Thursday, April 19th: Yuan Julian Chen “The Ecological Footprint of China’s Medieval Capital Kaifeng, 900-1200”

Yuan Julian Chen

PhD Candidate in History, Yale University

“The Ecological Footprint of China’s Medieval Capital Kaifeng, 900-1200”

Thursday April 19th, 4:00-6:00 PM

John Hope Franklin Room [SSR 224]

Discussant: Dan Knorr, PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of Chicago

Please join the East Asia: Transregional Histories workshop in welcoming Yuan Julian Chen as she presents a draft of her dissertation chapter, titled “The Ecological Footprint of China’s Medieval Capital Kaifeng, 900-1200.” She has provided the following abstract:

From the 10th to the 12th centuries, the building of the new Song Dynasty capital at Kaifeng brought about profound ecological consequences in the Chinese Empire and beyond. With demographic, technological and economic growth, in addition to the shifting geopolitical landscape in East Asia, Kaifeng’s rapidly growing consumption and heightened security needs shaped ecologies in strategic borderlands and foreign territories alike, creating a vast “ecological empire” that radiated outwards from Kaifeng. I argue that three geo-factors –– geography, geoeconomics, and geopolitics –– played foundational roles in shaping the bounds of the ecological empire of Kaifeng, both within and outside of the Song empire proper.

 

This research will study the Kaifeng-centered ecological empire through the interplay of these factors. I will use six examples to illustrate the ecological consequences of the rise and fall of medieval Kaifeng: the Song emperors’ quest for legitimacy and lavish imperial garden building in Kaifeng; Kaifeng’s timber consumption and deforestation in old-growth forests in South China; Kaifeng’s seafood consumption and the booming of fisheries in the East China Sea; Kaifeng’s lamb consumption and desertification in the territories of the Xi Xia and Liao; the building of cavalry forces in the capital and the over-cultivation of tea in Sichuan; and Kaifeng’s need for security and the creation of a massive defensive forest along the Song-Liao border. This research will show that the Song period, from the view of Kaifeng, was not only a time of profound socio-political changes but also was an ecologically transformative era.

 

Yuan’s Paper can be found in the post below.

As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served. If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Robert Burgos at rburgos@uchicago.edu or Spencer Stewart at sdstewart@uchicago.edu.

Thursday, April 5th: Jiakai Sheng, “Homeward Bound: The Postwar Repatriation of Japanese Civilians in Shanghai, 1945-1947”

Jiakai Sheng

PhD Student, Department of History

“Homeward Bound: The Postwar Repatriation of Japanese Civilians in Shanghai, 1945-1947”

Thursday, April 5th, 4-6 PM

John Hope Franklin Room

Please join the East Asia: Transregional Histories workshop in welcoming Jiakai Sheng as he presents his paper titled “Homeward Bound: The Postwar Repatriation of Japanese Civilians in Shanghai, 1945-1947.” He has provided the following abstract:

Following the end of WWII, the Allies returned 6.5 millions overseas Japanese nationals back to their homeland, which was regarded by the former as part and parcel of the effort to dismantle Japan’s fifty-year colonial enterprise. This essay focuses on the management and repatriation of over 100,000 Japanese civilians in Shanghai between 1945 and 1947 as an important case of how mass population transfer was planned, negotiated, and executed in the context of postwar East Asian. By examining an array of ideological and logistical issues surrounding postwar Shanghai’s “Japanese Nationals Concentration Zone,” this essay seeks to reconstruct the dynamic interplay between the Chinese authorities, the U.S. military, and the Japanese repatriates. Rather than reducing the politics of postwar repatriation and decolonization to a simplistic story of the “defeated” being dominated and displaced by the “victorious,” this essay interprets it as being constantly shaped by the agency of multiple parties as well as the continuation of certain aspects of the prewar configuration of Shanghai’s Japanese settlement. Moreover, through highlighting the role played by people’s identities, connections and preferences, this essay intends to show how repatriation was experienced at individual level in variegated ways.

Jiakai’s Paper can be found at the post below.

