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UCLA at the 2006 Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies

UCLA faculty and students, as well as alumni, present research findings at annual meeting.

Below we list UCLA presenters and provide abstracts of their talks.

Three panels organized by UCLA graduate students:
Chris Hanscom
Danny Hsu
Eric Zusman

UCLA student presenters (13)
Haeng-ja Chung
Steven P. Day
Christina E. Firpo
Chris Hanscom
Danny Hsu
Sophia J. Kim
Youngju Ryu
Yoko Shirai
Serk-Bae Suh
Hiroki Takeuchi
Patrick R. Uhlman
Chaohua Wang
Eric Zusman

UCLA faculty presenters (19)
Richard Baum
Quyen Bui
Robert E. Buswell
Nenita Pambid Domingo
John B. Duncan
Theodore D. Huters
Saloni Mathur
Thu-huong Nguyen-vo
Randall Peerenboom
Geoffrey B. Robinson
Shu-Mei Shih
Miriam R. Silverberg
Richard E. Strassberg
Sanjay Subrahmanyam
Mariko Tamanoi
Timothy R. Tangherlini
Richard von Glahn
R. Bin Wong
Haiping Yan

UCLA alumni presenters (15)
Zvi Ben Dor Benite
Eileen J. Cheng
Anne Y. Choi
Thomas DuBois
Dongping Han
Margaret Kuo
Hongyi Lai
Chae-Jin Lee
Richard D. McBride II
Hiromi Mizuno
Jennifer Neighbors
Steven L. Riep
Lisa Tran
Nhung Tuyet Tran
Toshiko Yokota

Land, Law, and Labor: Re-thinking "Women’s Liberation" as Theory and Praxis in Modern China

Marriage Law across China's Revolutionary Century
Margaret Kuo, McGill University, Canada

This paper takes a bird's eye view of marriage (and divorce) legislation devised during the three major political eras of twentieth-century China: legal reforms spearheaded by the Guomindang, the Chinese Communist Party under Mao, and the post-Mao CCP. By abandoning the 1949 and 1978 political divides and examining marriage law reform across the twentieth century, this paper aims to enable a new understanding of gender equality under the law as a revolutionary process that spanned the three major political regimes of the twentieth century (see Paul Cohen's idea of a "consensual Chinese agenda"). It does not privilege the 1950 Marriage Law (usually credited with "introducing" equal rights to marriage and divorce in China), but rather plots more than one important turning point in the legal advancement of Chinese women. The broad temporal scope also liberates law from politics by pointing to the sense in which gender equality under the law survived as a common goal despite changes in political ideology, though of course, the specifics of how to implement it changed according to political influences. The paper points to other connections in the ways in which the GMD Family Law prepared Chinese society for greater state intervention in married life, the often acrimonious tension between gender and class in the application of each set of new laws, the lag between legal change and attitudinal change, the extent to which national and international concerns impinged on legal deliberations, and similarities in the targets for dismantlement and preservation.

Studies of Chinese Politics in Asia:  A Comparative Perspective

Chinese Political Studies in Singapore
Hongyi Lai, National University of Singapore, Singapore

My paper examines the history, institutions, topics and methodology of studies on contemporary Chinese politics in Singapore. It first outlines a brief history of Chinese studies in Singapore. In general, studies on post-1949 China were very limited due to the Singaporean government's anti-communist stance at home and abroad. China studies started to develop only in the 1980s and have taken off since the late 1990s.

The paper also seeks to identify main institutions for China studies in Singapore, including East Asian Institute (EAI) and Department of Political Science of National University of Singapore, and to a certain extent, the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (IDSS) of Nanyang Technological University. At EAI, the most crucial engine of contemporary China studies in Singapore, both a medium size of regular research staff and a cumulatively large number of visiting scholars from overseas contribute to the increased research output there.

Temporally, the Chinese studies in Singapore have focused primarily on the post-Mao reform era. A large variety of themes and topics covered include elite politics, the transformation of the communist party and the government, military-state relations, legislative politics, politics of economic reform, labor protests, religious policies, nationalism, globalization, WTO accession and governmental adjustment; mainland China's relations with Taiwan and Hong Kong; China's relations with the U.S., Japan, and the ASEAN; and policies toward the South China Sea.

The methodology has largely been empirical, qualitative and analytical. Scholars have brought in a variety of theories and perspectives. This paper will also discuss the educational backgrounds and generational traits of scholars, as well as thematic variations associated with such sociological differences.

Roundtable: China Studies 40 Years After the Cultural Revolution

Among the discussants: Dongping Han, Warren Wilson College

2006 marks the 40th anniversary of an event that has profoundly affected both the P.R.C. and China Studies’ understanding of the Mao and post-Mao era: the Cultural Revolution. This international roundtable brings together distinguished scholars of both the era and of the field of China Studies itself, to reflect on current CR scholarship and its consequences for our knowledge of China and for China Studies. Some recent work, including the panelists’ own, suggests that the experience, historical record and legacies of the era do not in fact warrant the still influential view of the CR as an economic, political and cultural disaster. This work often draws on post-structuralist and other theories new to China Studies, and claims that the field needs to turn to such sources to better understand the era. And in new archival and ethnographic studies, such work argues that there were important socio-economic gains during the decade (e.g., in rural education and development), and that participants’ own self-understandings at the time were and in some cases still are both rational and positive, and at odds with later, negative understandings.

What, then, are the consequences of these new perspectives on the CR? Does China Studies need to shift its understanding of the era, and to what extent? How can one adjudicate between such opposed views of the CR? And between history and memory? If "theory" is crucial to this work and viewpoint, then how can this be brought into the discipline? And which theories and methods should be explored?

