VOLUME 13 2017 - 2018
The McGill East Asian Studies Student Journal
Editors-In-Chief JEAN-FÃ‰LIX CARON & CAROLINE WESLEY
Chief Copy Editor JASON LI
Editorial Board ANNELIESE KLUENDER ANTHONY KUAN LILY-CANNELLE MATHIEU NORA MURPHY SYLVIE TRAN MUHAN ZHANG
Design TIANRU CHEN
Orientations is the East Asian Studies Student Journal of McGill University. As a publication run by students for students, we seek to showcase the diverse array of outstanding academic and creative works from both the undergraduate and graduate student community on topics related to East Asia. Due to the inter-disciplinary nature of East Asian Studies, we accept and publish works from all departments, in both English and French. Book cover and inside front and back cover image: Green algae, Weihai beach Book cover and inside front and back cover image courtesy of Daniel Galef. Funding for this journal has been generously provided by the AUS Journal Fund and the Dean of Arts Development Fund. With special thanks to the East Asian Studies Student Association and the Department of East Asian Studies.
Note to Reader 9
The Eternity of Qing
Love, Death, and Transcendence in Later Han Funerary Art Anthony Portulese 10
Croiser le fer
Vérité, identité et réconciliation Marie Plamondon 24
Transnational Kung Fu
Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer and the Global-Local Nexus Ely DeSandoli 34
分つ - wakatsu Yuki Kasaï-Paré 40
An Appeal to the Senses
Qing Dynasty Hardstone Carvings of Food Muhan Zhang 60
Working Bodies in a Fledgling Capitalist World
The Question of Labour in Camel Xiangzi and The Good Earth Hongyang Cai 72
To Meme or Not to Meme
The role of eâ€™gao culture in subverting state censorship in the Chinese cybersphere Sara Mansoor Syed. 80
Note to Reader Dear Reader, It is with great pride and honour that we present in these pages the thirteenth edition of Orientations, a labour of love born from the minds of our brilliant authors and dedicated editorial team. Since its inception, Orientations has maintained a unique presence within McGill’s academic scene, presenting insightful, controversial, and often whimsical transcultural perspectives on East Asia. McGill’s Department of East Asian Studies has had a tightly knit and modest membership, but that is certainly not to say that it lacks vivacity. Students interact with the Department in manners manifold: perhaps while enjoying late-night Japanese film screenings, while debating the future security of the Korean peninsula, or maybe even while practicing Mandarin over steaming baskets of jiaozi. This year, we decided to focus on ensuring the longevity and professionalism of Orientations. As graduating students, we wanted to pass the torch knowing with full confidence that our academic and editorial standards will continue to be met for decades to come. As such, we have created a new evaluative framework for submissions, a copyright agreement, and editorial guides for future editors. With such structural changes in place, we sincerely hope that Orientations can continue to be a strong voice for its small yet effervescent group of students and faculty. We hope this journal will continue to grow in tandem with whichever orientation the East Asian academic field may go, but we ask that it never lose its innovative and defiant flair. We wouldn’t be here today without the support of the East Asian Studies Department, the Arts Undergraduate Society, and the passionate and creative students who submitted their work. Our greatest thanks go out to the EAST faculty members and staff who have built a department that continually fosters innovation, encourages debate, and never fails to expand its pupils’ horizons. On a personal level, Orientations and EAST have had an immeasurable impact on us, as we, the editors-in-chief, met on a McGill-sponsored intensive Mandarin exchange at Shantou University in 2016 and haven’t looked back since. Our camaraderie blossomed that month of May and has culminated in the journal you are currently reading. Now, here we are, an entire year’s work in your hands. We hope you enjoy this year’s edition, but more importantly, we hope it evokes emotions, reactions, passions, and critiques, for without these, our work becomes meaningless.
Jean-Félix Caron & Caroline Wesley Editors-in-Chief
The Eternity of Qing Love, Death, and Transcendence in Later Han Funerary Art Anthony Portulese Edited by Muhan Zhang
Abstract: When examining the funerary imagery of ancient Chinese tombs, one might expect to encounter depictions of funeral processions and distraught mourners. The Xinjin sarcophagus, excavated from an ancient second-century tomb in Sichuan province, offers art historical scholarship an intriguing inquest. Rather than represent sadness or distress, the sarcophagus showcases an amorous couple within a romantic embrace. While the depiction of love may seem a peculiar emotion to convey within the context of a tomb, this essay shall explore why representations of love in ancient Chinese funerary imagery were not as peculiar and uncommon as one may initially suppose. By analyzing the amorous couple in relation to the other two registers on the sarcophagus—a woman standing within an ajar door and the goddess Xiwangmu (or Queen Mother of the West)—this essay argues that portrayals of intimacy in Han Chinese funerary image served as an indicator of love, an emotion that transcended life and death, occupying a liminal position and connecting the worlds of the living and the dead.
Preface: The Xinjin Sarcophagus In his survey research on the funerary customs of societies stretching from medieval Scotland to ancient China, British scholar Moses Finley purports that “‘indecent pictures’ are not habitual in the tombs of any culture.”1 As tombs are often perceived as spaces of mournful contemplation, portrayals of romance and sexuality in such a funerary context can be considered improper or “indecent” from an Anglophone point of view like Finley’s. Such preconceived notions of “standard” funerary imagery, oftentimes cultivated by a conservative Western school of art historical thought, gives the false impression that visual depictions of love and sexuality have no place in funerary culture.2
Profound inquisition into the funerary culture of Eastern or Later Han China continues to ignite much heated debate.3 What constitutes a proper Han burial, and what meaning can be derived from burial sites and objects?4 Such questions lingered in my mind when I encountered an extant side-face of a stone coffin from Xinjin County of Sichuan province dating to the second-half of the second century CE (fig. 1). Unlike much of the Middle Period Chinese funerary imagery to which I had grown accustomed in my preliminary research, which often depicted grieving figures and mournful ceremonies, this coffin stood out in its style and iconography. Elaborate yet somewhat planar in its décor, its low relief can be segmented into three horizontally-arranged registers, each with a distinct motif. The
rightmost image depicts a seated iconographic depiction of the Queen Mother of the West, or Xiwangmu (fig. 3), believed by many in Han China to be the supreme goddess of the immortal lands and benefactress of eternal happiness.5 The centre relief displays a popular Han icon of an anonymous woman at an ajar door flanked by two luan, or lovebirds (fig. 4).6 While much ink has been spilled for the literature on these two respective icons, it is the coffin’s leftmost relief of an amorous couple (fig. 2) that seems out of place, surprising, and possibly alluding to Finley’s questionable notion of “indecency.” While both the centre and right motifs were common in the funerary visual culture in Han China, their exposition alongside the intimate couple in question proves anomalous. Excavated from a cliff-side tomb in 1969,7 this curious sarcophagus8 has yet to be placed at the forefront of serious art historical investigation by a limited Anglophone scholarship. Moreover, little discourse has been hitherto dedicated to scenes of intimacy in Han China or to the study of the Xinjin sarcophagus in its entirety. This is most unusual considering these three motifs would not have been seen, interpreted, or produced in isolation, the way they have been discussed in the current literature.9 The common architectural setting the three motifs share stresses their role as three parts of a single visual narrative. For the purposes of a Han tomb, this relief as a whole represents the celestial ascent of the deceased (likely one or both members of the depicted couple) through the ajar door and into the realm of the Queen Mother of the West—a horizontal rendition of a vertical trajectory.10 But what purpose would showcasing an intimate loving couple and Xiwangmu on either side of a female figure at a half-open doorway serve? Representations of couples engaged in physical tenderness were prevalent in Han tombs in the area of modern-day Sichuan, yet they are generally only acknowledged in the broader study of tomb overall, with little substantial interpretation. East Asian art historians like Lillian Tseng and Wu Hung, for instance, pontificate at length upon the religious symbolism behind the figure at the half-open
doorway and the Queen Mother in tomb imagery as personifications of the liminal threshold between life and death, between the worlds of the mortal and immortal.11 Other scholars like Paul R. Goldin and Robert H. Van Gulik seek to highlight the more sexual undertones that a Han viewer might construe from the Xinjin sarcophagus’ central motif.12 Both these viewpoints on Han tomb imagery, be it in regards to divine spirituality or human sexuality, often advocate one at the dismissal of the other. But when we consider the visual program of the Xinjin sarcophagus, why could the iconography of these reliefs not encompass both these interpretive dialectics? As this research project shall propose, to assess the pictorial campaign of the Xinjin sarcophagus, one cannot rely upon historical examination of one motif without significant consideration of its relation to the other two. Qing and the Aims of the Present Study The answer to this paper’s questions can be answered, in part, through thorough consideration of the Han conception of emotion and emotional disposition known as qing. Classical textual sources suggest that the first known use of qing occurs in a poem from Shijing, or Book of Songs from the ancient Zhou dynasty: “I certainly have love (for you), but no admiration.”13 Although this text was inked long before the notion of “romantic or erotic love” arose, qing here, translated above as “love,” clearly refers to affectionate feelings for someone.14 Centuries later, the Li yun chapter of the Liji (Book of Rituals), a collection of texts about Zhou social norms as understood in the subsequent Han period, equates qing with “joy and anger, sorrow and fear, aversion, love and desire.”15 These primary sources suggest that, by the Eastern Han period, love lay within the scope of reference to qing but had also begun to emerge as a conscious philosophical concept in its own right. It is these last two listed understandings of qing—love and desire—which warrant further exploration. While love and desire are signified as qing in Han China, the term itself holds a broad semantic range, which
includes meanings of basic human tendencies, inclinations, and dispositions, including emotional dispositions. It is this breadth of semantic range that graces the term with such esteemed importance in early Chinese thought. If we wish to make sense of the unique imagery upon the Xinjin sarcophagus, an effective and credible analysis of its relation to qing is essential. To the Later Han people, death was not an end but a transformative phase from one form of life to the next, a “crossing-over,”17 such as the one the Xinjin sarcophagus’ visual program suggests. As such, the people of Han China believed that love—alluded to here by the amorous couple—and, by extension, qing do not cease to exist once one departs from earthly life. With this idea in mind, I shall argue that portrayals of intimacy in Han funerary visual culture serve as an “affective” indicator of both romantic and erotic love. In this, I refer additionally to William Reddy’s notion of the “emotive,” which he characterizes as an emotional expression that offers a visual, experiential interpretation of an emotion,18 or, put simply, the expression of a feeling of emotion. The emotive of love or intimacy—philosophical constituents of qing—may therefore occupy a liminal position between life and death and thereby allude to a Han belief in qing’s—and, by extension, love’s—transcendence across the realms of the living and the dead. It is my hope that this research project shall ultimately enable significant deliberation of how representations of love relate to Han notions of immortality of spirit, in conjunction with an interpretation of the entire visual narrative of the Xinjin sarcophagus. In such an effort, this paper shall be organized into three sections, each focused on a specific register of the sarcophagus imagery and how they relate to one another. Before reasonable discussion can commence, certain limitations must be acknowledged to avert any paradoxes in subsequent argumentation. On the matter of cultural diversity, as stone sarcophagi were a practice relatively exclusive to the area of modern-day Sichuan province during this period,19 this paper’s case study on intimacy and its potential connection to qing should not insinuate that
representations of intimacy, conceptions of the afterlife, and thoughts on qing were universal across all of Han China.20 These ideologies may have been local to the Sichuan communities, and any claim made into representations of intimacy in other regions of Han China can be proposed as a logical possibility but not concluded with absolute certainty. This latter claim would therefore require more fervid and expansive research that can be afforded to this project. Register I: The Amorous Couple To turn one’s back on one’s Heavenly qing… [this is] called great inauspiciousness. The sage clears his Heavenly ruler… nourishes his Heavenly qing, and thereby brings completion to the Heavenly governance… Heaven and Earth then perform their functions and the myriad things serve him. His movements are fully ordered, his nurturance fully appropriate, and his life is without injury. This is called knowing Heaven.21 This passage from the Tianlun chapter of the Xunzi, a collection of poetic prose compiled in the first century BCE during the Western or Former Han period, stresses the degree to which qing, along with other faculties of the mind, is of Heaven.22 It reveals that qing is both a human and divine quality that must be nurtured and that to turn against it would be folly. In this passage, qing refers to those fundamental dispositions that are natural to and inherent in all humans, and the sage is simply he who nurtures such dispositions so that humans can be what they properly ought to be.23 What is most important thematically from this text is the Han comprehension that qing is a part of human nature and held a place in the worlds of both Earth and Heaven. When we consider these earthly and heavenly dimensions of qing, one begins to ponder how it transposed into the visual dialogue of funerary imagery like the Xinjin sarcophagus. To the left of this wide composition is the carving of a concupiscent couple, imagery which a
Han viewership would recognize as belonging to the physical world, while Xiwangmu, who occupies divine space, is depicted on the opposite side. Situated on a platform kneels an amorous couple (fig. 2), and though their respective physiognomies are not discernable,24 their body language communicates the tenderness of the moment they are sharing. The man on the left is slightly taller than the woman to his right, whose chin he lifts with a hand for a kiss.25 They both lean forward slightly and cross into the other’s personal space. The positioning of their limbs and torsos is complementary. The carved striations of the background give a uniform surface to the motif ’s negative space and structure the couple within a concealed interior,26 which alludes to the privacy of this interaction but also to the domesticity of the tomb setting in which this sarcophagus lays interred. Their similarly lavish attire suggests they are married and elevated members of their society.27 Ancient poetry like the Li Sao (“Encountering Sorrow”) recounts the beauty of marriage as dual-layered, referring to the carnal beauty of the body on one hand and the spiritual beauty of loyalty and uprightness on the other.28 Though it is not implausible that such a motif may show a man and his mistress or concubine rather than his wife, the former is unlikely due to the serious social repercussions of adultery and sexual misconduct in Han Chinese culture. Misguided licentiousness stood against several Taoist and Confucian principles that permeated Han culture, wherein a person’s most honest displays of morality were revealed in part through their sexual conduct.29 Sexual behaviour was thus understood to translate, in part, to the integrity of one’s personal expression of qing and the potential of the soul to achieve immortality.30 It is with these conceptions and marital love and sexuality that the couple on the Xinjin sarcophagus illustrates the visual characteristics of intimacy. While such representations are rare in the macroscopic study of Chinese funerary art, such imagery was by no means anomalous to this particular coffin carving. Several curious artifacts survive from the myriad rock-cut cliff tombs of Sichuan province from the Eastern Han dynasty, some of which display similar
