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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review is a peer-reviewed, quarterly online journal that offers its readers up-to-date research findings, emerging trends, and cutting-edge perspectives concerning East Asian history and culture from scholars in both English-speaking and Asian language-speaking academic communities.


Moralized Hygiene and Nationalized Body: Anti-Cigarette Campaigns in China on the Eve of the 1911 Revolution

Western knowledge about the injurious effects of cigarette smoking on smokers’ health appeared in the late nineteenth century and was shaped by both the Christian temperance movement and scientific developments in chemistry and physiology. Along with the increasing import of cigarettes into China, this new knowledge entered China through translations published at the turn of the twentieth century. It was reinterpreted and modified to dissuade the Chinese people from smoking cigarettes in two anti-cigarette campaigns: one launched by a former American missionary, Edward Thwing, in Tianjin, and a second by progressive social elites in Shanghai on the eve of the 1911 Revolution. By examining the rhetoric and practice of the campaigns, I argue that the discourse of hygiene they deployed moralized the individual habit of cigarette smoking as undermining national strength and endangering the future of the Chinese nation, thus helping to construct the idea of a nationalized body at this highly politically charged moment.

Treaty-Port English in Nineteenth-Century Shanghai: Speakers, Voices, and Images

This article examines the introduction of English to the treaty port of Shanghai and the speech communities that developed there as a result. English became a sociocultural phenomenon rather than an academic subject when it entered Shanghai in the 1840s, gradually generating various social activities of local Chinese people who lived in the treaty port. Ordinary people picked up a rudimentary knowledge of English along trading streets and through glossary references, and went to private schools to improve their linguistic skills. They used English to communicate with foreigners and as a means to explore a foreign presence dominated by Western material culture. Although those who learned English gained small-scale social mobility in the late nineteenth century, the images of English-speaking Chinese were repeatedly criticized by the literati and official scholars. This paper explores Westerners’ travel accounts, as well as various sources written by the new elite Chinese, including official records and vernacular poems, to demonstrate how English language acquisition brought changes to local people’s daily lives. I argue that treaty-port English in nineteenth-century Shanghai was not only a linguistic medium but, more importantly, a cultural agent of urban transformation. It gradually molded a new linguistic landscape, which at the same time contributed to the shaping of modern Shanghai culture.

Representing and Coping with Early Twentieth-Century Chongqing: “Guide Songs” as Maps, Memory Cells, and Means of Creating Cultural Imagery

Chongqing’s “guide songs” form an interesting subgenre among the broad category of haozi 號子 (workers’ songs). These early twentieth-century songs were a form of rhythm-based oral narrative describing Chongqing’s urban spaces, river docks, and harbors. Each toponym mentioned in the lyrics was followed by a depiction of the characteristic associations, whether visible or symbolic, of the place. This article aims to analyze the verbal images of Chongqing presented in these songs in order to understand how the city was remembered, reproduced, and represented. The article deconstructs representations of the city produced by the lower classes, mainly by Sichuan boatmen, and links culturally meaningful images of urban spaces with the historical experiences of work, religion, and historical-mythical memory. It also points to the functions that oral narratives had in the urban environment of early twentieth-century Chongqing. Rhythmic and easy to remember, the songs provided ready-to-use guides and repositories of knowledge useful to anyone living or working there. A cross between utilitarian resource books and cultural representations, they shaped modes of thinking and visualizations of urban spaces and Chongqing. Finally, this article responds to the need to employ popular culture in our thinking about Chinese cities and the multiplicity of meanings they were given in pre-Communist times.

Fighting Brick with Brick: Chikazumi Jōkan and Buddhism’s Response to Christian Space in Imperial Japan

In 1915, with the support of Jōdo Shinshū (True Pure Land) Buddhism’s Higashi Honganji sect and dozens of private Buddhist donors, Buddhist priest Chikazumi Jōkan erected a new, one-of-a-kind Buddhist meeting hall in Tokyo, the Kyūdō Kaikan. Chikazumi conceived of the building as a clear and deliberate spatial challenge to the crowded Protestant churches and lecture halls of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Tokyo. He chose prominent Western-style architect Takeda Goichi (1872–1938), rather than a traditional Japanese shrine or temple carpenter, to design it. The new building, in tandem with the adjacent Kyūdō Gakusha (Way Seeking Dormitory) that Chikazumi established in 1902, spoke to, and significantly impacted, the socio-moral, intellectual, and religious life of hundreds of young Tokyoites. These two buildings represented a response to Protestant Christianity’s popularity and relevance like no other in imperial Japan. In order to achieve the religious evangelism and suprasectarian reform that he envisioned for Buddhism, Chikazumi proved willing to apply observations made in the West and appropriate practical Western Christian architectural features. Through an analysis of drawings, photographs, periodicals, institutional records, and other sources, this article tells the story of the rare fusion of opposites as Chikazumi equipped Buddhism to compete with Protestantism for the attention and devotion of the educated elite.

“We’re Never Off Duty”: Empire and the Economies of Race and Gender in the U.S. Military Camptowns of Korea

This article focuses on the relationships between the U.S. military, race, masculinity, and power in South Korea. I argue that notions of empire are played out in off-base interactions among U.S. soldiers themselves, but also between U.S. soldiers and non-U.S. military others, particularly in the post-9/11 “war on terror” era. In these strategic interplays, soldiers often carry stereotypes held in the United States, but also reinforced by their identities and training as U.S. soldiers. Globalization trends and international relations also influence modes of communication and relations within this hierarchically ranked system and structure. This article discusses how power, gender, race, and racisms play out in the camptowns of South Korea by using an ethnographic lens to link the human face with empire.

Photo Essays

Readings from Asia | Readings in Japanese

辛亥革命と日本政治の変動 [China’s Xinhai Revolution and Political Fluctuations in Japan]

櫻井良樹(SAKURAI Ryoju). 辛亥革命と日本政治の変動 [China’s Xinhai Revolution and Political Fluctuations in Japan]. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. 2009.

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