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Most medieval historians have explained the ‘civil wars’ in Scandinavia in the 12th and 13th centuries as internal conflicts within a predominantly national and implicitly state-centered politico-constitutional framework. This book argues that the conflicts during this period should be viewed as less disruptive, less internal and less state-centered than in previous research. It does so through six articles comparing the civil wars in Scandinavia with civil wars in Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau in the last decades, applying theories and perspectives from anthropology and political science. Finally, four articles discuss civil wars in a broader perspective.

Contributors are Ebrahim Afsah, Gerd Althoff, Jenny Benham, John Comaroff, Hans Jacob Orning, Frederik Rosén, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, Henrik Vigh, Helle Vogt, Stephen D. White, and Øyvind Østerud.
A Study of 11th to 13th Century Tangut Records
Author: Jinbo Shi
Editor / Translator: Hansong Li
An Environmental History of Japan’s Rivers, 1600–1930
In Turbulent Streams: An Environmental History of Japan’s Rivers, 1600–1930, Roderick I. Wilson describes how the rivers of Japan are both hydrologically and historically dynamic. Today, these waterways are slowed, channeled, diverted, and dammed by a myriad of levees, multiton concrete tetrapods, and massive multipurpose dams. In part, this intensive engineering arises from the waterways falling great elevations over short distances, flowing over unstable rock and soil, and receiving large quantities of precipitation during monsoons and typhoons. But this modern river regime is also the product of a history that narrowed both these waterways and people’s diverse interactions with them in the name of flood control. Neither a story of technological progress nor environmental decline, this history introduces the concept of environmental relations as a category of historical analysis both to explore these fluvial interactions and reveal underappreciated dimensions of Japanese history.
The Huihui Yaofang was an encyclopedia of Near Eastern medicine compiled under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty for the benefit of themselves and the then Chinese medical establishments. Some 15% of the work survives, from a Ming Dynasty edition, and is here translated for the first time into English. We extensively introduce the translation with introductions situating it within the history of western and Chinese medicine, and provide critical apparatus for understanding. We provide accounts of the medicines and foods, with comparisons to other works of the time and to modern folk uses of these medicines in the Middle East. We show that the work is solidly western Asian, specifically derived from Persian-speaking Central Asia, and is adapted to Chinese use in several ways but without losing its western character.
Author: Litian Swen
Jesuit Mission and Submission explains how the Jesuits entered the Manchu world after the Manchus conquered Beijing in 1644. Supported by Qing court archives, the book discovers the Jesuits’ Manchu-style master-slave relationship with the Kangxi emperor. Against the backdrop of this relationship, the book reconstructs the back and forth negotiations between Kangxi and the Holy See regarding Chinese Rites Controversy (1705-1721), and shows that the Jesuits, although a group of foreign priests, had close access to Kangxi and were a trusted part of the Imperial circle. This book also redefines the rise and fall of the Christian mission in the early Qing court through key events, such as the Calendar Case and Yongzheng’s prohibition of Christianity.
Crossing Cultural Boundaries in East Asia and Beyond explores the personal complexities and ambiguities, and the successes and failures, of crossing borders and boundaries. While the focus is on East Asia, it universalizes cultural anxieties with comparative cases in Russia and the United States. The authors primarily engage the individual experiences of border-crossing, rather than more typically those of political or social groups located at territorial boundaries. Drawing on those individual experiences, this volume presents an array of attempts to negotiate the discomforts of crossing personal borders, and attends to the intimate experiences of border crossers, whether they are traveling to an unfamiliar cultural location or encountering the “other” in local settings such as the classroom or the coffee shop.
Author: David C. S. Li