or more explicit emotives of intimacy. A high relief carving unearthed from a cliff tomb in Pengshan County, Sichuan depicts a couple in an intimate moment. The man (right) and woman (left) kiss with such intensity that their heads, torsos, and limbs contort as if to eliminate any physical space between them and, in so doing, come together—much like the Xinjin couple—as two halves of a whole.31 Their arms envelope one another in a seemingly unbreakable bond. The man’s right hand caresses the woman’s breast, bringing a sexual charge to the composition. Originally carved above the tomb’s main gate,32 the Pengshan couple rested in close proximity to a shallow relief of a sheng headdress, the iconic headdress of the Queen Mother of the West.33 In both the Xinjin and Pengshan reliefs, the physical closeness of the amorous couple to the iconography of the Queen Mother seems to associate the goddess with love and sexuality.34 These divine and intimate images, when analyzed together rather than separately, seem to offer an interpretive path towards bliss, transforming the dark grave behind the tomb door into a promised land of eternal joy,35 akin to a couple passing through the ajar door to arrive in Xiwangmu’s heavenly realm. Other representations of intimacy can be found across the rock-cut and cliff tombs of Later Han Sichuan. Another low relief of a couple in a close embrace is carved in situ upon the inner walls of a cave tomb at Leshan, just 90 kilometres south of where the Pengshan and Xinjin reliefs were excavated.36 Here, we see once again visual characteristics that evoke the emotive of intimacy; the man and woman cuddle and hold hands as they share a kiss. Their bodies are symmetrical and appear to fuse into one another. This emotive language of intimacy showing lovers as two halves of a figural whole is further communicated in another relief from Fayang County in Sichuan. The rubbing of this relief shows a man and woman with two attendants.37 The man strokes the woman’s chin— not dissimilar to the gesture of the man on the Xinjin sarcophagus—and has one arm around her waist. These unusual reliefs are in fact prevalent to this area during the Eastern Han and
seem to epitomize the funerary artisans’ interest in depicting life in its various aspects.38 To bring this expansive discussion back to the notion of qing belonging to both Earth and Heaven, a key question must be raised. What was the relationship between human sexuality, intimacy or privacy, and morality?39 Instructional handbooks in the Later Han advised married couples on how to maintain mutually satisfactory romantic and sexual relations.40 Taoist and Confucian schools of thought approved of the information and principles set forth in these handbooks with the understanding that these teachings would be applied within the discreet space of the bedchamber.41 When we bring this knowledge to the amorous couple of the Xinjin sarcophagus (figs. 1 & 1a), we must then consider the element of privacy that plays into the visual emotive of intimacy. Nestled in a cozy space between two dougong columns,42 shut off from direct connection to any outdoor environment, the couple is thus able to express their love without worry of accusations of sexual deviance. The fact that a healthy yet respectful sexual relationship for an Eastern Han couple was encouraged and moralized by Taoist and Confucian philosophies highlights an embrace of certain elements of “earthly” qing.43 Articulated through the shared visual characteristics of many other tomb scenes of intimacy, the Xinjin couple addresses the embodiment of qing in the realm of the living and how the union of romantic and carnal love, as well as its connection to divine passion that comes from the bliss of immortality granted by Xiwangmu, was perhaps conceptualized in Sichuan funerary culture. Register II: The Queen Mother As discussed in the previous section, depictions of intimacy in the funerary imagery of Later Han from this region were regularly juxtaposed alongside representations of Xiwangmu, or the Queen Mother of the West. While this paper has been structured into three distinct subsections, each dedicated to one of the three registers of the Xinjin sarcophagus, spillage of one motif into the discussion
of another is inevitable. The makers of such objects would have undoubtedly connected the doting couple to the goddess anticipating the deceased’s arrival just past the ajar door.44 The importance of the Queen Mother of the West in Eastern Han and her close connection to representations of intimacy in tomb imagery is closely related to her role as intermediary between the realms of the living and dead and must be brought to the forefront of the Xinjin sarcophagus’ deliberation. Numerous depictions of Xiwangmu in murals, lacquer paintings, clay tiles, bronze mirrors, and, indeed, stone reliefs like the Xinjin sarcophagus, provide evidence that her cult was widespread across Han China.45 Evidence of her worship by both peasants and the Eastern Han elite appears across much art and literature from this period. Perceived as a powerful shamanistic deity, she joined the human and divine realms, controlled immortality—deciding who would receive it—and presided over heavenly asterisms.46 In the mortuary context of the Sichuan region, she was worshipped as one to whom the Han Chinese could pray for prosperity, longevity, progeny, protection, eternal bliss in the afterlife, and the general well-being of the hun47 (“soul”) of the departed. She often appears in the relief carvings of Sichuan tombs from this period, with an iconographic disposition that became customary in the tomb images and ancestral shrines across Han China. As demonstrated in the Xinjin sarcophagus, we see Xiwangmu in the rightmost register of the composition (fig. 3). She is seated atop a mat in a frontal pose, in a posture common to many regional representations of her—and which several scholars suggest would inspire depictions of the Buddha centuries later.48 She wears her signature sheng headdress and long robes, with her legs crossed and parallel to the floor, her hands pressed together, and her arms folded in her lap.49 The canopy above her symbolizes the sky and her place in the clouds, alluding to her celestial rank of queen of the heavens.50 The symmetrical, triangular form of the Queen Mother’s body matches the symmetry of the columns and drapery of the space in which she dwells and is moreover
mimetic of the amorous couple’s triangular, quasi-symmetrical form. This visual symmetry serves perhaps to assert the closeness between the couple and the Queen Mother, with only a gate between them. The proximal juxtaposition of these motifs pushes the Han idea that approaching Xiwangmu was part of the ascent to heaven; these depictions ease the tension and fear around the unknown afterlife and affirms Xiwangmu’s role as a medium in the ascension to Heaven.51 The Queen Mother of the West is a goddess for the ordinary Han people, and her function as a personal deity in this region is foremost, for she has a role to play in life as well as in the afterlife.52 On the Xinjin sarcophagus, both the doting couple and the deity appear behind the central gate. They exist in two different realms but pictorially exist within the same architectural structure—a colonnade of dougong columns and on an elevated platform—thereby unifying the entire composition. Mimetic of the types of pillars and platforms found in Sichuan tomb interiors,53 these columns place terrestrial and celestial figures on the same horizontal visual plane and thereby suggests a smooth transition from life to afterlife, for the deceased shall be granted immortality and sensual enjoyment after passing through the nearby doorway.54 The Queen Mother’s distinct iconography receives its definitive, standardized form during the Eastern Han period.55 From the naturalization and feminization of her physical appearance to auspicious symbols like that of the sheng headdress, portrayals of Xiwangmu mark her presence as a benefactress in the tomb and denote her as a model of transcendence to conduct souls of the dead to paradise.56 Register III: The Female Figure at the Gateway When we discuss the transcendence of qing and its ability to coexist harmoniously in the realms of the living and the dead, proper examination of Han notions of the liminality between life and death must continue to be addressed. In this section I shall do so through discussion of the Xinjin sarcophagus’ central
motif: the female figure at a half-open doorway flanked by luan, or lovebirds.57 In Han cults of the Queen Mother of the West, luan were immortal birds which served as the goddess’ messengers between Earth and Heaven; thus, luan provided a natural symbol of communication between gods and humans. They flank the female figure at the gateway on the Xinjin sarcophagus and thus connect the human couple on the left with the Queen Mother of the West on the right. The geographic conceptualization of the Queen Mother’s paradise on a mountain in the far, unreachable west was abundant in Han literature.58 An excerpt of the Shan Hai Jing (“Classic of Mountains and Seas”), which dates to the Western Han dynasty, places Xiwangmu somewhere in the obscure uncharted northwest of China, far past the western frontier of the Han territories.59 As cults devoted to the Queen Mother of the West proliferated during the Eastern Han period, such a text surely diffused across Han China and became ingrained within local folklore. Legends situate her realm in the heavens, difficult for humans to access. Constellations supposedly separate her from humankind,60 and yet a relief like the Xinjin sarcophagus brings these two faraway worlds into one visual scheme. The spaces of both the couple and the Queen Mother mutually adjoin through the central doorway motif. Still a highly debated topic, this highly enigmatic motif is most fully discussed by art historian Wu Hung. He infers that this gateway occupies a “liminal position” and acts as an “intermediary stage between life and death.”61 This interpretation could also be applied to the Xinjin sarcophagus’ gateway relief, which similarly serves as a junction between the couple and the Queen Mother. In this centre register of the Xinjin sarcophagus relief stands a woman in an ajar door (fig. 4). We know the figure is female given her high topknot and long dress. Her right hand grips the shut door; her arm and body obstruct the viewer, as well as the other figures in the composition, from passing through, while simultaneously enticing the viewer to wonder what lies beyond the doors. She stands neither wholly in the space in front
of or behind the doorway, asserting her liminal stance in both the composition and as the symbolic threshold between two spaces. Does she emerge from the doors, or does she retreat behind them? Are the doors about to open, or about to be shut? Movement across the gateway is implied, but the ability to move is controlled by this liminal female figure. Similar motifs of women in half-open doorways appear throughout tombs in this region during Eastern Han, such as the frontal relief on the sarcophagus of Han bureaucrat Wang Hui, discovered in his tomb at Lushan, Sichuan.62 In the Han funerary culture, the half-open door often represents the gate of Heaven, and the female figure is likely a maid of the Queen Mother of the West. The doorway alludes to both the celestial journey and destination of the soul of the deceased.63 To show that the door is half open, the figure stands partly behind the right door leaf. An inscription on the door leaf of Wang Hui’s sarcophagus supplies the reader with information about the departed individual: The former accounts clerk Wang Hui… was buried on the jiashu day in the sixth month of the seventeenth year [212 CE]. Oh, how sad, how lamentable!64 This inscription enables us to identify the motif of the half-open doorway as a product of Han Sichuan and provides a point of comparison to the one from Xinjin. Like its Xinjin counterpart, the hairstyle indicates that the figure is probably female, however the scales on her leg and the wing extending from her right shoulder reveal that she is not human, but an immortal or celestial being: a guardian to the domain of Xiwangmu.65 The carving of another sarcophagus unearthed in Nanxi, about 250 kilometres southeast of Lushan and 300 kilometres south of Xinjin, produces another half-open door motif.66 Much like the Xinjin sarcophagus, the half-open door is central to the rectangular relief. To the right is a procession that includes a spiritual guide with a tasseled stick, two animal helpers, and four human figures (likely the deceased couple and their servants).67 The
figure at the half-open door greets the arrivals, highlighting the motif as the gate of Heaven in this context.68 The Queen Mother of the West is shown on the left side of the half-open doorway, attended to by her maid. These attendants to the deity are often characterized in Han poetry and literature of subsequent centuries as “transcendent,” akin to the deity they serve.69 When we ponder the figure at the ajar door in the Xinjin sarcophagus, it becomes unclear if she is one of Earth or of Heaven and if she exists in both realms and acts as the humans’ and deity’s principal interceptor. In complete opposition to this perspective, Paul Goldin proposes an alternative viewpoint on this particular motif. In his concise examination of the central motif of the Xinjin sarcophagus, Goldin claims that unless one is prepared to argue that the woman at the doorway is completely disassociated from the other motifs on the relief, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, rather than indicating a boundary between the realms of the living and dead, the motif must have something to do with “the union of male and female.”70 A literate Han Chinese audience may have recognized this image as one of promiscuity and licentiousness, since contemporary textual sources like Ban Zhao’s Admonitions for Women reveal that it was considered quite improper for a Han woman to go to the front gate of the household.71 She was to remain within her abode at all times, concealed and unseen, to not make herself seem amenable to sexual advances by leering passersby.72 Ban Zhao’s premise appears to be that a woman possesses se, a natural sexual allure, and perhaps members of the Han literati, as such learned viewers, would have perceived the female figure at the half-open doorway as an unsettling and erotically charged image.73 While the antagonistic interpretations of Wu and Goldin appear incapable of some sort of collaboration, such that the Xinjin sarcophagus must be either a religious or an erotic image, I would argue rather that it is both a religious and an erotic image. The composition as a whole tells of the promise of blissful passion—one component of which may be sexual pleasure—in the afterlife. Unlike that of Wang
Hui, the door leaf of the Xinjin sarcophagus bears no inscription to reveal the identity of the deceased, but we can nevertheless suppose that the person interred would have been male.74 The immortal female figure at the doorway may have been understood to appeal to a deceased male and attract him to the realm of immortality.75 When one stands back and studies the three motifs in unison, the imagery suggests that the deceased will be graced with immortality and sensual enjoyment after entering the gate of Heaven. The female figure opening the door on the Xinjin sarcophagus may thus refer to both the prospective blessing of the Queen Mother of the West and a sensuous afterlife.76 The fact that much of the current scholarship advocates either the religious or sexual associations at the pure dismissal of the other creates the misconception that both interpretations are utterly incompatible. Both complement one another and collaborate to achieve the same goal: a demonstration of the ability of intimacy to represent a seamless union between spiritual and carnal affection, as well as its transcendence through both the living and departed of Earth and of Heaven. Closing Remarks In his seminal text Wu Xing, ancient philosopher Zisi writes that “profound felt intimacy is love [and] love is expressing qing.”77 With the Xinjin sarcophagus, the amorous couple would be considered by a contemporary Han viewership as a visual representation of qing, like a cosmic energy which resonates through the world and projects up—or, in this case, rightward—to Xiwangmu, who blesses those with morality of spirit with immortality. We can conceive from textual evidence that Han peoples believed qing to be an element of Heaven just as much as one of Earth, both inherent to human nature and the supernatural benevolence of the gods. In the tomb environment, qing serves as a spiritual language through which humanity and divinity can communicate,78 hereto evoked by a visual representation of intimacy. Mediated through the liminal female figure at the ajar door, the
amorous couple (as a personification of love) coupled with the Queen Mother of the West (as a symbol of spiritual transcendence) links love to transcendence. The soul is granted entry into paradise and attains immortality and, consequentially, everlasting joy.79 It is hence my hope that this research project has enabled a more amalgamative approach to the current dialectic surrounding the tomb relics of Han Sichuan. The emotive of intimacy in Han funerary visual culture manifests as both romantic and erotic love. Love in the mind of the Han people of the Sichuan region existed in a liminal dominion between life and death and, therefore, affirms qing’s transcendence across the realms of the living and the dead. To the people of the Later Han dynasty, love radiated an energy which was welcomed in the heavens, and those of the most moral kind of love were rewarded with all the promise eternal bliss had to offer.
