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AP Forum: 2024 EAS MA Thesis Presentations


SP24 EAS-MA candidates

**Lunch will be served for registered attendees beginning at 11:30 a.m. RSVP (required) >>

Student presentations will begin promptly at 12:00 noon.

Zoom registration for remote participants>>

The following students will present their MA thesis or research paper:

Lingyi Chen: “Happy housewives and bright life”: reshaping women’s life in the countryside in postwar Japan from 1945 to 1950
Profile photo of EAS-MA student Lingyi Chen

Abstract: This paper seeks to understand the transformations in the living conditions and mindsets of rural women in the first few years of the Occupation as a result of combined influences, taking into account the ambitious top-down campaigns undertaken jointly by the SCAP and the Japanese government, the remolding of existing institutions, and the local reception and internalization of new ideologies. By reviewing the women-related contents in Ie no Hikari (Light of the Home), the most popular family magazine in rural Japan, this paper also intends to explore how official inculcations fit into the local context, with some messages omitted, some strengthened, and some transformed. Acting as both recipients and contributors, farmwomen themselves also participated in the selection process to tailor the governmental campaigns to their own lives.

Wenjin Fang: Destruction of Local Temples in Early 20th Century China: A Case Study of Ba County
Profile photo of EAS-MA student Wenjin Fang

Abstract: This paper proposes to apply Durkheim's theory of ritual to understand the temple destruction movement in early twentieth-century China. In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim argues that ritual gives rise to a sense of group membership which makes it the fundamental mechanism for sustaining society. This study takes this theory as its underlying premise, exploring how changes in ritual practices might have impacted the sense of communal identity and community life at the local level. The object of this research--temple destruction movement--is broadly defined. Any activity that impedes temples from carrying out their rituals, whether it is the destruction of the idols in the temple or the prohibition of idolatrous procession, is regarded here as destructive. Using the situation of temple destruction at Ba County as an example, this paper suggests that the movement has contributed to the state's efforts to undermine community ties and build a new sense of belonging among the people.

Seulbin Han: A Visit to the First Chapter of Korean Popular Music History: A Critical Introduction and Selected Translations of Brother Is a Street Musician by Zhang Eujeong
Profile photo of EAS-MA student Seulbin Han

Abstract: Korean popular music has established itself as a unique and cross-disciplinary sub-field within studies of Korean history, culture, and society, while also expanding into intersections in musicology, business, media, and even global politics in academia today. While Korean popular culture initially gained visibility outside of its national borders around the end of the 1990s, during what has been coined as the first wave of “Hallyu”, it was the unexpected arrival of this popular music sub-genre as an alternative cultural product in Western markets within the last decade that prompted the enthusiastic publication of many recent academic texts with a marked focus on K-Pop. This growing body of work has made intermittent attempts to incorporate the longer historical trajectory of Korea’s modern popular music into its energetic discussions; however, there is nonetheless a sense that a lack of attention to the origins of this history has obscured a visible pathway connecting today’s contemporary Korean music scene with the earlier strands of modern music from the peninsula, musical styles such as sinminyo, trot, jazz songs, and yuhaengga. In this context, this project offers as a critical introduction to the English translation of Brother Is a Street Musician - The Modern Era in Popular Songs by Zhang Eujeong, originally published in Korean in 2006. Described as a “fascinating journey upstream into the past to understand where the current will bring the future of Korean pop music,” (Busan Ilbo Review, 2009) Brother Is a Street Musician does not deal with contemporary K-Pop; rather, it visits the first chapter of Korea’s popular music history, which coincided with Japan’s colonization of the peninsula from 1910-1945. Combining archival research with a critical social and cultural analysis of the earliest popular songs, the early recording industry, the first modern era musicians and composers, and the first formation of the consumer masses, Zhang’s book seeks to address the essential question – how does a colonized people construct their own, unique form of popular culture? This project argues for the significance of this book’s inclusion in today’s lively conversations around the sub-field of Korean popular music in English-language academia. Furthermore, this project sheds light on how dialogue between English academia and the academia of host-language countries/regions, facilitated by translation, can progressively enrich the way we expand knowledge about global phenomena as they flow across time, borders, and languages.

