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#AsiaNow Speaks with Jaeeun Kim

Jaeeun Kim is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Michigan. She is author of Contested Embrace: Transborder Membership Politics in Twentieth-Century Korea, published by Stanford University Press and recipient of the 2018 AAS James B. Palais Book Prize Honorable Mention. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. My book analyzes transborder membership politics in and around the Korean peninsula, focusing on the complex relationships between the states in the Korean peninsula, colonial-era ethnic Korean migrants and their descen­dants, and the states in which they have resided. The book explores when, how, and why a state seeks to claim a certain transborder population as “its own,” and how transborder coethnics participate in this process as they seek long-distance membership on their own terms. The spatio-temporal scope of the book covers critical politico-legal and social transformations in northeast Asia ...

#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 ...

#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 ...

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 ...

The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up – A Q&A with Author Michael Meyer

Michael Meyer’s 2008 debut book, The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, recounted his time spent living in the crowded hutong alleyways of China’s capital during the run-up to that year’s Olympics. In 2015, he published In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, which picked up Meyer’s story as he moved to his wife’s hometown in the countryside and immersed himself in the history of the country’s northeast region. In a new book, The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up, Meyer circles back to his first days in China, when he arrived in 1995 as a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer who couldn’t use chopsticks, spoke no Chinese, and “knew little about the country beyond the Great Wall, pandas, one billion people, fortune cookies, and the indelible image of a man standing in front of a tank.” The Road to Sleeping Dragon follows Meyer as he finds his footi ...

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