Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, vol. 2, no. 2 (2013)


Urban Chinese Living

Editor’s Introduction
Guest Editor Wen-hsin Yeh (University of California, Berkeley), 211

“Urban Chinese Living” speaks to a vibrant field of research in recent years. The essays grouped here examine aspects of Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They build on what we know of these cities in history and expand on the conception of the city as a particular site of discourse formation.

Moralized Hygiene and Nationalized Body: Anti-Cigarette Campaigns in China on the Eve of the 1911 Revolution
Wennan Liu Institute of Modern History (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), 213

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, the author argues 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.
Keywords: tobacco control, hygiene, constitutionalism, nation building, temperance movement, China

Treaty-Port English in Nineteenth-Century Shanghai: Speakers, Voices, and Images
Jia Si (Fudan University), 244

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 article 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. The author argues 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.
Keywords: Shanghai, treaty-port English, pidgin, speech communities, language acquisition, linguistics

Representing and Coping with Early Twentieth-Century Chongqing: “Guide Songs” as Maps, Memory Cells, and Means of Creating Cultural Imagery
Igor Chabrowski (University of Oxford), 272

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.
<strong<Keywords: Chongqing, Sichuan, popular culture, guide songs, haozi, boatmen, cultural imagery, ethnomusicology, oral narrative, urban studies

Law, Politics, and Society in Republican China

Editor’s Introduction
Guest Editor Wen-hsin Yeh (University of California, Berkeley), 303

The moment has come, in China as well as elsewhere, for the field to take up the issue of how best to approach the history of the Republic of China from various perspectives. To capture some sense of the changing dynamics in this historiography, in fall 2012 the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute of East Asian Studies of the University of California, Berkeley, jointly organized a workshop on the subject of “Law, Politics, and Society in Republican China.” … Participants considered the use of law as well as the dynamics of codification, whether as discourse or practice, in a variety of settings in Republican Chinese society. … The three papers published in this [section] of Cross-Currents represent a selection from the original workshop. … As a set, the three compellingly lay out a case for bringing fresh perspectives to the study of Republican law and society.

Voter Education: Provincial Autonomy and the Transformation of Chinese Election Law, 1920–1923
Joshua Hill (Ohio University), 307

Beginning in 1909, mainland Chinese governments routinely held elections and lawmakers devoted considerable resources to writing and revising election laws. The earliest elections, held during the late Qing and the early Republic, utilized laws based on restricted electorates and indirect voting. By contrast, election laws designed by the provincial autonomy movements of the 1920s and the post- 1927 Nationalist government featured direct voting in elections with (near-)universal adult suffrage. Each of these two systems of electoral law incorporated elements of foreign electoral practice with concerns and ideas that arose from the experiences and ideals of late imperial Chinese political thought. The transition between these two systems highlights the surprising influence of the short-lived provincial autonomy movement on the legal structures of the centralized one-party states that followed.
Keywords: Republican China, election law, provincial autonomy movement

Redefining the Moral and Legal Roles of the State in Everyday Life: The New Life Movement in China in the Mid-1930s
Wennan Liu (Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), 335

Chiang Kai-shek launched the New Life Movement in Nanchang in February 1934 to revive traditional morality by reforming people’s daily behavior. In response to civil leader Wang Jingwei’s challenge, Chiang agreed to deploy moral suasion to urge the Chinese people to observe the New Life directives, but he still integrated the movement into government routine and relied on government agents, especially policemen, to implement it. Contemporary politicians and commentators understood this movement as an effective way to cultivate qualified citizens and to maintain social order in the power void caused by the retreat of the traditional rule of morality and the deficiency of the rule of law, so the New Life Movement was located in a new domain of state control between morality and law. Although this new domain was similar to the Western state apparatus of disciplining the population to produce “docile bodies” in the Foucauldian sense, it was actually an integral part of China’s own modernizing process, in which the state redefined its moral and legal role in people’s everyday lives in order to build a modern nation-state.
Keywords: New Life Movement, Republican China, rule of law, police, everyday life

