CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : November 23, 2021

This paper will present the results of a preliminary investigation into gender-based differences in treatment of poetic topics (dai) in the waka poetry anthology, Eikyū yo nen hyakushu (‘The Eikyū 4 Hundred Poem Sequences’; 1117). This collection contains 701 poems on one hundred topics by seven poets, five men and two women. By this point in waka history, topic was a significant category which provided strictures for poets on suitable diction (kotoba) and conception (kokoro) to be used in the production of their poems. Poetic quality was often determined by the faithfulness with which poets...

Event
Posted : October 14, 2021

A recent turn in the study of late medieval Chinese muzhiming has been to consider not simply what information they communicate but also how, why, and to whom, and how answers to these questions can inform our understanding of that period’s commemorative practices. In this talk, I analyze muzhiming as textual and material objects produced through processes of “collaborative remembrance,” as coming into being due to the shared efforts and remembrances of multiple parties. In the first part of my talk, I discuss what close examination of the muzhiming as a material object reveals about how...

Event
Posted : October 14, 2021

This talk analyzes the current political predicament of Hong Kong by examining “Nightmare Wallpaper,” an art project composed of the automatic drawings by local artist Pak Sheung Cheun when he was attending the court cases of some political activists on trial. He subsequently transformed them into wallpaper prints, a series of installation arts, and a book. This political work, which is also very private, honestly demonstrates the artist’s intense struggles along with despair felt by many in the city. It is both a work of abjection and intersubjectivity, with no naïve expectation to reconcile...

Event
Posted : October 14, 2021

Why are perennially entrenched institutions so hard to reform? This talk proposes a novel theory of institutional rebound for difficult reforms. It untangles reforms in China’s state-owned enterprises, which aimed to break the “iron institutions” in leadership, employment and wages and introduce competition. I argue that the reforms triggered the emergence of informal institutions, which eroded the new rules and allowed previous institutions to bounce back. When actors had denser political connections, their active manipulation helped the vested interests to design rules to maintain...

Event
Posted : October 14, 2021

In 1903, Ōsaki Tatsugorō, builder and manager of some 1,100 slum houses in Tokyo, dictated his autobiography. This talk draws on the autobiography to examine the social context and the economic calculus underlying the construction of the city’s sprawling working-class periphery. Ōsaki’s story reveals a transitional moment in the city’s history, before a land-centered real estate market governed by contracts and planning regulations redefined the economics of housing. His building practice is shown to be part of an economy of circulation rather than accumulation, bearing traits in common with...

Event
Posted : September 9, 2021

Most letters in Tokugawa Japan were written in sōrōbun, the epistolary style of classical Japanese. Yet there were also letters composed in kanbun, or Literary Sinitic prose. This talk will focus on a set of three letters, written in Literary Sinitic prose in Genroku 11 (1698) by Muro Kyūsō (1658–1734), then a Confucian scholar in the service of the Kaga domain lord Maeda Tsunanori (1643–1724), and addressed to Aochi Norimoto (1675–1744), a samurai retainer of the same domain. These letters contain bits of information that may not have surfaced otherwise: Kyūsō and Norimoto’s secret...

Event
Posted : August 3, 2021

In 1868, one of the first acts of the new Meiji government was to declare that Shinto and Buddhist institutions must be separated.  For most of Japanese history, the nation’s two major religious traditions had been tightly integrated and so this change has been characterized as a “cultural revolution.”  My talk will focus on one component of traditional Japanese religion, the Tenjin cult, and how it was practiced at one of its principle centers located in Dazaifu, Kyushu.  The institution began, unambiguously, as a Buddhist temple, Anrakuji, but today flourishes as a Shinto shrine, Dazaifu...

Event
Posted : August 3, 2021

The radical framework of the Black Pacific offers a unique way to make sense of the multiple afterlives brought together in the heavily militarized island of Okinawa, Japan.  This talk will focus on key lessons learned while researching and writing about the entanglements of Black and Asian intimacies, colonialities, and forms of anti-Blackness in Okinawa.  Carter will also discuss how the Black Pacific, as a conceptual lens, gives scholars of Okinawa a way to raise better questions about the legacy of White supremacy in the Pacific and better analysis of the persistence and vitality of Black...

Event
Posted : June 17, 2021

The recent political crisis in Hong Kong is characterized by a level of social unrest the city has not seen since the riots of 1966/67.  After that earlier round of turmoil, the British colonial regime secured legitimacy through socioeconomic improvement in Hong Kong.  “Prosperity and Stability” became the hallmark of Hong Kong’s success.  This catchphrase also came to be adopted as the slogan of the HKSAR government in its bid to seek legitimacy with socioeconomic appeals.  Against such perennial state rhetoric, grassroots protesters came to demand “Democracy and Freedom.” Examining these...

Event
Posted : June 17, 2021

Smuggling, overseas gambling, human trafficking…Contemporary media coverage and government policies tend to frame the shadow economy at the Sino-Vietnamese borderlands as “new problems” posed by market-oriented reforms in both societies. These activities were nevertheless part of the long-existing inter-Asian economic and social networks. This talk investigates how consecutive political authorities in China and Vietnam sought to tame the spontaneous cross-border connections since the formal demarcation of the international boundary following the Sino-French War up to the mid-twentieth century...

