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At the beginning of the twentieth century, Chinese reforms started to establish military forces modeled after the armies of Germany and other European states as well as the United States and Japan. In particular, Chinese military reformers established military academies to educate a new class of professional officers, who combined theory and practice and were both rationale war-making specialists and patriotic heroes fighting to death. 

This paper will deal with the concept of military professionalism in China as a global interwar concept and will examine to what degree Chinese officers shared a universal military culture, including theoretical military knowledge and a specific habitus, with European, American, Japanese, and other Asian officers.  

If the transnational and translingual adoption of the modern concepts of “religion” and “superstition” in East Asia were in their essence political acts, it did not necessarily follow that they translated easily into governmental practice. Part of the wide-ranging reconceptualization of the duties of the Republican-era Chinese county head (xianzhang 縣長) and his urban counterparts included the execution of social surveys. Surveys created as well as analyzed facts on the ground; in the case of religion, for example, customs surveys or temple registration were at times carried out by the very people simultaneously charged with attacking or modernizing religious practice. Yet such sources provide valuable evidence: scholars have turned to surveys from the Republican era and public security reports from the early PRC to shed light on local temple histories or the activities of redemptive societies. This paper will approach such documents from the angle of epistemological analysis. Though the design of Republican surveys was influenced by the work of sociologists and folklore specialists, they were executed by local officials frequently caught off guard by the shifting parameters of the new religious terminology. The wide variety in the understanding of the meanings of mixin 迷信and zongjiao 宗教that appear in the results constitutes an important step in the intellectual and political histories of these terms. The history and context of government surveys also suggests routes by which the new terminology have been more widely spread, if not wholeheartedly adopted. Finally, they provide a crucial background to the disputes about analytical and survey categories that still persist today among scholars, pollsters, journalists, and bureaucrats.

In China's interwar period, the most vital actors on the religious scene were the redemptive societies. Far more vibrant than the Buddhists or the Christians, redemptive societies emerged soon after the fall of the Qing dynasty and multiplied over the course of the Republican period, attracting tens if not hundreds of millions of followers. Their scriptures, often produced via spirit writing, stressed the continued relevance of the Chinese spiritual tradition during a period of strong Western challenge to basic Chinese institutions and beliefs, and in this sense were neoconservative and in some cases even reactionary.  Redemptive societies also offered spiritual healing, and in this sense can be seen as the forerunners of the qigong movement during the PRC era.  At the same time, redemptive societies formally integrated Christianity and Islam into their spiritual message, offering a synthesis of the same "big five" religions protected by the Chinese constitution.  Certain redemptive societies also developed an international profile, with ties and/or branch organizations in Japan and in several countries in Southeast Asia. This paper offers a study of the leader of one such organization, Li Yujie (1900-1994) as a means of exploring some of the nuances of the history of redemptive societies during the interwar period. 

The reform movement of Republican-era Chinese Buddhism was remarkable for the distance between its ambitions and its capacities. It seemed to produce an endless stream of grandiose plans with no apparent means of implementation and ambitious organizations doomed to only ever exist on paper. Little wonder then that Holmes Welch regarded the movement as little more than an over-rated failure of little lasting significance. While recent work has called this evaluation into question, there can be little doubt that many of the its initiatives, judged by their own stated goals, failed. Among these failures, the programs to send young monks to study in Ceylon were particularly resounding. Tasked with retrieving the pure original Buddhism of Ceylon, the program’s participants wrote essays for the reading public extolling Ceylon as a Dharmic paradise where the Buddhism past still lived, yet their letters home seethed with resentment and ached with bitter disillusionment. In the end, the young men who were to return as model monks for a new and revitalized Chinese sangha disrobed and returned to lay life. Even by the standards of the day, this would appear a disastrous result. Yet there is much that we can learn from failure. The exchange provides an illuminating window on some of the most important issues and developments of the day, including utopianism, translocal networks, and the construction of new understandings of “Buddhism.”

This paper is a study of the radical Buddhist movement, the Buddhist New Youth, founded and led by laymen Zhang Zongzai  (1896-?) and Ning Dayun (1901-?) in Republican China. Zhang and Ning were both May Fourth student activists. Seeing in Buddhism an ideal for creating an egalitarian, free, and just world, they founded the Buddhist New Youth League and its journal, New Buddhacization Quarterly, in Beijing in 1922. They later relocated to Wuchang to attend Taixu’s new Buddhist academy. It was from Wuchang that the movement grew rapidly, establishing local chapters in Xiamen, Shanghai, Nanjing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Taiwan, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and claiming a membership in the thousands that included prominent intellectuals, politicians, and Buddhist monks. The movement came to an abrupt end when, in 1926, Zhang was imprisoned by the Hunan warlord Tang Zhisheng due to his ferocious attack on superstition that allegedly offended Tang’s spiritual teacher Gu Jingyuan.