Works Cited Bagley, Robert W. Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a lost civilization. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2001. Cahill, Suzanne E. Transcendence & Divine Passion: The Queen Mother of the West in Medieval China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993. Eifring, Halvor. “Introduction: Emotions and the Conceputal History of Qing,” in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Halvor Eifring. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004, 1-36. Erickson, Susan N. “Eastern Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs of Santai Xian, Sichuan Province.” Journal of East Asian Archaeology 5, no. 1 (2006): 401-69. Finley, Moses. Aspects of Antiquity: Discoveries and Controversies, 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Publishers, 1977. Goldin, Paul R. The Culture of Sex in Ancient China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2002. Goldin, Paul R. “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway and Related Imagery in Traditional Chinese Funerary Art.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 121, no. 4 (Oct. – Dec. 2001): 539-48. Harbsmeier, Christoph. “The Semantics of Qing in Pre-Buddhist Chinese,” in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Halvor Eifring. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004, 69-148. James, Jean M. “An Iconographic Study of Xiwangmu during the Han Dynasty.” Artibus Asiae 55, nos. 1/2 (1995): 17-41. Lee, Haiyan. Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007. Lim, Lucy. Stories from China’s past: Han dynasty pictorial tomb reliefs and archaeological objects from Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China. San Francisco: Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, 1987. Loewe, Michael. Chinese Ideas of Life and Death: Faith, Myth and Reason in the Han Period (202 BC – AD 220). London: George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd., 1982. Loewe, Michael. “The Han Empire in Chinese History and Context,” in The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China, ed. James C. S. Lin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012, 13-8. Mu-chou Poo. “Ideas Concerning Death and Burial in Pre-Han and Han China.” Asia Major, Third Series 3, no. 2 (1990): 25-62.
Potts, Timothy. “Introduction: The Han Empire in Context,” in The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China, ed. James C. S. Lin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012, 3-12. Puett, Michael. “Ethics of Responding Properly: The Notion of Qing in Early Chinese Thought,” in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Halvor Eifring. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004, 37-68. Reddy, William M. “Against Constructionism: The Historical Ethnography of Emotions.” Current Anthropology 38, no. 3 (Jun. 1997): 327-51. Rudolph, Richard C. “Han Tomb Reliefs from Szechwan.” Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America 4 (1950): 29-38. Tang Yijie and Hai-ming Wen. “Emotion in PreQin Ruist Moral Theory: An Explanation of ‘Dao Begins in Qíng’.” Philosophy East and West 53, no. 2 (Apr. 2003): 271-81. Tseng, Lillian L. “Funerary Spatiality: Wang Hui’s Sarcophagus in Han China.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics nos. 61/62 (Spring/Autumn 2012): 116-31. Van Gulik, Robert H. Sexual Life in Ancient China, 2nd ed. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974. Wallace, Leslie V. “Betwixt and Between: Depictions of Immortals (Xian) in Eastern Han Tomb Reliefs.” Ars Orientalis 41 (2011): 73-101. Wu Hung. “From the Neolithic to the Han,” in Chinese Sculpture: The Secular Tradition, Burial Art and Spirit Paths. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006, 17-104. Wu Hung. “Han Sarcophagi: Surface, Depth, Context.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics nos. 61/62 (Spring/Autumn 2012): 196-212. Wu Hung. “Mapping Early Toaist Art: The Visual Culture of Wuduomi Dao,” in Taoism and the Arts of China, eds. Stephen Little & Shawn Eichman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000, 77-94. Wu Hung. Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. Yü Ying-shih. “Life and Immortality in the Mind of Han China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 24 (1964-65): 80-122. Yü Ying-shih. “‘O Soul, Come Back!’ A Study of the Changing Conceptions of the Soul and Afterlife in Pre-Buddhist China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 47, no. 2 (Dec. 1987): 363-95.
Figure 1. The Xinjin Sarcophagus from Xinjin County, Sichuan, Later Han Dynasty, 2nd century CE, 79 x 232 cm. Unearthed in 1969. Photograph **above**; rubbing **below** from Gao Wen, ed. Sichuan Han dai huaxiang shi (Chengdu: Ba Shu shushe, 1987), p. 60.
Figure 2 The Xinjin Sarcophagus (detail). Left motif, an amorous couple on the side of a stone sarcophagus from Xinjin County, Sichuan, Later Han Dynasty, 2nd century CE.
Figure 3. The Xinjin Sarcophagus (detail). Right motif, photograph (left) and ink rubbing (right) of the Queen Mother of the West, Xiwangmu, on the side of a stone sarcophagus from Xinjin County, Sichuan, Later Han Dynasty, 2nd century CE.
Figure 4. The Xinjin Sarcophagus (detail). Centre motif, photograph (left) and ink rubbing (right) of a female figure at an ajar door and two luan on the side of a stone sarcophagus from Xinjin County, Sichuan, Later Han Dynasty, 2nd century CE.
Notes 1. Moses Finley, Aspects of Antiquity: Discoveries and Controversies, 2nd ed. (New York: Penguin, 1977), 105. 2. Robert H. Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China, 2nd ed. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974), 49. 3. Michael Loewe, “The Han Empire in Chinese History and Context,” in The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 13. In terms of chronology, “Eastern” and “Later” refer to the same dynasty and period of Chinese history (23-220 CE), and shall hereafter be used in interchangeable fashion. 4. Michael Loewe, Chinese Ideas of Life and Death: Faith, Myth and Reason in the Han Period (202 BC – AD 220). (London: George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd., 1982), 126; Timothy Potts, “Introduction: The Han Empire in Context,” in The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 8; Mu-chou Poo, “Ideas Concerning Death and Burial in Pre-Han and Han China.” Asia Major, Third Series 3, no. 2 (1990): 42, 45. 5. Suzanne E. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion: The Queen Mother of the West in Medieval China. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), 3, 17.
6. Paul R. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway and Related Imagery in Traditional Chinese Funerary Art.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 121, no. 4 (Oct. – Dec. 2001): 539. 7. Lillian L. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality: Wang Hui’s Sarcophagus in Han China.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics nos. 61/62 (Spring/Autumn 2012): 123. 8. In this research project, the “Xinjin sarcophagus” shall be used in reference to the extant side-face of the stone coffin that is the focal point of this case study, and should not hereafter be misunderstood as implicitly indicative of the whole, three-dimensional, now mostly lost, stone coffin. 9. Lillian L. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 125. The term “Han viewership” should be used rather loosely to encompass a variety of reception, from the carvers who produced the Xinjin sarcophagus to the soul (as conceived of by the living in the Han dynasty) and family members of the deceased. 10. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 126. 11. Lillian L. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 116; Wu Hung, “Han Sarcophagi: Surface, Depth, Context,” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics nos. 61/62 (Spring/ Autumn 2012): 204. 12. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 540. 13. Christoph Harbsmeier, “The Semantics of Qing in Pre-Buddhist Chinese,” in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature. (Leiden: Koninklijke
Brill NV, 2004), 111. 14. Halvor Eifring, “Introduction: Emotions and the Conceptual History of Qing,” in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature. (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004), 16. 15. Eifring, “Introduction,” 13; Tang Yijie and Hai-ming Wen, “Emotion in Pre-Qin Ruist Moral Theory: An Explanation of ‘Dao Begins in Qing’.” Philosophy East and West 53, no. 2 (Apr. 2003): 276. 16. Michael Puett, “Ethics of Responding Properly: The Notion of Qing in Early Chinese Thought,” in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature. (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004), 42. 17. Yü Ying-shih, “Life and Immortality in the Mind of Han China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 24 (1964-65): 90-1. 18. William M. Reddy, “Against Constructionism: The Historical Ethnography of Emotions.” Current Anthropology 38, no. 3 (Jun. 1997): 331. 19. Wu Hung, “Han Sarcophagi: Surface, Depth, Context.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics nos. 61/62 (Spring/Autumn 2012): 198. 20. Yü Ying-shih, “‘O Soul, Come Back!’ A Study of the Changing Conceptions of the Soul and Afterlife in Pre-Buddhist China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 47, no. 2 (Dec. 1987): 364, 381. 21.Puett, “Ethics of Responding Properly,” 54. 22. Puett, “Ethics of Responding Properly,” 54. 23. Puett, “Ethics of Responding Properly,” 54-5. 24. Wu, “Han Sarcophagi,” 197-8. Because the Xinjin sarcophagus was interred within a cliff tomb, it was protected from meteorological phenomena and would have been well preserved. As such, the lack of facial detailing upon these two figures was likely forgone by the carver. Whether or not this was done deliberately, it suggests that the couple’s corporeal interaction would be sufficient to convey the intimacy of the scene. 25. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 128. 26. Richard C. Rudolph, “Han Tomb Reliefs from Szechwan.” Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America 4 (1950): 30; Susan N. Erickson, “Eastern Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs of Santai Xian, Sichuan Province.” Journal of East Asian Archaeology 5, no. 1 (2006): 407. 27. Paul R. Goldin, The Culture of Sex in Ancient China. (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2002), 30. 28. Goldin, The Culture of Sex in Ancient China, 37. 29. Goldin, The Culture of Sex in Ancient China, 80. 30. Loewe, Chinese Ideas of Life and Death, 26. 31. Wu Hung, “Mapping Early Taoist Art: The Visual Culture of Wuduomi Dao,” in Taoism and the Arts of China. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 89. 32. Wu Hung, “From the Neolithic to the Han,” in
Chinese Sculpture: The Secular Tradition, Burial Art and Spirit Paths. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 93. 33. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 16; Wu, “Mapping Early Taoist Art,” 88. 34. Wu, “From the Neolithic to the Han,” 89, 93. 35. Wu, “From the Neolithic to the Han,” 89, 93. 36. Erickson, “Eastern Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs of Santai Xian, Sichuan Province,” 402. 37. Lucy Lim, Stories from China’s past: Han dynasty pictorial tomb reliefs and archaeological objects from Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China. (San Francisco: Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, 1987), 127. 38. Lim, Stories from China’s past, 127. 39. Haiyan Lee, Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 27, 30. 40. Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China, 78. 41. Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China, 78. 42. Erickson, “Eastern Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs of Santai Xian, Sichuan Province,” 407. “Dougong column” refers simply to a column topped with a dougong, a bow-shaped bracket that serves in theory as a skeletal support for many tomb ceilings of the Eastern Han era, although many were carved out of the tomb walls for decoration. The reliefs of these architectural structures depicted upon the Xinjin sarcophagus and their contribution to its composition shall be further examined in the next section of this paper. 43. Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China, 79; Yü, “Life and Immortality in the Mind of Han China,” 81. 44. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 125. 45. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 16, 24. 46. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 16-7. 47. Jean M. James, “An Iconographic Study of Xiwangmu during the Han Dynasty.” Artibus Asiae 55, nos. 1/2 (1995): 37; Yü, “‘O Soul, Come Back!’” 374. Two different elements of the soul which the Han Chinese distinguished were known as the hun and p’o. By the second century BCE, the dualistic conception of soul had impacted comprehensions of the afterlife in Han China. The most succinct statement on this duality of spirit may be found in the Book of Rites, where “‘the breath soul’ [hunch‘i] returns to heaven; the ‘bodily soul’ [hsing-p’o] returns to earth.” This dual existence of the soul permitted the deceased to inhabit both realms of the living and dead through the liminal tomb space and were often depicted as such through the half-open doorway motif like that on the Xinjin sarcophagus. Also see Michael Loewe, Chinese Ideas of Life and Death, 26. 48. James, “An Iconographic Study of Xiwangmu
during the Han Dynasty,” 37; Wu, “Mapping Early Taoist Art,” 90. 49. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 124. 50. James, “An Iconographic Study of Xiwangmu during the Han Dynasty,” 37. 51. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 125. 52. James, “An Iconographic Study of Xiwangmu during the Han Dynasty,” 38. 53. Erickson, “Eastern Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs of Santai Xian, Sichuan Province,” 409, 413. Refer to footnote 44 for a formal definition of dougong columns. 54. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 126. 55. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 24. 56. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 24. 57. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 539; Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 91; Leslie V. Wallace, “Betwixt and Between: Depictions of Immortals (Xian) in Eastern Han Tomb Reliefs.” Ars Orientalis 41 (2011): 90-1. 58. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 76. 59. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 19. 60. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 76. 61. Wu Hung, Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), 259, 246; Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 539. 62. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 128. 63. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 126. 64. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 128. 65. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 123. 66. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 123. 67. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 123. 68. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 124. 69. Cahill, Transcendence & Divine Passion, 100. 70. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 539-40. 71. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 540. 72. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 540. 73. Goldin, “The Motif of the Woman in the Doorway,” 541; Goldin, The Culture of Sex in Ancient China, 63. 74. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 128. 75. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 128. 76. Tseng, “Funerary Spatiality,” 128. 77. Tang et al., “Emotion in Pre-Qin Ruist Moral Theory,” 274. 78. Tang et al., “Emotion in Pre-Qin Ruist Moral Theory,” 273. 79. Lee, Revolution of the Heart, 30.
