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From category archives: #AsiaNow

Japan’s Liberal-Democratic Paradox of Refugee Admission: A Q&A with Konrad Kalicki

Konrad Kalicki is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Japanese Studies and Department of Political Science at the National University of Singapore. He is author of “Japan's Liberal-Democratic Paradox of Refugee Admission,” which appears in the May 2019 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies. In the interview below, conducted by Rajit Mazumder (DePaul University), Kalicki discusses his research on Japanese refugee policy and how civil society efforts might offer an alternative pathway to resettlement for refugees seeking sanctuary in Japan. AAS Members can read the JAS online at Cambridge Core by first logging into their member accounts at the AAS website and then selecting “Access the Journal of Asian Studies” in the right-hand menu on their member homepage. Could I begin by asking about the article’s classification of “refugees” as a “special category of international migrants”? “Migrants” are presumed to be moving voluntarily ...

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Introducing Bodies and Structures 1.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

By David R. Ambaras and Kate McDonald What Bodies and Structures Is Bodies and Structures is a platform for researching and teaching spatial histories of East Asia and the larger worlds of which they were a part. The site combines individually-authored, media-rich content modules with conceptual maps and visualizations. The modules analyze primary sources with significant spatial historical themes. The conceptual maps and visualizations reveal thematic, historical, and geographic connections between the modules. Each module also includes a translated primary source or sources. We built it using the open-source platform Scalar. Bodies and Structures 1.0 focuses on early to mid-twentieth century Japan and East Asia shaped by Japanese imperialism. The modules tell spatial stories about: colonial political activists; interethnic intimacies and regional migration; department stores and empire; the multi-layered spaces of the modern drugstore; Chinese settlement on the Mongolian frontier ...

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Change of Plans: Conducting Research in Xinjiang

By Elise Anderson In April 2018, the China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies awarded me a Small Grant to travel to Ürümchi (Urumqi, Wulumuqi), Xinjiang, China, to conduct a two-week feasibility study on the topic of “Gender and Music in Uyghur Society.” I planned to draw on my extensive connections in the region to conduct preliminary interviews and participant-observation, as well as to collect written and audio/visual resources, all with the goal of eliciting themes related to how gendered social expectations impact music-making and other forms of cultural production for members of the Uyghur minority. I envisioned this trip as marking the start of my first post-Ph.D. project. A slogan painted on a wall in a Turpan neighborhood, which reads in Uyghur: “Loving the homeland and Xinjiang; unity—making contributions; working hard; helping one another; opening up; progressing.” This and all other photos by the author, June 2018 My interest a ...

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First China Made Workshop: Conceiving Infrastructure in a Chinese Register

By Alessandro Rippa In 2015, a mind-blowing statistic made the rounds of all major news outlets: China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the United States had in the entire 20th century. While astounding, the news was hardly surprising. During the previous two decades China watchers and the general public alike had become accustomed to the country’s flamboyant infrastructure projects. The Three Gorges Dam, Beijing’s Olympic stadium, the world’s longest high-speed railway network, the longest sea crossing … the list goes on. As Jonathan Bach puts it: “In our present era, China stands out as the paradigmatic infrastructural state: a state produced by and through infrastructure as a modern project.” At the same time, in academia, recent years have seen a proliferation of social science studies of infrastructure. “Infrastructure” became a recurrent theme of debates at disciplinary conferences and workshops, leading to some scholars wondering whe ...

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Lhasa’s Departed Past

By David G. Atwill At dusk one evening in June 2012, I found myself staring up at the imposing main gate of Lhasa’s Grand Mosque. I had waited four years to procure the proper travel permit necessary for me to visit Lhasa and witness firsthand the people, places, and spaces I’d previously only been able to read about in my research on Tibetan Muslims (in Tibetan known as Khache). However, I was not the typical tourist and I had not requested the typical itinerary. My local Tibetan guide—a requirement for foreign visitors—was less than impressed. Rolling his eyes and not bothering to conceal his disdain, he asked, “Why are you even interested in Tibetan Muslims?” He went on to explain that in Tibet there were only Chinese Muslims, never Tibetan Muslims. I knew from my research that Lhasa in fact had been home to a Muslim community for over three hundred years and had multiple mosques, and that the Tibetan Muslims had influenced Tibetan literature, culture, and pol ...