This paper begins with an overview of the founding and development of the movement, focusing specifically on the missions of the group that included scientism, internationalism, and pacifism. This is followed by an analysis for the unique monastic-lay dynamic within the group. It argues that modern Buddhist academies as well as the new print culture have provided an indispensable platform for the re-imagining of Buddhist identity and its circulation. In addition, the results were at times unanticipated by and beyond the control of leading monastic reformers.

In the mid-1920s first chapters of the Chinese Communist Party were organized in Chinese communities overseas. Allying with the Comintern pursuit of world revolution and continuing to put into practice Guomindang ideas about the alliance with the oppressed, Chinese communists made efforts to take part in the anticolonial movements around the world. This paper will compare the Chinese communist engagement with local population in Malaya, the Philippines, the United States, and Germany. The historical roles of Chinese networks were different in the Americas, Europe, and Southeast Asia. In Malaya, a unique unintended consequence of the interaction between the Comintern and local Chinese communist organization was the emergence of the discourse of multiethnic Malayan nation as the Chinese organization sought to indigenize. In this paper, we will see that as Chinese revolutionaries put the principle of the alliance with the oppressed into practice in different nodes of Chinese communist networks, they borrowed the ideas from various actors as those fit the survival strategy of Chinese community to build their organizations and to revive China’s strength. The paper is based on the Comintern materials, as well as on personal reminiscences and newspaper publications of Chinese communists.

This paper will examine the role of Buddhism in Sino-Japanese interactions in 1930s China by focusing on one particular organization, the Sino-Japanese Society for the Study of Esoteric Buddhism (J. ChūNichi mikkyō kenkyūkai, Ch. ZhingRi mijiao yanjiuhui). The Sino-Japanese Society for the Study of Esoteric Buddhism was founded in May 1931 and remained active in Tianjin and other parts of northern China throughout the 1930s. The organization featured a highly diverse membership, reflecting the complex social make-up of northern China at the time. Members included local Japanese businessmen, representatives of the local Japanese garrison force, Chinese artists and notables, as well as the Ninth Panchen Lama. Particularly prominent among the members was a group of Chinese political figures centered on former president Duan Qirui who had held political power in the Beiyang government era. Religion was seen by the core membership as a means to transcend the realm of secular politics and Buddhism was expected to provide the basis on which Chinese and Japanese could unite in friendship in the face of increasing economic and political frictions. The Society thus provides a good case study of the complex web of religious, cultural, political, and economic interests that existed in East Asia as well as the politics of Sino-Japanese friendship just prior to the outbreak of full-scale war between China and Japan in 1937.

As the nation gradually became an accepted unit for human organization in the early-twentieth century, Chinese intellectuals struggled with the concept of imposed trans-national regional identities. However, following the trend towards internationalization, and despite the expanding militarism of the Japanese Empire, a minority of urban intellectuals advocated cooperation with Japan in order to defend against Western imperialism. Advocating a shared cultural and historical background as a basis for unity, these transnational elite invoked the East-West dichotomies defined by Sun Yat-sen and Rabindranath Tagore, appropriating Orientalist categories for a united response to the West

This article examines two urban Asianist organizations that were formed shortly after Sun Yat-sen’s death and Rabindranath Tagore’s 1924 visit to China, two events that galvanized Chinese Asianists. The Pan-Asiatic League of Beijing brought together East Asian educators and writers living in Beijing in 1925. And the Shanghai Asiatic Society was born of collaboration between Indian and Chinese Asianists under the sponsorship of Afghani-Indian real-estate mogul Silas Aaron Hardoon, purportedly the richest person in Shanghai in the 1920s.

Both of these organizations began as groups interested in transnational cooperation under interpretations of Sun Yat-sen’s Nationalism and “Great Asianism” speeches. However, through the introduction of young Japanese anti-imperialists, the groups began cooperating with Japanese Pan-Asianist organizations to host large international Asian Nations Conferences in the late-1920s. Public opinion and an incensed media led to the disintegration of the organizations, but the possibilities and foci for transnational cooperation were redefined and the involved intellectuals began turning towards small and oppressed nations for future transnational cooperation.