Croiser le fer Vérité, identité et réconciliation Marie Plamondon Édité par : Lily-Cannelle Mathieu
Résumé: De 1910 à 1945, la Corée devient une colonie de l’occupation japonaise. Durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, on dénote l’émergence de « stations de réconfort » où les coréennes sont forcées à servir en tant qu’esclaves sexuelles les soldats japonais afin d’assouvir leurs désirs. Environ 200 000 femmes d’Asie Pacifique ont été entraînées dans cette pratique qui souligne la violation de leurs droits fondamentaux et dont les effets poursuivent de se réverbérer dans le présent. Ce n’est qu’à partir de 1991 que Kim Hak-Sun incarne la première femme de réconfort à briser le silence ce qui attire, par la suite, l’attention internationale. En revanche, malgré les nombreuses excuses publiques et les programmes de réparation mis en place par le gouvernement japonais, la Corée du Sud demeure insatisfaite et continue d’émettre des demandes. Cet essai vise à explorer ce pourquoi les mécanismes de justice transitionnelle, mis en oeuvre par le Japon afin de résoudre la polémique des Femmes de réconfort depuis 1945, échouent à mener vers une réconciliation avec la Corée du Sud.
De 1910 à 1945, la Corée est sous l’emprise de l’empire japonais,1 et c’est durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale que l’on observe l’émergence de « stations de réconfort » où les Coréennes sont forcées de servir les soldats de l’armée japonaise en tant qu’esclaves sexuelles.2 Ces stations résultent de l’appréhension des dirigeants militaires quant aux maladies vénériennes présentes dans leurs armées menaçant d’affaiblir la santé et l’aptitude au combat des soldats.3 En effet, les dirigeants sont persuadés que les stations de réconfort, un système régularisé, permettraient de prendre des mesures de santé préventives efficaces tout en comblant les besoins sexuels de leurs troupes.4 Par conséquent, le sexe est utilisé par l’armée japonaise afin de maintenir le moral ainsi que la discipline des soldats.5 Cependant, la polémique des femmes de
réconfort ne fait surface qu’à l’intersection de la démocratisation de la République de la Corée en 1987 et la résurgence des droits humains dans les années 1990.6 Par la suite, trentesept organisations pour les droits des femmes rédigent conjointement une déclaration critiquant le gouvernement japonais et émettent six demandes générant un émoi à la Diète (le parlement japonais) : I.
Reconnaître que les femmes de réconfort ont été emmenées de force ; II. Faire des excuses publiques ; III. Mener une enquête pour découvrir ce qui s’est vraiment passé et divulguer les conclusions ; IV. Construire un monument pour commémorer les victimes ;
V. Verser une indemnisation aux victimes ou à leurs héritiers survivants ; VI. Mettre en place des programmes éducatifs afin de sensibiliser la population à leur histoire.7 Ce n’est qu’en 1991 que le silence est brisé par Kim Hak-Sun, la première femme de réconfort à aborder le sujet, ce qui attire aussitôt l’attention internationale.8 Celle-ci demande au gouvernement japonais qu’il reconnaisse sa part de responsabilité dans la violence sexuelle auprès des femmes de réconfort.9 Son acte encourage d’autres victimes à se prononcer sur leurs expériences et à revendiquer que la Diète restaure leur dignité.10 Il est important de ne pas oublier que celles qui se sont manifestées n’illustrent qu’une infime fraction de toutes les femmes qui ont vécu les stations de réconfort ; plusieurs d’entre-elles sont décédées, tandis que d’autres ne souhaitent pas s’identifier.11 À ce jour, trente-sept survivantes des stations de réconfort s’identifiant comme telles sont toujours vivantes.12 La justice transitionnelle est un champ interdisciplinaire de recherche et de pratique dont l’objectif est de renforcer le processus de transition démocratique vers à la réconciliation ; elle tient à rétablir l’équilibre d’une société divisée par les inégalités, les injustices ainsi que le chaos par le biais de la démocratie et la primauté du droit.13 Elle adopte une vision libérale de l’histoire en tant que modèle rédempteur où les préjudices passés peuvent être remédiés afin d’assurer un futur caractérisé par l’état de droit, l’absence de violence ainsi que la prédominance des droits humains.14 Même si les revendications des victimes semblent justifiées, les dirigeants politiques doivent peser les risques d’un processus qui pourrait effrayer les militaires et autres acteurs en lien direct avec l’ancien régime, ce qui pourrait compromettre la transition démocratique.15 Malgré les nombreuses excuses publiques et les programmes de réparation mis en place par le gouvernement japonais, les victimes demeurent insatisfaites et continuent d’émettre des demandes. Pourquoi les mécanismes de justice transitionnelle mis en œuvre par le Japon
depuis 1945 afin de résoudre la polémique des femmes de réconfort échouent-ils à mener vers une réconciliation avec la Corée du Sud? Afin de répondre à cette question sous l’angle de la justice transitionnelle, il est important de saisir les enjeux liés à la temporalité et au contexte, à la responsabilité morale versus la responsabilité légale, aux excuses publiques ainsi qu’aux processus de commémoration. De cette façon, il sera possible de déchiffrer la complexité du débat, mais également de trouver des solutions concrètes afin de mener les deux pays vers une potentielle réconciliation. Une longue attente : définition, temporalité et contexte Même après la validation du gouvernement japonais en 1993 du recrutement forcé des femmes de réconfort, un problème survient lorsqu’il faut définir les termes « femmes de réconfort » et « forcé ». Ce sont ces définitions qui constituent l’un des principaux points de discorde. Plusieurs définitions du recrutement forcé sont établies par des experts en droits humains, par des activistes féministes et par l’ONU.17 Selon eux, la définition devrait inclure « those who were deceived by middlemen with promises of good jobs and found themselves put to work at military brothels. »18 Un point de vue plus étatiste et masculin comporterait une définition plus étroite du recrutement forcé, par exemple « only those cases of physical abduction to and/ or confinement in a brothel against the individual’s will. »19 L’enjeu qui surgit lorsqu’on aborde la question des définitions se caractérise par celui de la responsabilité de l’état dans le recrutement forcé des Coréennes et autres victimes du système ainsi que l’entretien du système des stations de réconfort.20 Un autre enjeu se profile dans l’utilisation de la violence sexuelle comme arme de guerre et son rapport aux conceptions culturelles du genre dans les sociétés patriarcales.21 Il est d’ailleurs essentiel de considérer que le Japon et la Corée de l’époque sont des sociétés patriarcales, ce qui a permis de légitimer des rôles « sexospécifiques ».22 Par ailleurs, Catharine MacKinnon signale
que l’expérience déshumanisante des femmes a seulement été définie comme telle par la communauté internationale dans le contexte où les actes politiques, tels que le viol systématique comme stratégie de guerre, étaient en lien direct avec l’état.23 Je m’appuie notamment sur l’implication et les investigations de 1992 de la Commission des droits de l’homme des Nations unies, qui a transformé la nature du débat sur les femmes de réconfort d’une dispute bilatérale sur la responsabilité d’après-guerre insuffisamment reconnue du Japon vers son accusation internationale pour la violation des droits humains des femmes durant la guerre.24 Il faut donc noter que les différents récits émergent dans des circonstances historiques spécifiques, en réponse aux dialogues ou en réponse à d’autres récits et interprétations.25 La longue attente pour une définition de la violence sexuelle, en concomitance avec la montée des droits humains dans la période d’aprèsguerre froide et la déclaration de Kim-Hak Sun, pourrait expliquer pourquoi le débat sur la reconnaissance des femmes de réconfort est abordé des décennies après la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Comment cette longue hésitation et tergiversation quant à aborder la question des femmes de réconfort affecte-t-elle la portée de la justice transitionnelle ? Pourquoi le temps est-il un facteur non-négligeable pour mener à une réconciliation ? Monika Nalepa soutient que lorsqu’on examine des pays en transition, il est indispensable d’interpréter la notion de temporalité ou timing dans l’application de mécanismes de justice transitionnelle.26 À cet égard, le passage du temps apporte un changement dans l’identité des bénéficiaires, mais aussi celle des « malfaiteurs » (dans ce cas-ci, le gouvernement japonais et les générations successives) qui ne sont supposément pas impliqués dans les actes répréhensibles antérieurs.27 Ceci pose alors un problème de justice intergénérationnelle en ce qui concerne l’équité dans les sacrifices des générations présentes pour les générations futures.28 Un point important à souligner est la participation du gouvernement et du peuple coréen dans le système des stations de réconfort. En effet, les médias coréens se concentrent
principalement sur l’inhumanité japonaise, plutôt que sur les raisons pour lesquelles les Coréens ont ignoré le problème des femmes de réconfort durant tant d’années. Alors que de nombreuses données historiques en Corée existent au sujet des femmes de réconfort, plusieurs chercheurs coréens sont toutefois réticents à recueillir des preuves de cette entreprise coloniale. Où sont les voix de ces enseignants coréens qui devraient être au courant des activités du système étant clairement inscrites dans le registre scolaire? Où sont les Coréens qui ont été témoins ou impliqués dans un recrutement massif des femmes de réconfort? Ce phénomène pourrait être expliqué par le fait que, comme dans plusieurs cas de nationalisme anticolonial, l’identité nationale unifiée de la Corée s’est construite dans une large mesure par son opposition au colonialisme japonais. Cette mentalité repose donc sur une dichotomie entre le « nous » et le « eux ». Responsabilité morale vs responsabilité légale Une autre raison expliquant pourquoi la Corée du Sud et le Japon ne sont pas parvenus à une réconciliation serait le débat sur la responsabilité morale et la responsabilité légale du gouvernement japonais. Il faut d’abord remonter au Traité de San Francisco conclu en 1951 : celui-ci émet des compensations et réparations aux pays occupés, civils et prisonniers de guerre.29 De plus, le tribunal militaire international pour l’Extrême-Orient est mis sur pied en 1946 pour juger les criminels de guerre japonais suite à la Deuxième Guerre mondiale.30 Compte tenu de ce qui précède, le gouvernement japonais persiste à nier toute responsabilité légale dans l’abus sexuel des femmes de réconfort en soutenant que tous les traités bilatéraux et organes juridiques d’aprèsguerre ont réglé l’ensemble des réclamations entre le Japon et les autres pays.31 Il ajoute aussi qu’il ne peut être condamné pour des actes à une époque où les lois sur les droits humains n’existaient pas encore et où le colonialisme était une pratique courante.32 En raison de la pression de la communauté
internationale, Tokyo établit le « Asian Women’s Fund » en 1994, dans l’intention d’exprimer sa responsabilité morale—plutôt que sa responsabilité légale—via des compensations monétaires.33 Ce fond de coopération avec la population japonaise fait la promotion de projets de réparation et de résolution pour les femmes de réconfort.34 En effet, le AW Fund verse 2 million de yens par personne aux 285 femmes de réconfort en Corée du Sud, aux Philippines et à Taïwan.35 Néanmoins, de nombreux groupes militants soutiennent que les victimes ne devraient pas recevoir de « rémunération » de la part d’une « organisation privée » et exigent que le gouvernement japonais présente des excuses publiques et reconnaisse sa responsabilité légale.36 Quelques-unes des victimes refusent même de recevoir le versement monétaire puisqu’elles perçoivent celui-ci comme une autre tentative du Japon d’esquiver sa part de responsabilité.37 Nonobstant, certaines victimes telles que Pak Pok-sun (1921– 2005) ont accepté l’argent et sont aussitôt devenues les cibles de menaces de mort et d’appels haineux pour avoir participé au projet du AW Fund et être allées à l’encontre du Conseil coréen.38 Ainsi peut-on dire que l’un des obstacles à la réconciliation est que les réparations doivent être faites dans un cadre où elles ne suscitent pas la stigmatisation et la marginalisation des victimes des abus.39 Pareillement, les pertes subies pendant la guerre sont incalculables et une poignée d’argent ne peut certainement pas remplacer un membre de la famille tué ou violenté par le régime.40 D’ailleurs, une distinction est à faire quant aux programmes de réparations dans l’identification des bénéfices aux victimes : sont-ils matériels, symboliques, individuels ou collectifs?41 En d’autres termes, les réparations symboliques sont destinées à contribuer à la réparation des liens sociaux entre l’état et les citoyens—ou même entre les citoyens euxmêmes—liens ayant été brisés à cause de la violence.42 Pour ce faire, l’état ou les groupes subversifs impliqués doivent reconnaître le mal qu’ils ont causé via une reconnaissance publique de leurs torts.43 Les mesures symboliques contribuent alors à la compréhension générale du
