East Asian Studies

Espionage and the I Ching

Michael Harrington— The study of espionage has a long history in China. The classic known as The Art of War, dating from a period of strife between the states of pre-imperial China, contains an entire chapter devoted to the use of spies. One of the overall themes of this short

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The Art of Anime

Susan Napier— Who’s the good guy? Who’s the bad guy? Why isn’t there more dialogue?  It seems kind of slow. Why are their eyes so big? Shouldn’t the music be more Japanese-y? Hey, did I just see the hero die? These are the kind of questions I’ve gotten in the

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Questioning the Identity of Modern Chinese Philosophy

John Makeham— Forty years ago, intellectual historian Joseph Levenson famously commented: “What the West has probably done to China is to change the latter’s language—what China has done to the West is to enlarge the latter’s vocabulary.” Levenson was referring to a process that began in the decades immediately before

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Robert Sterling Clark in China

In 1908 Robert Sterling Clark, accompanied by a team of hand-picked professionals and support staff, explored the far reaches of Northern China and oversaw the creation of one of the first maps of a largely uncharted area of the world. Before this expedition, Clark served in the army in the

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Roots of the Japanese Visual Narrative

Appreciation for graphic art and visual narrative is prevalent in Japanese pop culture from the fantastical animations of Hayao Miyazaki to page-turning manga comic books and cartoon anime characters appearing on everything from book bags to pencil cases. This love for the illustrated arts is the product of Japan’s rich

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A Brush with the Chinese Revolutionary Mood

If you were lucky enough to wander through Beijing’s 798 District, you would come face to face with some of the most fresh, daring work produced by China’s up-and-coming artists.  In the past decade China’s contemporary art scene has exploded, captivating art collectors and galleries around the world.  Ai Weiwei,

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Restoring Ishimoto’s Vision of Katsura

When photographer Ishimoto Yasuhiro asked modernist architect Tange Kenzō to write an essay for his book of Katsura photographs, he inadvertently pitted architectural and photographic approaches against each other. Kenzō’s enthusiastic reaction was akin to Dad “helping” with his child’s science fair by reshaping the vision of the project; instead of merely contributing an essay, he cropped, resized, and reorganized the pictures into what became the “landmark” work.

Saying Bye Bye Kitty!!! to a Culture of Cute

It’s hard to express the magnitude of the disaster that faced Japan after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant melt-down earlier this year. Every aspect of Japanese life has been affected, from entire villages having vanished to the yen’s record low. One might also expect the cultural life of

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Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama turns 76 today, according to the best estimates. His role in Tibet is described by Sam van Schaik in Tibet: A History, which examines Tibetan history and politics from 600 C.E. to the present.

China’s Red Queen

Headlines on China’s innovation have been popping up this week, as the world wonders what the next big economic development will be for the country, which recently surpassed Japan for the #2 rank in GDP.  Both The Economist and Reuters have run stories taking insight from a new book, The

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