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RIP to the Liberal Order: American Mourning after the US-North Korea June Summit

By Suzy Kim The June 12 summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un was a historic moment—for the first time a sitting US president met with the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, since its founding in 1948. It was remarkable to see the Stars and Stripes standing next to the DPRK flag, and to see the two leaders shake hands in acknowledgement of each other as equals rather than as sworn enemies. Reactions in the United States to this history-in-the-making have ranged from cautious optimism to cynical skepticism. But what these apprehensions indicate is the crumbling of the so-called liberal order under the weight of its own contradictions.      Nicholas Kristof, regular columnist for the New York Times, represents the spectrum of reactions well, concluding that Trump was “outfoxed” and “hoodwinked” by Kim. Explaining why the summit made him uncomfortable despite his preference for diplomacy, Kristof wrot ...

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Conducting Fieldwork in Authoritarian States: Advice for New Researchers

Political scientists Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith University, Australia) and Meredith L. Weiss (University at Albany, SUNY) have collaborated on a new article for Asian Studies Review, “Survive and Thrive: Field Research in Authoritarian Southeast Asia.” In this helpful survey, Morgenbesser and Weiss provide an overview of the challenges that researchers—particularly those new to the field, such as graduate students—can encounter as they conduct fieldwork in countries under authoritarian regimes where civil liberties and political rights are not guaranteed. Offering useful advice and examples from their own time in the field, Morgenbesser and Weiss have prepared a guide that should be read by all new researchers who anticipate similar constraints, regardless of their academic field or country of specialization. To learn more about their work, I interviewed Lee Morgenbesser and Meredith L. Weiss by email for #AsiaNow. MEC: You note at the outset of your article that scholarship ...

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After 50 Years, “Marketing and Social Structure in Rural China” Remains a China Studies Classic

By Daniel Knorr G. William Skinner (1925-2008) was an anthropologist of China who taught at Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, and the University of California, Davis during his long and impressive career. President of the AAS in 1983, among Skinner’s many contributions to the field is a trio of articles that appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies in 1964-65, in which he set out his analysis of the social and economic networks connecting marketing towns in rural China. Skinner’s insights attracted such attention among China specialists that in 1974 the AAS published his JAS articles in a single volume, Marketing and Social Structure in Rural China. The book proved so popular that the association reprinted it five times over the next three decades. As Daniel Knorr explains in the short essay below, Skinner’s work remains one of the foundational texts for China studies and should be read (and re-read) by all scholars in the field. We are currently offering copies of the sixth reprint of Mark ...

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The Social Network: Lisu Use Digital Media to Find Each Other and Preserve Their Culture

Lisu (identified by patchwork bags, and man wearing blue shirt) wait in line for the bank to open on a very chilly morning in Fugong, China. Photo: Mark Goldschmidt By Michele Zack In the mid-1980s, I was a budget tourist on a hill tribe trek far from roads or electricity in Northern Thailand. There, I first encountered the Lisu—adaptable, egalitarian highlanders scattered in corners of China, Myanmar, and Thailand (tiny populations also live in India and Laos). I picked up with the group again in the 1990s when—by then based in Thailand—I wrote a popular ethnography of Lisu living in three nation-states with three different political systems. That book never saw print, but a new publisher 15 years later agreed to take up the project when still no book about Lisu had been published. I proposed to update the original work with a new longitudinal angle. Thirty years after first meeting members of the Lisu community, I have finally published The Lisu: Far from the Ruler (University Press of ...

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Hong Kong Noir

I’ve just landed in Hong Kong to do several different things, most of which fit into one of the three standard academic categories of activities. I’ll participate in an experimental class session connecting Hong Kong and American students via Skype (teaching); visit a local site associated with the topic of protest that I write about a lot (research); and speak about censorship at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club, drawing on my experiences as Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies during what some are calling the “China Quarterly Affair” (service). As I prepared for the trip, I pondered questions relating to these teaching, research, and service events, as well as the session of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival I’ll moderate, at which Ian Johnson will present material from his new book on the religious revival in China after Mao. Even more, though, I thought about two queries linked to a Literary Festival event that I’ll attend not as a teacher, ...

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