problème et de son impact sur les familles et différentes communautés.44 Par ailleurs, le 4 janvier 1996, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général des Nations unies sur la violence contre les femmes, présente un rapport sur les enquêtes menées en Corée du Nord, en République de Corée et au Japon.45 Dans celui-ci, elle considère scrupuleusement la question des femmes de réconfort et « l’esclavage sexuel » ; elle affirme que le gouvernement japonais devrait accepter sa responsabilité légale dans la violation des droits fondamentaux.46 De surcroît, elle ajoute que la création du AW Fund n’exonère pas le gouvernement des revendications juridiques des femmes de réconfort en vertu du droit international public.47 En outre, elle demande au Japon de divulguer l’intégralité des documents et matériels en sa possession au sujet du système des femmes de réconfort, de verser une indemnisation à ces dernières, de punir les auteurs, de présenter des excuses publiques ainsi que de sensibiliser le public en établissant des programmes éducatifs.48 Ainsi, la prise de conscience et la reconnaissance de sa responsabilité légale et morale dans l’abus de droits humains restent des objectifs saillants pour la justice transitionnelle dans la promotion des droits humains. Pardon et réconciliation La philosophie du pardon est beaucoup plus proche de la mémoire que de l’oubli ; afin d’être capable de pardonner, il faut savoir ce qui s’est produit et qui est moralement responsable de ce qui s’est passé.49 C’est pourquoi l’acte de pardonner se rapproche beaucoup du droit pénal, par exemple lorsque les torts passés sont reconnus légalement dans les cours pénales et lorsque l’auteur des crimes est puni.50 Ceci nous amène à nous pencher sur les excuses dans la déclaration de Kono de 1993, qui reconnaît le rôle de l’armée dans le recrutement forcé des Coréennes et autres victimes, contrairement aux nationalistes japonais qui argumentent que celles-ci étaient des prostituées s’étant portées volontaires.51 D’un autre côté, en 2007, lors de son premier mandat en tant que Premier
ministre, Shinzo Abe remue les problèmes en niant l’existence des femmes de réconfort dû à un manque de preuves.52 Évidemment, cela produit une vague d’insatisfaction chez les victimes, qui décèlent un flagrant manque de sincérité dans ces propos.53 Au cours des dernières années, l’une des excuses par le gouvernement japonais se traduit par un milliard de yens pour la création d’une fondation sud-coréenne soutenant les victimes avec des services médicaux et infirmiers.54 En retour, la République de Corée promet d’abandonner—de façon irréversible—ses demandes de réparation ; de retirer un mémorial construit devant l’ambassade japonaise à Séoul pour honorer les femmes de réconfort; ainsi que de mettre fin à toute critique à l’égard du Japon.55 Plutôt que de reconnaître complètement la responsabilité étatique dans l’établissement des stations de réconfort, l’accord offre seulement des « excuses et remords sincères » par rapport à l’implication des « autorités militaires japonaises. »56 Ceci est loin de convenir aux survivantes et groupes militants considérant que ce n’est pas du tout une excuse exhaustive et significative puisqu’elle ne reconnaît pas le rôle du gouvernement dans la mise en place de l’esclavage sexuel.57 De même, il y a quelque chose d’alarmant dans une situation où le choix de pardonner est retiré des victimes. Une telle situation offense la nature même du pardon et les raisons même pour lesquelles nous pardonnons.58 C’est pourquoi le pardon ne devrait pas être un mandat politique.59 De plus, les excuses ne devraient certainement pas créer de discrimination au sein de l’ensemble des victimes des mêmes violations. En effet, le Japon ne mentionne aucunement le traitement des femmes de réconfort dans d’autres pays d’Asie, tels que la Chine, les Philippines et le Timor oriental, et cette négligence pourrait porter plusieurs à penser que ces excuses étaient principalement motivées par un opportunisme politique cherchant de meilleures relations entre la Corée du Sud et le Japon, spécialement compte tenu des récentes menaces balistiques de la Corée du Nord.60 Enfin, les excuses constituent une manière d’offrir une forme de reconnaissance, de réduire
la peur de la domination et de rétablir la confiance.61 Elles signalent que l’état ou tout autre groupe prend sérieusement les torts qu’ils ont causés et ce, surtout si elles agissent conjointement avec d’autres mécanismes de justice transitionnelle.62 Cependant, dans le cas du gouvernement japonais, ce dernier échoue à rassurer les victimes en niant sa responsabilité légale, en dévaluant les mémoriaux, en omettant les femmes de réconfort dans les manuels d’histoire, etc. Commémorer l’histoire : Monuments et manuels d’histoire L’une des conséquences de l’internationalisation du débat sur les femmes de réconfort relève d’une guerre à part entière sur l’histoire entre le Japon et la Corée du Sud.63 Les manuels d’histoire deviennent un centre d’attention particulier de la « guerre des mémoires » vers la fin des années 1990.64 Ils sont d’une importance capitale puisqu’ils façonnent la mémoire collective. Un exemple flagrant de cette bataille politique serait l’absence totale de la mention des femmes de réconfort dans les manuels d’histoire coréens et japonais avant le milieu des années 1990.65 De plus, le gouvernement japonais est réticent à l’idée d’aborder la question des femmes de réconfort dans les manuels d’histoire collégiens vu son caractère sexuel.66 Dans un même ordre d’idées, la préservation d’un récit collectif dépend du contrôle continu de l’histoire officielle, ainsi que des récits historiques alternatifs.67 Tel que mentionné plus tôt quant à la notion de temporalité, maintenir un tel contrôle devient de plus en plus difficile après que plusieurs années se soient écoulées et que le problème n’ait pas été adressé.68 Les récits historiques transitoires, par le biais de procès ou de manuels d’histoire, éclairent le rôle du savoir, du choix et de la volonté humaine.69 Ils soulignent aussi la compréhension d’un état par rapport à son ordre politique et à son identité.70 La statue de la paix, érigée en face de l’ambassade du Japon à Séoul, représente une jeune Coréenne dans ses habits traditionnels et un symbole des femmes de réconfort.71 Cette statue a été financée par des dons citoyens et
rassemble des manifestants hebdomadairement depuis vingt ans.72 Elle envoie un message clair : le Japon devrait reconnaître sa responsabilité dans l’enrôlement forcé de 200 000 femmes asiatiques dans les stations de réconfort, où elles devenaient des esclaves sexuelles pour l’effort de guerre.73 Osamu Fujimura, porte-parole principal du Secrétaire général du Cabinet du Japon, qualifie la statue de « regrettable » et déclare que son gouvernement demande qu’elle soit retirée.74 Depuis, d’autres statues ont été édifiées : à Los Angeles en 2013 et à San Francisco en 2017. Celles-ci se heurtent également aux vives critiques du gouvernement japonais, surtout auprès des politiciens de droite.75 Alors que les militants accusent le Japon de minimiser les atrocités, les politiciens japonais rétorquent que la critique est unilatérale et constitue elle-même un obstacle à la réconciliation.76 Il faut comprendre que la mémoire est un processus subjectif ancré dans les expériences, le monde matériel et les « marqueurs symboliques » tels les livres, musées, monuments et films.77 Il existe un lien actif entre les subjectivités individuelles, sociétales ou d’appartenance collective et la conception du passé ; ses multiples significations se retrouvent dans des produits culturels, des véhicules de la mémoire.78 Les monuments et mémoriaux peuvent être perçus comme expressions des processus d’interaction, de contestation et de négociation.79 James Young soutient qu’il est crucial d’étudier le mémorial de sa création à son installation afin de rendre visible l’activité de la mémoire dans les monuments.80 Ainsi, l’enjeu en question entre le Japon et la Corée du Sud n’est pas seulement l’oubli d’éléments historiques dans l’esprit collectif mais aussi un enjeu où les mémoires—chacune avec leur part de silence et de vide—s’opposent et se contrecarrent. Une réconciliation possible ? En somme, cet essai explore les différents enjeux empêchant une réconciliation entre le Japon et la Corée du Sud tout en amenant le lecteur à saisir la complexité des limites de la justice transitionnelle. D’une part, les
circonstances historiques et la longue attente pour une définition des termes « forcé » et « femmes de réconfort » font en sorte que la question n’a été abordée que des décennies après la Deuxième Guerre mondiale ; ceci donne l’impression aux victimes de ne jamais avoir eu un semblant de justice et ainsi de ne pouvoir être réconciliées. De plus, malgré que le Japon ait démontré qu’il endossait sa responsabilité morale via la création du Asian Women’s Fund, le fait que le pays dénie sa responsabilité légale émet le message qu’il ne reconnaît pas toute la mesure de ses fautes passées. Ceci va de main avec ses piètres excuses publiques, sa contrariété vis-à-vis des mémoriaux aux femmes de réconfort et son hostilité par rapport à l’incorporation des faits objectifs sur ces dernières dans les manuels d’histoire. Lorsque plusieurs processus de justice transitionnelle sont mis en œuvre simultanément, il faut pouvoir les balancer et les coordonner, ce que le Japon a été incapable d’accomplir dans ses tentatives de réparation envers les femmes de réconfort. Néanmoins, même si une telle coordination relèverait de l’agenda politique plutôt que de la nécessité de rendre justice, les circonstances actuelles—notamment les menaces balistiques de Pyongyang—pourraient forcer la main du gouvernement japonais afin de le faire mettre en place des initiatives vraisemblablement plus « sincères » envers les femmes de réconfort et de trouver des solutions vers une réconciliation plus efficace.81
Notes 1. Université de Tokyo. International Relations and Disputes in East Asia, Professeur Kim Ji Young, Printemps 2017. 2. International Relations, Professeur Young. 3. Tanaka, Yuki. Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation, (Londres; New York: Routledge, 2003), 30. 4. Tanaka, Japan’s Comfort Women, 30. 5. Tanaka, Japan’s Comfort Women, 30. 6. Chunghee Sarah Soh, From imperial gifts to sex slaves: theorizing symbolic representations of the ‘comfort women’. Social Science Japan Journal, v3 n1 (20000401), 72. 7. Ilaria Maria Sala, “Why Is the Plight of ‘Comfort Women’ Still So Controversial?” The New York Times. August 14, 2017. Consulté le 17 novembre, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/opinion/comfort-women-japan-south-korea.html. 8. International Relations, Professeur Young. 9. International Relations, Professeur Young. 10. International Relations, Professeur Young. 11. International Relations, Professeur Young. 12. Sala “Plight.” 13. CH Brant et al, Transitional Justice: Images and Memories, ed. Burlington, (VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2013), 3. 14. Rosalind Shaw et al. Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence. (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2010), 3. 15. Neil J Kritz, Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1995), 32. 16. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 63. 17. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 63. 18. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 63. 19. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 63. 20. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 63. 21. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 63. 22. Chunghee Sarah Soh, The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 116. 23. Catharine Mackinnon, Crimes of War, Crimes of Peace (UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 4(1), 1993), 69-71. 24. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 60. 25. Arthur Paige, Identities in Transition, ed. Cambridge (New York: Cambridge University Press 2011), 211. 26. Monika Nalepa, Skeletons in the Closet:
Transitional Justice in Post-Communist Europe, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-30, 2010), 22-8. 27. Rutti Teitel, Transitional Justice, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 139. 28. Teitel, Transitional Justice, 139. 29. Collection des traités des Nations Unies. “Treaty of Peace with Japan”. Consulté le 17 novembre, 2017. https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/ Volume%20136/volume-136-I-1832-English.pdf. 30. United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. “International Military Tribunal for the Far East: Special Proclamation by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers at Tokyo January 19, 1946.” Consulté en 2017. http://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.3_1946%20Tokyo%20 Charter.pdf. 31. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 60. 32. International Relations, Professeur Young. 33. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 60. 34. Musée digital. “Establishment of the AW Fund, and the basic nature of its projects. The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund.”consulté le 25 novmbre, 2017. http://www. awf.or.jp/e2/foundation.html. 35. Japan Times. “Japan to consider removing appeal for donations for former ‘comfort women’.” Consulté le 25 novembre, 2017. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/07/national/japan-consider-removing-appeal-donations-former-comfort-women/#.Wh4JSxQR5Gh 36. “Establishment of the AW Fund,” Musée digital. 37. Japan Times. “60 out of 207 South Korean Sex slaves took atonement pay”. Consulté le 25 novembre, 2017. https://www.japantimes. co.jp/news/2014/02/27/national/60-out-of-207south-korean-sex-slaves-took-atonement-pay/#. Wh4LlBQR5Gh 38. Soh, From Imperial Gifts to Sex Slaves, 96. 39. Naomi Roht-Arriaza, et Javier Mariezcurrena. Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 247. 40. Roht-Arriaza et Mariezcurrena, Transitional Justice, 247. 41. Paige, Identities in Transition, 21. 42. Paige, Identities in Transition, 31. 43. Paige, Identities in Transition, 31. 44. Paige, Identities in Transition, 31. 45. “Establishment of the AW Fund”, Musée digital. 46. “Establishment of the AW Fund”, Musée digital. 47. “Establishment of the AW Fund”, Musée digital. 48. “Establishment of the AW Fund”, Musée digital. 49. Bas Van Stokkom et al. Public Forgiveness in Post-Conflict Contexts. (Specialized Book Services, 2012), 77.