Transmuting Trauma: Representations of Twentieth-Century History in Chinese Literature

A Personal Matter: the New Century's Poetic Response to the Tiananmen Tragedy
Chaohua Wang, University of California, Los Angeles

Poetic response to the brutal suppression of the Tiananmen mass demonstrations of 1989 fell silent by the mid 1990's. When the Internet became a major playground for young Chinese poets in year 2000, however, the topic that is still officially forbidden came back to haunt their writings. In the new poetic attention paid to the most recent wound in China's modern history, what is particularly striking is the way in which a public event is turned into a personal, private moment, often unable to find its way back to collective significance. Unlike the "Misty" and the "experimental" poetry of the 1970s-1980s, where individuality is both the antagonist of an encompassing collective identity dominating social life (particularly during the Cultural Revolution) and part of the true image of history, for today's young poets individuality has become the last viable ground for mentioning their memory of 1989. In looking at selected works by Xiaoyin (b. 1969), Shi Tao (b. 1968) and Duoyu (b. 1973), this paper will argue that, in tending to become detached from either history or collectivity, individuality in their poems becomes increasingly elusive, suffering a loss of energy and critical force that sometimes leads to representations of 1989 as part of a private rite of passage to adulthood, or simply a matter of personal choice. On the other hand, paradoxically, such individuality has also become the only path for these poets to reestablish some public contact with a traumatic history and collective memory of it.

Individual Papers: Issues of Local Governance in Contemporary China

Accountability and Corruption in China's Village Elections
Hiroki Takeuchi, University of California, Los Angeles

In 1980, 85 peasant households in Hezhai Village, Guangxi Province, participated in a landmark event: the first popular election for a Villagers’ Committee in China. Since this landmark event, village elections have spread throughout China and become one of the most widely researched institutional areas of study in Chinese politics. I examine the relationship between village elections and accountability. I argue that elections do not hold candidates accountable for their policy decisions but their personal abilities. Villagers select the committee members according to their observed personality rather than their proposed policy.

A problem of elections with this personal accountability is it may raise the possibility of corruption. For candidates to appeal to voters, stating policy proposals does not change voters’ behavior. But treating voters to dinner or giving a personal favor for voters may change voters’ behavior by attracting voters’ attention to the candidates’ ability to give voters a personal favor. Whether candidates commit to corruption depends on whether the village has leaders that can adjust extant conflicts in the village. They are often called "capable people" (nengren) and, in some cases those leaders are kinship lineage leaders while in other cases they are entrepreneurs. Without the capable people, personal accountability may enhance the problem of corruption, divisions along lineage lines or extant conflicts between village elites may worsen this tendency.

I analyze this issue by reinterpreting 49 cases of elections reported by Chinese scholars and my field research conducted in 40 villages across seven provinces.

Roundtable on Historians of China as World History Authors

Among the discussants: Richard Von Glahn, University of California, Los Angeles

In recent years, as college world history surveys devote more time to Asia, textbook publishers have tried harder to get Asian historians (and especially Chinese historians) on their textbook writing teams. By now there are a dozen or more Chinese historians who have worked on world history texts. This roundtable will bring together some of these historians to discuss their experiences. The focus of the panel will not be on how world history has been invigorated by the influx of Chinese historians (though members of the audience may well bring up this issue) but on how priorities for the study of Chinese history shift when one thinks from a world historical perspective. Of the six participants, half have world history textbooks already out, and half are currently finishing books. Although as textbook authors we take different approaches and are competing with one another for sales, as Chinese historians we share a desire to engage more of our colleagues in thinking globally about China. To maximize discussion, we will begin the roundtable with each panelist speaking for seven or eight minutes. That will leave more than half of our time for more open interchange among panelists and the audience.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Republican Legal System in Transition
Organized by Danny Hsu, University of California, Los Angeles

Minor Wife and Household Member: The Concubine’s Dual Identity in Republican China
Lisa Tran, California State University, Fullerton

The continued social existence of the concubine in the Republic symbolizes a China caught between a late imperial culture that endorsed patriarchal and patrilineal values and a twentieth-century world that espoused such principles as equality and monogamy. What was to become of the "traditional" concubine in "modern" China? How early Republican law handled the concubine in theory and practice reveals much about changes in legal and popular thinking on the meaning of marriage. At the heart of the matter were conflicting views of the concubine. Society continued the late imperial practice of treating the concubine as a minor wife. Republican jurists, however, explicitly rejected that interpretation when they categorically denied marital status to the concubine. Wishing to continue the legal tolerance of concubinage without appearing to betray the commitment to monogamy and to extend to the concubine legal rights without seeming to sanction concubinage, lawmakers placed the concubine in the category of "household member." Artificial and forced, the household member category failed to take root in society, which continued to view the concubine as a minor wife; even in the courtroom, judges had to concede the semi-marital nature of concubinage. In adjudicating cases involving concubines, early Republican judges vacillated between the legal construct of the concubine as household member and the popular view of her as minor wife; how they negotiated the two categories reveals much about shifts in thinking on the role of law, the meaning of marriage and the place of women in early-twentieth century China.

Suing The State: The Pingzhengyuan Administrative Court in Early Republican China
Danny Hsu, University. California, Los Angeles

During the Qing, ordinary people did not have the right to challenge the legality of decisions made by administrative organs and few endeavored to lodge complaints against magistrates and other higher level officials for fear of harsh punishment. However, the establishment of the Pingzhengyuan Administrative Court in early Republican China (1914) gave ordinary people unprecedented direct access to a central level institution dedicated to receiving and adjudicating complaints against officials and lawsuits against unlawful administrative actions and decisions made by state organs. As a result, complaints and lawsuits against the state and its agents became more common, suggesting a possible shift in the acceptable boundaries of popular participation in the supervision of state administrative practice. Nevertheless, the ability to lodge suits against the state and its agents did not mean that society suddenly become a formidable force for checking state power. This paper examines different types of cases adjudicated by the Pingzhengyuan Administrative Court and highlights the tensions between the new ideals of law and the persistence of old administrative practices. These tensions reveal important developments in the changing nature of center-local state relations and state-society relations of early twentieth-century China.

