Article Title

Asia Pacific Perspectives Vol. 17 No. 1, 2021

Document Type

Full Issue



Editor's Introduction by Melissa S. Dale

We are pleased to announce the publication of the latest issue of Asia Pacific Perspectives (vol. 17, no. 1). This issue showcases the resilience and creativity of scholars doing research and writing about the Asia Pacific during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These scholars, like others in the humanities and social sciences, have not only found ways to continue their scholarship during these trying times but to even re-image how to go about doing research moving forward.

From Sanitation to Soybeans: Kitchen Hygiene and Nutritional Nationalism in Republican China, 1911-1945 by Sarah Xia Yu

This article investigates evolving expectations for Chinese individuals to clean, cook, eat, and nourish in their private kitchens, and how certain diseases became urgent touchstones for the change in public health priorities. Reformists promoted personal responsibility and popular interest in kitchen and dietary hygiene, which increased as Chinese audiences became exposed to globally-circulating ideas of sanitation and nutrition in individual homes. Furthermore, this occurred in tandem with increased institutionalized government developments for improved infrastructure. This article also highlights Chinese participation in the transnational dietary science movement of the early twentieth century, as reformists developed methods for beriberi and tuberculosis prevention that drew on both “traditional wisdom” and “modern science.” By the 1940s, nutrition had become the corporeal counterpart of kitchen hygiene, and the pursuit of kitchen hygiene had become a way in which every individual could easily and patriotically participate in progress.

The Digital, The Local, and The Mundane: Three Areas of Potential Change for Research on Asia by Radu Leca

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for academic research because it has affected all of its aspects, starting from the “where,” which influences the “what” and the “how.” Given these changes, I would like to suggest a few possibilities for updating the “where,” the “what,” and the “how” of research on the Asia Pacific region. I will illustrate these possibilities with some of my own strategies developed or reinforced during the pandemic, as a historian of the art and culture of early modern Japan. Three dimensions of the changes guide my suggestions: the digital, the local and the mundane.

Is it Possible to Think of a "Chinese Pacific" in the Making? Decolonizing Anthropology in the Asia-Pacific Region by Rodolfo Maggio

The travel restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic prevent fieldworkers from collecting ethnographic data in the Pacific. The possibility of collecting first-hand data about indigenous perspectives on the recent growth of the Chinese presence and influence is therefore limited too. Despite the critical need for this kind of data, the situation provides an opportunity for a concerted reflection on the conceptual tools scholars deploy to study China in the Pacific. A decolonial methodology seems necessary to prevent the superimposition of preconceived ideas upon indigenous views that, at the moment, can only be accessed in journalistic and social media outlets. It interrogates the position from which scholars speak or write, the benefit derived from theorizing indigenous ideas, and the extent to which, in the absence of a decolonial methodology, such ideas might become invisible. Although the theoretical explanation of how the deconstruction of these conceptual tools can be conducted is specifically focused on the Pacific, the proposed interaction between anthropology, environmental science, and geopolitics could potentially be applied in other research endeavors.

Demystifying Remote Research in Anthropology and Area Studies by Kaitlyn Ugoretz

Physically cut off from locations and archives central to our work due to restrictions in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, area studies scholars must reimagine what constitutes rigorous and responsible research in their respective disciplines. The practice of remote research, however, is not a new one. Digital ethnography, an admittedly niche subdiscipline of anthropology, has long been grappling with the issues of how to value and conduct remote research. This essay explores a number of misconceptions regarding digital and remote research that may aid in contextualizing and coming to terms with the anxieties the broader scholarly community faces. I suggest that we strive in this moment not simply to adapt and adopt remote research as a temporary fix until we can resume business as usual, but to integrate it into our disciplinary frameworks as a legitimate and valuable mode of research.

Kingdom of the Sick: A History of Leprosy and Japan, by Susan Burns (Review) by Kristin Roebuck

In this book review, Kristin Roebuck introduces us to Susan Burns' monograph, Kingdom of the Sick: A History of Leprosy and Japan (University of Hawai'i Press, 2019). Rich in Japanese historical detail, Burns' book also situates leprosy in a regional and global frame. Burns argues that lawsuits won in the early 2000s by Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese patients from Japanese leprosy sanitaria have warped the historical record, privileging "denunciatory" stories of confinement, abuse, and forced sterilization while suppressing other narratives. She sets out to set the record straight in her account of the longue durée of leprosy and attitudes and policies toward it from the 700s CE to the present day.

Global Medicine in China: A Diasporic History, by Wayne Soon (Review) by Carles Brasó Broggi

The global diffusion of medical practices was an important driver of the enormous increase in human's life expectancy that took place in the 20th century. Therefore, the introduction of these practices in China, the most populated country, is a key historical fact that deserves more academic attention. Global Medicine in China attempts to look at the transnational networks from the Chinese diaspora that helped China to improve its medicine, especially during the long periods of war and turmoil.