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East Asia publications

Chien-Hsin Tsai 

Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader (Columbia University Press, 2013) 

TsaiThis definitive anthology, edited by Tsai, casts Sinophone studies as the study of Sinitic-language cultures born of colonial and postcolonial influences. Essays by such authors as Rey Chow, Ha Jin, Leo Ou-fan Lee, Ien Ang, Wei-ming Tu, and David Wang address debates concerning the nature of Chineseness while introducing readers to essential readings in Tibetan, Malaysian, Taiwanese, French, Caribbean, and American Sinophone literatures. By placing Sinophone cultures at the crossroads of multiple empires, this anthology richly demonstrates the transformative power of multiculturalism and multilingualism, and by examining the place-based cultural and social practices of Sinitic-language communities in their historical contexts beyond “China proper,” it effectively refutes the diasporic framework.

Sung-Sheng Yvonne Chang

Literary Culture in Taiwan: Martial Law to Market Law (Columbia University Press, 2004)

Chang1With monumental changes in the last two decades, Taiwan is making itself anew. The process requires remapping not only the country's recent political past, but also its literary past. Taiwanese literature is now compelled to negotiate a path between residual high culture aspirations and the emergent reality of market demands in a relatively autonomous, increasingly professionalized field. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's sociology of culture, Chang argues that the concept of a field of cultural production is essential in accounting for the ways writers and editors respond to political and economic forces. The book traces the formation of dominant concepts of literature, competing literary trends, and how these ideas have met political and market challenges.

Changes in Literary Field: Contemporary Taiwanese Fiction (Unitas Publishing Company, 2001)

Chang2This collection of Chang's critical essays that appeared in Chinese publications between 1987 and 2000 explores key issues of literary history in contemporary Taiwan: drastic shifts in the dominant institutions of literary production; profound influences of (and resistance to) an imported aesthetic modernism; the prominent presence of a "lyrical-sentimental" style as a by-product of the post-1949 ruling regime's sinocentric cultural narrative, etc. It also offers critical appraisals of Taiwan's representative fiction writers of the late twentieth century.

Roger Hart

HART_CHINESEThe Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010)  The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra explains the fundamentally visual way Chinese mathematicians understood and solved mathematical problems. It argues that what the West 'discovered' in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had already been known to the Chinese for 1,000 years.

Roger Hart examines the Nine Chapters of Mathematical Arts—the classic ancient Chinese mathematics text—and the arcane art of fangcheng, one of the most significant branches of mathematics in Imperial China. Practiced between the first and seventeenth centuries by anonymous and most likely illiterate adepts, fangcheng involves manipulating counting rods on a counting board. It is essentially equivalent to the solution of systems of n equations in n unknowns in modern algebra, and its practice, Hart reveals, was visual and algorithmic. Fangcheng practitioners viewed problems in two dimensions as an array of numbers across counting boards. By "cross multiplying" these, they derived solutions of systems of linear equations that are not found in ancient Greek or early European mathematics. Doing so within a column equates to Gaussian elimination, while the same operation among individual entries produces determinantal-style solutions.

William Hurst

The Chinese Worker After Socialism (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Hurst1While millions in China have been advantaged by three decades of reform, impressive gains have also produced social dislocation. Groups that had been winners under socialism find themselves losers in the new order. Based on field research in nine cities across China, this fascinating study considers the fate of one such group - 35 million workers laid off from the state-owned sector. The book explains why these lay-offs occurred, how workers are coping with unemployment, what actions the state is taking to provide them with livelihoods and re-employment, and what happens when workers mobilize collectively to pursue redress of their substantial grievances. What happens to these people, the remnants of the socialist working class, will be critical in shaping post-socialist politics and society in China and beyond.

Laid-Off Workers in a Workers' State: Unemployment with Chinese Characteristics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

workers Communist parties lead revolutions in the name of the industrial proletariat. But in the course of China’s post-Mao reforms, perhaps no class has experienced downward mobility as steep as the working class. An estimated 30 million of state enterprise workers have experienced xiagang (laying-off), a stop-gap measure short of full unemployment, leaving them in a sort of limbo without the technical or psychological skills to adjust successfully to China’s new marketized, privatized, and globalized economy. In this book, an international team of scholars explores not only the politics of xiagang, but also the effect on Chinese workers and their families, and the variety of their responses to this unprecedented dislocation in their lives.

Huaiyin Li

Village China under Socialism and Reform: A Micro History, 1948-2008 (Stanford University Press, 2009)

Li1Based on the original documents from local agricultural collectives, newly accessible government archives, and the author's fieldwork in Qin village of Jiangsu Province, this book examines the experiences of Chinese villagers during the collective and reform periods. It offers a comprehensive account of rural life after the communist revolution, covering the villagers' involvement in the recurrent political campaigns since the 1950s, agricultural production under the collective system, family farming and non-agricultural economy in the reform era, and their everyday life in the family and the community. Using a micro-historical approach, this work investigates the behavior of the villagers as individuals and as a group in a discursive context in which their self interest and community norms interacted dynamically with the imposed systems and ideologies to motivate as well as constrain themselves. By scrutinizing the villagers' various patterns of participation in local politics and diverse strategies in both team farming and the household economy, this study highlights the continuities in rural transformation between the Mao and post-Mao eras. It perceives the recent developments in the village community as an outcome of the ecological, social, and institutional changes that have persisted from the collective era rather than a radical break with the pre-reform patterns of production and sociopolitical practices.

