Asian History Carnival #15

Korea Center Pavilion
Welcome to the Fifteenth edition of the Asian History Carnival! The picture is of the beautiful pavilion at the Center for Korean Studies at UH-Manoa, where ASPAC just met and I was elevated to the illustrious ranks of Secretary pro tem and Secretary-elect in a heady rush.1 I didn’t have the time to blog during the conference, so I’m doing my conference blogging afterwards, staring with South Asian issues (textbook controversies, identity, and a new South Asian Studies Conference).2 I’ve also been helping Ralph Luker with a little Blogroll Revision, so the non-US history blogs are much more accessible. Finally, there’s a new way to keep track of the History Carnival community: the History Carnival Aggregator, your one-stop shop for announcements! Well, enough about me, let’s see what the rest of the blogosphere’s been up to this last month!

Asian Wars

It’s been a great month for historical analogies to recent wars in Asia, naturally. The big headline was the “Korea Model” for post-war occupation and security, which prompted a lot of people to start remembering the “forgotten war.” Then there’s the “never-forgotten war”: Vietnam. I’ll just highlight one post which came across my desk: James Livingston on how Vietnam analogies are not good for supporters of the “surge.”3

Clint Eastwood’s movies about the Battle of Iwo Jima are still getting a lot of reaction. The Japanese government is going to change the name on maps back to Iwa-to, which is what it was before US mapmakers mucked it up and the battle stuck it in our heads. Andrew Meyer does a comparative review of Eastwood’s Iwo Jima films, with a highly presentist reading of Japan, Iraq and the films themselves. Speaking of WWII, Brett Holman discusses early air attacks on urban populations as reported in the British press, including Canton.

Going back a bit further, Kenneth Swope went to an Imjin War (that’s the Hideyoshi invasions, for my Japanese studies friends) conference in Korea recently, and focused particularly on Admiral Yi Sunshin [via].4

Memorials and Museums

Anniversary posts seem to have been popular this month: apparently May and June are historically rich months for Korea. Our own Owen Miller has been blogging press reactions to the upheavals in Korea 20 years ago.5 Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling has been on a solid run of anniverary notices, including his own thoughts and a news roundup on the anniversary of the Kwangju uprising and massacre, as well as a remembrance of Park Chung-hee’s 1961 coup. Matt’s also got a fantastic collection of Post-liberation photographs, very rare images.

Konrad Lawson visited NY Museum of Natural History’s “Hall of Asian Peoples” and was not impressed. Alan Baumler’s been tracking changing names of memorials in Taipei and changing views of Chiang and Sun on the mainland. Eric Muller unveils new commemorative plaques at a Japanese American internment camp site.

Penny Richards marked the birthday of the original “Siamese Twins” (ethnic Chinese born in Siam) who — I sure didn’t know this — married and settled down on a plantation with slaves in North Carolina. While we’re doing biography, I’ll note Prof. Kitsuno’s two part Death of Takeda Shingen post.

Debates and Disputes

Apparently the Korea-China History Wars have claimed a new victim: Taekwondo, the Korean martial art.6

Joel Martinson reports on a textbook controversy, this one a college history text in China, which is taking internal brickbats. Speaking of internecine warfare, Aidan reports on a French Sinological debate and comes to what seems to me the obvious conclusion: they’re both wrong, but not because they’re French.

Ideas and Influences

The key theme this month seems to be the tension between Nationalism and everything else.


So it’s a great pleasure to also be able to present Joe’s discovery of how woodblock grains have influenced modern typefaces.7 And 花崗齋之愚公’s The Godfather mnemonic for Chinese History.


Kiki, a new teacher, reflects on an Chinese art history teaching experience. On the other end of the spectrum, Christopher Bayly, Author of Empire and Information: Intelligence gathering and social communication in India 1780-1870 (1996) was knighted and Japanese studies pioneer Fred Notehelfer got a symposium for his retirement.

Academics are most noted for writing for themselves, but sometimes they work in the service of others. Jonathan Benda has some questions about the ghostwriter for Syngman Rhee. John Gillespie writes about the relationship between Donald Keene and Mishima Yukio

Finally, a real blast from the past: 花崗齋之愚公 on the Chinese Imperial Exams and how today’s university exams just don’t stack up.


The AHC has been covering digital resources for some time. This time, it seems like they’re all art history

Two other items: From Michael Rank, “a fascinating one-hour documentary about the 200,000 ethnic Koreans who were deported to Kazakhstan by Stalin in 1937” and from Noel at The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog, Srivijaya: A primer – Part 1

In Lieu of a Conclusion

That’s it for this edition. I’m looking for volunteers for the next few months. The Asian history blogging community keeps getting bigger: come out and play!

  1. something about my neurotic tendency to write everything down seems to have swayed the electorate  

  2. I still have Korean and Japanese panels to comment on next week. Somehow I managed to entirely miss any Chinese panels.  

  3. I’m sure there are a few hundred others I didn’t see….  

  4. Why don’t more scholars do the kind of conference reporting that Swope and I do? I don’t mean the “I went to K. and met up with blogger XYZ and we hit the buffet” stuff, but real discussions of the scholarship and issues. Are there not enough bloggers yet? Is there some ethical issue I’ve overlooked? Or am I the only one hurting for material this much?  

  5. It’s not “liveblogging” because it happened a long time ago. “Synchblogging”? “Lagblogging”? “Historioblogical recreation?” We need a new word again.  

  6. Apparently the Chinese are taking the multinational patent approach to culture: if it’s derived from something Chinese, then we own the rights to it, no matter how much work you did on it  

  7. cites Wikipedia, though. I’d like to hear from someone with real expertise, though I doubt they’re blogging….  

1 Comment

  1. Actually of the nearly 172,000 Koryo Saram (Russian-Koreans) forcibly relocated from the Soviet Far East by the NKVD in 1937 less than 96,000 ended up in Kazakhstan. The NKVD initially deported more than 76,000 ethnic Koreans to Uzbekistan. The number of Koreans exiled to Uzbekistan thus constituted over 40% of the total number of deportees. I realize that this is a general blog post and the numbers are rounded, but more than doubling the number of Russian-Koreans deported to Kazakhstan by including all those deported to Uzbekistan seems really sloppy.

    See Pavel Polian, _Ne po svoei vole: Istoriia i geografiia prinuditel’nykh migratsii v SSSR_ (Moscow: OGI-Memorial, 2001), p. 92.

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