1313 episódios

Interviews with Scholars of East Asia about their New Books
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New Books in East Asian Studies Marshall Poe

    • Sociedade e cultura

Interviews with Scholars of East Asia about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/east-asian-studies

    Peter Harmsen, "Bernhard Sindberg: The Schindler of Nanjing" (Casemate, 2024)

    Peter Harmsen, "Bernhard Sindberg: The Schindler of Nanjing" (Casemate, 2024)

    In December 1937, Bernhard Sindberg arrives at a cement factory outside of Nanjing. He’s one of just two foreigners, and he gets there just weeks before the Japanese invade and commit the now infamous atrocities in the Chinese city.
    As the writer Peter Harmsen notes, Bernhard’s background isn’t particularly compelling: He’s bounced from job to job, and is known for butting heads with his colleagues and superiors. But as Harmsen explains in his book Bernhard Sindberg: The Schindler of Nanjing (Casemate: 2024), the Danish man ends up doing something extraordinary: Setting up a refugee camp and using every ounce of political capital and sheer bullheadedness to protect tens of thousands of Chinese trying to escape the fighting.
    In this interview, Peter and I talk about Bernhard, his less-than-illustrious path to China, and what his deeds in Nanjing tell us about the nature of heroism.
    Peter Harmsen is the author of Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze (Casemate: 2015) and Nanjing 1937: Battle for a Doomed City (Casemate: 2015), as well as the War in the Far East trilogy. He studied history at National Taiwan University and has been a foreign correspondent in East Asia for more than two decades.
    You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Bernhard Sindberg. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
    Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
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    • 36 min
    Benjamin Brose, "Embodying Xuanzang: The Postmortem Travels of a Buddhist Pilgrim" (U Hawaii Press, 2023)

    Benjamin Brose, "Embodying Xuanzang: The Postmortem Travels of a Buddhist Pilgrim" (U Hawaii Press, 2023)

    Xuanzang (600/602–664) was one of the most accomplished and consequential monks in the history of East Asian Buddhism. Celebrated for his sixteen-year pilgrimage from China to India, his transmission and translation of hundreds of Buddhist texts, and his training of a generation of masters in China, Korea, and Japan, Xuanzang’s life and legacy are the stuff of legend. In the centuries after his death, stories of his epic adventures and extraordinary accomplishments circulated in texts, images, songs, and plays. These mythic accounts recast the erudite pilgrim, translator, and court cleric as a magical monk who traveled not between China and India but between heaven and earth. Beset by bloodthirsty demons, this deified version of Xuanzang navigates the perilous paths of the netherworld to reach a pure land in the west. His purpose is to acquire a cache of sacred scriptures with the power to safeguard the living and deliver the dead. Along the way, he is guided and protected by a mischievous monkey, a lazy pig, a demonic monk, and a dragon horse. This imaginative and compelling tale received its fullest and most influential treatment in the famous sixteenth-century novel Journey to the West. 
    In this engaging exploration of the confluence of myth, narrative, and ritual, Benjamin Brose uncovers the hidden histories of Xuanzang’s many afterlives. Beginning in the eleventh century and continuing to the present day, devotees have summoned Xuanzang and his band of misfit pilgrims to perform exorcisms, guide the spirits of the dead, and possess the bodies of insurgents. Embodying Xuanzang: The Postmortem Travels of a Buddhist Pilgrim (U Hawaii Press, 2023) traces the postmortem travels of China’s greatest pilgrim and reveals the narrative and performative roots of China’s best-known novel.
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    • 1h 5 min
    Christine Abigail L. Tan, "Freedom's Frailty: Self-Realization in the Neo-Daoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang's Zhuangzhi" (SUNY Press, 2024)

    Christine Abigail L. Tan, "Freedom's Frailty: Self-Realization in the Neo-Daoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang's Zhuangzhi" (SUNY Press, 2024)

    Christine Tan argues that the most fruitful way to read the Zhuangzi, if one is seeking political and ethical insight, is through the Jin Dynasty commentator Guo Xiang. In Freedom’s Frailty: Self-Realization in the Neo-Daoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang’s Zhuangzi (SUNY Press, 2024), she lays out her reasoning for this position, offering her interpretation of Guo’s conception of freedom in relationship to Anglo-European philosophers like Isaiah Berlin. Explaining what she calls Guo’s “logic of convergence,” on which opposites are brought together, Tan unpacks Guo’s hermeneutic approach to the Zhuangzi and his use of self-realization (zide) as a tool to bring about political transformation.
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    • 52 min
    Jennifer Liu, "Indoctrinating the Youth: Secondary Education in Wartime China and Postwar Taiwan, 1937-1960" (U Hawaii Press, 2024)

    Jennifer Liu, "Indoctrinating the Youth: Secondary Education in Wartime China and Postwar Taiwan, 1937-1960" (U Hawaii Press, 2024)