This book is a 2010 winner of the Robert W. Hamilton Book Award. The Robert W. Hamilton Awards for Academic Excellence are presented by the University Co-op and recognize leading University of Texas authors. The Hamilton Award is one of the highest honors of literary achievement given to published authors at the University of Texas at Austin.

Village Governance in North China, 1875-1936 (Stanford University Press, 2005)


Li2Drawing on government archives from Huailu County, Hebei province, this book examines local practices and official systems of social control, land taxation, and "self government" in North China villages during the late Qing and Republican periods. It addresses several fundamental issues about imperial and modern China, such as the nature of the traditional Chinese state, the patterns of peasant behavior, and state-village relations in the twentieth century. In addition to a thorough investigation of the day-to-day operation of village institutions, including both the endogenous "village regulations" and the newly imposed administrative systems, this book further explores the linguistic and symbolic dimensions of village governance. Its analysis of peasant behavior in community service activities sheds light on a village discourse that constrained as well as empowered ordinary villagers as well as the privileged elites. Its examination of the impact of "state-making" on rural society in the early twentieth century shows how the Republican state's nationalist discourse penetrated the village community to coexist or supersede the villagers' traditional values in reshaping their perceptions of local leadership and the legitimacy of power.

Patricia Maclachlan

The Ambivalent Consumer: Questioning Consumption in East Asia and the West (Cornell University Press, 2006)
Maclachlan1 Co-Edited with Sheldon Garon. In The Ambivalent Consumer, Abe Fellows Sheldon Garon and Patricia L. Maclachlan of the University of Texas, Austin bring together an array of scholars who explore the ambivalence provoked by the global spread of "American" consumer culture. The first comparative volume to examine global phenomena of consumer culture from the perspective of East Asia, this book analyzes not only the attractions of mass consumption but also the many discontents and dilemmas that arise from consumerism. The Ambivalent Consumer offers a useful perspective on the political economies of consumption to address such pressing topics as movements against genetically modified foods; shifting relations among consumers, producers, and states; the differential influence of gender on consumption; and conflicting consumer attitudes toward globalization. The volume is the result of a seminar series organized by the Abe Fellowship Program of the SSRC with funding provided by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Consumer Politics in Postwar Japan: The Institutional Boundaries of Citizen Activism (NY: Columbia University Press, 2002)
Maclachlan2 Providing comparisons to the United States and Britain, this book examines Japan´s postwar consumer protection movement. Organized largely by and for housewives and spurred by major cases of price gouging and product contamination, the movement led to the passage of basic consumer protection legislation in 1968. Although much of the story concerns the famous "iron triangle" of big business, national bureaucrats, and conservative party politics, Maclachlan takes a broader perspective. She points to the importance of activity at the local level, the role of minority parties, the limited utility of the courts, and the place of lawyers and academics in providing access to power. These mild social strategies have resulted in a significant amount of consumer protection.

Mark Metzler

Lever of Empire: The International gold Standard and the Crisis of Liberalism in Prewar Japan (University of California Press, 2006)

Metzler1Mark Metzler was one of four runners-up for the Hamilton Book Award for Lever of Empire. The Robert W. Hamilton Awards for Academic Excellence presented by the University Co-op recognize leading University of Texas authors. The Hamilton Award is one of the highest honors of literary achievement given to published authors at the University of Texas at Austin.

This book, the first full account of Japan's financial history and the Japanese gold standard in the pivotal years before World War II, provides a new perspective on the global political dynamics of the era by placing Japan, rather than Europe, at the center of the story. Focusing on the fall of liberalism in Japan in late 1931 and the global politics of money that were at the center of the crisis, Mark Metzler asks why successive Japanese governments from 1920 to 1931 carried out policies that deliberately induced deflation and depression. His search for answers stretches from Edo to London to the ragged borderlands of the Japanese empire and from the eighteenth century to the 1950s, integrating political and monetary analysis to shed light on the complex dynamics of money, empire, and global hegemony. His detailed and broad ranging account illuminates a range of issues including Japan's involvement in the economic dynamics that shook interwar Europe, the character of U.S. isolationism, and the rise of fascism as an international phenomenon.

Robert Oppenheim

Kyongju Things: Assembling Place (University of Michigan Press, 2008)

Oppenheim1Kyongju is South Korea's preeminent "culture city," an urban site rich with archaeological wonders that residents compare to those of Nara, Xian, and Rome. By examining these ancient objects in relation to the controversies that engulfed South Korea's high-speed railway line when it was first proposed in the 1990s, Kyongju Things offers a grounded and theoretically sophisticated account of South Korean development and citizenship in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Its sensitivity to issues of place, knowledge, and cultural heritage and its innovative use of network theory will be of interest to a wide range of scholars in anthropology, Asian studies, the history of science and technology, cultural geography, urban planning, and political science.

