Virtual protest in China

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:34 am

From Danwei (via Virtual China) a post on protests in ZT Online (征途), the largest on-line game in China. That there are on-line games that cater to Chinese users is not surprising if only because of the language barrier and the lag time across the Pacific.1 According to the article however, the main reason Chinese gamers like Chinese games is that

“Chinese gamers are an unwelcome species on European and American servers,” said a game manager who once worked on World of Warcraft. Chinese players always have ways of quickly ascending levels that leave European and American gamers in the dust, and on group missions they do not like to respect the tacit rules of profit division. For those “pedantic” European and American gamers, Chinese players are like fearsome pagans. “European and American games do not encourage unlimited superiority of power; they put more of an emphasis on balance and cooperative support.” The former WOW manager said, “Perhaps this is because of the influence of traditional culture and the current environment; truth be told, Chinese gamers are better suited to jungle-style gaming.”

Ahh, those individualistic Chinese just don’t get along with the group-oriented Euro-Americans. The essay itself is interesting enough, although the author needs to spend more time on Terra Nova.


  1. I tried to get on to ZT for this post, but the lag was something awful []

Yang Tianshi on the Chiang Kai-Shek Diaries

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:30 am

Jonathan Benda reports on a talk by the historian Yang Tianshi on Chiang Kai-Shek’s diaries given at Tunghai university in Taiwan. Professor Yang is a very well published and respected historian, and I had a chance to meet him when he was the chairman of the Chinese delegation to the Third International Conference on Wartime China held in Hakone in November, 2006 that brought together Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and North American historians to discuss issues related to the Sino-Japanese war.

According to Benda’s notes on the talk, Professor Yang argues that Chiang’s diaries were primarily written for himself, rather than written with his future legacy in mind.

He said that two key pieces of evidence for this are how much CKS cursed (罵) people close to him, and how much private, even confessional, material is in the diaries. (CKS used to give himself demerits for looking lustily at women.) Prof. Yang argued that CKS would not have wanted this kind of material to be made public…One result of the private nature of Chiang’s diaries, according to Prof. Yang, is that we can learn a lot more about what was really going on in CKS’s head at certain important historical moments, such as the 1926 Zhongshan Warship Incident and the 1936 Xi’an Incident.

I find this quite interesting since I have seen the diaries used in quite a number of places and whenever I have heard them mentioned in presentations, it is usually accompanied by warnings about the care that needs to be taken when using the source.

The first thing thing this makes me wonder is why, if Chiang was concerned about the confessional material and other damaging contents ever becoming public, he did not take better care to destroy what must have amounted to a huge amount of material (if the diaries indeed covered the period 1915-1972)? Surely the great generalissimo must have suspected these diaries would get into the hands of someone following his death and get published? Were there secret orders for them all to be burned that were betrayed following his death? Sounds like there could be a great story here.

Second, given Chiang’s exposure to Christian, Western, and Japanese historical, military, and political traditions and heroes that are filled with the diaries, memoirs, etc. of great leaders – I really find it very difficult to believe that Chiang could have put pen to paper every time he made a diary entry and not ever have imagined his words were speaking to an audience larger than one. Although I haven’t come across it myself, I suspect there is a whole theoretical literature among historians and literary scholars on the topic of diaries, their authors, and their conscious or unconscious audience.

I would venture to suggest that it is really difficult for an author, writing something like a diary – or a weblog, for that matter, to maintain a consistent audience in mind across a large span of time. Let me give a few examples. I have a public personal weblog that mixes postings about my own life with my thoughts on more academic and political topics. When I write, I try to imagine that my own graduate advisor or a future hiring committee is reading every posting (I honestly hope they don’t and won’t). The idea is that this way I don’t write anything that would be inappropriate for the widest possible audience. This is the reverse of what Professor Yang is arguing. However, going back over my entries, I notice that over the past few years, I see numerous postings where I slip, where I can tell that I was writing a posting which had a much smaller audience in mind – and though not too embarrassing, is probably not the kind of thing I would written if I really was imagining that hiring committee or advisor reading it.