Coming To Blows: Killing in an Affray and the Intent to Harm in Republican Law
Jennifer Neighbors, Tulane University

In the early Republican period jurists struggled to mediate between new law codes based on foreign models and Qing legal traditions. Among the changes initiated by the first Republican-era criminal code (1912) was a major consolidation of the scale of criminal acts, eliminating almost all traces of situation and circumstance from the classification of offenses and restricting punishable crimes to those committed with intent or through negligence. Now the law was composed of principle-based statutes intended to cover all possible crime situations. This new code stood in sharp contrast to Qing law, wherein intent was conceptualized in tandem with concrete situations and laws were highly situation-specific. This paper will use Republican-era treatment of the Qing category of killing in an affray (ousha) to illustrate the challenges facing jurists as they adapted to the new legal codes. Under Qing law, killing in an affray meant killing with an intent to harm but not to kill. This category of homicide was also identified by the circumstances surrounding the killing – all such killings occurred during an argument or fight. Although killing in an affray was eliminated from the law code in 1912, soon a new statute evolved to mirror the old category. In addition, situational and behavioral markers worked their way back into the law. These developments illustrate a pattern representative of Republican-era criminal law: the Qing model often worked more efficiently and comprehensively than the foreign-based codes, and in many ways the continuities between Qing and Republican law outweighed the changes.

Negotiation and Self-Invention: Four Studies of Chinese Women's Autobiographical Practice

Male Patronage and Cultural Exchanges: Ling Shuhua's Literary Transactions
Eileen J. Cheng, Pomona College

Despite the pejorative political symbolism that the figure of the cainu (talented woman) and "feminine" writing may have come to connote in new culture literary debates, such labeling was by no means as effective or consistently upheld so as to eclipse the possibility of a gender specific literature, as some scholars have argued. Ling Shuhua (1900-1990) represents an example of how a particular type of "feminine" writing and the figure of the woman writer continued to be highly prized, apparent in the way in which her works were praised and promoted by prominent literary men of her time. By reading Ling Shuhua's early stories published in 1924 in Chenbao, left out of her first short story collection Temple of Flowers published in 1928 and edited by her husband, Chen Yuan, this paper will attempt to show how Ling Shuhua's early feminist critiques of the new culture movement may have been muted or transformed in exchange for her prominent status as a member of new style literary associations and as a modern woman writer. These stringent critiques of new culture, as well as her strong ties and appreciation for traditional culture, were to resurface in her English autobiography Ancient Melodies, published in 1953. These negotiations and transactions epitomize the rather tenuous position of the woman writer caught between tradition and modernity, and transforming literary values and cultural practices, and highlight the circuitous ways in which Ling Shuhua negotiated her contradictory identities and literary practices with prevailing cultural discourses of the time.

More than a Mushroom Cloud: Strategies for Teaching Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Organizer: Toshiko Yokota, California State University, Los Angeles

How Can We Integrate Hiroshima/Nagasaki in a Japanese Literature Course?
Toshiko Yokota, California State University, Los Angeles

Although an instructor of Japanese literature may not have an opportunity to teach a course entirely focused on Hiroshima/Nagasaki, this paper shows that it is always possible to include related texts as part of the reading assignment. When I taught "Japanese Literature in Translation" that featured the Japanese family, women and marriage as the theme of the course, I adopted a socio-historical approach and assisted students to examine the issue of A-bombing of Hiroshima from multiple perspectives. Students, first, read an article that referred to the potential danger of using nuclear weapons in the present days to approach the issue of Hiroshima as the current issue in our society. Students were also required to learn the atrocities committed by the Japanese in Asia during WWII to position the issue in the appropriate historical context, examine different discourses on the validity of the use of A-bombs, and compare and contrast Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse with the film version of the text to understand the prolonged suffering of the victims in Japanese society. As a summative activity, students read peace poetry and they themselves composed haiku verses on peace. In the process of learning, students from multi-cultural backgrounds actively engaged in discussion in small groups and later with the entire class. According to the students’ survey, students appreciated this interactive activity that helped them promote their critical thinking. I hope that this report will give a pedagogical hint to instructors of Japanese language and literature.

Boundaries in Question: Japan and Korea in the Colonial and Postcolonial Periods
Organizer: Hiromi Mizuno, University of Minnesota

Outside the Nation-State Boundary: The ‘Comfort Women’ and Human Rights Law
Hiromi Mizuno, University of Minnesota

This paper proposes to view the ‘comfort women’ issue as part of the inherent problem of international human rights at large. Specifically, it examines the relationship between colonialism, the nation-states, and international human rights laws in the history of human rights. At the heart of my paper lies what Hana Arendt identified as the paradox of human rights. Human rights are fundamentally paradoxical. On one hand, they are universal rights entitled to any human being regardless of nationality. On the other hand, however, in reality it is through the nation-state that individuals’ rights are granted and protected. In other words, one needs to a citizen of a nation-state in order to be human. What is lacking in Arendt as well as current legal specialists’ scholarship on human rights is the fact that colonialism has legally excluded many from the category of humans, including the ‘comfort women.’ Post-WWII independence further complicates the ‘comfort women’ issue as the re-drawing of the nation-state-territory boundaries affected various ‘comfort women’ differently. This paper illuminates the above points by looking closely at two tribunals -- the International Military Tribunal for the Far East immediately after the WWII, and the International Women’s War Crimes Tribunal in 2000. It incorporates latest legal and philosophical scholarship on international human rights law and attempts to provide a critical reading of colonial and coldwar politics that has constituted the philosophy and application of international human rights law and citizenship.