Mingkang Hao: Will the Dyke Hold? Interactive Relationships between Humans, Cave-burrowing Animals, and Plants around Yellow River Dykes, 18th Century to 20th Century
Profile photo of EAS-MA student Mingkang Hao

Abstract: This thesis project not only aims to conduct a non-anthropocentric study of Yellow River dams and dykes, contributing to a better understanding of the local hydraulic engineering project from an ecological perspective. The project considers the Yellow River dams and dykes as not only human-built infrastructure that transformed the local landscape but also as “manufactured micro-ecologies”. Such micro-ecologies witnessed the participation and interactions of multiple ecological actants, while its (un)sustainability catalyzed the changing narratives and practice of humans towards other non-human agents. Inspired by the concept of “distributive agency,” this research will try to explore, explain, and excavate the powers of non-humanecological subjects in a non-humancentric way. The whole thesis project constitutes three main sections (excluding the introduction and conclusion). The primary sources that this project relies on range from Qing memorials, official archives mainly from the Yellow River Conservancy Commission Archive (huanghe shuili weiyuanhui dang’an 黃河水利委員會檔案, YRCCA), newspapers, literature, images, archaeological materials, and oral histories.

Jackson Herndon: Utopian Frontiers: Fantasies of the Commune in Twentieth Century China
Profile photo of EAS-MA student Jackson Herndon

Abstract: This thesis concerns the reception and interpretation of utopian socialism and pastoral communalism in Republican China, with an eye towards how revolutionaries, reformers, and warlords alike sought to forge a new vision of the nation through the construction of model villages. The project is structured around a comparison between early commune building efforts of Chinese leftist organizations such as the Work Study Mutual Aid Corps, inspired by Zhou Zuoren’s New Village Movement and Saneatsu Mushanokōji’s Atarashiki-mura commune, and the later construction of militarized settler-colonial villages in Northeast China by the warlords Yan Xishan and Zhang Xueliang. This project draws on a range of sources, including periodicals, essays, architectural plans, literary works, film, and documentary photography to reveal how, despite the substantial political differences between these various actors, each commune building project shared a similar logic of totalizing social transformation premised on the subjective remaking of the community’s inhabitants and an infrastructural reorganization of the village space.

Ruowei Wu: “Never Forget” and “Unwilling to Speak”: Revisit the Making of Contemporary Discourse of Chinese “Comfort Women”
Headshot of Ruowei Wu

Abstract: With empathy, agony, and hatred, the "Comfort Women" issue has sparked vehement discussions in 21st-century China. Despite its belated emergence, the rising Chinese "Comfort Women" case has adopted a new format of commemoration to continue its discussion, situated at the crossroads between the international redress effort related to the comfort system and the creation of a legitimized narrative surrounding the "Rape of Nanking." To contextualize the resurgence of attention towards Chinese "Comfort Women" within the framework of questions about why, for whom, and how the memory of wartime sexual violence can and should be narrated, this paper explores the contested effort in constructing Chinese "Comfort Women," considering collective remembrance, gender disparities, and national sentiments in contemporary China.This research provides a substantial analysis of news coverage from 1992 to 2023. By analyzing the frequency of mentions of the discourse of "Comfort Women," I aim to explore the context in which "Comfort Women" were reintroduced in China and how history serves as a site of political activity. Followed by a case study of the  documentary "Twenty-Two" to dismantle this macro theme into the micro digital sphere, challenging state-approved patriotic sentiments regarding "Comfort Women." Furthermore, a case study of the "Lijixiang" museum highlights the contradictory tension between the overlooked subjectivity of the survivors and the prevailing national sentiments in the name of reflection. This helps to reveal the prevalent silence among Chinese survivors, shedding light on wartime violence in villages and the ongoing patriarchal suppression faced by women. To further challenge the authenticity of national sentiments, against singular emphasis on imperial perpetration.

Chunxiao Yang: 2 research papers—Postwar Taiwan Confucianism: State and Intellectuals; Resilience and Complexity: Unraveling the Facets of Modern Chinese Nationalism
Headshot of Chunxiao Yang

Abstract 1: This paper explores the evolution of Confucianism in Postwar Taiwan, examining its dual role as both the official state ideology and its appearance in intellectual discussions. Drawing from secondary literature and primary sources, it analyzes the official endorsement of Confucianism as the content of ideologies by Chiang Kai-shek and Chen Lifu, its integration into official educational materials, government campaigns utilizing Confucian guidance, and the intellectual trends surrounding Taiwanese Confucianism.

Abstract 2: This paper examines various facets of modern Chinese nationalism, focusing on national humiliation, national insecurity, state agendas, colonial legacy, and individual perspectives. It traces the historical evolution and contemporary manifestations of Chinese nationalism, exploring the intricate relationship between state narratives and individual viewpoints.