Isn’t the opposite quite common too? Maybe I’m on my own here, but I don’t think I have ever been able to write a diary entry in my life where the thought hasn’t occasionally crossed my mind: won’t someone else someday somewhere possibly see what I wrote? Are there really people out there, especially ambitious military and political leaders, who are so confident that they are the one eternal and only audience for their writing? I suspect that at the very least, CKS suffered from the kinds of “lapses” that I mentioned above – a kind of “audience” slippage in his writing.

Finally, as a historian, we must confront the issue of what it means to know what is “in someone’s head.” The issue of diary audience notwithstanding, the actions, intentions, and opinions of someone like CKS caught in the Xi’an Incident, for example, inevitably goes through a form of translation as he puts his thoughts to paper. Diaries are not written thoughts, they are narrated thoughts. While what is put on paper in this manner does not lose historical value – we might want to be careful in how to articulate what it is that we have found. I didn’t hear Professor Yang’s talk or how exactly he expressed these ideas but it sounds like it was a fascinating discussion of an important historical source. I’m curious what others have to say about some of these issues surrounding the diaries of leaders like CKS?

UPDATE: Jonathan records another interesting comment by Professor Yang: “One last thing that Prof. Yang mentioned–he said that Chiang’s status has risen in China from that of a devil (鬼) to a human (人), while in Taiwan, coincidentally, it seems his status has gone from god to human. (No one commented on the immediate political conditions that might be responsible for that coincidence.)” On this point, Sayaka over at Prison Notebooks has an interesting posting worth checking out.


Journals: Critical Asian Studies Vol 39 No 3

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:40 pm

Below is the table of contents for the september issue of Critical Asian Studies:

Critical Asian Studies
2007 ; VOL 39 ; PART 3   (2007/09/01) 
EALA Wiki Entry for this journal

Article Title: Submerged and submerging voices : hegomony and the decline of the Narmada Bachao Andolan in Gujarat , 1998 – 2001
Author(s): Whitehead , Judith
Page: 339-421

Article Title: The Limits of Protest and Prospects for Political Reform in Malaysia
Author(s): Nair , Sheila
Page: 339-368

Article Title: Robo Sapiens Japanicus : Humanoid Robots and the Posthuman Family
Author(s): Robertson , Jennifer
Page: 369-398

Article Title: Inequality for the Greater Good : Gendered State Rule in Singapore
Author(s): Yenn , Teo You
Page: 423-445

Article Title: Beyond Modern : Shimizu Shikin and “Two Modern Girls”
Author(s): Winston , Leslie
Page: 447-481

Article Title: IRAQ AND THE LESSONS OF VIETNAM : Introduction
Author(s): Gardner , Lloyd ; Young , Marilyn
Page: 483-498

Article Title: Book Review
Page: 499-503

About TOS Updates

Journals: The China Quarterly Vol 192

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:35 pm

Below is the table of contents for the December issue of the China Quarterly:

The China Quarterly
2007 ; VOL 192 ; PART 01   (2007/12/01) 
EALA Wiki Entry for this journal

Article Title: Index of Books Reviewed
Page: iv-viii

Article Title: Index for 2007
Page: i-iii

Article Title: Index of Authors
Page: xiii-xiv

Article Title: Index to Quarterly Chronicle
Page: ix-xii

Article Title: Integrating Wealth and Power in China : The Communist Party’s Embrace of the Private Sector
Page: 827-854

Article Title: From Resisting to “Embracing ? ” the One – Child Rule : Understanding New Fertility Trends in a Central China Village
Page: 855-875

Article Title: Clans for Markets : The Social Organization of Inter – Firm Trading Relations in China’s Automobile Industry
Page: 876-897

Article Title: Rural Households , Dragon Heads and Associations : A Case Study of Sweet Potato Processing in Sichuan Province
Page: 898-914

Article Title: The Political Ecology of Pollution Enforcement in China : A Case from Sichuan’s Rural Industrial Sector
Page: 915-932

