井底之蛙

4/22/2014

The internet is awesome-Chinese history in film version

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:39 am Print

British Pathé  has put some 80,000 of their old newsreels on YouTube. This is a massive treasure trove of cool stuff, and the many hours I will spend looking at them are fully justified as “work”. A lot the commentary is bland, foreigner-centered and uninformed, but the pictures are great.

Civil War in China. (1922) Not much analysis, but a a nice funeral.

Some of these are listed as unknown material with no date. such as. World Faces Crisis As Japan And China Clash In Far East (1938) I suppose I should comment and tell them what this is.

Some of it might be quite useful for research. Would you like to see a film of the official parade at the inauguration of the Japanese puppet government of Canton? With street drama and everything?

Maybe Village Children Of South China (1951) is more your style?

Or Nationalist troops in Nankin in 1927?

China Fish People (1930)?

An opium burning which I think is the one in 1919?

Not only is all this great content searchable, it is also free! This is the type of thing that convinces me that inventing the internet may not have been a mistake after all.

What are your favorites? You can go to the Pathe channel here https://www.youtube.com/user/britishpathe and click on the magnifying glass to search.

3/18/2014

Chairman Xi serves the people

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 11:12 am Print

Offbeat China has some official cartoons showing Xi Jinping as an ordinary guy who can sit cross-legged just like folks.

7I guess now that Gary Locke has officially left the building there is an opening for someone to take on the role of high official who is one with the common people. The style of the drawings is pretty obviously intended to make him look like an ordinary person. They remind me in part of some of the old shots of Chiang Ching-kuo, who never tried to pull off his Dad’s spartan military style

Kai-shek.

Nor did he try to pull off Wei-guo’s full-on Nazi look.Chiang_Wei-kuo_wehrmacht_LQ

Rather, while democratizing Taiwan, he chose to look like a man of the people.

Picture2

What the Xi Jinping cartoons remind me most of though is Hua Guofeng. As Mao’s chosen successor Hua had some big shoes to fill.

HuaGuofeng6

And he did this in part through a massive propaganda campaign, which you can learn about at Chinese Posters.

Here we have Hua cleaning a counter and Xi getting his own food. Hua is serving the people, and Xi is being served by them, but times do change, and waiting in line will get you credit as being a man of the people as a Chinese official today.

e13-62712

There are plenty of shots of Hua holding a shovel and such like, but China’s leadership has changed so much that that would just look ridiculous with Xi. Instead, he meets with college students (the future elite) and encourages them to be concerned with the common people. Hua probably would have done that by leading the students out for some vigorous physical labor alongside workers and peasants, but this is 2014.

e13-6239

Both of them mingle with the common folk, and you can see some of the differences in revolutionary charisma. Part of it is the cellphones, but also it is hard to imagine Hua greeting a member of the masses who happened to be female with “Hello Beautiful.”

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Hua had the disadvantage that he was following Mao, and so he had to either put himself in Mao’s place in the picture, or sort of abandon Maoism, neither of them a good strategy. Hua was followed by a guy named Deng Xiaoping, who shied away from the leader-cult thing, and when he did turn up in posters they would focus on him as an individual, someone passing through revolutionary history, not dominating it.

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The way everyone gushes over Xi in these pictures (and laugh at his jokes) is the most leader-cult thing in the set, and given that Xi is the leader of the great and successful Communist party of China that is to be expected. Hua could be pretty informal and push the leader-worship off on Mao or the Party. Xi has to be both a symbol of Chinese greatness and an ordinary Jiu. It’s a hard act to pull off, and it will be interesting to see how well he does at it. God forbid he ever ends up in a picture like this.

obamafeet

 

 

2/7/2014

Boxers and Saints

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:56 am Print

I did a class that focused on the Boxers last semester, and one of the things I talked about was Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints.

gly_bs1This is a two volume graphic novel that looks at the Boxer event. How good is it? Well he has done his research. Cohen’s History in Three Keys was our main text and it is in Yang’s bibliography, as is Esherick’s Origins of the Boxer Uprising. It shows in the text. If you want to show your students pictures of Chinese peasants being flooded out of their homes

Flood

Or foreign missionaries being obnoxious (more…)

11/13/2013

Picturing the 1911 Revolution

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 11:37 am Print

Via the comments1 to this post I see that Oberlin has posted an on-line version of History of China for 1912 in 52 cartoons

These seem to be weekly cartoons published in something called the National Review (not the same as the current American magazine of the same name) Needless to say if you are responsible for coming up with a cartoon on Chinese politics every week there will be some weeks when inspiration does not strike or not much seems to be happening, even the the revolutionary year of 1911. Still, many of them are quite good for teaching with or thinking about.