Abstract

In Western societies, speaking is construed as an interactive social activity while writing is widely perceived as a solo or private endeavor. Such a functional dichotomy did not apply to the “Sinographic Cosmopolis” in premodern East Asia, however. Based on selected documented examples of writing-mediated cross-border communication spanning over a thousand years from the Sui dynasty to the late Ming dynasty, this paper demonstrates that Hanzi 漢字, a morphographic, non-phonographic script, was commonly used by literati of classical Chinese or Literary Sinitic to engage in “silent conversation” as a substitute for speech. Except for a “drifting” record co-constructed by Korean maritime officials and Chinese “boat people,” all the other examples featured Chinese–Japanese interaction. While synchronous cross-border communication in written Chinese has been reported in scholarly works in East Asian studies (published more commonly in East Asian languages than in English or other Western languages), to our knowledge no attempt has been made to examine such writing-mediated interaction from a linguistic or discourse-pragmatic point of view. Writing-mediated interaction enacted through Sinitic brushtalk (漢文筆談) is compatible with transactional and interactional language functions as in speech. In premodern and early modern East Asia, it was most commonly conducted using brush, ink, and paper, but it could also take place using a pointed object and a flat surface covered with a fluid substance like sand, finger-drawing using water or tea on a table, and so forth. Such an interactional pattern appears to be unparalleled in other regional lingua francas written with a phonographic script such as Latin and Arabic. To facilitate research into the extent to which this interactional pattern is script-specific to morphographic sinograms, a “morphographic hypothesis” is proposed. The theoretical significance of writing-mediated interaction as a third or even fourth known modality of synchronous communication—after speech and (tactile) sign language—will be briefly discussed.

In: China and Asia
In: China and Asia
Author: Reijiro Aoyama

Abstract

Drawing on Chinese-Japanese transnational and transcultural interaction in the mid-nineteenth century, this article illustrates how Sinitic brushtalk functioned as an effective modality of communication between Chinese and Japanese literati who did not have a shared spoken language. The illustrations are adapted from personal diary-like travelogues of Japanese travelers to Shanghai on board the Senzaimaru in 1862 and participants in the Japanese mission to the United States in 1860. The recollection of the brushtalkers with their Chinese interlocutors whom they met on the way, including those during their return journey from the US while calling at trading ports like Batavia and Hong Kong, provides elaborate details on how writing-mediated improvisation using brush, ink, and paper allowed Japanese travelers with literacy in Sinitic to engage in “silent conversation” with their literate Chinese counterparts. A third historical context where Sinitic brushtalk was put to meaningful use was US–Japanese negotiations during Commodore Perry’s naval expedition to Edo Bay in 1854, where Luo Sen, bilingual in Chinese (spoken Cantonese) and English, was hired to perform the role of secretary. Throughout the negotiations, Luo was able to perform his duties admirably in part by impressing the Japanese side with his fine brushtalk improvisations. While misunderstanding and miscommunication could not be entirely avoided, the article concludes that until the early 1900s writing-mediated interaction through Sinitic brushtalk in face-to-face encounters functioned adequately and effectively as a scripta franca between literate Japanese and their Chinese “silent conversation” partners both within and beyond Sinographic East Asia. Such a unique modality of communication remained vibrant until the advent of nationalism and the vernacularization of East Asian national languages at the turn of the century.

In: China and Asia

Abstract

The Chronicles of Phan Sào Nam, written by Phan Bội Châu in Literary Sinitic in 1929, recorded about one hundred “silent conversations” by means of Sinitic brushtalk between Phan, the Đông Du (Go East) group, and people from numerous countries during the 1900s. Through brushtalk with influential Japanese and Chinese leaders, Phan discussed many crucial and critical issues concerning the anti-colonial struggle against France and the national liberation movement in Vietnam. Because many of the issues discussed were politically sensitive, there was a need for secrecy by restricting access to only the relevant interlocutors. For this reason, using brushtalk was felt to be more sensible than seeking help from interpreters. The contents of these “silent conversations” constitute a living testimony to the richness of discussions among East Asian political figures during this period. Various conceivable solutions to sociopolitical problems were put forward, in keeping with bilateral interests in the volatile and tumultuous diplomatic situation in East Asia at the dawn of a new century.

In: China and Asia