fluctuations in Japan  亥革命と日本政治の変動. While the influence of Japan on China is a well-studied subject in Japan/China historiography, Sakurai’s unique study is the first to examine the influence of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 on later Japanese politics. The synopsis is available in both English and Japanese.

“Hiroshima Children’s Drawings” is a visual essay featuring selections from two portfolios of artwork by children of the Honkawa School sent as thank you gifts for art supplies provided by the congregation of All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC after the devastation of Hiroshima in 1945. An essay by Samuel Yamashita (Pomona College) contextualizes the images in various ways, revealing an array of ways to “read” them.

The Cross-Currents editorial board recently held its annual meeting at the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in San Diego, where the journal also had a booth in the book exhibit hall. Many thanks to all who came by to discuss the Cross-Currents project and brainstorm about future content.

We are pleased to let you know that you can now purchase individual issues of the print version of Cross-Currents, as well as individual and institutional subscriptions, through the University of Hawaii Press website (http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/t-cross-currents.aspx). Complimentary copies of Volume I, No. 1 are still available. To request a copy, please send an email with your name and full address to: crosscurrents [at] berkeley [dot] edu.

As always, we look forward to receiving your feedback. Be sure to register here on the Cross-Currents website in order to leave comments for our contributors and join the conversation.


Wen-hsin Yeh  &  Sungtaek Cho