Asian History Carnival #19

Welcome to the 19th Asian History Carnival here at Frog in a Well – Korea. Below are some of the excellent postings to be found around the web in the last two months or so for anyone interested in Asian history. This time we have an especially large number of China postings to recommend.

Of late, submissions of nominations to the Asian History carnival have been few in coming which is probably partly due to a lack of good and timely advertising but I continue to find that there are a number of places on the web where quality postings related to Asian history can be found.

I am also happy to see that we continue to see new websites which deserve similar praise. The new weblog China Beat: Blogging how the East is Read is an excellent example of this with very high quality material. The site went live in mid-January and includes an impressive list of contributors. Soon after the site went online the historian Kenneth Pomeranz offered a posting for their regular feature “This Day in History” by describing the rise and fall of Wang Mang, reformer and throne usurper and the kinds of patterns in Chinese history which be seen in the career of this figure. Jeff Wasserstrom offered us a list of top-five Shanghai urban legends, including the famous park sign about “Dogs and Chinese” and the idea that Shanghai was a mere fishing village before the Opium wars. Kate Merkel-Hess suggests a list of five Chinese historical events that got more attention. Another posting by Wasserstrom suggests we revisit past moments when East-West exchanges increased and suggests some good reads we might consider.

Another site which has consistently offered high quality history postings which get frequently highlighted in Asian history carnivals is Jeremiah Jenne’s Granite Studio. This is no less true for the last few months. In a series of “Voices from China’s Past” posting we lean about the novelist and playright Lao She, the “household instructions” of the 6th century scholar-official Yan Zhitui, and the role of Yue Fei and Qin Gui and patriotism in the Song dynasty and historiography of the period. Among his “This Date in History” postings we find a description of the Zunyi Conference of 1935 and urges caution in an attempt to evaluate its real impact on the rise of Mao.

Both Granite Studio and our own C. W. Hayford have taken the opportunity to talk about the anniversary of Zhou Enlai’s death, with Jeremiah giving us an overview of some of the memorial images of his life and death. In his posting here at Frog in a Well, Professor Hayford offers us a few more stories about the man’s career and attempts to address some of the questions raised in the original Granite Studio posting.

Zhou Enlai’s death was not the only one to be remembered. Tenement Palm offers us a look at Liang Qichao‘s life and especially the importance of Liang in popularizing Darwinist ideas. Yan Fu, who also made an appearance in the posting just mentioned, is the topic of our own Alan Baumler, in his posting on the reception of Darwin in China, especially through Yan Fu’s On Strength.

Blog postings remembering the deaths of famous figures in Chinese history are joined by a recent posting reminding us that the 50th anniversary of the hanyu pinyin phonetic system just passed on February 11th.

The excellent weblog the Useless Tree continues to give us interesting postings looking at the connections between politics, current events, and Confucian and Taoist ideas. One good recent example includes a discussion of the relationship between Mao and Taoist ideas. The Useless Tree joins Alan here at Frog in a Well in an exchange about teaching Confucius and the debates surrounding the use and authenticity of certain Confucian texts.

Jonathan Benda shares some notes on a talk recently given in Taiwan by the Chinese historian Yang Tianshi on the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek. I added my own thoughts about Yang’s argument here at Frog in a Well.

An article by Robert Townsend in the AHA journal Perspectives which is upbeat on the career prospects of aspiring historians prompted a response at PhDinHistory looking to evaluate the suggestion that things bode well for African, Asian, and Latin American Specialists through a close look at available statistics. See Townsend’s response in the comments.

The famous southern gate 남대문(南大門) of Seoul burnt down last week and a mood of national mourning quickly set in. A posting over at the Marmot’s Hole gives us a closer look at the Gates of Seoul. Also at the Marmot’s Hole are two interesting contributions by Robert Neff, including an interesting article looking at the celebration of Christmas in modern Korea and one on the impact of Korea’s first russian military advisors.

Some other nuggets:

– The Early Tibet blog offers a look at Christianity in Early Tibet and evidence that shows the work of missionaries there and in Central Asia.

– Sepia Mutiny reminds us of FDR’s anti-imperialist goals and Churchill’s recognition of the threat posed to the British empire posed by his friends efforts.

– In the posting over at the Opposite End of China, we are introduced to the Pickle King of Islamistan and the rise and fall of Khalid Sheldrake’s power in Xinjiang.

– Jeremy Goldkorn at Danwei gives us a look at Geremie R. Barmé’s essay comparing the Chinese press now with that in the cultural revolution.

– Our own Alan Baumler suggests that an 11th century poem by Shao Yung can help us understand why many people who may have little reason to support Barack Obama.

– Our own Jonathan Dresner takes Thomas C. Reeves to task on his use of the analogy between Iraq and Korea.

– Guest blogger Sayaka Chatani shares with us a recent article from Sekai on the Chinese Communist Eighth Route Army’s POW policies with the Japanese.

– Jonathan gives us an overview of his panel at the 2008 AHA conference while our Frog in a Well contributor Morgan Pitelka offers two postings on the University of Sydney Japanese History Workshop in December.