Taming Time: Preserving Japanese History and Making Modernity in Memorials, Museums, and Parks

Constructing Historical Parks: Buddhist Temples, Archaeology, and National Identity in Modern Japan
Yoko Shirai, UCLA

Concrete, stone, and earth were first used in Japan during the 1960s to build historical parks (rekishi kôen) over ruined Buddhist temples at the conclusion of archaeological surveys. These parks may be viewed as physical manifestations of a postwar phenomenon that increasingly relied on the interpretation of archaeological evidence to answer questions about the early origins and accomplishments of the Japanese state, and to define a new vision of nation and nationality for the Japanese people. The four historical parks that I discuss -- Yamadadera in Nara prefecture, Kawachi Kudaradera in Osaka-fu, Kitano haiji in Aichi prefecture, and Noto Kokubunji ato in Ishikawa prefecture -- were among the earliest Buddhist temples built in their locales during the 7th century CE and later. While this distinction contributed to each site’s re-invention as historical park during the 20th century, such projects would not have occurred without the intervention of local historical societies, scholars such as Ishida Mosaku (1894-1977), or state-sponsored institutions. While a certain degree of irregularity exists in the design, conception, and historical accuracy of each park, many excavation reports or websites for these sites invite visitors to touch the original artifacts and walk around the beautified public spaces. Such themes suggest that the romanticized myth of homogeneity is being played out as one narrative among several that led to the movement to build such historical parks; that is, here lie the ruins of temples that were built by ancestors from a collective past history of the modern Japanese.

Dialogues on Japanese Colonial Sensibility: Body, Style, Korea

Passing, Colonial Kitsch, and Foreign Natives: Keywords for New Research
Haeng-ja Chung, UCLA; Miriam R. Silverberg, UCLA

An anthropologist and an historian introduce terms central to new research agendas, grounded in concern for the history resulting from the absence of decolonization in Japan as made clear by Leo Ching. Presenters employ the elasticity of the term "foreign native" referring to the tension between the ascribed identity of "foreigner" to "resident" Koreans and their embeddedness in Japanese society, and discuss the relationship between their respective keywords.

Haeng-Ja Chung’s discussion of "passing" provides one response to Komagome Takeshi’s recent call for research on the non-visible markers of racism analogous to the British focus on skin color. Basing her findings on the English language social science literature on "passing", including the theory of Erving Goffman, on critical race theory, on fieldwork requiring her to pass as Japanese, and on interviews she discusses why and how Koreans in Japan have chosen to "pass" at different historical junctures. Emphasizing a process of performance based on gestures, she argues for "passing" based on "acting like" rather than looking alike.

Miriam Silverberg asks "If kitsch is the colonizing of consciousness through familiar symbols, how did colonial kitsch work?" emphasizing the sentimentality of kitsch and its mass production. Examples of Korean colonial kitsch in the "metropole" include tenko literature, museum exhibits, the musical "Sayonara Rikoran," and "Yonsama". Establishing the distinction between the kitsch within the Zainichi community and kitsch objects enjoyed by colonizers, the presentation argues that "post" colonial kitsch illustrates that post-war Japan was not the site for forgetting colonialism, but for not talking.

Roundtable: Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600–1800

Among the discussants: Sanjay Subrahmanyam, University of California - Los Angeles

History, that is the writing of history, has been a contested field ever since the British declared that Indians possessed no historical consciousness at the turn of the nineteenth century. Narayana Rao, Subrahmanyam and Shulman’s second co-authored book, Textures of Time, takes a fresh look at the practice of writing history in southern India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries before colonial historiography propped up positivist method as the true model for historical writing. The authors contest the charge that there were no valid historical traditions in southern India before the British.

We propose a Roundtable discussion of Textures of Time at the AAS annual meeting as an opportunity to engage with historical traditions in South Asia (and more broadly in Asia) and the question of historical consciousness and historical methodologies. The primary aim of the Roundtable is to generate productive conversations between scholars of South Asia as well as other parts of Asia (and the respective historiographical traditions). We have asked a historian of Japan, Harry Harootunian, a historian of China, Timothy Brook, and a scholar of Sanskrit literary history, Sheldon Pollock to address the issues surrounding Textures of Time from their own specific geographic area and disciplinary point of view. Two of the authors, Velcheru Narayana Rao and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, will respond to the questions posed and discussion opened up by their interlocutors.

It is our hope that all the participants of the roundtable will address the burden of inheriting positivist historiography (from European traditions) and its effect on Asian historical traditions (broadly defined traditions of representing the past in textual and oral genres).

Photographs and Pageantry in Colonial India: Indian Identities and Subversions in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

The Durbar as Collectible
Saloni Mathur, University of California, Los Angeles

The Delhi Durbars of 1903 and 1911 were widely represented on colonial picture postcards, generating a frenzy of activity among postcard enthusiasts during the heyday of this peculiar visual form.  I will examine the phenomenon of Durbar images in relation to colonial picture postcards which also were used to depict Indians and famous sites, and focus in particular on their status as fashionable souvenir objects of the era.  By considering the collectibility of Durbar postcards and their complex circuits of travel, I suggest that contradictions inherent in this mass-produced imagery inadvertently make visible the excesses of British rule in South Asia.

Culture, Literature, & Language in Southeast Asian Studies

South Vietnam Literature – 1954-1975 Period
Quyen Bui, University of California, Los Angeles

The year of 1954 marked the most significant historical event for the country and people of Vietnam:  the Geneva Agreement was signed in Switzerland divided the country into two separate entities: The North with the Communist Regime and the South, the Republic.  The people of Vietnam were allowed to choose the form of government they wish to live under, either communism or republican.  More than a million people migrated from the North to the South following the Geneva Agreement.

Within the historical context of the time, the Vietnamese Literature sprouted into various directions that could be roughly categorized into four major groups based on their content and purpose. 

1. The Political Influence:  the writers and poets used their creations and literary works to express their own political views and idealism.

2. The Yearning for Peace: the war that dragged on between people of the same ancestry gradually took a toll on everyone’s psyche.  People yearned for the day when the war ended and everyone lived in peace and harmony.

