Asian History Carnival!!!What’s happening? Have the lunatics taken over the asylum? Why is a Euro-centrist, such as myself, hosting the Asian History Carnival? Obviously, I want to sit at the cool kids table with Manan et al. Apparently, I need to overthrow the dry, stultifying style of my Rankian super-ego and embrace my inner Asianist.
So for today, Welcome to the Indus River!
Sleazy Western Businessmen
At Marmot’s Hole, Robert Neff writes about the impressions that Westerners had of sexuality in Korea in “The Oldest Profession in Choson.” Yet it was the Japanese who brought the prostitutes the Westerners desired.
When Chemulpo was opened to the West it was nothing more than a handful of small rude huts. The Japanese began building European/Japanese hybrid buildings and as more and more people arrived, began importing “entertainment” from the home islands. Many of the early missionaries were appalled at the low morals of their fellow countrymen and that of the Japanese - but no matter how much they moaned about it - they could not get rid of it.Similarly, Jonathan Dresner looks at the sex-toy industry in 1930s Japan, noting that it seemed completely oriented towards foreigners, as the catalog for the Arita Drug and Rubber Goods Co. was printed entirely in English.
Rather than “Googling himself,” Konrad Lawson wiles away his evenings by searching through Google Books. He has been pulling out full-text, downloadable books that should be of interest to Asianists: something for China, for Japan, and for Korea.
Oiwan Lam tells us about a Chinese cartoon series, Devil Soldiers in Mao-er Mountain, set during WWII, which portrays Japanese soldiers as idiots. Perhaps it will be a point of discussion when Japanese PM Abe visits China and Korea, who puts such a positive spin on Japan's war.
All Greek to MeJust before taking off, Prime Minister Abe spoke to the press corps at Haneda Airport about the issue of Japan's acknowledgement of its history, stating emphatically, "We will act based on humble reflection on the past. I would like to make that the basis of my discussions [with the PRC and ROK] and look toward the future." On the Yasukuni Shrine issue, he stated, "I want to explain that most successive Prime Ministers paid their respects to those who died for their country and that we have made our pilgrimages in a spirit of seeking peace."Well, since that's the way the issue's been "explained" to the rest of East Asia for years now, I'm not sure what's supposed to make it more persuasive this time--especially since it's now going to be coming a from a known nationalist and apologist for Japan's wartime conduct.
I found nothing beguiling about Wade-Giles in the three classes of Chinese history I took as an undergraduate, but apparently the Cambridge scholars, Thomas Wade and Herbert Giles, despite being linked together in the awkward Romanization of Chinese, were quite different men. Language Hat notes this article by Andrew Leonard that explored the diverging Weltanschauungs of the two scholars.
Thomas Wade may have been [a soldier] in the infamous Opium Wars, giving heft to any theories of Wade-Giles Romanization as a tool of neocolonialist ideological oppression. But Giles, apparently, was something else. According to Pickford, "Giles was also disliked by the Christian Missionaries whose work he despised. This antagonism was contrary to British Government policy, which saw the work of the missionaries as entirely legitimate and beneficial. Giles disagreed, and made his disagreement very open and public... Giles was also unpopular with the British traders because he opposed the overcrowding of emigrant Chinese on British ships. In 1881 he was presented with a Red Umbrella by the Hsiamen Chinese Chamber of Commerce in recognition of this service to the Chinese people."Reb Chaim HaQoton offers a post on triskadecaphobia’s expansive, transnational roots.
At Global Voices Online, John Kennedy tells Chinese students how to access Wikipedia.
History and Memory
Siddhartha Shome has a wonderful and erudite post about the recovery of India's ancient past from myth. Discussing the efforts of the Brit-run Asiatic Society, Siddhartha examines the process of deciphering ancient inscriptions and matching them to known personalities. So, who was King Devanampiya Piyadasi?
The question now was, who was this person Devanampiya Piyadasi? Prinsep initially thought it could be the Buddha himself, for, so far as scholars then knew, no single Indian monarch had ruled over such a vast territory as was covered by the pillars and rock inscriptions. This explanation, however, had soon to be given up because the inscriptions referred to ‘such and such year of my reign’, and the Buddha had never been a monarch. Unfortunately, wrote Prinsep, “in all the Hindu genealogical tables with which I am acquainted, no prince can be discovered possessing this very remarkable name”. The mystery was solved within a few short months, with information gleaned, not from archeological sites in India, but from distant Sri Lanka.Alan Baumler minds the calendar. First, Taiwan's celebration of Confucius' birth and the accompanying feather dance. Then, the 95th anniversary of the Wuhan Revolt.
It may have happened only one year ago, but Manan Ahmed looks back at the deadly earthquake in Pakistan and his efforts to help out.
“Either you are with us or you are against us”: the attitudes toward Westernization during the Meiji era reduced to a simple dichotomy. Morgan Pitelka worries about reducing complex realities of resistance and promotion to binaries.
M.G. Sheftall gets political, dissecting comparisons between Kamikazes and suicide bombers.
That said, one wonders if JSB’s promoters and apologists can legitimately claim that their campaign is, like tokkō, an act of defense: is there any “existential threat” today posed by the West vis-à-vis modern Islam – the world’s fastest growing religion – or for that matter, even by Israel vis-à-vis the Arabic-speaking community currently residing in the Palestinian Authority territories, whose population is increasing with vigorous fecundity, and for whom obesity is a chronic public health crisis? If so, where are all the starving, besieged Palestinians, Saudis, Syrians or Jordanians, or the carpetbombed and firestorm-ravaged Muslim cities whose nightly obliteration under some merciless Western juggernaut – as in 1945 Japan – might provide at least some semblance of understandable rationale for suicide bombing? The absence of such threats suggests that JSB is not the collective burnt offering of a desperate community fighting a rear guard action and preparing for a worst-case scenario of collective suicide. Rather, it is obvious that the operant motivation is a hot/cold mélange of ressentiment-inflamed desire to inflict pain on a hated cultural Other, and a cleverly crafted and calculated political manipulation of these emotions on the part of its strategists, i.e., the Jihadist ideologues who have been rallying the disaffected faithful of the Islamic world and stage managing the West’s nightmares for the last five years.Identity
Spaces of struggle: Abodh takes us on a tour of Ganhi's Bombay.
Onnik Krikorian has a rather long post about the Yezidis of Georgia, a national minority sometimes considered a subset of the Kurds. He interviews the president of the Union of the Yezedis of Georgia, discussing the history and memory of the group during the Soviet era and current issues related to identity and cultural policy.
Varnam brings to out attention the recovery of Hindu texts, written on palm leaves, through the use of multispectral imaging, especially the Saramoola granthas.
Jonathan Dresner asks a few stupid questions: how ceremonious was the rectifications of names; which Chinese leader suggested that the French Revolution was incomplete? (That last question is so 1989).
If turnaround is fair play, then I offer you this interpretation of a German article written about Chinese government at the height of the French Revolution. Oh, how great Chinese imperialism would be for the Germans ...
That's it, folks. Thank you to Jonathan Dresner for allowing me to host. Also, I want to thank Manan Ahmed and Chaim HaQoton for their nominations, and Global Voices Online for allowing me to pilfer some of their work.
The next Asian History Channel will return to safe hands at Kotaji. You can nominate posts at Blog Carnival or e-mail him directly at kotajihwal[a]yahoo.co.uk. And don't forget the other upcoming history carnivals: the History Carnival at ClioWeb and Carnivalesque at Recent Finds.