50. Van Stokkom et al., Public Forgiveness, 77. 51. “Establishment of the AW Fund”, Musée digital. 52. “Establishment of the AW Fund”, Musée digital. 53. Sala, “Plight.” 54. “Japan’s Apology to South Korea Shows What Public Apologies Should (Not) Do.” International Center for Transitional Justice. February 24, 2017. Consulté le 25 novembre, 2017. https://www.ictj. org/news/japan’s-apology-south-korea-shows-whatpublic-apologies-should-not-do. 55. Tolbert, “Japan’s Apology to South Korea.” 56. Tolbert, “Japan’s Apology to South Korea.” 57. Tolbert, “Japan’s Apology to South Korea.” 58. Van Stokkom et al., Public Forgiveness, 45. 59. Van Stokkom et al., Public Forgiveness, 45. 60. Tolbert, “Japan’s Apology to South Korea.” 61. Paige, Identities in Transition, 293. 62. Paige, Identities in Transition, 293. 63. Soh, The Comfort Women, 145. 64. Soh, The Comfort Women, 145. 65. Soh, The Comfort Women, 145. 66. International Relations, Professeur Young. 67. Teitel, Transitional Justice, 105. 68. Teitel, Transitional Justice, 105. 69. Teitel, Transitional Justice, 116. 70. Teitel, Transitional Justice, 117. 71. Sang-hun Choe, “Statue Deepens Dispute Over Wartime Sexual Slavery.” The New York Times. December 16, 2011. Consulté le 25 novembre, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/ world/asia/statute-in-seoul-becomes-focal-point-ofdispute-between-south-korea-and-japan.html. 72. Choe, “Statue Deepens Dispute.” 73. Choe, “Statue Deepens Dispute.” 74. Choe, “Statue Deepens Dispute.” 75. Jacey Fortin, “Comfort Women’ Statue in San Francisco Leads a Japanese City to Cut Ties.” The New York Times. November 25, 2017. Consulté le 25 novembre, 2017. https://www.nytimes. com/2017/11/25/world/asia/comfort-women-statue.html. 76. Fortin “Comfort Women.” 77. Paige, Identities in Transition, 189. 78. Paige, Identities in Transition, 189. 79. Brant et al., Transitional Justice, 108. 80. Brant et al., Transitional Justice, 108. 81. International Relations, Professeur Young.
Bibliographie Brant, CH, et al. Transitional Justice: Images and Memories, ed. Burlington, (VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2013). Collection des traités des Nations Unies. « Treaty of Peace with Japan ». Consulté le 17 novembre 2017. https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/ UNTS/Volume%20136/volume-136-I-1832English.pdf. The Economist. « Japan and the Comfort Women: Looking for Loopholes ». Consulté le 17 novembre 2017. https://www.economist. com/news/asia/21605935-excuse-inexcusable-japan-again-resorts-obfuscation-looking-loopholes. The International Center for Transitional Justice. « Japan’s Apology to South Korea Shows What Public Apologies Should (Not) Do ». Consulté le 25 novembre 2017. https://www.ictj.org/ news/japan’s-apology-south-korea-shows-whatpublic-apologies-should-not-do. Japan Times. « Japan to consider removing appeal for donations for former ‘comfort women’ ». Consulté le 25 novembre 2017. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/ news/2014/10/07/national/japan-consider-removing-appeal-donations-former-comfort-women/#.Wh4JSxQR5Gh. Japan Times. « 60 out of 207 South Korean Sex slaves took atonement pay ». Consulté le 25 novembre 2017. https://www.japantimes. co.jp/news/2014/02/27/national/60-out-of207-south-korean-sex-slaves-took-atonementpay/#.Wh4LlBQR5Gh. Kritz, Neil J. Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1995). Mackinnon, Catharine. Crimes of War, Crimes of Peace (UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 4(1), 1993). Musée digital. « How did the Comfort Women Issue Come to Light? The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund ». Consulté le 17 novembre 2017. http://www.awf.or.jp/e2/ survey.html. Musée digital. « Establishment of the AW Fund, and the basic nature of its projects. The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund ». Consulté le 17 novembre 2017. http:// www.awf.or.jp/e2/foundation.html. Nalepa, Monika. Skeletons in the Closet: Transitional Justice in Post-Communist Europe, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1-30, 2010). The New York Times. « Comfort Women Statue in San Francisco Leads a Japanese City to Cut Ties ». Consulté le 25 novembre 2017. https:// www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/world/asia/ comfort-women-statue.html. The New York Times. « Statue Deepens Dispute Over Wartime Sexual Slavery ». Consulté le 25 novembre 2017. http://www.nytimes. com/2011/12/16/world/asia/statute-in-seoulbecomes-focal-point-of-dispute-betweensouth-korea-and-japan.html. The New York Times. « Why Is the Plight of ‘Comfort Women’ Still So Controversial? ». Consulté le 25 novembre 2017. www.nytimes. com/2017/08/14/opinion/comfort-women-japan-south-korea.html. Paige, Arthur. Identities in Transition, ed. Cambridge (New York: Cambridge University Press 2011). Roht-Arriaza, Naomi et Javier Mariezcurrena. Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006). Shaw, Rosalind, et al. Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence. (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2010). Soh, Chunghee Sarah. From imperial gifts to sex slaves: theorizing symbolic representations of the ‘comfort women’. Social Science Japan Journal, v3 n1 (20000401): 59-76. Soh, Chunghee Sarah. The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008). Tanaka, Yuki. Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation, (Londres ; New York : Routledge, 2003). Teitel, Rutti. Transitional Justice, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. « International Military Tribunal for the Far East: Special Proclamation by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers at Tokyo January 19, 1946 ». Consulté le 17 novembre 2017. http://www. un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/ atrocity-crimes/Doc.3_1946%20Tokyo%20 Charter.pdf. Université de Tokyo. International Relations and Disputes in East Asia, Professeur Kim Ji Young, Printemps 2017. Van Stokkom, Bas, et al. Public Forgiveness in Post-Conflict Contexts. (Specialized Book Services, 2012).
Transnational Kung Fu Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer and the Global-Local Nexus Ely DeSandoli Edited by Anthony Kuan
Abstract: Kung fu movies have been an accessible and entertaining medium through which many Americans first experience Chinese culture. Of the most well-known kung fu films, American productions are the most common, while Chinese produced films are far less known outside of China. Stephen Chow, a Hong Kong based actor-producer, has managed to break into this field with his modern-day re-imaginings of the classical kung fu film. This paper will look at his first American box office success, Shaolin Soccer, and how Chow capitalized on a combination of culturally foreign and familiar elements—kung fu and soccer, respectively—to sell his film as a case of a global-local nexus in the form of modern, globalized, and transnational Chinese cinema.
Kung fu films have represented Chinese culture and traditions in international cinemas since the 1970s. The likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan—directors and actors of their own movies—have produced some of the most famous kung fu movies in America. However, there are countless Chinese-produced kung fu movies unable to succeed to the same degree as Lee and Chan’s American-produced films in the American market. Stephen Chow is one such Chinese actor-producer. Based in Hong Kong, he has acted in seventy films and produced and directed eleven since the 1980s. Many of them are heavy with the kung fu action that American audiences love, yet only two of his films have gained major standing in the West. Shaolin Soccer was his first breakthrough into the American market in 2001, grossing nearly
$43 million worldwide, with 99% of that gross coming from foreign markets.1 This remained Hong Kong’s highest grossing film until Chow’s second, and ultimately bigger, breakthrough with Kung Fu Hustle in 2004. This grossed double the amount of Shaolin, culminating in $101 million worldwide.2 Comparatively, none of his previous films received a foreign market release, and thus only managed to gross $2 million domestically, at most. This paper will look at the first of Chow’s two breakthrough films to explain its success in the foreign market as a Hong Kong-produced movie. Shaolin Soccer is a re-imagining of the classic kung fu movie genre in a modern, globalized world through its combination of Chinese martial arts and familiar Western sport, culminating in a successful example of transnational Chinese cinema as a
global-local nexus. Many of the most famous kung fu movies take place in historical environments. The likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ip Man, and Hero are all situated in imperial China, due in part to the idea that kung fu is an ancient art. As such, kung fu’s status in modern times faces the threat of becoming obsolete when its use as a combat art is contested by modern military technologies. Anxiety over the apparent uselessness of kung fu in a contemporary world is, as Li writes, “repressed in the fantasizing and mythicizing of the power of martial arts, especially in kung fu cinema.”3 This mindset and approach explains the prevalence of kung fu movies within pre-industrial settings. By highlighting the fantastical elements of martial arts, kung fu effectively gains relevance—albeit only in fiction—in a modern world. Kung fu’s obsolescence in the non-fictional world reflects the risk of Chinese traditions becoming obsolete as well. Indeed, Wang WeiChing writes, “martial arts films are known as the most ‘Chinese’ genre in the international film market. [They] are well developed and rich with Chinese national characteristics, and can be traced to Chinese literature, folktales, and history.” These films represent distinctive values of Chinese culture and portray kung fu as largely inseparable from foreign understandings of China.4 It is understandable, then, that Chinese filmmakers would rely on traditional martial arts as a basis for their films. It helps establish a uniquely Chinese identity in an increasingly globalized film market. Kung fu itself as a Chinese tradition “‘naturally’ lends itself to the construction of an amour propre and the invention of the Chinese nation.”5 This amour propre, or self-love, is what creates social solidarity amongst a people and allows them to understand their identity in comparison with others. This is altogether necessary in today’s globalized world where every aspect of social life consists of a mix of global cultural influences. Kung fu thus helps the Chinese people reclaim what Li calls a “local/national subjectivity” in the modern world.6 However, the trope of martial arts existing solely within a fantastical ancient world carries
the risk of exoticizing and objectifying Chinese culture as well as pigeonholing Chinese filmmakers into this genre. Yet, it is undeniable that global audiences are receptive to these kinds of movies; the connection between martial arts and China is nearly universal. Because kung fu is one of the most popular identifiers of Chinese culture for foreigners, it provides an “exotic and superficial image of [Chinese] culture which global audiences are already familiar with and can understand.”7 This is where we begin to understand Stephen Chow’s strategy behind Shaolin Soccer’s success. By incorporating Shaolin kung fu with soccer, Chow moves Chinese and Hong Kong films away from the limited settings of ancient periods and towards a more modern representation of Chinese culture, while still appealing to foreign audiences’ preconceived understandings of China through a handful of traditional elements. The main goal of the protagonist of Shaolin Soccer, Mighty Steel Leg Sing, is to “promote kung fu in a brand-new way so that everyone will start to use it.”8 Rather than understanding kung fu as a means for fighting, Sing prefers to see it as a means of living. He explains: “People mistake [kung fu] for violence. Kung fu transcends all else. It’s a complete way of life. That’s why I always want to ‘repackage’ kung fu, so ordinary people like you will be able to know more about it.”9 We can take what Sing says about “repackaging kung fu” as an extension of Chow’s aspirations to repackage Chinese martial arts films for the modern, globalized world. Due to its military obsolescence, Chow must modernize martial arts by shifting from what is no longer relevant (the martial) to what can be more universally appreciated (the art).”10 With Shaolin Soccer, he largely succeeds. Sing’s team consists of players employing Shaolin techniques perfectly within the framework of the sport; Mighty Steel Leg, Hooking Leg, Iron Head, and Empty Hand are all fictional kung fu styles appropriately repackaged for soccer. By situating itself into a form of “modern reason and logic,” Shaolin Soccer re-categorizes kung fu as “an expression of the human body” rather than a means to enact violence, thus allowing it to exist within a
pacifistic, recreational sport such as soccer.11 Shaolin Soccer also maintains the traditions of classic kung fu movies by adhering to what Wang notes as thirteen main themes of all martial arts films.12 Some of these themes include a clear conflict between good and evil, the teaching of Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist values, altruistic sacrifice, cultivation of the self and mental capacity, and support for the underdog.13 By incorporating a majority of these themes into his movie, Chow is able to match foreign audiences’ expectations for a kung fu film. Shaolin Soccer thus presents just enough of itself as a Chinese martial arts film to gain popularity in Western cinemas. However, Chow does not adhere to all thirteen themes; to do so would resist the modernity he strives for and requires when entering a global market. Instead, he participates in what Wang calls “media hybridization,” defined as cross-cultural contact involving “media performance combining elements from different cultures” wherein “transnational and local businesses are the main actors.”14 In creating a product of transnational relations, Chow adapts to the demands of foreign markets while maintaining local Hong Kong elements. This amalgamated existence is what contributes to Shaolin Soccer’s overall success. Chinese cinema today is “inescapably transnational.”15 That is, Chinese cinema is no longer an independent industry isolated from Western influence. In order to successfully integrate into the global capitalist economy, Chinese filmmakers are compelled to adopt Hollywood conventions. This incorporates global elements into local Chinese productions, producing what Christina Klein calls “glocal” filmmaking. While some, like Wang, see media hybridity as a process of delocalization and homogeneity for local cultures, going global is a necessary action for filmmakers looking to increase business.16 In other words, going global serves to advance the local. In a 2005 interview with IGN, Chow admits, “I can’t rely on the local market because it’s too small… [With] Shaolin Soccer it’s always [been] my ambition to go international because that’s the only way to do business for me.”17 In essence, Chow needed
the global market of Hollywood to advance local, independent Hong Kong filmmaking. To do so, Chow consciously incorporates numerous movie tropes and styles into his film to appeal to international markets. Klein, in her article on Chow’s succeeding film Kung Fu Hustle, describes this process as “extensive poaching from Hollywood.”18 Shaolin Soccer combines a myriad of cultural styles, from homages to Bruce Lee’s kung fu to the inclusion of underdog sports heroes and over-thetop Looney Tunes-style CGI effects. This “pastiche style” allows Chow to successfully and simultaneously reach multiple audiences, each with their own particular viewing history.19 In a 2005 interview with Film Freak Central, he explains: “my willingness to incorporate so many western elements in my films will… humanize these films for American audiences. To say… this isn’t that foreign a film or foreign a filmmaker because we all grew up loving the same movies.”20 By harmonizing Hollywood and Hong Kong elements within Shaolin Soccer, Chow extends his film out of the esoteric and into something more universally accessible; he creates a “glocalized” film, appealing to both his pre-established fan base in Hong Kong and new markets abroad. By bridging the perceived gap between Western and Asian movie-goers, Chow effectively weakens the foreignness seemingly inherent in Chinese martial arts movies. Kung fu has been the original transnational, glocalized genre franchise since the 1970s, appealing to viewers around the world for over thirty years. Martial arts movies are one of the few lenses through which foreign viewers understand Chinese culture, posing the risk of simplifying and objectifying local culture for Western appetites. In Shaolin Soccer, Chow succeeds in creating a modern, re-imagined kung fu classic in an era of Westernization. In maintaining aspects of the local—the Cantonese language, the Hong Kong backdrop, and, most importantly, the kung fu traditions—while introducing aspects of the global—soccer in a modern world—Chow caters to multiple audiences with “culturally specific tastes and histories,” thereby ensuring his success in both the domestic and foreign markets. The end
of Shaolin Soccer sees a crowd of people using kung fu in everyday tasks: parking their cars, trimming bushes, and catching the bus. The final scene looks at a cover of TIME magazine featuring Sing and his partner with the words “Shaolin Soccer craze reaches America” and “Kung Fu Couple starts a trend towards martial arts” beneath them. We can interpret this as an extension of Chow’s broader goal of promoting Chinese cinema in the West. Employing a modern rendition of kung fu in his films, Chow is advancing a movement towards increasingly diverse depictions of Chinese culture in global cinemas.