    Indoctrinating the Youth: Secondary Education in Wartime China and Postwar Taiwan, 1937-1960 (U Hawaii Press, 2024) examines how the Guomindang (GMD or Nationalists) sought to maintain control of middle-school students and cultivate their political loyalty over the trajectory of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War, and postwar Taiwan. During the Sino-Japanese War the Nationalists managed middle-school refugee students by merging schools, publishing and distributing updated textbooks, and assisting students as they migrated to the interior with their principals and teachers. In Taiwan, the China Youth Corps (CYC) became a symbol of the regime’s successful establishment. Tracing Nationalist efforts to indoctrinate ideology and martial spirit, Jennifer Liu investigates how GMD leaders Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo tried to build support among young people in their efforts to stabilize Taiwanese society under their rule. By comparing two key youth organizations—the Three People’s Principles Youth Corps in China, and the CYC on Taiwan—Liu uses education as a lens to analyze state-building in modern China.
    Liu’s careful analysis of the inner workings of GMD youth organizations also illuminates the day-to-day operations of military training in gender-segregated upper-middle schools—including how the government selected instructors and the skills taught to students. According to Liu, mandatory military training contributed to preventing major protest against the government but the policy was not without critics. Intellectuals, parents, and students voiced their dissent at what they perceived as excessive control by a repressive government and a waste of resources interfering with academics. The government-mandated civics curriculum, including government-approved textbooks and standards, reveals the characteristics and duties GMD officials believed modern citizens of the next generation should possess. Through provisions for refugee students, youth organizations, military training, and civics classes, GMD secondary education policy played a critical role in the process of state building in both modern China and Taiwan.
    Skillfully combining archival work in Nanjing and Taipei, along with oral interviews with former students and CYC administrators, instructors, and members, Liu offers a unique perspective toward a balanced assessment of Nationalist Party rule.
    Jennifer Liu is associate professor of East Asian history at Central Michigan University. She specializes in the political and social history of twentieth-century China, particularly education, youth culture, studen​t protest, and ethnic identity.
    Li-Ping Chen is a teaching fellow in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.
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    • 1h 10 min
    En Li, "Betting on the Civil Service Examinations: The Lottery in Late Qing China" (Harvard UP, 2023)

    En Li, "Betting on the Civil Service Examinations: The Lottery in Late Qing China" (Harvard UP, 2023)

    During the Qing dynasty in China, a wide variety of people participated in a lottery game named weixing (“surname guessing”), which had participants placing bets on the surnames of civil service examination candidates. A fiercely competitive process, those who passed the various levels of the civil service and military examinations could climb the social ladder and obtain status in their communities and be considered for important positions in the government and military. The results of these examinations were not only highly anticipated by the exam takers themselves but also–with the introduction of weixing–by an enthusiastic community of players who bet on the success of candidates with less common surnames.
    In this episode, En Li, assistant professor of modern East Asian history at the University of Texas at Dallas and author of Betting on the Civil Service Exmaninations: The Lottery in Late Qing China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2023), explores the fascinating history of this lottery game–from the longer history of games and betting in China and the origin of weixing to its regulation by the government to raise revenue and the spread of the game beyond China’s borders through Chinese diasporic communities to Southeast Asia and North America. The book considers the game from multiple perspectives–government officials, players, and lottery game runners. En Li thoughtfully reflects on the book and the process of producing it and points to the larger significance of both weixing and the civil service examinations in Chinese society and life and the risk, reward, and loss involved.
    Laurie Dickmeyer is an Assistant Professor of History at Angelo State University, where she teaches courses in Asian and US history. Her research concerns nineteenth century US-China relations. She can be reached at laurie.dickmeyer@angelo.edu.
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    • 38 min
    Wei Wu, "Esoteric Buddhism in China: Engaging Japanese and Tibetan Traditions, 1912–1949" (Columbia UP, 2023)

    Wei Wu, "Esoteric Buddhism in China: Engaging Japanese and Tibetan Traditions, 1912–1949" (Columbia UP, 2023)

    During the Republican period (1912–1949) and after, many Chinese Buddhists sought inspiration from non-Chinese Buddhist traditions, showing a particular interest in esoteric teachings. What made these Buddhists dissatisfied with Chinese Buddhism, and what did they think other Buddhist traditions could offer? Which elements did they choose to follow, and which ones did they disregard? And how do their experiences recast the wider story of twentieth-century pan-Asian Buddhist reform movements?
    Based on a wide range of previously unexplored Chinese sources, Esoteric Buddhism in China: Engaging Japanese and Tibetan Traditions, 1912–1949 (Columbia UP, 2023) explores how esoteric Buddhist traditions have shaped the Chinese religious landscape. Wei Wu examines cross-cultural religious transmission of ideas from Japanese and Tibetan traditions, considering the various esoteric currents within Chinese Buddhist communities and how Chinese individuals and groups engaged with newly translated ideas and practices. She argues that Chinese Buddhists’ assimilation of doctrinal, ritual, and institutional elements of Tibetan and Japanese esoteric Buddhism was not a simple replication but an active process of creating new meanings. Their visions of Buddhism in the modern world, as well as early twentieth-century discourses of nation building and religious reform, shaped the reception of esoteric traditions. By analyzing the Chinese interpretation and strategic adaptations of esoteric Buddhism, this book sheds new light on the intellectual development, ritual performances, and institutional formations of Chinese Buddhism in the twentieth century.
    To understand the broader forces that shaped the debates about esoteric Buddhism in modern China, please also check Wu Wei's article, "Buddhism and Superstition: Buddhist Apologetics in the Anti-Superstition Campaigns in Modern China," which is open access and can be found here.
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    • 1h 8 min

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