井底之蛙

8/22/2007

Manchukuo Stamps

Filed under: — Guest @ 7:24 am

We welcome a guest posting by Alexander Akin, an occasional comment contributor here at Frog in a Well and currently a PhD Candidate in Harvard’s department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. -K. M. Lawson

As a fan of Prasenjit Duara’s work on Manchukuo, I have long thought that it would have been interesting if he had illustrated his discussion of that state’s efforts to legitimize itself with some of the currency or stamps that it issued. These media were among Manchukuo’s most pervasive propaganda outlets, since everyone participated in the economy in some form or other. We can find examples of everything from the resurrection of Qing-era Manchu ideology to depictions of modern industrial development, slogans related to Manchukuo’s place in Japan’s grand project to realign East Asia, and even the illustration of a cartographic “geo-body” for the fledgling state. I thought I’d post images of some of the stamps issued by Manchukuo that use imagery or wording relevant to these themes. If you want to download the images for use in teaching a class or something like that, feel free- it’s not as if the Manchukuo imperial copyright enforcers will be coming after you!
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8/15/2007

The Buddha goes to war

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 12:13 pm

Xue Yu’s new book Buddhism, War, and Nationalism: Chinese Monks in the Struggle against Japanese Aggressions, 1931-19451 is the first major work I have found on a very interesting topic. Religion and nationalism have always had a tendency to conflict. Nationalists like to claim that they are tying people together in a trans-local identity for the first time, but of course many religions have done that long before nationalists turned up, and this has often led to conflict between the two, as well as recycling of a lot of religious imagery by nationalists.

The Nationalist period in China was not good for Buddhists. They were portrayed as an example of the feudal backwardness that held China back. Given how well this fit with earlier Confucian critiques of Buddhists as parasites and Western missionaries’ dismissal of the religion as primitive hokum there was not much room for Buddhism in many nationalist’s visions of a new China. Buddhism vanished even more completely from Chinese history, and from reading most histories of 20th century China you would get no idea that there were still lots of lay Buddhists, clergy, temples, and an active Buddhist press. Like most of the rest of the Chinese press the Buddhist journals spent a lot of time talking about the threat of Japan.

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  1. Routledge, 2005 []

8/14/2007

Was China stagnant for 700 years?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:12 am

Brad DeLong has a long post up on the economic history of China. It’s not all that good, but as he is asking for comments people might want to go and give some. Can anyone think of a good passage by someone more current on the literature that covers the Late Imperial period better?

UPDATE

Actually the post and the comments (on the main page) are a treasure trove of the type of zombie errors that crop up in my classes all the time. “Confucianism” retarded trade. The Chinese economy was stagnant after the Song. The Chinese had a printing press but never printed many books. If you want a nice picture of the general state of knowledge of Chinese history among those who are smart and well-informed but don’t know much about China, this is the place to go.

(I sometimes ask students what they know about China on the first day of class but I never formalize it into essays, since a long boring assignment that makes them feel stupid does not strike me as a good way to start off class. Now if I just assume that my incoming freshmen know about as much about China as Brad Delong (and his commentors) my questions about their knowledge-base are answered.)

8/8/2007

Asian History Carnival #16

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:14 pm

The Sixteenth Asian History Carnival is now up! Check it out over at the Japan history weblog.

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