1. “Shaolin Soccer (2004).” Box Office Mojo. Accessed March 20, 2018. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=shaolinsoccer. html. 2. Box Office Mojo, “Shaolin Soccer.” 3. Li, Siu Leung. “Kung fu: Negotiating nationalism and modernity.” Cultural Studies, 15.3 (2001): 520. 4. Wang, Wei-Ching. “A critical interrogation of cultural globalisation and hybridity.” The Journal of International Communication, 14.1 (2008): 51. 5. Ibid, 526. 6. Li, “Kung fu”, 520. 7. Wang, “A critical interrogation,” 60. 8. Shaolin Soccer. Directed by Stephen Chow. Hong Kong: Star Overseas Ltd., 2001. Avi file, 112 min, 20:59. 9. Stephen Chow, Shaolin Soccer, 11:25-11:37. 10. Li, “Kung fu,” 521. 11. Li, “Kung fu,” 523. 12. Wang, “A critical interrogation,” 52. 13. Wang, “A critical interrogation,” 52-4. 14. Wang, “A critical interrogation,” 47-8. 15. Klein, Christina. “Kung Fu Hustle: Transnational production and the global Chinese-language film.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 1.3 (2007): 189. 16. Wang, “A critical interrogation,” 60. 17. Gilchrist, Todd. “Interview: Stephen Chow.” IGN. http://ca.ign.com/articles/2005/04/21/inter view-stephen-chow?page=1. 18. Klein, “Kung Fu Hustle,” 195. 19. Klein, “Kung Fu Hustle,” 196. 20. Klein, “Kung Fu Hustle,” 195.
Gilchrist, Todd. “Interview: Stephen Chow.” IGN. http://ca.ign.com/articles/2005/04/21/ interview-stephen-chow?page=1. Klein, Christina. “Kung Fu Hustle: Transnational production and the global Chinese-language film.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 1.3 (2007): 189-208. Li, Siu Leung. “Kung fu: Negotiating nationalism and modernity.” Cultural Studies, 15.3 (2001): 515-542. “Shaolin Soccer.” Box Office Mojo. http://www.box officemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=shaolinsoccer.html. Shaolin Soccer. Directed by Stephen Chow. Hong Kong: Star Overseas Ltd., 2001. Avi file, 112 min. Wang, Wei-Ching. “A critical interrogation of cultural globalisation and hybridity.” The Journal of International Communication, 14.1 (2008): 46-64.
ĺˆ†ă ¤ - [wakatsu]; verb 1. To separate, to divide 2. To share, to contribute
by Yuki Kasaï-Paré
Tokyo, Shinjuku 2 chōme a.k.a. Ni-chōme, was up until around the 1950s, a red light district for primarily heterosexual desires. Today, however, it houses within its small five block radius the highest concentration of gay bars in the world. In Japan where vocabulary to define divergence in gender identity and sexual preference doesn’t circulate within the mainstream, the word Ni-chōme works as a synonym for queerness.
Recently, Ni-chōme as well as the wider Shinjuku area, is targeted for increased scrutiny by the government. In preparation for the upcoming Olympics, they are calling for a ‘cleaning up’ through gentrification of the area. A growing number of policemen have been noticed walking around the area at any given time of day. This discourse about the ‘improvements of the city’ through increased policing, is undeniably an extended way of surveilling not only bodies but also desires. The Japanese government’s official stance regarding sexual minorities has always been evasive, deeming discussion on sexuality as belonging within the ‘private’, and as contained apart from the public space that is ‘sex-less’. Which of course, excludes compulsory heterosexuality that supports a reproductive futurism. The sexual discourse of the Japanese public space, ends up being overlooked.
While the government avoids the topic, in the popular realm, Ni-chōme as well as the individuals who occupy the area, are often talked about and picked up under the voyeuristic heteronormative gaze as spectacle. Mainstream variety television shows or other forms of entertainment will often walk into the area and present comically the ‘Others’ who have chosen to deviate from the normal rest of the society and went into the space of taboos and debauchery. Japanese queer literature on the other hand, has often defined this space as a form of wonderland, where all gay desires, of any ethnicity, are accepted and validated. It is perhaps one of the only - or at least the most significant - space in Japan where sexual (and non sexual) identities and desires can be flaunted from the part of the subjects(当事者-tōjisha) themselves. It is especially significant that it is done within a public or shall we say members, that will share - (分 かち合う-wakachiau), a joy that is communally shared, a happiness that can be mutually exposed, within the safety of those who have been, or feel divided by their surrounding.
Whenever I wander around Ni-chōme in its endless nights, I cannot help but feel that this is a space where not only queer desire, but every forms of selves are welcomed with warm, open arms. It almost feels as there are no ‘strangers’ in this space. The person next to you is your conversation partner, you can see dogs, even children running around in the middle of the night. From those crying of laughter to those shedding a tear on the pavement, love and care seems to be spread across in every corner. It feels like a home for all - a home of five blocks, surrounded by skyscrapers and flows of crowds running in suits. A middle-aged salary man who comes every weekend to drink at the same bar of the area, has lived his life without sharing his full identity. He states; “I need to keep coming to bars in Ni-chōme even if the bar is not good, because this is a little paradise that I got to enjoy as a kid. The most I can do is continue to support it, so that younger people can have the space like I did to discover themselves and be free. Even if I can’t come out publicly in my professional life, that’s how I can give back to my people.” What does it mean to be at home in a counter public space? Is it a refuge or an act of resistance? Perhaps each inhabitant will have a different answer.
I have taken these photos during my nights out, as well as on a Sunday morning, all on the main streets of the area. The subjects in the photos are either my friends or people that I had just met. These photos are of those that not only describe, uphold and own, but protect the space. These photos operate through celebratory resonances in order to maintain the space. I bear the responsibility to have these images be seen, from eyes of empathy, of acceptance and of love, in the same way that the space looks over its occupants.
*Conceptions of queer space, cannot take any fixed meaning - everyone will have a varying experiences and points of view for nichome, and my own statements here are to be understood as coming from my own background, experience, as well as writings that I have â€˜read aboutâ€™ this space.
I owe my thoughts and words to works by; Katsuhiko Suganuma, Moriyama Noritaka, Romit Dasgupta, Sara Ahmed and others.
An Appeal to the Senses Qing Dynasty Hardstone Carvings of Food Muhan Zhang Edited by Sylvie Tran
Abstract: The boom in decorative culture in late imperial China saw extraordinary technical and stylistic innovations in a range of pre-existing modes of craft and artistic production. Within this decorative and luxury commodity culture, jade, and other hardstones were harnessed to produce, among other objects, an array of remarkably life-like decorative carvings of foodstuffs, including the famous Jadeite Cabbage and Meat-shaped Stone now exhibited in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. With reference to the storied histories of these symbolic materials and various practices of displaying and offering food since ancient times, this paper examines how the mimetic quality of these carvings contributed to their appeal. Ultimately, this paper concludes that the interplay between these objectsâ€™ striking verisimilitude and inedible but precious materiality is what creates their profound sensual and affective allure on viewers from the Qing dynasty to the present day.