Coming to grips with the globalized, interconnected nature of the contemporary world involves understanding the ways in which different kinds of pasts have given rise to the present. A crucially important but often overlooked component of this task is examining how the pasts of certain communities are more privileged than others in producing the discourses we use to discuss these phenomena, and from which we speculate about its future directions. In this paper and the larger project from which it is drawn, I resist the privileged status of Euro-American pasts in producing the social and political theory used worldwide to discuss the proper shape of modernity. I do this by examining how modern Chinese intellectuals figured the Chinese past as part of a broader global heritage. The most well-known attempts are undoubtedly those narratives that incorporated Chinese history into a broader teleology, whether Spencerian-Darwinian, Marxist, nationalist or some combination, and posing an essentialized Chinese past as a mere epigone of the European one. Here, however, I focus on thinkers who envisioned continuity rather than rupture between Chinese history and contemporary times, who explored how threads from the Chinese past might critique the seemingly universal values of the present.

Ironically, a major strategy for enacting this continuity was to refute, on various academic grounds, the transhistorical existence of the homogenous national community posed by leaders such as Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. In this essay I examine the work of three very different thinkers writing about Chinese culture during this period—the sociologist and “total Westernization” advocate Chen Xujing, the classicist and ethnographer Gu Jiegang, and the historian of the Yuan dynasty Chen Yuan. Each marshals evidence of the ethnic and cultural diversity of China’s past to interrogate KMT nationalist ideology, largely by showing that “Chinese civilization” was never a single monolithic entity disconnected from broader global currents it both adopted and helped to create. 

Answers to the outbreak of the Anti-Christian Movement in the mid-1920s have been dominated by the Chinese Nationalist and Communist propagandas and the subsequent scholarly interpretations influenced by these materials. Delving below the Nationalist and Communist anti-Christian rhetoric, this paper examined the complicated relations between warlord conflicts and anti-Christian violence along the war path of Eastern Expedition (1925), a military campaign jointly organized by the Nationalists and Communists against local warlord Chen Jiongming in northeastern Guangdong province. It examines the underlying causes of the Anti-Christian Movement within the context of ideological struggles between international communism and indigenous Christianity, militarization of South China, class tensions generated by the Eastern expedition, and the complicated motivations behind these violent actions. This study argues that the Anti-Christian Movement in the Chaozhou-speaking region of Guangdong province was more nuanced and contingent upon the complex local political, social and economic conditions. The Soviet-supported United Front of the Nationalists and Communists employed different mobilizing tactics to struggle against foreign missionary enterprises, impose their visions of Chinese revolutionary state, and co-opt local Christians in the revolutionary movement. As the Chaozhou Christians were trapped in these conflicts, they appropriated the revolutionary rhetoric of nationalism to politicize their faith and reorganize the mission-church hierarchy. The radicalization of Christian activism highlights the political dynamics of global-local encounters and the localization of secular modernity in South China during a time of profound change.

This presentation sets out to explore Japan’s entanglements with East Asia by examining the emerging networks of Japanese and Korean actors within the context of globalization. As Japanese imperial expansion progressed during the late 19th and early 20th century increasing numbers of Korean students came to Japan. Here Protestant churches and the Young Men’s Christian Association served not only as a place of conventicles for the Korean Student Independence Movement but also as spaces of interaction with liberal Japanese Christians. While the Independence Movement has been justifiably interpreted almost exclusively as a genuinely national movement, research on the subject most often remains within the confines of the national history paradigm. However, the anti-Japanese movement of the 1910s had a strong religious notion which becomes apparent from the active involvement of leaders of Christianity and Chondogyo (an indigenous syncretic religion). Religion, and Protestantism in particular, created a contact zone, where Korean and Japanese actors could meet and negotiate cultural, political and religious differences. The presentation will thus highlight the important role of religion in forming transnational networks among Japanese and Korean actors that transcended political boundaries.

To this end, I delve into the networks of Japanese Protestants and the Korean Student Movement to which churches and the Korean YMCA in Tōkyō provided a space, not only to conspire against Japanese imperial rule at home, but at the same time also offered a rare opportunity to meet and discuss these colonial issues with Japanese Protestants. While Japanese colonial rule was not only countenanced but actively supported by the majority of Japanese Christians, this presentation focuses on those Japanese Protestants who resolutely stood against imperialist rule over Korea in speech and writing like Yoshino Sakuzō, Uchimura Kanzō and others.