As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Spencer Stewart at sdstewart@uchicago.edu or Robert Burgos at rburgos@uchicago.edu

Thursday, February 15th: Dan Knorr, “A City of Springs: Local Geography and Imperial Presence in High Qing Jinan”

Dan Knorr

PhD Candidate, Department of History

    “A City of Springs: Local Geography and Imperial Presence in High Qing Jinan”

Thursday, February 15th, 4-6pm,

Social Sciences Tea Room [SSRB 201]

Discussant: Alex Jania [PhD Student, Department of History]

Please join the East Asia: Transregional Histories workshop in welcoming Dan Knorr as he presents a draft of the first dissertation chapter, titled “A City of Springs: Local Geography and Imperial Presence in High Qing Jinan.” He has provided the following abstract:

Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Jinan has been the capital of Shandong Province in eastern China. Despite its political preeminence in the late imperial period, the city boasted neither of the two most important cultural sites in the province: Mt. Tai, one of the five sacred peaks of China, and Qufu, the ancestral home of Confucius’ descendants. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), visiting these sites were the primary objectives of the Kangxi (r. 1661-1722) and Qianlong (r. 1735-1796) emperors when they passed through Shandong on their eastern and southern tours. However, along the way, both emperors also visited Jinan and expressed their appreciation for the city’s scenery, including its three most famous sites: Baotu Spring, Thousand Buddha/Li Mountain, and Daming Lake. Their patronization of these sites was part of a larger imperial project of solidifying the patrimonial rule of the Manchu Qing Dynasty over the empire through “encompassing” the cultural values of Han elite. The imperial tours and their material legacies, such as steles and scroll paintings, intersected with a corpus of writings about these sites that was preserved and augmented through the successive compilation of local gazetteers (difang zhi). This included Jinan native Ren Hongyuan’s Baotuquan zhi (Records of Baotu Spring), which he compiled in the years between the Kangxi and Qianlong tours.

Focusing on writings about Baotu Spring and its connection to Jinan’s other famous sites, this chapter accomplishes three goals. First, it adds to our understanding of both writing about local sites and scenery and responses to the imperial tours in North China. As the economic and cultural heart of late imperial China, Jiangnan has understandably received considerable attention from scholars like Tobie Meyer-Fong and Michael Chang who have studied the relationship between cultural production and the consolidation of imperial authority under the Qing. This chapter demonstrates that similar processes also played out in northern China, whose beauty some writers even compared favorably to Jiangnan. However, texts about these sites demonstrate that this history was framed in terms of Jinan’s particular position in-between both the capital in Beijing and Jiangnan and the Grand Canal and Mt. Tai.

Second, this chapter demonstrates that local literature was, in fact, a translocal and political production. Compilations of writings about these sites often included and even gave prominence to the voices of writers who were not natives of Jinan. In many cases these writers were officials who worked in Jinan temporarily but left behind literary and architectural impressions on the landscape. Their writings occupied a privileged place in both officially-reviewed gazetteers and the privately-compiled Baotuquan zhi.

Finally, I examine the literary interventions of officials and emperors within the geographic context of Jinan. While the positioning of official yamens in the center of the city, which was itself surrounded by walls, suggests a spatially concentrated projection of imperial power, in fact official patronage and control spilled beyond the city’s walls to Baotu Spring and Thousand Buddha Mountain. Local writers did not, however, treat this as an unwanted imposition on indigenous space. Rather, as suggested above, it was a continuation of a long history of the local landscape – both material and discursive – being produced through the functioning of the state. What was different in the Qing Dynasty was the direct intervention of emperors themselves, which facilitated their personal knowledge of Jinan’s geography and people and the city’s claim to an even greater level of grandeur.

Dan’s Paper can be found at the post below.

As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Spencer Stewart at sdstewart@uchicago.edu or Robert Burgos at rburgos@uchicago.edu

Thursday, November 16th : Jonathan Henshaw “Remembering and Forgetting: Commemorations of the Second World War in Nanjing”

Jonathan Henshaw

PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of British Columbia

“Remembering and Forgetting: Commemorations of the Second World War in Nanjing”

Thursday, November 16th 4:00-6:00 PM

John Hope Franklin Room [SSR 224]

Discussant: Kyle Pan, University of Chicago History Department

Please join the East Asia: Transregional Histories workshop in welcoming Jonathan Henshaw [University of British Columbia] as he presents his work-in-progress, titled “Remembering and Forgetting: Commemorations of the Second World War in Nanjing.” Mr. Henshaw provides the following abstract:

