Issues concerning Imperial Japan’s wartime “comfort women” have ignited international debates in the past two decades, and a number of personal accounts of “comfort women” have been published in English since the 1990s. Until recently, however, there has been a notable lack of information about the women drafted from Mainland China. Chinese Comfort Women is the first book in English to record the first-hand experiences of twelve Chinese women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese Imperial forces during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945).
By Naoko Hosokawa
In Japan, there is a common myth of the spirit of language called kotodama (言霊, ことだま); a belief that some divine power resides in the Japanese language. This belief originates in ancient times as part of Shintoist ritual but the idea has survived through Japanese history and the term kotodama is still frequently mentioned in public discourse.
By W. David McIntyre
The rapid dissolution of the European colonial empires in the middle decades of the 20th-Century were key formative events in the background to the contemporary global scene. As the British Empire was the greatest of the imperial structures to go, it is worth considering who signed the death warrant. I suggest there are five candidates.
This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.
By Adam L. Brandt and Alfred L. Roca
Do conservation genetics and ancient Greek history ever cross paths? Recently, a genetic study of a remnant population of elephants in Eritrea has also addressed an ancient mystery surrounding a battle in the Hellenistic world.
By T.V. Paul
Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had been prime minister of Pakistan twice: first in December 1988, and a second time in October 1993 after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) managed to win two elections under her leadership. Both times the presidents (heads of state) dismissed Bhutto before she completed her full term.
Twenty-five years ago today, Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first female head of government in a Muslim country. T.V. Paul, author of The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World, joins us to discuss her legacy, the role of women in Pakistani politics today, and the changing shape of political parties in Pakistan.
Mohsin Hamid is the author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. His award-winning fiction has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and translated into over 30 languages.
By Judith M. Brown
The global media has, in recent months, brought to the attention of a world audience the prevalence of violence against women in India. The horrific rape of a woman student, returning home after watching an early evening showing of The Life of Pi, in Delhi in December 2012, and the subsequent trial and conviction of her drunken and violent attackers, has led to considerable comment about violence against women.
It is sixty years since the Korean War came to a messy end at an ill-tempered armistice ceremony in Panmunjom’s new “peace” pagoda. That night, President Dwight Eisenhower made a brief and somber speech to the nation. What the U.S. negotiators had signed, he explained to his compatriots, was merely “an armistice on a single battleground—not peace in the world.”
In 1945 Korea had been divided along the 38th parallel, its industrial north being occupied by the Soviets and the agricultural south by the Americans. Korean leaders wanted a quick reunification, but only on their own terms, and the Communists taking power in the north did not see eye to eye with the nationalists whom the Americans supported in the south.
The relatively short reign of Alexander (336 to 323 BC) marked one of the major turning-points in world history. The Greek city states continued to function after his death, but the world order had changed and a new era began, which came to be labelled the Hellenistic period. For Alexander, like many an autocrat, departed without leaving a viable succession plan.
What role does antiquity play in defining popular perceptions of Chinese culture? Kenneth W. Holloway confronted this issue recently with a set of bamboo manuscripts featured in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Confucians have claimed these manuscripts while denying its relevance to the rest of early China. Excavated texts have the potential to transform our understanding of history, but we cannot force them to conform to long held intellectual frameworks.
By Tim Wright
The central story of China’s economic reforms and the resulting economic miracle has been the move from a centrally planned to a largely market economy, and the emergence of a market-based and mainly private sector alongside the old state-owned sector. Most quantitative trends are still in that direction, and legal and institutional reforms, notably stronger property rights within a situation of limited rule of law, have provided some support.
By Joseph M. Siracusa
It is vital to begin any discussion of North Korea’s nuclear program with an understanding of the limits on available information regarding its development. North Korea has been very effective in denying the outside world any significant information on its nuclear program. As a result, the outside world has had little direct evidence of the North Korean efforts and has mainly relied on indirect inferences, leaving substantial uncertainties.
By Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the country was mix and match meal creation. On airplanes and school cafeterias, you just have “chicken or beef” choices, but Chinese restaurants were “1 from Column A, 1 from Column B” domains. If only in recent China debates, a similar readiness to think beyond either/or options prevailed!