This paper examines the rethinking of concubinage that accompanied the formation of a Chinese republic, with particular attention to global and local perspectives in the anti-concubine movement in the interwar period. The paper begins by considering the place of marriage and concubinage in missionary encounters and Christian associations in China, and in Chinese reconceptualizations of society along the lines of equality in the republic. The central focus of the paper is the examination of the language and tactics of anti-concubine activists in the suffrage movements of the early 1920s, as seen in their publications and in newspaper reportage.

That Esperanto, a planned language aiming to unite mankind, has long and rich connections to the political left, with its historical focus on internationalism, is reasonably well-known. But it is perhaps more noteworthy that the affinities between the two ideas, with their twin visions of a utopian future, stretched to East Asia and formed part of the transnational flows across the region of people, ideas, and texts in the first half of the twentieth century. In particular, Esperanto’s links to various strands of socialism – the center-left, the anarchists, and the socialists, in particular – gave rise to a series of links between Japan and China.

Amongst a series of connections and contacts, running from Osugi Sakae and the very origins of Esperanto and Anarchism in China, through to Nakagaki Kojiro and Hasegawa Teru’s ties to Chinese students under the shadow of the war in the 1930s, perhaps the most striking thread is that woven by an individual who was neither Chinese nor Japanese: Vassily Eroshenko. Eroshenko, a Ukrainian, was blind since birth, but he nevertheless travelled widely in Europe and then Asia. He arrived in Japan in 1914, and was involved with a wide variety of progressive groups there, from the Shinjinkai student group to the Nakamuraya Salon. After a brief trip to South/South East Asia, he returned to Japan, but was expelled from the country in 1921 due to his connections to ‘dangerous thought’. Making use of his Esperanto and socialist connections he went then to China, where he taught first in Beijing and later in Shanghai, before returning to a Soviet Union formed during his sojourn in Asia.

Esperanto’s connections to socialist thought were contested – some developed sophisticated theories of Marxist linguistics, whilst Eroshenko represented a perhaps simpler, more immediate, sense of common human brotherhood. Despite this, he was representative of the broad spectrum ongoing ties between China and Japan: people moving, shared ideas, and efforts to make use of Esperanto as at once both idea and language.

From 1948 to 1950, Chinese anarchist author Ba Jin (1904-2005) corresponded with Agnes Inglis (1870-1952), a former anarchist organizer and the then current curator of the Jospeh Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan. Their correspondence began through Ba Jin's donation of Chinese anarchist writings to the Labadie Collection, and over the course of their two year correspondence, Ba Jin would donate a total of over fifty books, manuscripts, letters, and photostats. From these donations, their relationship soon blossomed into a burgeoning research project on Nina Spies, nee van Zandt, wife of August Spies, who was involved in the1886 Chicago Haymarket Affair. Further, these donations and research exchanges revealed Ba Jin and Inglis's shared connections to international anarchist circles, as a close analysis of their exchange shows that they both held a large number of anarchist correspondents in common. Further, Ba Jin and Inglis's correspondence revealed the presence of additional anarchist-minded Chinese in the United States, namely Darren Kuang-Chen, a student, and Ray Jones, aka Liu Zhongshi 刘钟时(1892-1972), a San Francisco based Chinese anarchist who also had dealings with Inglis and the Labadie Collection. Most importantly, Ba Jin and Inglis's correspondence reminds us that even as anarchism, in both China and the United States, faded into political obscurity, erstwhile anarchists not only continued a wide range of activities, from schools and organizations to literature and the arts, but also carried on internationally, communicating with each other over the fate of their shared political, cultural, and social ideals.

In relevant scholarship on the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), due attention has not been paid to the complex interplay between Maoism and the intellectual foundation of the seemingly amorphous, sui generus “Red Khmers.” This presentation expands upon Edward Said’s concept of “Traveling Theory,” which identifies production, transmission, and reception as principal conditions of how ideas travel across cultures, to explain how and why Maoism emerged as the guiding ideology of the Cambodian Communist movement. It introduces three subsidiary problems of reception, adaptation, and implementation, with a view to uncovering the way in which Maoism as a globalized revolutionary thought became important to Hou Yuon, Khieu Samphan, Saloth Sar/Pol Pot, and Hu Nim during their pursuits of advanced degrees in Paris. These men (the CPK’s intellectual thrust) engaged with Mao’s works dialectically, and as networked individuals responding to crises in Cambodia (underdevelopment, political corruption, rural poverty, inter alia) made Maoism “speak” to concrete realities in their homeland. Their adaptation of Maoism—the process whereby they rendered Maoism congruent with Cambodian norms—represents a serious effort to indigenize a universal ideological system (Maoism).