The manipulation of wartime commemoration in China by the CCP exists as a commonplace in English-language scholarship. Under the People’s Republic, the retreat of Maoism, contact with Taiwan and renewed (anti-Japanese) nationalism have indeed provided context for recent manipulation of wartime commemorations, but such accounts cut short much of the history of wartime commemoration in China by beginning only in the 1980s. Nanjing, as a former capital, has a large collection of monuments and relics that suggest a longer, more complex narrative. This paper marks an intervention in the literature by extending the history of Chinese wartime commemoration back to 1938, while the war still raged, and by setting the received national narrative of the war against the local record contained in commemorative sites in Nanjing and local accounts of the war. In doing so, it opens a productive space for considering the dynamic between local and national narratives, and also points to how efforts to commemorate the war have evolved in step with developments in China’s international relations. As Gail Hershatter has suggested of the practice of “speaking bitterness,” the post-war national narrative of resistance has China functioned more as a matrix that local or individual accounts must be recuperated within (or be forgotten), as opposed to an outright script. Drawing on newspaper reports, steles and Chinese secondary sources dealing with Nanjing, this paper traces the history of wartime commemoration to its earliest iteration in the wartime era, when collaborationist Nanjing politicians were faced with the task of mourning the dead in a city that was both under Japanese occupation, and still reeling from the 1937 Nanjing massacre. Following the war, Chiang Kai-shek’s victorious Nationalists returned to Nanjing and appropriated the site of a former Japanese Shinto shrine for use as a museum that advanced their own triumphalist narrative of resistance. The establishment of the PRC in 1949 greatly reduced such public commemorations, which fit uneasily within the reigning anti-imperialist framework, but did not entirely eliminate them. Instead, wartime commemoration was refashioned into the reigning paradigm of anti-imperialism. In 1960, when historians in Nanjing took up a formal research project on the Nanjing massacre, it was within this framework that they portrayed the war. Their work, published only in 1979, castigated Japanese brutality and Western complicity, but their anti-imperialist framework soon gave way to the more familiar rhetoric of Chinese victimhood that has taken hold in the post-Mao era. These successive revisions not only highlight the ways in which local experiences of the war have been re-worked within a national framework but also point to the malleable nature of a history that is often presented as above question in China.

Jonathan’s paper can be found in the post below.

As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Spencer Stewart at sdstewart@uchicago.edu or Robert Burgos at rburgos@uchicago.edu

 

Friday, October 27th: Scott Relyea “‘A Fence on Which We Can Rely’: Asserting Sovereignty in Early Twentieth Century Southwest China”

Scott Relyea

Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University

‘A Fence on Which We Can Rely’: Asserting Sovereignty in Early Twentieth Century Southwest China

Friday, October 27th, 4:00-6:00 PM

John Hope Franklin Room [SSR 224]

Discussant: Tian Yuan, PhD Student, University of Chicago History Department

Please Join the East Asia: Transregional Histories Workshop in welcoming Scott Relyea [Appalachian State University] as he presents one of his current works-in-progress. Titled “Indigenzing International Law in Early Twentieth Century China: Sovereignty in the Sino-Tibetan Borderland,” Professor Relyea provides the following abstract:

This paper analyses the introduction of international law into China during the Qing Dynasty’s last decades and the first few years of the Republic of China. It explores the influence of two international law texts, the translation Wanguo gongfa (The Public Law of All States), published in Beijing in 1864, and perhaps the first indigenously written international law text in China, Gongfa daoyuan (The Origins of International Law), published in Chengdu around 1899. Building on scholarship exploring the global circulation of knowledge, which focuses largely on political and intellectual centres, this research offers an alternative perspective from the borderlands of Asia, from the interstices of global power where states and empires met and were transformed by the norms and principles of international law, especially territoriality and sovereignty. I argue that local Qing officials overseeing the Kham borderland of eastern Tibet during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries adopted the conceptual basis of international law, whereas central Qing government officials were slow to do so. It was in such contentious borderlands that theoretical claims to sovereignty under international law intersected with the actual exercise of authority, where Sichuan Province officials, influenced by these two texts, adapted the norm of territorial sovereignty to both exert and assert absolute Qing authority in Kham as a stepping stone toward the whole of Tibet. During these tumultuous years in China’s transition from imperial to state form, the actions and successes of these borderland officials in Kham fostered a more thorough adoption and application of international law principles by central government officials, especially during the first years of the Republic of China. This manifest in Republican Chinese negotiators referring to these actions in Kham as substantiation for appeal to the international law principle of ‘effective occupation’ at the Simla Conference (1913-14).

Professor Relyea’s paper can be found at the post below

As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served. This event is Co-Sponsored with the East Asia Workshop.

If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Spencer Stewart at sdstewart@uchicago.edu or Robert Burgos at rburgos@uchicago.edu