Asian History Carnival #16

Welcome to the 16th Asian History Carnival. When you find interesting and original weblog postings related to Asian history, consider tagging them at or other popular tagging sites as “ahcarnival” or submitting the link here. Also, contact Jonathan Dresner (jonathan at froginawell dot net) or myself (frog at froginawell dot net) if you would like to volunteer to host the next carnival at your own weblog. Now, to the carnival…

It is always exciting to see a new quality weblog related to Asian history online. Beginning in May Sam Van Schaik, a scholar at SOAS whose expertise is in Tibetan language, history and Buddhism, has begun frequently posting on a range of topics related to Tibetan history at the new weblog In addition to postings on his own findings, his weblog often comments on the challenges of working with the sources of Tibetan history and in one post entitled Infrared, prayers and booklets, the technologies that are making it possible to read some of these texts.

In July, over at 花崗齋雜記, you can learn more about the bloody fall of the Taiping capital in 1864. On interesting aspect of this posting is the way it puts the deaths surrounding the Taiping rebellion into context by comparing the deaths to those in the US Civil War.

Sam Crane over at the Useless Tree continues to post frequently on references to Confucianism and Taoism in our contemporary media. For some examples see his recent contributions, Let’s Call A Legalist, A Legalist, The Way of Poetry, Taoist Afterlife, Confucianism in Communist China, Trading on Tao, Ancient Chinese Thought in Today’s LA Times, and Korean Confucian Abortion.

Matt at Gusts of Popular Wind is easily one of the best sources we have online for fresh and interesting postings related to Korean history as well as Seoul geography and contemporary Korean society. The quality and frequency of his postings are remarkable and in sheer numbers of quality postings, outnumbers all our Frog in a Well blogs put together. Matt’s postings combine his own knowledgeable commentary with well chosen snippets of other articles and wonderful use of photographs. One example of such a posting is his July 20th posting on the Han river Flood of 1925.

Matt has also contributed a number of excellent postings discussing the new Korean movie “Splendid Vacation” (화려한 휴가), currently showing in Korea, set around the turbulent violence in Kwangju in May, 1980, when protesters and large numbers of citizens took control of the city from violent soldiers for a short time before being finally crushed by government troops. Matt adds his own informed thoughts but also links to a wonderful range of articles related to the movie and the events in Kwangju. Begin with his first review of the movie here, a second posting here, and his most recent posting with more on who some of the individual characters in the movie were based on here. Some of the other links I came across thanks to these articles include this review at koreapopwars, this CS monitor review, this critical review at Left Flank, and Darcy Paquet’s review of another movie looking at the Kwangju massacre Petal.

Joel at Far Outliers has an excellent post on the Changing Roles of Katakana, prompted by a desire to learn more about Japanese military communications.

Tobias Harris at Observing Japan talks a bit about the fallout from Kyuma Fumio’s controversial statements about the dropping of the atomic bomb at the close of World War II. He reminds us that in addition to the “history issues” between Japan and its Asian neighbors, that we must remember that there are also historiographical tensions between the US and Japan. August always brings more discussion on the ethical issues surrounding the decision to drop the bomb. One excellent recent online article related to this can be found at Japan Focus and Peter J. Kuznick’s July article The Decision to Risk the Future: Harry Truman, the Atomic Bomb and the Apocalyptic Narrative.

Japan Focus

This brings us to our Japan Focus roundup. There are a number of fascinating recent articles at Japan Focus and it is always hard to choose a few for mention in the history carnival. Tessa Morris-Suzuki discusses the right-leaning Yomiuri newspaper’s project to determine who had “war responsibility” in Japan in her article Who is Responsible? The Yomiuri Project and the Enduring Legacy of the Asia-Pacific War. Don’t miss the excellent discussion of Japan’s Red Purge: Lessons from a Saga of Suppression of Free Speech and Thought. Also with August being a time to remember, Lawrence S. Wittner explains Why Hiroshima Day Events Matter. On a somewhat less ethically heavy but still physically weighty topic, Stephen Hesse has a fascinating article on history and debates surrounding the ubiquitous concrete Tetrapods along Japan’s coasts in Loving and Loathing Japan’s Concrete Coasts, Where Tetrapods Reign.

Frog in a Well

Here at our own Frog in a Well it has been relatively quiet this summer. However, Jonathan Dresner contributed a series of interesting postings about the ASPAC conference in June. At Chapati Mystery, Jonathan guest blogged some observations on South Asian history discussions at the conference. At our China history weblog, Jonathan talked about some of the China history related panels. Here at the Japan history weblog, his ASPAC related postings talked about Japanese war memories, Japanese diaspora, and about a panel that he was himself a moderator for. Finally, he offered some comments on the keynote address at the conference on Korean Buddhist Journeys over at our Korean history weblog.

In July Alan Baumler made an interesting contribution discussing Chinese traditions of protest over at our China history weblog. Jonathan also made an interesting contribution on Japanese nationalism and war memory in late July, in his posting The Rice Bowl and the Bomb.

The East Asian Libraries and Archives wiki here at Frog in a Well has a new entry on the First Historical Arhivies of China contributed by K Poling. Considering more to this important post if you have visited the archive. Earlier I added short entries related to Korean materials in RG059 and RG242 of the US National Archives, an entry on the Korea Foundation’s Cultural Center, and some links to the Books and Bookstores page. If you are doing research in East Asia or have recently visited libraries, archives, or museums in the region, I would encourage you to help others by making or updating entries on the wiki so that future visitors can benefit.


Those interested in the study of East Asian history have a growing set of fantastic online resources, some of which we hope to highlight in our Asian History Carnival when we can.

The Modern Japan Digital Archive – Roy Berman at deserves a hat tip for making us aware of some wonderful new additions to the Modern Japan Digital Archive. The web site provides free online access to thousands of Meiji period books. This July 3rd, they have given us access to over seven thousand new unique titles (some 15,700 volumes) from the Taisho period (1912-26) that are no longer protected by copyright. See there announcement here.

IDE-JETRO Digital Library – Jetro’s digital library has begun releasing a number of books and articles that they have sponsored as PDF downloads. You have to poke a bit around the website to find them, but there are a number of essays and books related to modern Japanese history and politics in the collection.

Korean War Propaganda Leaflets (1952-3) – Propaganda posters are always fascinating visual materials for historians to work with. Robinson M. Yost has hosted a number of these images from the Korean War on his website.

Glossary of Korean Studies – This glossary allows you to search for Korean historical terms, people, and locations. It defines them, but also provides common English translations, when available, for these terms. The quality of translations in the results vary in quality but this is overall a wonderful resource. – Hans Coppens introduces us to a new site which provides an online way to search and view the 1311 pages of the 1934 P. A. van de Stadt Japanese-Dutch dictionary. He also points out another much earlier Dutch-Japanese dictionary hosted online by Waseda here.

EJCJS – The Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies is a completely open access online academic journal. For a list of their recent contributions see their Table of Contents here.

That brings this carnival to a close. If you are interested in hosting the next carnival, do contact us. Also, the breadth of the kinds of postings and the regions covered by the Asian history carnival depends very much on the nominations we get. As you can see, my own reading is mostly related to East Asia so if you want to see more postings mentioned here from other parts of Asia do consider nominating them for next time!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.