Japan Focus

Japan Focus continues to be one of the best places on the web for open access to quality articles on the history of East Asia. While it is impossible to highlight them all, below are a few of the recent articles posted to Japan Focus that I especially enjoyed:

Gyokusai or “Shattering like a Jewel”: Reflection on the Pacific War by Hiroaki SATO looks at the concept of gyokusai, or to die in a beautiful act like a shattered jewel instead of surrendering shamelessly and the evolution of Japanese wartime policies related to it.

The Comfort Women, the Asian Women’s Fund and the Digital Museum by Wada Haruki introduces the Digital Museum, funded by the controversial Asian Women’s Fund dedicated to the preservation of the memory of the sexual slavery endured by the “comfort women” during the war and describes the process of the creation and evolution of the Asian Women’s Fund, which has been criticized by many.

Nikkei Loyalty and Resistance in Canada and the United States, 1942-1947 by Stephanie Bangarth. We have all heard about the fate of the Japanese-Americans during World War II. This fascinating article takes a comparative look at both the wartime and early postwar fate of the Nikkei in Canada.

The Contested Heritage of Koguryo/Gaogouli and China-Korea Conflict by Ahn Yonson gives a wonderful overview of the historical controversy over the ancient kingdom of Koguryo and what is at stake in the nationalist claims of historians in China and Korea. It claims very reasonably that there needs to be much greater appreciation for the “multiple relationships and mutual observations that transcend national, cultural, social and political borders.”

The Forging of Alien Status of Koreans in American Occupied Japan by Mark E. Caprio looks at the creation of the status as “aliens” in occupied Japan of the large Korean minority, the impact of these policies on the behavior of the Koreans in Japan, and the difficulties faced by Koreans in both repatriation and in establishing residence in Japan.

East Asia History Lectures Online

Jeremiah over at Granite Studio posted a series of three talks available online by the recently deceased historian Frederic Wakeman:

Part I: China’s Longue Durée and Mongol Occupation
Part II: Ming Nativism and the Local Turn
Part III: Qing Culturalism and Manchu Identity

This reminds me that there are dozens of interesting lectures available in video or audio format online and, to my knowledge, still no good website which indexes these excellent lectures when they come in from the many diverse places they can be found online. Below are just a few examples of lectures, interviews, and book talks that can be found online of interest to students of Asian history:

Japan’s Colonization of Korea – Alexis Dudden
How the War of Resistance to Japan Made and Unmade China – Rana Mitter
Tea and the Origins of the China Trade – Jonathan Chu
In the Ruins of Empire: Battle for Postwar Asia – Ronald Spector
Marco Polo: Silk Road to China – Larry Bergreen
China’s Return to Tradition: How to Interpret the New Forces Emerging in China – Yu Ying-shih
China Rediscovers its Own History – Yu Ying-shih
A Money Doctor from Japan: Megata Tanetaro in Korea, 1904-1907 – Michael Schiltz
Tibet: Does History Matter – Tsering Shakya (mentioned at Granite Studio here)
Godzilla and Postwar Japan – William Tsutsui
Conversation with Tsuyoshi Hasegawa on “Racing the Enemey: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan”
John Dower on Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor Hiroshima 9/11
Conversations with History: John Pomfret “Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China.”

I believe there is a great need for a good website that can be easily updated which posts links to these kinds of lectures when they become available. As it is now, they can be found only by frequently checking hundreds of university websites, library websites, organizations, youtube, and other locations.

For the time being, I recommend that if you find an online audio or video lecture about Asian history that you give it the tag:


Asian History Resources
For some time here at Frog in a Well we have hosted the East Asian Libraries and Archives wiki, which continues to grow, albeit slowly. However, the web now has a new and potentially much more expansive attempt to create a history archive wiki, this time supported by the American Historical Association. Check out the new AHA ArchivesWiki which is now live. It has already been populated with basic information about dozens of archives in the United States and elsewhere. You can read more at the AHA weblog in a posting by Robert B. Townsend.

Bandô-Sammlung des DIJ (German and Japanese only) – I recently discovered that the website of the DIJ (German Institute for Japanese Studies) in Tokyo hosts an impressive collection of primary documents related to the 板東俘虜収容所 from World War I.

ArchivesOnFlickr – An effort is underway to promote the tacking of photographs of materials from archives on Flickr. Read more about the idea at this ArchivesNext posting. While there are few photos related to Asia so far, this might be worth keeping an eye on.

Classical Historiography for Chinese History – Benjamin Elman has an extensive bibliography on sources, dictionaries, chronologies, and other tools that looks like it would be a must for pre-modern historians.

US “Tiananmen Papers” – The National Security Archive recently made available some US government documents related to the 1989 Tiananmen incident.

Historical materials regarding the Comfort Women Issue – There are a number of historical documents and other PDF documents related to the Comfort Women issue on the digital museum discussed in the Wada Haruki article dicussed above in the section on Japan Focus.

This concludes this Asian History Carnival. The next issue will be in early April and we may have a volunteer to host it. If you are interested in hosting future editions in June, August, or October please send me an email at kmlawson at


  1. Hi-

    I am an undergraduate student working in a project that explores the relationshsip between Cheju and the Korean State; if anyone here might be able to recommend reasearch material I might have missed, I would appreciate it immensely, thank you.

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