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#AsiaNow Speaks with Satoko Shimazaki

Satoko Shimazaki is Associate Professor of Japanese theater and literature at the University of Southern California and author of Edo Kabuki in Transition: From the Worlds of the Samurai to the Vengeful Female Ghost, published by Columbia University Press and winner of the 2018 AAS John Whitney Hall Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Edo Kabuki in Transition is a revisionist history of the all-male kabuki theater of Japan. It explores the crucial role kabuki played in early modern times (1600-1868) in building a historically grounded urban community in the young shogunal capital of Edo, specifically by allowing a broad public to participate in and rewrite history centered on the elites. The book also shows how this function begins to wane in the early nineteenth century by exploring the trope of the vengeful female ghost who is bent on getting revenge on the object of a personal grudge—in particular Oiwa in Tsuruya Nanboku’s canonical ghost play Tokaido Yotsuya ka ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Sigrid Schmalzer

Sigrid Schmalzer is professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China, published by University of Chicago Press and winner of the 2018 AAS Joseph Levenson Post-1900 Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Red Revolution, Green Revolution is about what science meant to people in Mao-era China, where official policy called for uniting tu and yang—native, earthy, peasant-based knowledge with Western, elite, professional science. It’s about scientists who mobilized peasants to rear parasitic wasps for the control of insect pests; girls whose efforts to fertilize fields with pig manure challenged gender norms and thus counted as revolutionary “scientific experiment”; local cadres who promoted modern high-yielding varieties of rice while secretly allowing traditional varieties to be planted in hidden valleys; “old peasants” whose resistance was alternat ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Cynthia Talbot

Cynthia Talbot is Professor of History & Asian Studies at the University Of Texas at Austin and author of The Last Hindu Emperor: Prithviraj Chauhan And The Indian Past, 1200-2000, published by Cambridge University Press and winner of the 2018 AAS Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. My book traces how, and by whom, the Indian ruler Prithviraj Chauhan has been remembered since his death in the late twelfth century. Because he was defeated in battle by an Afghan king whose generals went on to establish the Delhi Sultanate, in modern times Prithviraj Chauhan has often been called “the last Hindu emperor” of North India. Even earlier, Indo-Persian historians regarded the conquest of Prithviraj Chauhan as a milestone in the rise of “Muslim” dynasties—polities led by men of Central Asian or Afghan descent and Islamic faith—in the subcontinent. The majority of the book focuses on a few key texts and critical moments ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Tom Cliff

Tom Cliff is an Australian Research Council DECRA Research Fellow at the Australian National University and author of Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang, published by the University of Chicago Press and winner of the 2018 AAS E. Gene Smith Book Prize (Inner Asia). To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Oil and Water is about the experience of being Han in Xinjiang. It is about the experience of being a second-generation colonial settler in the 20th and 21st centuries—in a world that is supposedly post-colonial. It is about being born, living your whole life, and feeling at home in a place that is not “home” to your forebears or “home” to the political and cultural institutions that shape your life. The book, therefore, is also about those political and cultural institutions, and the way that they are shaped by the people who make them up and their location on the quintessential frontier of modern China. What inspired you to research this topic? I formed thi ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Walter Hakala

Walter Hakala is Associate Professor in the Asian Studies Program and Department of English at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and author of Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia, published by Columbia University Press. He is the recipient of an Honorable Mention for the 2018 AAS Bernard Cohn Book Prize for a first book on South Asia. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Negotiating Languages explores the role of lexicographers (those who compile dictionaries) in the emergence of Urdu as a language of literature and state in South Asia. Modern Standard Hindi and Urdu are unusual in that they share the same grammar and, in ordinary spoken language, a common vocabulary. I argue that dictionaries were an important means through which elites were able to articulate and, occasionally, resist, the bifurcation of this single language on the basis of script (Arabic and Devanagari), vocabulary (Perso-Arabic and Sanskrit), and, increasingly, religion (Muslim an ...

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