3. The Social Realism:  A number of authors and poets used their creative works to depict social upheavals

4. The Tenacity of Love: Love during war time is like wild flowers sprouting through the cracks of the concrete providing hopes and restoring humanity. The literary works in this area express a variety of love.

This presentation’s purpose is to explore the tenacity of love through the Vietnamese literary works of the 1954-1975 Period and the different forms in which love emerged in the various contexts identified above.

Day of the Dead in the Philippines, Halloween in America
Nenita Pambid Domingo, University of California, Los Angeles

The Philippine "Day of the Dead, Araw ng mga Patay" is commemorated on October 31st through November 1st which is "All Saints Day" in the Catholic Holidays of Obligation.  In the Catholic tradition, "All Souls Day" is celebrated on November 2nd; but syncretism has taken hold and Filipinos celebrate the Day of the Dead on the same day that Halloween is celebrated and extending to the next day.

Belief in the "soul" is widespread in the different ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines and there is linguistic evidence to prove this. The concept of the soul is connected to the Southeast Asian belief in spirit possession. In the Philippines, the physical body can be possessed or "occupied" by benevolent and malevolent spirits such as God the Mother, and by evil creatures such as the patianak.

This belief system is the backdrop and springboard of the thematic lesson on "Rituals and Celebration" to bring in culture and the study of specific grammatical structures into a language class.  Through the kaluluwa or soul song, a street song still extant in the Philippines, and the various language activities in reading, writing, speaking and listening revolving around the Day of the Dead and Halloween, the students are made aware of the contrast and convergence of two cultures, although both happy occasions, one celebrating union of the dead and the living and the other celebrating fun and masquerading. The lesson plan for this unit can be adapted to all levels, introductory, intermediate and advanced.

Governing Reproduction: Women’s Bodies in Vietnamese Society, 1600-2005
Organizer: Nhung Tuyet Tran, University of Toronto

Goodwives Versus Dangerous Nuns: Problems with the "Chaste" in Early Modern Viet Nam
Nhung Tuyet Tran, University of Toronto

Scholars of Southeast Asia are familiar with the observation that women enjoyed relatively autonomous religious and sexual lives in the early modern period. While this observation is often made to tie Viet Nam to the Southeast Asian region, little work examines the intersection between the two in Vietnamese society. This paper seeks to explore the relationship between religion, sexuality, and politics by examining constructions of proper and improper chastity in seventeenth and eighteenth century Vietnam. After providing an overview of the sexual order, the paper suggests that state authorities linked women’s sexuality to the stability of the political order, and set the limits of "chastity" to exclude spiritual motivations. The efforts of the Trinh and Nguyen states to control and punish female Buddhist and Catholic communities professing vows of chastity highlight the extent to which local society and state directives required women of child-bearing age to be (re)productive members of society.

Bodies in Motion: New Paths into Vietnam's Past

Locating and Re-locating Children: Vietnamese Feminists and the Colonial Orphanage System in the 1930s.
Christina E. Firpo, University of California- Los Angeles

As part of the early 1930s Depression relief programs the French colonial government in Indochina expanded the child welfare system. The government opened new orphanages and day care facilities throughout the cities and countryside. The new orphanages, however, became the center of a heavy debate within the Vietnamese feminist movement. While the Vietnamese feminists succeeded in their goal to change public perceptions of poor children from social pariahs to victims of circumstance, they questioned the methods of child care. The government offered one option for child care: to physically remove the child from the family environment and the mother's care and place the child into orphanages so that the mother could work. The feminists unsuccessfully urged the government to follow the program used for the poor white French: to allow the children to remain in their homes under the mother's care and give the mothers subsidy payments. This paper will investigate why the government sought to remove the child from the family environment. At the center of this debate I will explore claims to cultural ownership over bodies and the debate over the perceptions of the future role of the child in the colonial and post-colonial nation.

The Literary Culture of South Vietnam

Tangible Objects: Materiality in South Vietnamese and Diasporic Writings
Thu-huong Nguyen-vo, University of California, Los Angeles

It is often said that diasporic literature in Vietnamese has been an extension of South Vietnamese literature. In this paper, I examine the modes of representation of materiality as a marker of the sense of the real in South Vietnamese writings as opposed to those in diasporic writings in Vietnamese. I argue that in most South Vietnamese works, while representations of the material range from idealism to nihilism to quotidian embodiment, they do not cause a significant epistemological disruption posing problems in the intelligibility of their texts. What they challenge are the various values of their time—colonialist, communist, traditionalist. Diasporic writings in Vietnamese, on the other hand, often profoundly disrupt readers’ epistemological ordering and push them towards a much more radically indeterminate reality. This latter may reflect a combination of the condition of diaspora and late capitalism. But rather than making an argument of pure discontinuity, I would also draw attention to a genealogy of various threads of linguistic deployment in the two literatures.

I examine three short stories from South Vietnam representative of a range of treatments of the material in the 1954-1975 period: Doan Quoc Si’s "Chiec Chieu Hoa Cap Dieu" (The red-bordered mat), Duong Nghiem Mau’s "Cung Danh" (Resigned), and Tran Thi NgH’s "Nha Co Cua Khoa Trai" (The house with its door locked from the inside). Illustrations from diasporic writings come from the 1990s and early 2000s: Ho Minh Dung’s "Nguoi An May Tren Pho Bolsa" (The beggar on Bolsa’s Street), and "Cau Dau Tram," Thuong Quan’s "Chiec Thau Dong" (The bronze tub), Tran Vu’s "Giac Mo Tho," (Turkish dream), and Dang Tho Tho’s "Mo Tuong Lai" (Open the future).