Article Title: Ethnicization through Schooling : The Mainstream Discursive Repertoires of Ethnic Minorities
Page: 933-948

Article Title: State – Press Relationship in Post – 1997 Hong Kong : Constant Negotiation amidst Self – Restraint
Page: 949-970

Article Title: The Making of Chinese Intellectuals : Representations and Organization in the Thought Reform Campaign
Page: 971-989

Article Title: Was Japanese Colonialism Good for the Welfare of Taiwanese ? Stature and the Standard of Living
Page: 990-1013

Article Title: The China Quarterly
Page: 1018-1019

Article Title: Books Received
Page: 1052-1057

Article Title: Quarterly chronicle and documentation
Page: 1058-1084

Article Title: Contributors
Page: 1085-1087

About TOS Updates

Journals: Journal of Asian Studies Vol 66 No 4

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:17 pm

Below is the table of contents of the November issue of JAS.

Journal of Asian Studies
2007 ; VOL 66 ; PART 4   (2007/11/01) 
EALA Wiki Entry for this journal

Article Title: Law and Custom under the Choson Dynasty and Colonial Korea : A Comparative Perspective
Author(s): Kim , M . S . – H .
Page: 1067-1098


Journals: Modern China Vol 34 No 1

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:03 pm

Below is the table of contents of the new Modern China issue:

Modern China
2008; VOL 34; PART 1 (2008-January) 
EALA Wiki Entry for this Journal

Introduction to “The Nature of the Chinese State : Dialogues among Western and Chinese Scholars , I”
Author(s): Philip C . C . Huang
Page: 3 – 8

Centralized Minimalism : Semiformal Governance by Quasi Officials and Dispute Resolution in China
Author(s): Philip C . C . Huang
Page: 9 – 35

Graduated Controls : The State – Society Relationship in Contemporary China
Author(s): Kang Xiaoguang
Page: 36 – 55

Changing Models of China’s Policy Agenda Setting
Author(s): Shaoguang Wang
Page: 56 – 87

Societal Transition : New Issues in the Field of the Sociology of Development
Author(s): Sun Liping
Page: 88 – 113

The Liberation of the Object and the Interrogation of Modernity : Rethinking The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought
Author(s): Wang Hui
Page: 114 – 140

Rule as Repertory and the Compound Essence of Authority
Author(s): Vivienne Shue
Page: 141 – 151

History and Globalization in China’s Long Twentieth Century
Author(s): Prasenjit Duara
Page: 152 – 164

A Theory of Transitions
Author(s): Ivan Szelenyi
Page: 165 – 175

About TOS Updates

TOS Update Experiment

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:49 pm

Today I’ll begin an experiment here at Frog in a Well. I thought some readers might appreciate an update of the table of contents of journals which include articles on East Asian history. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to do this, but it turns out to be easy to transform the email updates I receive into a post for Frog in a Well. You can register for TOS updates by email with many journals but it doesn’t hurt to post them here for those who don’t want to clutter inboxes. Many journals also now provide RSS feed.

I’ll try to remember to copy and paste the TOS into the appropriate page Journals section of the Frog in a Well EALA wiki. If anyone wants to create individual wiki pages for articles of interests, posting summaries, links to commentary, or civil discussion about the articles directly in the wiki, that is welcome too.

NOTE: Unfortunately, the email updates I get often don’t show any distinction between articles, book reviews, and research notes so visit online home pages for this information. Also, most journals are only available for reading at research libraries, or online through paid subscription services such as JSTOR, Muse, and other databases.


A tame civil society in China?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:30 am

Via Kevin Drum (where the comments so far are better than you might expect) a link to an article by Christina Larson in the new Washington Monthly about environmentalism in China. It’s a nice piece, although not much of it will be terribly new for the Old China Hands who read this blog.



