Publications Program

The Asia Center Publications Program is one of the world’s most widely respected publishers of scholarly books in East Asian Studies, publishing about 15 new titles per year. The program has published nearly 500 titles since its founding in the 1950s; it became part of the Asia Center in 1998. In the past decade, books published by the Asia Center have won more than a dozen major awards in their respective fields.

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List of Publications

Publications

A Third Way: The Origins of China’s Current Economic Development Strategy

Lawrence C. Reardon
From 1949 to 1978, communist elites held clashing visions of China’s economic development. Mao Zedong advocated the “first way” of semi-autarchy characteristic of revolutionary Stalinism (1929–34), while Zhou Enlai adapted bureaucratic Stalinism (1934–53) to promote the “second way” of import substitution industrialization. A Third Way tells the story of Deng Xiaoping’s experimentation with export-led development inspired by Lenin’s New Economic Policy and the economic reforms of Eastern Europe and Asia. Having uncovered an extraordinary collection of internal party and government documents, Lawrence Reardon meticulously traces the evolution of the coastal development strategy, starting with special economic zones in 1979 and evolving into the fourteen open coastal cities, the Hainan SEZ, and eventual accession to the global trade regime in 2001. Reardon details how Deng and Zhao Ziyang tackled large-scale smuggling operations, compromised with Chen Yun’s conservative views, and overcame Deng Liqun’s ideological opposition. Although Zhao Ziyang was airbrushed out of official Chinese history after June 4, 1989, Reardon argues that Zhao was the true architect of China’s opening strategy. A Third Way provides important new insights about the crucial period of the 1980s and how it paved the way for China’s transformation into a global economic superpower.

The Chinese Dreamscape, 300 BCE – 800 CE

Dreaming is a near-universal human experience. But there is no consensus on why we dream, or how we should approach dreaming. This book investigates what dreams meant to people in late classical and early medieval China. It maps a common dreamscape—an array of divergent ideas about what dreams are, and how they should be responded to—that underlies texts of diverse persuasions and genres over several centuries. These include manuals of dream interpretation, scriptural instructions, essays, treatises, classics, poems, recovered manuscripts, histories, and anecdotes of successful dream-based predictions.What was thought to happen when we dream? Do dreams foretell future events? If so, how might their imagistic code be unlocked to yield predictions? Could dreams enable direct communication between the living and the dead, or between humans and animals? By answering these questions, The Chinese Dreamscape, 300 BCE–800 CE sheds light on how people in a distant age negotiated dream experiences. Yet it also brings Chinese notions of dreaming into conversation with studies of dreams in other cultures ancient and contemporary. Ultimately this book investigates how Chinese people wrestled with—and celebrated—the strangeness of dreams, and reflects on how we might reconsider our own notions of dreaming.

One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World

From Tanzania to Malaysia, Russia to Iran, author Eyck Freymann takes you inside Chinese President Xi Jinping’s legacy project—One Belt One Road—the largest global infrastructure development program in history. In this authoritative and accessible book, Freymann argues that OBOR is not the centralized and systematic investment policy that many commentators have made it out to be. In fact, it is a largely aspirational, bottom-up campaign to export an ancient Chinese model of patronage and tribute. Inside China, OBOR propaganda depicts Xi Jinping restoring the nation’s lost imperial glory. Overseas, China uses massive investments to cultivate relationships with willing politicians and political parties. Freymann finds that this strategy is working. Even in countries where OBOR megaprojects fail, political leaders are still excited about what partnership with China can provide. Written for policymakers, scholars, and lay readers alike, One Belt One Road is a call to action and a roadmap for understanding China’s burgeoning commercial empire. Drawing on primary documents in five languages, interviews with many senior officials, and on-the-ground case studies from the salt flats of Sri Lanka to the shipyards of Greece, Freymann tells the monumental story of the world’s latest encounter with Chinese power.