Unacceptable but Indispensable: Opium Law and Regulations in Guangdong, 1912–1936
Xavier Paulès (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), 366

During most of the period from 1912 to 1936, Guangdong Province was independent from the central government. The local authorities there were facing a dilemma regarding opium, as others were elsewhere in China. On the one hand, opium was considered the symbol of China’s weakness, and its suppression was a top priority; on the other hand, opium taxes represented an indispensable source of fiscal income. Some Guangdong power holders were truly committed to a suppression agenda, especially from 1913 to 1924. During this period, with the exception of a brief interlude from 1915 to 1916, opium laws were prohibition laws. Even if these laws were not always enforced with full vigor, the drug remained illegal in Guangdong. After 1924, opium was legalized, and the authorities openly ruled an opium monopoly. They came out with increasingly comprehensive regulations, which proved successful in increasing opium revenues. Yet, as this article makes clear, there was nothing like direct government control: traditional tax-farming arrangements with local opium merchants (though under stricter supervision) remained the backbone of the monopoly. The article also pays attention to the influence of the Six-Year Plan (1935– 1940) launched by the Nanking government. As a credible set of suppression laws, it appealed to the Guangdong progressive elites who were hostile to opium. They urged the local autocrat Chen Jitang to take similar action. Chen made attempts to launch his own plans for suppressing opium, but they were unconvincing and nothing concrete came out of them. This article suggests that, in order to obtain a better understanding of how easily Chen Jitang was driven out of power in the summer of 1936, it is necessary to take into account the significant contribution of the Six-Year Plan in undermining his legitimacy.
Keywords: Opium, Republican China, Guangdong, Six-Year Plan, Nanjing, Chen Jitang

Bordering China: Modernity and Sustainability

Editor’s Introduction
Guest Editor Wen-hsin Yeh (University of California, Berkeley), 393

The papers included in this section of the journal grew out of a Berkeley workshop with the same title. They may not have much in common in terms of genre, discipline, project, or objective. Yet they share an attention to the material aspects of China, both in “China proper” and in the Chinese borderlands, including issues of resources, environment, and ecology in studies of history, politics, society, and economy. The papers, in short, seek to invest a certain agency in environmental factors. They also seek to demonstrate the reward of such an approach.

Ecologies of Empire: From Qing Cosmopolitanism to Modern Nationalism
Peter C. Perdue (Yale University), 396

According to modern ecological theory, ecosystems are fragile combinations of diverse elements, and their resilience—or ability to recover after external shocks—varies as the system develops. Under conditions of low resilience, the system can collapse unpredictably and shift into a new state. Biodiversity in ecosystems, however, helps to maintain resilience. These basic natural principles also help to illuminate the social processes of empires. Like ecosystems, empires expand, grow, and collapse unpredictably when they lose the ability to respond to external shocks. Just as biodiversity increases resilience, imperial formations prosper when they are more cosmopolitan, incorporating diverse cultural elements that foster institutional innovation, and they suffer collapse when they limit participation by outside challengers. The author develops this analogy between ecosystems and imperial formations through a discussion of the Ming and Qing empires, concluding with reflections on the Maoist production system and the current resilience of China today.
Keywords: ecology, empires, environmental history, famine, Ming, Qing, China, Mao, resilience, sustainability, diversity

Between China and Nepal: Trans-Himalayan Trade and the Second Life of Development
Martin Saxer (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), 424

Upper Humla, an area in northwestern Nepal bordering the Tibet Autonomous Region, has lost much of its prosperity over the past five decades. The region’s recent history has been shaped by modernization efforts and development initiatives on both sides. However, the author argues that, contrary to the common conception that Communist reform in Tibet dismantled the traditional economic foundation of trade-based Himalayan livelihoods, different forces were at work in the case of upper Humla. Three benevolent development initiatives in public health, wildlife conservation, and community forestry triggered the decline. The “second lives” of successful development, rather than the side effects of modernist planning, are responsible for upper Humla’s current predicament.
Keywords: Nepal, Himalaya, trade, Humla, development, wildlife, conservation, tigers, community forestry, salt, iodine deficiency, goiter, public health, modernity, sustainability

