井底之蛙

3/16/2006

Women on the Long March

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 5:08 pm

Natalie Bennett reports that a new oral history investigation of the Long March experience is being published.

Over 10 months, travelling mainly by bus and train through areas little changed to this day, I found 40 of the march veterans. Talking to them, I learned that their suffering, and what they overcame, was actually much greater than we had been told, especially among the women. Some of the realities they described also sit uneasily with the myth – none more so, perhaps, than the fate of the children of the Long March: the children left behind, children given over for hurried adoption after being born along the way, the young taken on as recruits and sometimes abandoned if they could not keep up.

I can’t tell from the article, which focuses on women and children in the march, if the book will follow that emphasis, nor does it give any clues as to whether there will be any new information on the Luding Bridge incident which features prominently in Chang/Halliday’s attack on Mao’s legacy.

However, if the article is any clue as to the rich detail available in the book, it will be a valuable addition to the history and the pedagogy. Oral history is one of the most accessible sources for students, and well-done oral history is a joy to read and use.

2/13/2006

World Historical Trends: Valentine’s Day Surgery?

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 2:52 pm

My father sent along this article about the rise in Shanghai of plastic surgery being marketed to couples as a Valentine’s Day celebration/present.

I don’t know which is the more interesting world historical trend: the rise of Valentine’s Day as a secular world event or the spread of plastic surgery as a status symbol, in spite of its risks [via].

Of course, at some point someone will try to make an analogy or comparison or otherwise link this with footbinding, but I think it’s going to be a tough sell, given the temporal and cultural distance between the two practices, without some serious underlying theoretical foundation….

On slightly more serious note, the latest Japan Focus (which is going to have to change its name soon, given its broader scope) includes an interesting and nicely detailed article by Yonson Ahn about the historiographical border war between Korea and China.

2/7/2006

Colonialogy

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:50 am

I think we need a new word for the study of colonialism, imperialism and the post-colonial discourses, pro and con. Pro? Who’s in favor of it? Well, this is what makes it interesting, these days: there are a lot of former colonial powers out there whose citizens and leaders, in their heart of hearts, still believe that they accomplished something that was ultimately positive, who still believe that their developmental initiatives and their anti-communist (or anti-capitalist) positions were justified by subsequent developments. This is usually — explicitly or implicitly — intended to mitigate or cancel out any discussions of political repression, economic exploitation, military atrocities or strategic abandonment. Sometimes it’s just good historical sense, but then it usually comes with very careful caveats about not canceling out the other stuff.

(more…)

10/14/2005

Boundaries within Asia

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:44 am

Interesting article on the problem understanding Central Asia: the first problem is that nobody agrees on what or where it is. Apparently, East Asianists — China scholars, mostly — are a big part of the problem. Funny, though, since that’s where most of the actual research seems to come from. Yes, it’s a distorted historiography, as most “influence” oriented scholarship tends to be. But almost all non-Western societies start out being studied in relation to better known regions: it’s a hallmark of the early stages of a field, and it’s something that will, if the article’s comments about the rising tide of scholars from Central Asia are sound, be rectified in the next generation, as these things are.

Amusing non sequitur: An entire blog devoted to exposing badly used Chinese characters in the West, particularly in tatoos. [via]

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