Religion in East and Southeast Asia – Transformation in Regional Perspective
Organizer and Chair: Thomas DuBois, National University of Singapore

Authority of Scholarly Expertise – Japanese Ethnography of Chinese Religion
Thomas DuBois, National University of SIngapore

The Victorian creation of “religious studies” as a scholarly discipline has been criticized as an Orientalist project which wittingly or unwittingly cast world religion in the image of Enlightenment Christianity.  Despite this type of introspection, scholarly study of religion remains divided among a number of highly insular and self-referential fields, each with specialized jargon and publications, and clear criteria and gradations of authority.  More broadly, the ability to speak with authority about religion has been complicated not only by the elaboration of scholarly disciplines, but also by specialized procedural discourses such as criminal and constitutional law. 

The result of this increasing technical specialization is to drive the various discourses of religion apart, often to the point of making them mutually unintelligible, but also to subject the image of religion to a preconceived internal logic.  In the case of Asian religion, this is seen in the late Meiji formation of Japanese anthropology as an academic discipline.  The influence of Yanagita Kunio, who examined the religious customs of Japanese villages in order to distill a deeper national essence, is seen again one generation later when his students were sent to conduct ethnological research in Manchukuo.  The work of one of these students, Omachi Tokuzo, is an important source for local religion in the Chinese northeast, but reveals the tensions between disciplinary logic and the high political stakes of colonial anthropology.

Found in Translation: Rethinking the Foreign in East Asian Modernities

Facing the Other: Sociality in Han Yongun’s Poetry
Ann Y. Choi, Rutgers University

In colonial Korea of the 1920s, sentimental discourse and description reached its height in the ‘discovery’ of romantic love. Against the fetters of tradition, the discursive liberation of affect produced ‘free love’ as a significant modern experience and precipitated the writing of love letters, a practice realized by the inauguration of a modern postal system; in short, it was the period of the invention of modern writing, a process which defined the modern subject as one who could express a wide breadth of emotions in the vernacular writing system in the making. In the language of lyric poetry, such sentimental education led to the proliferation of ‘romantic’ poetry shaped, in part, by selected foreign literatures in translation.

In this paper, I aim to show how Han Yongun’s (Manhae, 1879-1944) Silence of Love published in 1926 was both product and protest against this dominant structure of feeling regulated and maintained by the colonial policy of culture (bunka seiji). By examining Manhae’s poetry vis-à-vis that of Tagore, the Indian poet whose work helped to stimulate the former’s ‘free verse,’ and turning to Emmanual Levinas’ notion of the asymmetric and gratuitous ‘I’-‘You’ relational dynamics, I will show how Manhae’s poetry responds to the polyvalent notion of the foreign (o/Other) with alterity, rather than with mutuality or assimilation. Thus, the paper will trace the specific mode of ‘sociality’ (the term which becomes Levinas’ choice over the abstract notion of ‘humanity’) as a way of addressing the social material process behind the appearance of Korean ‘free verse’; I will argue that lyric poetry’s perceived break from form in early twentieth century Korea attests to something beyond the arousal of affect, that is, to an "irruption of face," or, an ethical awakening.

"Boundaries between ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ Language: the Personal Writings and Popular Discourse on World War II in East Asia (1937-1945)"

"Faux Epistolary: Shi Tuo’s Shanghai Correspondence and the Aesthetics of Literary Montage in Accounts of Wartime ShanghaiShanghai

Steven P. Day, University of California, Los Angeles

Correspondence stands out as one of Shi Tuo’s most innovative yet least researched works. Ostensibly epistolary in form, this work provides a rich text to examine the aesthetic and epistemological implications of both private and public accounts of wartime Shanghai. Written between 1939 and 1940, the title seems a misnomer since the "letters" are not dated, signed, or addressed to anyone, resembling instead a series of unconnected vignettes during wartime in the city. In fact, Shi Tuo plays with generic conventions and expectations throughout this work, combining personal travelogue, recognizable historical events, scenes from everyday life, and newspaper clippings. After the breakdown of the linear narrative detailing his railway journey back to the city following the outbreak of hostilities, Shi shifts to literary montage to depict Shanghai’s fragmented urban space. The use of montage as aesthetic choice puts the author’s work in the company of other great modernist depictions of urban space and history in fiction (namely Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer, and Joyce’s Ulysses). But what may such an aesthetic choice signify? This paper will investigate how literary montage and the work’s own liminal generic position between history and fiction may function as a self-reflexive critique of both. Since montage signifies by juxtaposition and context rather than direct forms of exposition, I argue that the work levels its critique by drawing attention to its own constructed nature and challenging readers to question the boundaries that separate categorical divisions such as history/fiction, public/private, subjective/objective, or authentic/false.

Rethinking War: Chinese and Japanese Writers Respond to the Second Sino-Japanese War/Fifteen Years’ War
Organizer: Steven L. Riep, Brigham Young University

Rethinking History: Anti-Heroic Portrayals of the Second Sino-Japanese War in Contemporary Chinese Literature
Steven L. Riep, Brigham Young University

Heroic accounts of China’s victories in the Second Sino-Japanese War played key roles in Chinese history and literature both during and after the war. During wartime, they stirred patriotic zeal among the Chinese population. After the war, they served as propaganda tools that legitimized the rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party in the People’s Republic of China and bolstered the exiled Nationalist Party’s claims to political authority and its calls to militarily retake mainland China. Yet such accounts offered a skewed perspective of the war that failed to account for the losses and costs incurred in military action.

Writers from Taiwan and China have created accounts of the Second Sino-Japanese War that critique the established heroic narratives. In his short story "New Year’s Eve," Pai Hsien-yung questions the Nationalist military victory and postwar calls for militarily retaking Mainland China through his account of an aging army veteran and his failed military career. The poet Ya Hsien questions history of the war by contrasting the wartime past with the quotidian and meaningless detail of the present in his poem, "The Colonel." Finally, the contemporary Chinese writer Yu Hua has decoupled heroic war narratives by casting a class enemy, a landlord’s wastrel son, as hero in his short story "Death of a Landlord." In each case, Pai, Ya, and Yu overturn conventions of the heroic recounting of war by instead focusing on the costs and losses—marked specifically by physically disabling or disfiguring injuries—rather than the victories.

