Survival in the Frontier Zone: Comparative Perspectives on Identity and Political Allegiance in China’s Inner Asian Borderlands during the Sui-Tang Dynastic Transition (617–630)
Jonathan Karam Skaff
Abstract: This paper investigates the relationship between identities and political allegiances on premodern frontiers. The ﬁrst half of the paper is a case study of interactions between Turks and Chinese elites and commoners during the Sui-Tang dynastic transition. The second half compares Roman, mid-imperial Chinese, and early Islamic frontiers. The paper concludes that people in frontier zones tended to forge political ties based on self-interest and personal connections. Solidarities based on ethnic or religious allegiance were rare because premodern state power, transportation, and communications could not spread these ideals effectively.
Global Migration, 1846–1940
Abstract: European migrations to the Americas and Australia have often been noted as an important part of world history, but movements to the frontiers, factories, and cities of Asia and Africa have largely been overlooked. This paper will show that migrations to northern and southeastern Asia were comparable in size and demographic impact to the transatlantic ﬂows and followed similar cycles of growth and contraction. These migrations were all part of an expanding world economy, and a global perspective suggests ways in which that economy extended beyond direct European intervention. A global perspective also compels us to extend the traditional ending point for the era of mass migration from 1914 to 1930, and to be more aware of how political intervention has shaped the world into different migration systems and led scholars to wrongly assume that these systems reﬂect categorically different kinds of migration.
Global Feminism and Postwar Reconstruction: The World YWCA Visitation to Occupied Japan, 1947
Abstract: This analysis of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) as a leader among international women’s organizations that sought to expand political roles for women in post–World War II reconstruction projects focuses on a delegation of Western women who visited Japan when it was occupied by the Allied Powers under the Supreme Command of the Allied Powers (SCAP) of General Douglas MacArthur in 1947. It examines the World YWCA organization and its long-running goals to promote the linked values of “Christian internationalism, civilization, and women’s liberation” through women’s participation in international politics and governance, as well as its shorter-term objectives to reconcile Chinese and Japanese YWCA women in the wake of World War II animosities, and contrasts their efforts with the postwar agenda for Japanese women’s “liberation” as deﬁned by SCAP occupation forces.
How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America
Abstract: In 1421: The Year China Discovered America, Gavin Menzies claims that several Chinese ﬂeets sailed around the world, charting sea coasts, founding colonies, and creating a global maritime empire. Moreover, he argues that these Chinese exploits shaped European map making, thereby inspiring Portuguese overseas discoveries and the rise of the West. The author’s attempt to rewrite world history, however, is based on a hodgepodge of circular reasoning, bizarre speculation, distorted sources, and slapdash research. In reality, the voyages described did not take place, Chinese exploration did not inﬂuence European cartography, and there is no evidence of the Chinese ﬂeets in the Americas.
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