Nancy Stalker

Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburo, Oomoto, and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2007)

Stalker1From the 1910s to the mid-1930s, the flamboyant and gifted spiritualist Deguchi Onisaburo (1871-1948) transformed his mother-in-law's small, rural religious following into a massive movement, eclectic in content and international in scope. Through a potent blend of traditional folk beliefs and practices like divination, exorcism, and millenarianism, an ambitious political agenda, and skillful use of new forms of visual and mass media, he attracted millions to Oomoto, his Shintoist new religion. Despite its condemnation as a heterodox sect by state authorities and the mainstream media, Oomoto quickly became the fastest-growing religion in Japan of the time.

In telling the story of Onisaburo and Oomoto, Nancy Stalker not only gives us the first full account in English of the rise of a heterodox movement in imperial Japan, but also provides new perspectives on the importance of "charismatic entrepreneurship" in the success of new religions around the world. She makes the case that these religions often respond to global developments and tensions (imperialism, urbanization, consumerism, the diffusion of mass media) in similar ways. They require entrepreneurial marketing and management skills alongside their spiritual authority if their groups are to survive encroachments by the state and achieve national/international stature. Their drive to realize and extend their religious view of the world ideally stems from a "prophet" rather than "profit" motive, but their activity nevertheless relies on success in the modern capitalist, commercial world.

Unlike many studies of Japanese religion during this period, Prophet Motive works to dispel the notion that prewar Shinto was monolithically supportive of state initiatives and ideology.

John Traphagan

TRAPHAGAN - demog(Co-Editor) Demographic Change and the Family in Japan's Aging Society (State University of New York Press, 2003) Incorporating qualitative and quantitative data and research methods from both demography and social anthropology, this book explores demographic trends in contemporary Japan's rapidly aging society. The contributors describe and analyze trends by addressing the ways in which demographic change is experienced in the context of family. The book considers the social effects, welfare issues, and private and public responses to demographic change and how this change has influenced the experiences of family caregivers and the elderly themselves. It offers both a specific regional contribution to the emerging field of demographic anthropology and an anthropological contribution to cross-disciplinary research on aging.

TRAP-OBLIVTaming Oblivion: Aging Bodies and the Fear of Senility in Japan (State University of New York Press, 2000) This book examines the cultural construction of senility in Japan and the moral implications of dependent behavior for older Japanese. While the bio-medical construction of senility-as-pathology has become increasingly the norm in North America, in Japan a folk category of senility exists known as boke. Although symptomatically and conceptually overlapping with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, boke is distinguished from unambiguously pathological conditions.  Rather than being viewed as a disease, boke is seen as an illness over which people have some degree of control. Traphagan's ethnographic study of older Japanese explores their experiences as they contemplate and attempt to prevent or delay the boke condition.

TRAPHAGAN_SUSTAIN(Co-Editor) Toward Sustainable Cities: Reading in the Anthropology (Leiden Development Studies, no 15. 1998) Urban sustainability has quite recently become one of the main issues of practical concern in city development and a foremost focus of urban studies. This book presents an overview of the still limited theoretical achievements in this field as well as a number of case studies to specify these insights and illustrate the environmental problems concerned. Concepts discussed range from urban sustainability and carrying capacity to urban metabolism; problems examined include water pollution, air pollution, waste, urban form, and urban greenery and agriculture. These issues are contextualized with case studies of cities in different cultures, such as Kashan in Iran, Jos in Nigeria, Goiana in Brazil, New York in the USA, and four locations in Japan. They provide profound date and insights shoring up the three major debates covered in this book, namely the cultural construction of nature, urban environments and urban problems; the role of urban greenery and urban agriculture on sustainable city development; and urban environmental threats evoked by waste and natural disasters.

TRAP-RITUALThe Practice of Concern: Ritual, Well-Being, and Aging in Rural Japan (Carolina Academic Press, 2004) This book explores ideas and practices related to religious ritual and health among older people in northern Japan. Drawing on more than three years of ethnographic fieldwork, Traphagan considers various forms of ritual performance and contextualizes these in terms of private and public spheres of activity. An important theme of the book is that for Japanese the expression of concern about family, friends, the community, and the nation is a central symbolic element in religious ritual practice. The book has important implications for research into religion and health, because it suggests that, in order to carry out successful cross-cultural research, it is necessary to move beyond conceptualizations of religions that have shaped much of the work in this area to date, because, as consideration of the Japanese context shows, the theological language of Western religions is not necessarily adequate to the task of understanding how health and religion are tied together in other cultures. Traphagan argues that there is a need to focus on how religious rituals are markers that symbolically convey information about embodied experience and how these markers express and are expressions of concerns about health and well-being.

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