Teaching with Tools

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:03 am

One of the classes I will be doing next semester is History 200, Introduction to History, which is our methods course for majors, usually taken when they are sophomores. This time I will be using Cohen’s History in Three Keys as the monograph we all read together. I picked it first because it is a good read,1 second because he is quite open about explaining how historians create a book like this, what their goals are and what problems they face, and third because it is a book that is easy to tie into non-China things. Most of these students will not end up ‘concentrating’ on Asia (which is fine) and I don’t like to get too Sinocentric on them in this class.

Cohen’s book is about the Boxers, which means that it connects to all sorts of issues about Imperialism and Colonialism and Missionaries and Cultural Contact and all that. Plus lots of people wrote stuff about it in English, so it is easy for the students to do a bit of primary source research. The tool I will be using for that is Diigo which is social annotation software that allows a defined group of people to “add” comments to any document on the web. Ideally we well be able to read and comment on a set of documents “together” in a big group (two sections of 20 this time) just as we would do in reading a document one-on-one, and they will learn how historians read primary sources and what we get out of them.  Any advice on how to pull this off is welcome.

One of the things we will be reading is Twain’s To The Person Sitting in Darkness which is more about American imperialism than the Boxers, and maybe something from Weale’s Indiscreet Letters from Peking and then turn them loose in the NY Times Archive. Do any of our readers know of any good (translated) European or Japanese accounts of the Boxer events, the siege, etc?

  1. by historian standards anyway. Some of them will get very frustrated by his unwillingness to Just Tell The Damn Story, but part of the purpose of the class is to introduce students to some of the other things historians do []


Asian History Carnival #18

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 3:03 am

Somehow the items that have caught my eye since the last Asia Carnival are more cultural than historical – future carnivals will right the balance. But culture, after all, can’t be separated from history. History doesn’t stop. As Ambrose King of Chinese University of Hong Kong once put it in very Confucian terms: “we live in history, not in the past.”

December offers a number of days to remember. I’m sure you’re all looking forward to the Holiday – December 26? In England this is Boxing Day, but to us it’s the birthday of Mao Zedong.

To celebrate, the nomination for the year’s most original use of the concept “Cultural Revolution” is an editorial in Taipei’s China Post, “Cultural Revolution Redux“ (December 7) which comments on the demonstrations and counter demonstrations between the followers of President Chen Shui-bian and his critics. The immediate occasion for the conflict is the government’s move to change the name of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial to Democracy Square. The editorial, decidedly in the anti-Chen camp, sees this conflict as “almost a re-run of the violent struggle between Mao Zedong’s Red Guards and the reactionary ‘black five categories.’” The standoff is but a “tip of the iceberg in Taiwan‘s cultural revolution,” which has been in progress since Chen won the 2000 presidential election. Chen’s ultimate goal, of course, is to wipe out Chinese culture in favor of Taiwan‘s indigenous culture.”

Further Taiwan coverage of the demonstrations is posted on the exemplary blog EastSouthWestNorth , including stories detailing the intense heckling.

In a more scholarly vein, popular movements in Taiwan politics are analyzed in “The ‘Red’ Tide Anti-Corruption Protest: What Does it Mean for Democracy in Taiwan?“ by Fang-long Shih. The article appears in a new free online journal: Taiwan in Comparative Perspective. The journal has a stimulating lineup of articles, review articles, commentaries, and reviews which use Taiwan as a reference point for global issues. The journal is published by the Taiwan Culture Research Programme of the London School of Economics.

Also free online is How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century by Tonio Andrade, published in the Columbia University Press Gutenberg-e project (all books in the project are now online for free). Andrade argues that it was Dutch protection that made Chinese settlement on Taiwan possible.

[Addendum: After I posted this edition of the Carnival, Michael Turton at The View from Taiwan added to his string of analytical and deeply informed articles “Minimum Differentiation, Maximum Indentification” (December 14). Michael points out that aside from (very important?) difference of being either “pro-Taiwan” or “pro-China,” the two parties have basically similar stances on a range of important issues. The “renaming of the Memorial Formerly Known as CKS must be seen as part of the normal electoral dance between the two parties…” not as primal warfare. My only complaint about this article is that I wish I had read it two days before.]


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