Jan_13Here, for instance, is a nice one showing the Manchus and Han fighting it out while various foreigners take advantage of the opportunity to grab stuff. One of the standard themes of 1911 is that Chinese elites on all sides wanted to settle the thing quickly to avoid encouraging foreign intervention and this picture, drawn by a foreigner no less, illustrates this pretty well.

(more…)

  1. from peacay of BibliOdyssey! []

11/10/2013

City of big shoulders

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:40 am Print

So I spent some time at the library going through 圖畫日報 Although it is not a paper that lasted long (1909-1910) there is lots of cool stuff here connected to the it’s mission of exposing China to the world.

World

 

One thing that leaped out at me was the picture of Chicago. It’s part of an occasional series on famous places overseas.

chicago

Chicago is a city of skyscrapers, the ideal city ” built of  clouds.” (白雲砌成) including the 21 story 商務總會, (commercial association building, maybe the Chicago Stock exchange?) a 13 story 婦奴節用會 (Women’s holiday meeting place? Could this be Marshall Fields?) and an 11-story 大妓院 (da ji yuan) with 600 rooms. 大妓院 would, I think, mean a brothel. I’m guessing that this is a reference to Palmer House or one of the other big downtown hotels which were, as we all know, the haunts of  “adventuresses” in accounts of the city of sin.

adventureess

Since I heard about Chicago as the first city of skyscrapers while growing up in Chicagoland I found this interesting. The illustration is clearly not taken from pictures of the city, but it is also different from the generic pictures of foreign cities you get at this point. It is sort of a occidentalist picture. Chinoiserie seems to involve pulling apart elements of Chinese design and gluing them back together in ways that would look really odd to a Chinese person (compare your standard “westerner trying to do fake calligraphy” to Book From the Sky) and the same thing seems to be going on in this picture.

 

11/7/2013

China in Cartoons II

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:42 am Print

The second volume of Understanding China Through Comics is out.1 I ‘reviewed‘ the first volume and concluded that Jing Liu is no Larry Gonick, but it’s not bad. My short review of the new volume is that he is still no Larry Gonick, but this volume is even better than the first one, and you should certainly buy it.

The art has many of the same problems as the first volume, but is better in general. There are still too many places where what is going on in the story is not represented graphically. So, the struggle between Shu, Wu and Wei is represented, in part, by three guys getting ready to fight on a map.

Wu-Strategy

Obviously a lot of history is hard to represent well in pictures, but that’s the whole point of being a cartoonist, that you are better at this then we are. Although there are some clunkers in here there are also some quite serviceable bits, like this one on corruption.

Corruption

A better one on the Three Kingdoms, showing backstabbing and armies being destroyed

Shu

And even some quite good ones, like this on street fighting in Chang-an, which looks like it might have been inspired by a WWII movie but at least gives you a nice feeling of tension.

Fighting

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  1. Been out for a while, actually []

9/27/2013

Vinegar Joe, cartoonist

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 6:38 am Print

I did not know that Stillwell’s diaries were transcribed  and on-line at the Hoover. Vinegar Joe was the commander of U.S. forces in China during the first part of WWII who had a famously rocky relationship with Chiang Kai-shek. Stillwell  got the command in China in part because he knew some Chinese and had spent more time learning about China and Asia that the vast bulk of American officers. The early diaries are a mix of observations about everything from the state of the Chinese military to the state of Stillwell’s digestive tract, with an interesting mix of sharp observations and orientalist cliches.  He liked to draw, so if the words don’t get you the pictures may.  In 1927 he was watching warlord troops try to decide if they were advancing or retreating in the face of the Northern Expedition.

Train

as one might expect there are plenty “technical” drawings, like the armed train above. In addition to obvious military things he also did pictures of silk reeling machines, tobacco presses, etc. Like other foreign observers he was interested in Chinese technology and/or the lack of it. The diaries also make it clear that whatever other problems he may have had during the war, getting over a deep-seated Japanophilia was not going to be one of them.