Event
Posted : June 17, 2021

This is the first public presentation of Michelson’s forthcoming book (Cambridge University Press, February 2022) on Chinese courts, judicial decision-making, family law, gender violence, and the limits and possibilities of the globalization of law. Michelson’s analysis of almost 150,000 divorce trials reveals routine and egregious violations of China’s own laws upholding the freedom of divorce, gender equality, and the protection of women’s physical security. Using “big data” computational techniques to scrutinize cases covering 2009–2016 from all 252 basic-level courts in two Chinese...

Event
Posted : June 17, 2021

From the perspective of comparative institutional analysis, Zhou examines the historical origins of Chinese bureaucracy and state building in China. Zhou argues that Chinese bureaucracy took shape in response to two forces: the power of the absolute state and the differential mode of association in Confucian culture. As a result, the institutions of Chinese bureaucracy in history were characterized by the duality of hierarchy and patriarchy. This historical legacy has had a strong influence on the remaking of Chinese bureaucracy and state building in contemporary China. Xueguang Zhou is a...

Event
Posted : June 3, 2021

Minorities, like majorities, do not just exist. Minoritization instead is an inherent corollary to the process of nation-state building. This talk examines one site of state-initiated minoritization, the ethnocultural frontier region in northwest China known to Tibetan speakers as Amdo. When in 1949 the Chinese Communist Party “liberated” Amdo, its aim was not simply control over non-Han people, but the transformation of what had been loose sets of imperial subjects into bounded “minority nationalities” within a new People’s Republic of China. In other words, its objective was not just to...

Event
Posted : March 1, 2021

Following the end of World War II, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spent the next three decades carrying out agrarian reform among nearly one third of the world’s rural population. The first step of this reform was a nation-wide Land Reform Movement in which the CCP helped redistribute 40 million hectares of land to over 300 million rural people. This land reform, the founding myth of the People’s Republic of China (1949– present) and the cornerstone of the Chinese Communist Revolution, embodies the idea that an equal redistribution of property leads to social and political equality....

Event
Posted : November 12, 2020

During the eighteenth century, ethnic Chinese emerged as the preeminent diasporic community in maritime East Asia. From the East China Sea to the Strait of Melaka, Chinese junks dominated the trading lanes, while settlers flooded into the sparsely populated interior of Southeast Asia. Scholars have spoken of the eighteenth century as a “Chinese century” in maritime East Asia. Although Chinese merchants and immigrants have long had an established presence in maritime East Asia, at least since the thirteenth century, their actual numbers and degree of influence varied over time. In fact, their...

Event
Posted : November 12, 2020

Modern Chinese Literature has routinely been understood through continental, land-based frameworks, defined by way of concepts such as the nation, race, and ethnicity. But what happens if we leave behind this terra firma, this seemingly solid conceptual ground, and instead approach Chinese/Sinophone literature from the perspective of the ocean? This talk proposes to rethink modern Chinese literature through an oceanic/maritime lens, drawing on recent conceptual work in archipelagic imaginaries, maritime heterotopologies, and seascape epistemologies. Reading texts by Syaman Rapongan and Ng Kim...

Event
Posted : November 12, 2020

While Chinese science fiction gains more visibility in the world, the new wave has gradually lost its momentum along its meandering course of succeeding in the market and gaining recognition from the government. In 2019, the image of Chinese science fiction turned into the planet-size spaceship The Wandering Earth, which attained successes at the box office while carrying on the Chinese Communist Party’s mission of building a “community for the shared destiny of humankind.” This talk looks into the profound invisibility of certain essential elements of science fiction in the cinematic...

Event
Posted : November 12, 2020

The Korean War was in reality two wars: the first half was a war over territory from June 1950 to November 1951; the second half was a war over POWs from late 1951 to July 1953. While the first war restored the territorial status quo ante, the second war’s only visible outcome was the “defection” of 14,220 Chinese prisoners to Taiwan and 7,574 North Korean prisoners to South Korea, the cost of which was a near doubling of the length of the war and numerous casualties on all sides. Contrary to the popular belief that an American conspiracy was to blame, Chang argues that two ill-conceived US...

Event
Posted : August 18, 2020

This talk examines the online discourse of black hāfu, or individuals of mixed black and Japanese descent. Although the term hāfu has customarily been associated with phenotypically white/Eurasian features and in the postwar period was used to situate Japanese in proximity to an idealized white modernity, in recent years it has increasingly come to refer to half-black Japanese as well. After a brief discussion of the history of mixed-descent individuals in Japan, the talk will explore how postwar and contemporary tropes of blackness and black hāfu in mainstream media and social media...

Event
Posted : August 18, 2020

We examine the influence of family background on appointment, promotion, and career length in the Qing civil service for officials who held provincial juren and national jinshi examination degrees and served between 1830 and 1912. For the analysis, we link three generations of family background information on exam degree holders to detailed and complete data on the appointment and career trajectories of officeholders in the China Government Employee Database-Qing (CGED-Q), which currently contains 4.1 million records of 345,071 officials. We show that family background influences on...

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