Ming Taizu: Korean, Muslim, Manchu, and Republican Hero

Outing Ming Taizu: How and Why Did Zhu Yuanzhang Become a Muslim?
Zvi Ben Dor Benite, New York University

In recent years, Chinese historiography has undergone a radical ‘opening up’ in all senses of the term. While for much of the past century Chinese historians took Chinese claims about the uniformity of Chinese culture at face value, scholars are now probing the multicultural realities that lie behind ‘Han’ Chinese cultural chauvinism. On the face of it, the Ming period is much more immune to such challenges than the Qing. One fascinating, little-documented feature of this history is the longstanding Muslim claim that the great Ming founder was secretly a Muslim.

Chinese Muslim traditions cast Ming Taizu as an almost gnostic figure, whose true nature could only be properly understood by those like him – by other Muslims. The claim cast Ming Taizu as a secret laborer for Islam, as Chinese Muslims themselves secretly labored for the imperium. This interpretation gave Chinese Muslims a metaphoric means of understanding themselves as central, if hidden, members of Chinese society and culture.

This paper projects Chinese Muslim visions of Ming Taizu upon the broader historical backdrop of the late imperial period, unearthing the reasons that Ming Taizu came to be of such vital importance to Chinese Muslim tradition. Drawing on hitherto unknown source materials, the paper shows how Chinese Muslims of the Ming and Qing, like other ‘aliens’ of the period, were extraordinarily aware of their time as a multicultural one, and were consequently able to understand themselves as central to its culture, and even make political demands on that basis.

Assimilation, Collaboration, and National Identity in Colonial and Postcolonial Korea

Constrained by History, Tamed by Everyday Life: Ch’oe Chae-so and the Logic of Collaboration
Serk-Bae Suh, University of California, Los Angeles

This paper examines Ch’oe Chae-so’s writings on nation, culture, and literature in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Ch’oe was a scholar of English literature, a literary critic, and the editor-in-chief of the Japanese language journal, Kokumin Bungaku (Literature of the Nation) published in colonial Korea in the early 1940s.

Ch’oe asserted that the unfolding of history in the twentieth century demanded a paradigmatic transition from liberalism and individualism to state-centered nationalism in culture and literature. He also privileged everyday life as allowing human beings to live as members of communities ultimately integrated into the state. Insofar as Koreans were colonized, subject to the rule of the Japanese state, Ch’oe’s affirmation of statist domination constituted a pro-Japanese assimilationist argument. However, by positioning Koreans as subjects of the Japanese state equal to the Japanese people, his argument also implied that the colonized should be treated on a par with the colonizers. Furthermore, Ch’oe advocated the cultural autonomy of Koreans as an ethnic group within the Japanese empire.

Rather than hastily celebrating Ch’oe’s logic of collaboration as subversive disruption of the colonial hierarchy, I will contextualize his thoughts on nation, culture and literature with those of contemporary Korean, Japanese, and Western intellectuals and explore how his concepts of history and everyday life enabled him simultaneously to justify the political domination of Japanese colonialism in Korea and to defend the cultural autonomy of Koreans.

Cults and Rituals in Korean Buddhism: Religion, Faith, and Society

Discussant: Robert E. Buswell, University of California, Los Angeles

Practical Buddhist Thaumaturgy: Is the Great Dharani on Flawless, Pure Light Tantric?
Richard D. McBride II, Washington University, St. Louis

The Great Dharani on Flawless, Pure Light (Mugu chonggwang taedarani kyong, T 1024) was deployed extensively in Unified Silla Korea (668–935) after its introduction in the early eighth century. While some scholars maintain that it provides evidence of Tantric Buddhism or the synthesis of Pure Land and Tantrism in Silla, my research suggests instead that the widespread use of the dharanis and various ritual procedures contained therein demonstrate that it was indicative of mainstream Buddhism in medieval East Asia. The language of the dharani sutra itself provides little internal evidence of conclusively Tantric elements, especially since many of the procedures and spells it describes—like most medieval Sinitic Buddhist spell literature—pretend to resolve practical religious concerns for individuals and protect states from harm, both internal and external. This is not "Tantric" Buddhism: it is practical Buddhist thaumaturgy.


The Cult of Bodhisattva Dharmodgata in Korea during the Period of Mongol Interference
Patrick R. Uhlmann, University of California, Los Angeles

The Diamond Mountains (Kumgang-san) are considered within the Buddhist tradition as the place where the Bodhisattva Dharmodgata permanently teaches the Perfection of Wisdom. While texts and material objects evidence cultic practices centered on Dharmodgata in the Diamond Mountains since the late eight century, they are too fragmentary or elusive to determine the aspects of this cult over a longer period of time. Thus, most scholars so far considered the cult of Dharmodgata merely as a local phenomenon primarily based upon the Huayan- and Prajñaparamita-literature.

However, recent scholarship and newly discovered texts enable an evaluation of doctrinal, social, and political aspects connected with the cult of Dharmodgata during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Korea’s submission to the Mongols, the perception of the Diamond Mountains as being located at the eastern extremity of the Yuan empire caused a large-scale promotion of the cult of Dharmodgata and the support of temples connected with it. The Yuan court regularly dispatched emissaries to the Diamond Mountains, including Central Asian and Tibetan monks, who promoted a version of the Dharmodgata cult differing from the heretofore prevalent one. A representative example is the monk Zhikong, also known as Dhyanabhadra, whose cultic activities and textual production in connection with Dharmodgata reveal Tibetan and Central Asian influences.

