posted by Devin Fitzgerald
A review of the Harvard Yenching Library Rare Books Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA.
The Harvard-Yenching Library holds more than 1.3 million volumes. This review won’t bore readers with the details of each collection, which are introduced on the library’s website. Instead, my aim is to convince the reader to consider a visit to the library and its world-class rare book collection. Although most of the library’s holdings are listed in fully searchable catalogs, there are many discoveries awaiting even cursory exploration. Our persisting ignorance of the Harvard-Yenching...
posted by Michael Stanley-Baker
A review of Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China: Disease, Healing, and the Body in Cross-cultural Translation (Second to Eighth Centuries C.E.), by C. Pierce Salguero.
Pierce Salguero’s dissertation marks a significant departure from the norms of Chinese medical history, which has focused almost entirely on a received tradition that traces its origins back to the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經. By introducing a discrete body of medical writings from the Buddhist Canon (Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō 大正新脩大藏經) and the Dunhuang 敦煌 manuscripts, Salguero brings to bear on these...
posted by Francis Khek Gee Lim
A review of Emergence and Development of Spiritual-Religious Groups in the People’s Republic of China after 1978, by Kristin Kupfer.
December 2012 witnessed a seemingly curious case of convergence of Mayan civilization, Christianity, and Chinese popular religion. Many members of a group called “Church of the Almighty God,” believing the Mayan prophesy that the end of the world was imminent, began to organize mass demonstrations exhorting the Chinese people to repent their sins, to prepare for the coming apocalypse, and to overthrow the ruling Communist Party. What happened next was highly...
posted by Chris Vasantkumar
A review of The Dialectics of Virtuosity: Dance in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-2009, by Emily Elissa Wilcox.
In this highly readable and intellectually provocative dissertation, Emily Wilcox makes a convincing and often surprising case for the intimacy of the relationship between the invention, codification and standardization of, on the one hand, specifically “Chinese” dance forms since the birth of the People’s Republic and of imaginings of Chinese culture and the Chinese nation-state on the other. She leavens this cogent historical and theoretical analysis of dance’s...
posted by Rae Erin Dachille-Hey
A review of From Bodhgayā to Lhasa to Beijing: The Life and Times of Śāriputra (c.1335-1426), Last Abbot of Bodhgayā, by Arthur McKeown.
This dissertation closely examines the life of Śāriputra (c.1335-1426) to destabilize the various myths surrounding the decline of Indian Buddhism, as well as to explore the methods by which this charismatic individual transplanted and reformulated the symbolic power of the Indian seat of enlightenment, Vajrāsana, in his travels to Tibet and China.
The Introduction examines the various theories of the decline of Buddhism, theories that attribute the...
posted by George Kallander
A review of Divergent Visions of Serving the Great: The Emergence of Chosŏn-Qing Tributary Relations as a Politics of Representation, by Joshua Van Lieu.
In this fascinating dissertation, Joshua Van Lieu examines the international ritual protocol between Chosŏn dynasty Korea and Qing dynasty China in the late-nineteenth century. Basing his study on close readings of Korean and Chinese sources, he argues that the larger geopolitical realities of Northeast Asia, mainly the impact of Western and Japanese imperialism, compelled Qing and Chosŏn officials to rethink not only the form but also the...
posted by Steven Pieragastini
A review of the Shanghai Municipal Archives, Bund Location (上海市档案馆外滩新馆), Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.
I recently spent five months (September 2012 – January 2013) at the Bund location of the Shanghai Municipal Archives (SMA) researching the Catholic Church and its affiliated charities, schools, orphanages, and hospitals in mid-twentieth-century Shanghai. I would highly recommend a visit to this location for anyone working on Chinese history since 1927, although there are documents that date from before the Nanjing Decade, particularly from the foreign...
posted by Kristina Kleutghen
A review of Creating the Kangxi Landscape: Bishu Shanzhuang and the Mediation of Qing Imperial Identity, by Stephen Hart Whiteman.
Within the growing interdisciplinary field of Qing studies that explores China’s final imperial dynasty (1644-1911), art historians have just begun to challenge earlier scholarly conceptions that Qing art was unworthy of study. Currently, art historical scholarship on the Qing is largely concentrated in the “High Qing” period (1661-1799) of the successive reigns of the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong emperors. Studies of court art tend to focus on Qianlong (r....
posted by M. Colette Plum
A review of Protecting the National Body: Gender and Public Health in Southwest China during the War with Japan, 1937-1945, by Nicole Elizabeth Barnes.
Nicole Barnes’ dissertation, Protecting the National Body, is an ambitious and engaging study that tells three previously untold stories: the importance of the war years for the formation of China’s hybrid and indigenized medical system; the centrality of the Sick (Wo)man of Asia to biomedical projects disciplining Chinese bodies into citizens; and the centrality of China (and Sichuan province in particular) to the global advancement of...
posted by Timothy Thurston
A review of Nadun: Ritual and the Dynamics of Cultural Diversity in Northwest China’s Hehuang Region, by Gerald Roche.
Gerald Roche’s dissertation, “Nadun: Ritual and the Dynamics of Cultural Diversity in Northwest China’s Hehuang Region,” is an insightful study into the major annual ritual of the Sanchuan Mangghuer of Northeastern Qinghai Province. This study, however, is more than simply a close reading of a harvest ritual in Western China, but an in-depth examination of both the practices of the ritual itself and the local ontologies and ideologies that inform and surround it. In...