Varieties of State Regulation: How China Regulates Its Socialist Market Economy

In Varieties of State Regulation, Yukyung Yeo explores how, despite China’s increasing integration into the global market, the Chinese central party-state continues to oversee the most strategic sectors of its economy. Since the 1990s, as major state firms were spun off from the ministries that managed them under the central planning system, the nature of the state in governing the economy has been remarkably transformed into that of a regulator.Based on over 100 interviews conducted with Chinese central and local officials, firms, scholars, journalists, and consultants, the book demonstrates that the form of central state control varies considerably across leading industrial sectors, depending on the dominant mode of state ownership, conception of control, and governing structure. By analyzing and comparing institutional dynamics across various sectors, Yeo explains variations in the pattern of China’s regulation of its economy. She contrasts the regulation of the automobile industry, a relatively decentralized sector, with the highly-centralized telecommunications industry, and demonstrates how China’s central party-state maintains regulatory authority over key local state-owned enterprises. Placing these findings in historical and comparative contexts, the book presents the evolution and current practice of state regulation in China and examines its compatibility with other contemporary government practices.

Dancing the Dharma: Religious and Political Allegory in Japanese Noh Theater

Susan Blakely Klein
Dancing the Dharma examines the theory and practice of allegory by exploring a select group of medieval Japanese noh plays and treatises. Author Susan Blakeley Klein demonstrates how medieval esoteric commentaries on the tenth-century poem-tale Ise monogatari (Tales of Ise) and the first imperial waka poetry anthology Kokin wakashū influenced the plots, characters, imagery, and rhetorical structure of seven plays (Maiguruma, Kuzu no hakama, Unrin’in, Oshio, Kakitsubata, Ominameshi, Haku Rakuten) and two treatises (Zeami’s Rikugi and Zenchiku’s Meishukushū). In so doing, she shows that it was precisely the allegorical mode—vital to medieval Japanese culture as a whole—that enabled the complex layering of character and poetic landscape we typically associate with noh. Understanding noh’s allegorical structure and paying attention to the localized historical context for individual plays, argues Klein, are key to recovering their original function as political and religious allegories. Now viewed in the context of contemporaneous beliefs and practices of the medieval period, noh plays take on a greater range and depth of meaning and offer new insights into medieval Japan to readers today.

Printing Landmarks: Popular Geography and Meisho Zue in Late Tokugawa Japan

Printing Landmarks tells the story of the late Tokugawa period’s most distinctive form of popular geography: meisho zue. Beginning with the publication of Miyako meisho zue in 1780, these monumental books deployed lovingly detailed illustrations and informative prose to showcase famous places (meisho) in ways that transcended the limited scope, quality, and reliability of earlier guidebooks and gazetteers. Putting into spellbinding print countless landmarks of cultural significance, the makers of meisho zue created an opportunity for readers to experience palpable encounters with places located all over the Japanese archipelago.In this groundbreaking multidisciplinary study, Robert Goree draws on diverse archival and scholarly sources to explore why meisho zue enjoyed widespread and enduring popularity. Examining their readership, compilation practices, illustration techniques, cartographic properties, ideological import, and production networks, Goree finds that the appeal of the books, far from accidental, resulted from specific choices editors and illustrators made about form, content, and process. Spanning the fields of book history, travel literature, map history, and visual culture, Printing Landmarks provides a new perspective on Tokugawa-period culture by showing how meisho zue depicted inspiring geographies in which social harmony, economic prosperity, and natural stability made for a peaceful polity.