Individual Papers: History and Culture of Korea

Nationalized Bodies: Colonial Politics of Physical Education and Sports in Korea (1895-1937)
Sophia J. Kim, University of California, Los Angeles

I intend to demonstrate the complex range of interactions between colonialism and nationalism through the mechanics of sports competitions and the multiplicity of ideologies that shaped sports activities pursued by Koreans and Japanese from 1895 to 1937, in an effort to examine the relationship between PE/sports, identity formation and political mobilization. The colonial politics of PE and sports were represented in competing visions of nationalized bodies through colonial schools and sports games; central to this relationship is the imagined link between the physical strength of individuals and the well-being of the nation, a view that informed discourse and the practices of colonizers and colonized alike, albeit toward different ends. PE/sports, as a colonizing and nationalizing project to inscribe social behavior and realize political goals, was informed by interactions between Japanese colonialism and Korean nationalism as they competed, overlapped and negotiated with each other. However, the proliferation of sports activities through these intricate processes not only fulfilled the political goals of the groups in competition, but also ironically strengthened the positions of the opposing group. My study will also provide examples of how preinscribed nationalistic or colonial messages on the Korean individual bodies were either erased, transformed or continued to linger with differing degrees of effect and effacement as well as illustrating the existence of significant areas that escaped such determinations, which ultimately resulted in multiple identities for colonial individuals throughout the colonial period.

The Literature of Industrialization: The South Korean Politico-economic Machine and the "Agony of Cultural Construction"

The Storyteller as a Neighbor: Ethics of Proximity in Yi Mungu’s Kwanch’on Essays
Youngju Ryu, University of California, Los Angeles

A crucial category in post-Kantian ethical thought in the West, neighbor is a figure that remains intransigently external to forms of belonging based on identity. Neither friend nor foe, neither kin nor stranger, but an eternal other whom one is commanded to love as oneself, neighbor opens up a mode of sociality beyond the individual and the collective. Drawing on this logic of the neighbor, the paper examines the works of the South Korean fiction writer Yi Mungu from the 1970s. A decade of rapid industrialization, the 1970s was a period of growing collective consciousness in Korean literary discourse, and Yi Mungu’s works from this period have been read largely as consolidating the category of agrarian poor as one of the major collective identities produced in the wake of the Park Chung Hee regime’s economic policies and made available for deployment in the subsequent era of political dissidence. I argue, however, that the sustained interest in his neighbors which formed the ethical core of Yi Mungu’s literary project was less a way of generating a collective identity as such than a means of resisting forms of thought based on politics of identity altogether. Yi Mungu’s insistence on the absolute localness of fiction, reflected not only in the subject matter of his writing but in the oral tradition upon which he drew for formal and technical innovations, represents an inherently anti-ideological form of storytelling at a time when ideology was fast becoming the dominant vehicle for any articulation of social truth.

Roundtable: North Korea: Regime Maintenance and Survival

Among the discussants: Chae-Jin Lee, Claremont McKenna College

Given the topical nature of North Korea’s nuclear controversy, with anticipated progress in the on-going six-party talks in Beijing aiming at the diplomatic settlement of the nuclear standoff between the United States and the DPRK, the proposed Roundtable on North Korea will make an eminent and timely sense.

The proposed roundtable panel will not limit itself to the nuclear issues, however, but will also encompass the broader subjects of the North Korean regime maintenance and survival strategy. It will, for instance, address the on-going economic reform efforts in the North, Inter- Korean Relations, North Korea’s relations with each of the Major Powers, including China, Russia, Japan, the U.S. and the European Union countries.

Modernity and Modernism in Colonial Korea
Organizer and Chair: Chris Hanscom, University of California, Los Angeles

Kim Yujông's Aesthetic of Irony
Chris Hanscom, University of California, Los Angeles

Kim Yujông's (1908-1937) fiction is frequently understood as comedic, filled with idiomatic, ribald language and presenting the reader with a "concave mirror" that depicts the destitute reality of rural life in 1930s Korea via a humorous style. Many critics consequently place Kim's fiction into genres typically understood as designating socially-engaged and realistic writing, such as farm-village fiction (nongch'on munhak) or literature of local color (hyangt'o munhak). In this paper I instead attempt to read Kim as a modernist writer, where modernism is understood as both a crisis or breakdown in representation and as a reaction, a critique of modernity itself. In one of Kim Yujông's only sustained treatments of literary theory, the author acknowledges the split between meaning and its representation and takes issue with the modernist privileging of expression over communication, form over content. I argue that Kim attempts to confront this well-known modern(ist) impasse through the use of irony, formally presenting in his fiction a dual structure of reality mirroring the discrepancy between reality and appearance that characterized the colonial experience and modernity at large. Reading Kim's work via both the rhetorical trope and philosophical stance of irony allows a subtle repositioning of this important writer in Korean literary history, and at the same time compels a reconsideration of modernism and the context of colonial modernity itself as essentially ironic.

Environmental Governance and State Capacity in China
Organizer and Discussant: Eric Zusman, University of California, Los Angeles

Practitioners and scholars have looked at environmental governance in China from two contrasting perspectives. The first is that China has adopted increasingly innovative environmental regulations, placing it far ahead of other developing countries. The second is that China has struggled to enforce environmental regulations, placing it on the perpetual edge of environmental crisis. The four papers on this panel share a belief that reconciling these competing views requires paying more attention to an often overlooked factor: state capacity. In particular, we will consider whether and to what extent strengthening state capacity—increasing the resources available to and changing the incentives of policymakers—enhances environmental governance.

The panel's four papers, while framed around a common theme, offer different insights on this shared concern. Jennifer Turner and Timothy Hildebrandt explore how much environmental NGOs and citizens are pushing the Chinese state to enforce laws that permit greater public participation in environmental policymaking. Ruth Greenspan Bell argues that what counts are not the environmental laws or regulations on the books but whether they are appropriate to China's unique circumstances, culture and traditions. Xuehua Zhang examines the reasons a cash-reward informant program in Fuyang, Hangzhou City boosted regulatory compliance rates. Wanxin Li analyzes the relationship between "potential and realized capacity" and their effects on regulatory enforcement across China.


 

Asia Institute