To explain the processes of reception and adaptation, we examine the factors of textual language, historical circumstances, and process whereby it becomes important to others. How thought is related to social experience moves us toward uncovering what contexts/mindsets CPK leaders were in when they adopted and applied it. As for implementation, the Leninist organization’s blend of charismatic-impersonal with rational bureaucratic (status/ classificatory) features allows us to understand the methods by which an adapted theory is put into practice by a regime tinged by the outside ideology. That Leninism is at once a conflictual yet effective amalgam of charismatic impersonalism, and a response to the status organization of peasant society and the related phenomenon of dependency, it may broaden our understanding of how the CPK oscillated between “charismatic-revolutionary” designs and the “status orientations” of its peasant base. By focusing specifically on the overarching processes of production, transmission, and reception, we may approach the problems of reception of Maoism by the CPK intellectual foundation, their adaptation of Maoism to concrete national realities, and their implementation of it whence in power.

Edgar Snow's book Red Star Over China has exercised a huge influence on the image of Mao Zedong ever since it was published in 1937.  The images we have of Mao originate, to an overwhelming degree, from this classic.  However, little is known about the early global reception of images of Mao before it. What was his image before he became the Red Star?  In this article, I will introduce some overseas press reports published in the first half of the 1930s which included a photo or portrait of Mao.  The early images of Mao, which appeared in the American (left wing), Russian (Communist International) and Japanese (Intelligence Bureau) media are not only different from each other, but also amusingly different from the image we have today.

 For example, Russian journal described Mao as a sickly person with an umbrella in his hand. The image of Mao as the sick might have something to do with the misinformation (obituary of Mao) once released by the Comintern news agency in 1930, while another image of Mao with umbrella was followed by the famous oil painting "Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan" in the period of the Cultural Revolution.  On the other hand, a hand-drawn portrait published in an American leftwing magazine in 1934 was so amateurish that no one could identify this poorly characterized man as Mao.  And beyond them, the most incredible is a fatty Mao photo appeared in the official magazine of the Japanese government in August 1937, just after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War.  The fat gentleman in the photo seemed to be a bourgeois or a capitalist rather than a revolutionist. What is even more bizarre is that the photo was presented by the Intelligence Bureau at the Foreign Ministry of Japan.  In short, all the images of Mao were incorrect and confused.

How were these images produced, by whom, and what was the relationship between them?  My article will deal with these issues mainly from the global perspectives, and shed new light on the misinformation or misunderstanding in the history of Mao.

In the 1930s, the first Chinese attempt to organize a modern animal protection movement was launched by Buddhist activists in Shanghai. Their Chinese Animal Protection Association (Zhongguo baohu dongwu hui) set out to emulate what its founders hailed as the successful strategies of animal advocacy groups in England, the United States, Germany, and other “advanced” nations. However, this supposedly international model was deeply embedded in the political culture and attitudes toward non-human animals peculiar to its place(s) of origin. This paper focuses on the Chinese organization’s innovative efforts to adapt foreign strategies to local conditions in advocating its own Buddhist vision for human-animal relations in the modern world. This process of adaptation highlights the important role that religious institutions played in mediating the globalization of civic culture in urban China during the interwar era.

Previous scholarship has established that the Comintern’s Japanese policy was based on their revolutionary plans for China. As such, the Russian Bolsheviks proposed for Japan the two-stages theory of revolution: anti-feudal bourgeois-democratic revolution followed by proletarian revolution. Japanese communists resisted this assessment not only because it implied that Imperial Japan was a semi-feudal country, but because the theory required their collaboration with the national bourgeoisie. The JCP, however, taking its cue from the developments in Italian Fascism, already in 1923 concluded that Japanese society was rapidly “fascisizing,” while the state was moving towards “fascist dictatorship.” The JCP’s conclusion exposes the degree to which new global ideologies, communism and fascism, impacted Japanese radicals’ view of “Japan,” and the “East” in general, vis-a-vis the “West” during the 1920s.