Earthquake Children: Building Resilience from the Ruins of Tokyo

Japan, as recent history has powerfully illustrated, is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. Today, it is also one of the best prepared and resilient nations to face such sizeable seismic risk. This was not always the case.Earthquake Children is the first book to examine the origins of modern Japan’s infrastructure of resilience. Drawing from a rich collection of previously unexplored sources, Janet Borland vividly illustrates that Japan’s contemporary culture of disaster preparedness and its people’s ability to respond calmly in a time of emergency are the result of learned and practiced behaviors. She traces their origins to the aftermath of the Great Kantō Earthquake, which killed over 100,000 people when it struck the Tokyo region in 1923.Beyond providing new perspectives on Japan’s seismic past, the history of childhood, and everyday life in interwar Japan, this book challenges popular notions that Japanese people behave calmly whenever disaster strikes due to their innate qualities. Tokyo’s traumatic experiences in 1923 convinced government officials, seismologists, teachers, physicians, and architects that Japan must better prepare for future disasters. Earthquake Children documents how children, schools, and education became primary tools through which experts sought to build a disaster-prepared society and resilient nation.

Class, Gender, and Revolution in China's Yangzi Delta Silk Industry

Robert Cliver
Red Silk is a history of China’s Yangzi Delta silk industry during the wars, crises, and revolutions of the mid-twentieth century. Based on extensive research in Chinese archives and focused on the 1950s, the book compares two very different groups of silk workers and their experiences in the revolution. Male silk weavers in Shanghai factories enjoyed close ties to the Communist party-state and benefited greatly from socialist policies after 1949. In contrast, workers in silk thread mills, or filatures, were mostly young women who lacked powerful organizations or ties to the revolutionary regime. For many filature workers, working conditions changed little after 1949; and politicized production campaigns added a new burden within the brutal and oppressive factory regime in place since the nineteenth century.Both groups of workers and their employers, had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Their actions—protests, petitions, bribery, tax evasion—compelled the party-state to adjust its policies, producing new challenges. The results, though initially positive for many, were ultimately disastrous. By the end of the 1950s there was widespread conflict and deprivation among silk workers, and, despite its impressive recovery under Communist rule, the industry faced a crisis worse than war and revolution.

Reflecting the Past: Place, Language, and Principle in Japan's Medieval Mirror Genre

Reflecting the Past is the first English-language study to address the role of historiography in medieval Japan, an age at the time widely believed to be one of irreversible decline. Drawing on a decade of research, including work with medieval manuscripts, it analyzes a set of texts—eight Mirrors—that recount the past in an effort to order the world around them. They confront rebellions, civil war, “China,” attempted invasions, and even the fracturing of the court into two lines. To interrogate the significance for medieval writers of narrating such pasts as a Mirror, Erin Brightwell traces a series of innovations across these and related texts that emerge in the face of disorder. In so doing, she uncovers how a dynamic web of evolving concepts of time, place, language use, and cosmological forces was deployed to order the past in an age of unprecedented social movement and upheaval. Despite the Mirrors’ common concerns and commitments, traditional linguistic and disciplinary boundaries have downplayed or obscured their significance for medieval thinkers. Through their treatment here as a multilingual, multi-structured genre, the Mirrors are revealed, however, as the dominant mode for reading and writing the past over almost three centuries of Japanese history.

Chinese Ways of Seeing and Open-Air Painting

Yi Gu
How did modern Chinese painters see landscape? Did they depict nature in the same way as premodern Chinese painters? What does the artistic perception of modern Chinese painters reveal about the relationship between artists and the nation-state? Could an understanding of modern Chinese landscape painting tell us something previously unknown about art, political change, and the epistemological and sensory regime?Yi Gu tackles these questions by focusing on the rise of open-air painting in modern China. Chinese artists almost never painted outdoors until the late 1910s, when the New Culture Movement prompted painters to embrace direct observation, linear perspective, and a conception of vision based on Cartesian optics. The new landscape practice brought with it unprecedented emphasis on perception and redefined artistic expertise. Central to the pursuit of open-air painting from the late 1910s right through to the early 1960s was a reinvigorated and ever-growing urgency to see suitably as a Chinese and to see the Chinese homeland correctly. Through its examination of this long-overlooked ocular turn, this book not only provides an innovative perspective from which to reflect on complicated global and local Chinese interactions, but also calls for rethinking the nature of visual modernity in China.Also available in paperback.

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