Staff

Even this early you can see some of the the Vinegar Joe personality. You can see his contempt for staff officers above, and his empathy for the common solider looking for a non-existent First Aid station below.

1st aid

7/4/2013

Seek Truth from Farts

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 12:31 pm Print

My passing comment on Alan’s Seek Truth from Facts mentioned that I once saw “Seek Truth From Farts.” Maybe it was a misprint, maybe a comment.

Then I ran across a posting on the Harvard-Yenching Facebook which linked to a Waseda University collection of Japanese painting.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/s720x720/148556_147913225361069_116530357_n.jpg

 

 

3/24/2013

China becomes air-minded

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:11 am Print

So, I presented a paper at AAS in San Diego. Obviously the high points were meeting Konrad Lawson in person and eating really good fish tacos, so I could taunt the kids when I got back. The paper was on air-mindedness in China. Air-mindedness was the interwar idea that aircraft were about to lead to a transformation of human affairs. This was a big deal in Europe, the U.S. and Soviet Russia, among other places. I dealt a little with how the idea was imported into China before the war, especially after the bombing of Shanghai in 1932. While there were some air-minded writers who talked about how air travel would lead to universal peace, China was more influenced by those who foresaw a new form technological warfare that a modern nation would have to learn how to cope with. My paper mostly looked at wartime efforts to deal with air-raids, but the best reactions I got came from some of the pre-war pictures. If you are the type who only reads scholarly journals for the pictures this post is a good substitute for going to AAS.

Here is a map showing the WWI bombing of London, superimposed on the city of Shanghai, to give the Chinese people an idea of the scale of modern war. In 1932 only a handful of places in Shanghai had been bombed, and part of the purpose of pre-war propaganda was to convince Chinese that they needed to be ready for a new type of war.

ShanghaiMap

How do you prepare? Well, you have to become a different sort of person, as the picture below suggests. I’ve seen this reproduced in a few places. It shows how, based on American experiments, you can tell what size bomb made the crater you are looking at. Your natural reaction to seeing the building next to you turned into a smoking crater might be to panic, but the air-minded citizen will climb into the hole and report the event to the proper authorities

Bomb Crater

You also have to become a different sort of society. Here is a map, based on European models, that shows a proper modern air defence net for a city, going from the observers far away (all linked by modern communications) to the layers of defence of the city.

IMG_3247

How well did the Chinese do at all this? Well, as the picture of an air defence net below, taken from a wartime journal, suggests, they had the idea, but the execution was lacking, at least in the early part of the war. Diagram

A lot of the pre-war modernity was pretty vague, like these fliers urging the Chinese people to pay attention to air defence, but not really explaining what that might meanFAngKong

Modernity was also not very evenly distributed in the pre-war period, with most of what was being done happening in Nanjing. That changed during the war of course. It was not much of a paper, but I did like digging around and finding some of this pre-war stuff on air-mindedness and tying it into the more familiar narrative of the wartime bombings.

 

 

10/4/2012

Very superstitious

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 12:01 pm Print

Above is a charm carried by a Chinese soldier in 1938, re-printed in the journal Youth Front in 1938. It seems to be a Communist publication, although this being the period of the United Front it is pretty mild in its communism, calling for the unity of all groups and parties in opposing the Japanese. In any case, both the Nationalists and the Communists were, as good children of May 4th, opposed to superstition. The article praises both freedom of religion and the contributions religious groups had made to the war effort.1 Still, given China’s long history of corrupt government and uneven education superstition (presumably meaning religious views that did not count as proper religion) was quite common. Even the Japanese ridiculed these charms.

“It is laughable that they carry these charms, showing not only that they fear death, but how badly they need to die. These charms also show why our brave soldiers kill them so easily.”

Always good to be able to cite an (unnamed) enemy source on topics like this. Of course the charms don’t work and may actually do harm. This one, like most, was to be written on paper, then burned and drunk with water. Charms like this were an old part of Chinese popular religion. The Boxers had ones that would make you immune to bullets. This one reveals something about the anti-Japanese resistance of Chinese soldiers/militia/whoever, as it will make it possible for you to go without eating for ten days. The article says that this is laughable. but I might go with tragic instead.

 

from 青年战线 No 1, 1938, p.20

 

  1. Gregor Benton has a lot of nice stuff on the Communists and religious groups in New Fourth Army []

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