Past and Present Resource Disputes in the South China Sea: The Case of Reed Bank
Micah S. Muscolino (Georgetown University), 447

In 2012, tensions flared between China and the Philippines over plans to drill for oil in the Reed Bank, a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, rekindling fears about the possibility of military conflict over the area’s energy resources. This article shows that international controversy centering on the Reed Bank’s hydrocarbon reserves initially emerged during the oil crisis of the 1970s, when the pursuit of energy resources transformed the islets into a hotly contested area. As in recent years, oil exploration by multinational corporations in conjunction with the Philippines catalyzed international disputes. Vigorous protests from China and other nations that lay claim to territories in the South China Sea prompted the Philippines to assert its own jurisdictional claims. The territorial dispute pushed claimants to the brink of military confrontation in the 1970s, yet armed conflict failed to materialize. By examining the initial round of tensions surrounding oil exploration at Reed Bank, this article situates the current international competition for the South China Sea’s energy resources in historical perspective. Analyzing past disputes and their ultimate resolution offers insights into the dynamics of present tensions, while making it possible to critically engage with arguments predicting future “resource wars” in the South China Sea.
<strong<Keywords: South China Sea, Philippines, Reed Bank, Recto Bank, oil exploration

The Five Buddha Districts on the Yunnan-Burma Frontier: A Political System Attached to the State
Jianxiong Ma (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), 478

The Five Buddha Districts system prevailed from the 1790s to the 1880s on the frontier between Yunnan, in Southwest China, and the Burmese Kingdom, in the mountainous areas to the west of the Mekong River. Through more than a century of political mobilization, the Lahu communities in this area became an integrated and militarized society, and their culture was reconstructed in the historical context of ethnic conflicts, competition, and cooperation among the Wa, Dai, and Han Chinese settlers. The political elites of the Five Buddha Districts, however, were monks who had escaped the strict orthodoxy of the Qing government to become local chieftains, or rebels, depending on political changes in southern Yunnan. As a centralized polity, the Five Buddha Districts system was attached to
the frontier politics of the Qing state before the coming of European colonial powers. The Qing state provided a sociopolitical space for local groups to develop their political ideals between various powerful Dai-Shan chieftains. The negotiation, competition, and cooperation between the Five Buddha leadership and the Qing, Dai chieftains, and neighboring political powers had been thoroughly integrated into the frontier politics of this interdependent society for more than two hundred years. As the history of the Yunnan-Burma frontier formation shows that no mountain space existed to allow the natives to escape from the state through their shifting agriculture, and anarchism was not practiced by the mountain people who were separated from the state, the author argues that a stateless region like James Scott’s “Zomia” did not historically exist in this region.
Keywords: Five Buddha Districts, Yunnan-Burma frontier, Lahu, ethnic creation, Zomia


A Nation, a World, in a Bowl of Tea
Fujimori Terunobu no Chashitsu Gaku: Nihon no Kyokushō Kūkan no Nazo [Fujimori Terunobu’s tearoom studies: The riddle of Japan’s smallest space], by Fujimori Terunobu and Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice, by Kristin Surak
reviewed by Dana Buntrock (University of California, Berkeley), 507

Cauldron of Misalliances
Cauldron of Resistance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and 1950s Southern Vietnam, by Jessica Chapman and Misalliance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and the Fate of South Vietnam, by Edward Miller
reviewed by Haydon Cherry (North Carolina State University), 513

Patronage, Passion, and the Power of Networks
The Birth of Vietnamese Political Journalism: Saigon, 1916–1930, by Philippe M. F. Peycam and Passion, Betrayal and Revolution in Colonial Saigon: The Memoirs of Bao Luong, by Hue-Tam Ho Tai
reviewed by Erich DeWald (University Campus Suffolk), 521

The Making of a Subcultural Revolution
Youth Culture in China: From Red Guards to Netizens, and The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History, by Paul Clark
reviewed by Xiaobing Tang (University of Michigan), 529