Introduction In the Qing dynasty, due to a combination of imperial sponsorship and growing demand for luxury objects, the decorative arts experienced an explosion in production and technical innovations. Objects made of jade and other hardstone materials, in particular, were especially abundant and produced with unprecedented technical finesse. Harnessing new technical advancements and supplies of raw materials from the outskirts of the Qing empire, jade artisans demonstrated innovation in a wide variety of objects, from miniature landscapes carved in detailed relief to lifelike facsimiles of fruits, vegetables, and other foodstuffs. These latter objects such as the Jadeite Cabbage (fig. 1) and Meat-shaped Stone (fig. 2)
in the National Palace Museum of Taipei are notable for their characteristic use of colour and texture to mimic that of real foods. In this manner, these objects are frequently described in terms of their appeal not only to sight but also taste and touch. In this paper, I will examine the modes of mimetic depiction used to create these objects as well as how they subsequently appeal to the body in multiple sensual and affective ways. Ultimately, I will argue that the tension between the close resemblance to real food items and the luxurious but inedible hardstone material produces a multiply seductive decorative object that appeals to the desire to consume in many different ways. I will begin with a close examination of the visual and material qualities of jade and hardstone carvings of food, as well as the historical
circumstances which prompted their proliferation in the Qing dynasty. Subsequently, I will examine the ways in which these modes of mimetic depiction appeal to the senses and also hypothesize the purpose for the mimetic nature of carvings of food, in particular, with reference to the long funerary traditions of producing miniaturized facsimiles of objects from life and the contemporaneous display of real fruits and vegetables in elite households. Finally, I will demonstrate how the interplay between the mimetic and non-mimetic qualities of these objects is paramount to affective impact. A Visual Exposition Jadeite Cabbage (fig. 1) and Meat-shaped Stone (fig. 2) are two of the most well-known examples of this genre of hardstone carving, due in part to their highly prominent display in the National Palace Museum of Taipei. In this paper, I will utilize these two objects, along with a few other examples, to illustrate my observations. I will begin, however, with a close visual analysis of these two objects. Jadeite Cabbage is made of one of the two varieties of jade, namely jadeite, and is approximately the same size as a real head of cabbage, standing at approximately nineteen by nine centimetres. Remarkably, the craftsman or artist has cleverly adapted his carving to utilize the green portions of the jade for the tops of the leavesâ€”amidst which a cricket perchesâ€”and the translucent, mottled white for the base. This careful manipulation of different coloured portions of the raw stone material to help convincingly give the appearance of a real food item is characteristic of many similar carvings. Meat-shaped Stone is another example, however, in this case, both the colour and texture of the jasper material has been utilized to simulate that of a real piece of braised pork; the smoothed surface on the top closely resembles the glazed fatty layer while the lighter brown and textured sides look like the fibres and veins of cooked meat. In terms of size, just as with Jadeite Cabbage, Meat-shaped Stone is approximately the same size as a real piece of pork. This use of colour, texture, and size to simulate food is common among many
Qing hardstone carvings and, as in the case of these two carvings in particular, oftentimes results in strikingly lifelike objects. However, as closely and convincingly as objects like these may appear to simulate real food, they are nevertheless always visibly, as well as effectively, non-real in very fundamental ways. The materiality of these objects, of course, renders them effectively non-functional as edible foodstuffs. Nevertheless, the degree to which this inedible materiality was visualized in the finished product varied. Jadeite Cabbage, for instance, while impeccably carved to exhibit the ruffled leaves and veins along the length of the cabbage, does not attempt to mimic the texture of cabbage leaves. Rather, using a technique and style of jade-working popularized in the Qing dynasty, the entire carving has been burnished to a high gloss finish.1 Thus, the glossy, reflective surface of this object invites a different reading than the textured surface of Meat-shaped Stone. Apart from the qualitative differences between a glossy and a textured surface, the fact that the surface of Jadeite Cabbage openly declares its materiality while that of Meat-shaped Stone continues its charade demonstrates variation and degrees to which these carvings attempt to simulate real food. Other variations can be found in Peanuts and jujube dates (fig. 3) and Pomegranates (fig. 4). The former utilizes the colours and textures of the raw material in a similar way to Meatshaped Stone, with the opaque yellow crust of the chalcedony forming the shelled peanuts while the translucent brown core mimics the chewy flesh of jujube dates. The latter carving of pomegranates, on the other hand, exhibits the same high gloss finish as Jadeite Cabbage, but with even fewer carved details. The varying surfaces and degrees of simulation across different hardstone carving subsequently produce different effects on the beholder. Another component of these objects is the context of their display; as can be seen in the images provided, all of these objects are displayed on decorative stands, as the majority of such carvings would have been in the Qing dynasty.2 In this way, even the more convincing of simulations like the Meat-shaped Stone
are always quite visibly not meant to be eaten. In this sense, these carvings serve “decorative” rather than “functional” purposes. However, the ultimately decorative purpose of these hardstone carvings is not a definitive answer to how and why they simulate real items of food. Rather, as closer examination of the context of Ming-Qing decorative arts will reveal, the “decorative” in fact serve highly complex functions, albeit most oftentimes at symbolic, metaphorical, or aesthetic levels as opposed to practical ones. Decorative Foods The development of the food carving genre is deeply intertwined with the history of Qing decorative and visual culture. The choice of material, the technical and stylistic modes, and the specific subject of food are all critical to understanding both how these objects are effective and why they were especially prevalent in this time period. Generally speaking, the late Ming and Qing periods saw an incredible growth in production and demand for all varieties of luxury decorative objects, and it was embedded within these greater trends in the visual culture that the specific genre of hardstone carvings of foods emerged. While varieties of jade, treasured for both its material qualities and symbolic meanings, had been used in funerary and ceremonial objects since ancient periods, the late Ming and early Qing dynasties saw a significant expansion in the technical finesse and varieties of jade and other hardstone objects. Although the two varieties of jade, nephrite and jadeite, remained the most prized and expensive materials, decorative carvings of this period were also made with other hardstone materials, such as agate, rock crystal, chalcedony, and turquoise.3 The overall political strength and prosperity under three consecutive Qing emperors since the mid-seventeenth century and culminating in Qianlong (r. 1736-95) allowed for increased supplies of raw jade and other materials as well as the steady expansions of a variety of imperial workshops, including those for working jade and similar hardstones.4 The reign of
Qianlong is especially notable in the expansion of hardstone carving: Qianlong’s enthusiasm for art and massive expansion of the imperial collection and workshops coincided with the Chinese conquest of the Khotan region in the far northwest where high-quality nephrite had been sourced since pre-Han times.5 This allowed for this widely coveted material with deep-rooted traditional and symbolic meaning to be utilized en masse in the production of many objects, none the least decorative carvings. For this reason, jade carvings, which are difficult to date, are oftentimes attributed to the Qianlong period.6 Additionally, as Jonathan Hay argues, the overall expanded inventiveness of this period can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the impulse to display technological advancement to and against the West; the popularization of elite literati practices of luxury consumption; and the expansion of an urban commodity and consumerist culture.7 Embedded within the overall growth in both production and demand for luxury decorative objects, these historical developments provide the backdrop for the technical detail and stylistic variety of food hardstone carvings. Two important physical qualities of these new sources of raw materials for decorative carving also corresponded with trends in the decorative culture to encourage this genre of hardstone carving. First of all, the use of multi-coloured hardstones, in addition to the traditionally-prized white and green nephrite, corresponded to the increased taste for colourful decorative objects overall. This is evidenced by the simultaneous developments in colourful textiles, polychrome lacquer, and use of overglaze enamel in porcelain since the late sixteenth century.8 Within hardstone carving, vivid colour was treasured for its own sake, as can be seen in the vast array of carvings in brightly coloured turquoise, lapis lazuli, or coral. However, as we also saw with the carvings simulating food, these supplies of colourful and variegated hardstone materials were also favourable for simulating the colours and textures of various foods. Additionally, the relatively larger specimens of jade being sourced allowed for not only larger and highly coveted pieces like the
Jadeite Cabbage but also other larger objects like pictorial jades to be made.9 The size of raw jade and other hardstones, along with their rounded shapes, likely also made them more conducive to simulating fruits and vegetables as opposed to larger or more perforated subjects like animals, people, or landscapes. While these latter subjects were certainly popular in hardstone carvings, they were not treated in the same way as foodstuffs; namely, the strong impulse to simulate in as lifelike a manner as possible with the jade and hardstone material was almost always relegated to food items, specifically. In addition to the historical trends in decorative arts that allowed for increased technical finesse and the physical properties of the jade and hardstone material, other traditions related to the display of food or simulated food objects can also contribute to the development of food hardstone carvings. In the longstanding funerary tradition of mingqi burial objects, for instance, ceremonial offerings of fruits and vegetables to the deceased were also simulated with a high degree of lifelikeness in clay or marble.10 Mingqi, or “spirit articles,”11 were objects made for the sole purpose of being buried and accompanying the deceased into the afterlife. These “spirit articles” represent or simulate objects, architectural structures, people, or livestock found in life, oftentimes in miniature. However, they often use different materials— sometimes clay or marble, but also more durable and ceremonially significant materials such as jade—that render them wholly non-functional. In this case, the choice of food as a subject is directly related to the practice of giving offerings of real food to the deceased. However, as Jeehee Hong writes, the offering of mingqi occurs at a wholly symbolic level, as the inedible and non-living material of these objects distinguishes them from offerings of real foods that decay.12 While food hardstone carvings are part of a different tradition of decorative, rather than funerary, arts, they nevertheless operate in parallel ways to mingqi objects. Just as offerings of mingqi simulate concurrent offerings of real food for the dead, so too does the display of food hardstone carvings simulate the display of real food for the living. Indeed, decorative
arrangements of real fruit or vegetables were also common in elite households of the time. In fact, many of the same foods, such as the Buddha’s hand citrons (foshou)(fig. 5), were displayed in both living and simulated forms in the same household.13 Thus, a comparative analysis with mingqi food objects demonstrates how the directly correlated displays of real foods inspired the non-living remakes. Moreover, this comparison demonstrates how time and decay are crucial differences in the ontology of a real versus simulated food object. Jonathan Hay observed of Ming-Qing decorative arts a general eschewing of functionality for pure decoration, exemplified by the production of porcelain vases and the like in increasingly delicate forms as well as their display on wooden stands.14 The display of real and simulated foods can be understood on a similar scale of functionality and decoration. As previously mentioned, hardstone carvings of food are frequently displayed on stands, thus indicating even the most convincing simulacrum of a decorative object. Conversely, displays of real food objects are treated in a similar way; although not treated as individually interesting or technically excellent objects, decorative arrangements of food similarly reveal, through the context of their display, their purpose as decorative objects that are not meant to be eaten. As in the case of the display of real and simulated Buddha’s hand citrons, since neither is meant to be eaten, its effect as a sensually appealing decorative object is produced primarily through its visuality. A less convincing simulation of the Buddha’s hand citron—named for the fruit’s unique shape resembling fingers—could arguably still evoke its symbolic resonance, but the overall visual effect would be less impactful. Close visual approximation and verisimilitude to the real Buddha’s hand citron is therefore critical to the haptic visuality of the simulated object. The critical difference between real and simulated food therefore lies in, as Hay writes, first, the difference in surface and, second, as Hong writes of mingqi, the symbolic level and different temporal paradigm in which the simulated food object operates.
The Effect of Simulation On one level, these carvings borrow or approximate the affective power of the foods which they seek to simulate. However as previously mentioned, their altered material and therefore temporal status generate additional affect which is unique to their ontology as simulations. Their various appeals to the senses, for instance, can occasionally include a visual summoning of senses of taste or smell. Real Buddha’s hand, like many other decorative fruits, was oftentimes displayed for its aromatic quality.15 While a carnelian carving of a Buddha’s hand cannot produce the same aroma, its close visual resemblance can evoke the aroma a historical beholder would normally attach to the sight of a real Buddha’s hand citron. Similarly, the Meat-shaped Stone, by virtue of its very convincing visual simulation of real braised pork, can be described as mouth-watering, even though its actual physical properties render it entirely inedible. The total sensual experience of food or eating, which includes smell and taste but also touch and sound, as well as the emotional resonance of specific flavours like sweetness, sourness, and bitterness,16 can be triggered through the visual verisimilitude of a stone simulation. Apart from approximating or standing in for the sensuality of actual food, the total sensual experience of hardstone carvings as a unique category of decorative objects is itself highly complex. As Jonathan Hay writes, our relationship as producers as well as beholders of objects such as hardstone carvings is transactional; “it is by giving the object what it wants that one derives pleasure from it.”17 The agency of the object over that of the human manipulating it can therefore be seen first in the physical properties of jade and other hardstone. The process of carving and manipulating these objects into the shapes of food or other objects certainly involves human intervention but is also guided by the properties of the stone itself, the hardness of which makes this process incredibly labour-intensive and technically challenging. The naturally-rounded shape, texture, and colour of the raw minerals additionally guide subsequent human manipulation of it to mimic
green leaves on a cabbage or the rough shell of a peanut. The production of hardstone carvings is, therefore, itself transactional in this sense; to rephrase Hay’s statement, by giving in to certain intrinsic physical and visual properties of the raw materials for hardstone carving, we are able to create out of it desirable decorative objects. By understanding humans’ relationship with such objects as transactional, we can conceptualize the way in which the object demands certain kinds of bodily or visual engagement. Hay writes that Ming-Qing decorative objects overall frequently solicit what he calls a prosthetic relationship to the human body; a chair for instance may invite the seated body, or a double-handled wine cup may invite both hands to hold it.18 Noting the particular tradition of decorative displays of real food alongside which these carved, decorative simulations developed, I would argue that the prosthetic relationship which these carvings solicit is primarily visual. Hay describes this visuality in terms of the sensuous surface which is the principal feature of two-dimensional and three-dimensional decorative objects.19 Even as these carvings evoke a variety of different senses, including touch, such transactions between object and beholder occur at a purely visual as opposed to haptic level. The beholder of both real and simulated decorative food objects is meant to observe and appreciate only the surface of these objects, neither of which are meant for consumption or tactile engagement. In other words, as decorative objects, both carvings of food and decorative arrangements of real food operate at a largely aesthetic or visual level. The aesthetic function of hardstone carvings in particular is additionally heightened by its inedible materiality. This altered ontological and temporal paradigm allows the total sensual experience of eating to occur at an entirely symbolic or imaginary level, without any latent possibility of physically ingesting the object in any way. The fact that hardstone carvings of food operate at this symbolic or imaginary level, in which sensual engagements are hinted at through visuality but not gratified in reality, frees up the object for additional symbolic
effects. Common subjects for hardstone carvings include foods with their own symbolic meanings conveying prosperity, longevity, good fortune, and so on. The Buddha’s hand or foshou in Chinese, for instance, sounds similar to and therefore is commonly understood to represent “fortune” (fu) and “longevity” (shou).20 Pomegranates, meanwhile, represent the desire for multiple sons (zi) through its many seeds (zi).21 The jade and hardstone material itself is additionally symbolically resonant; the hardness and durability of jade and other hardstones lent easily to their longstanding association with longevity—and even immortality and bodily preservation. In addition to displaying wealth and luxury overall, these materials, which were collected from the far corners of the Qing empire and then worked in imperial workshops, additionally served as a visual representation and physical evidence of the expansive power and technological advancement of the dynasty.22 These multiple levels of symbolic meaning coalesced to create objects that represented multiple auspicious significations in multiple visually interesting ways. And, unlike the display of real Buddha’s hand or pomegranates, these carved simulations of food were free from the potential for physical consumption or decomposition, thus elevating the visuality or sight of decorative foods to an entirely symbolic and aesthetic level. In this manner, hardstone carvings of food, through their visual verisimilitude and visualized materiality, are able to co-opt the sensual appeals of real foods while also enhancing the symbolic resonance of food objects. Displaying Their Materiality: Mechanisms of Allure in Qing Hardstone Carvings of Food As previously mentioned, the agential power of decorative objects over their beholder demonstrates a transactional relationship between the two. This agency is most potently realized through the powerful allure or intense desirability of decorative objects like the hardstone carvings of food, evidenced by their immense popularity and proliferation in the
Qing dynasty, as well as continued veneration since. Just as the effect of simulation is created through multiple modes, so too are these carvings desirable in multiple ways. The technically-advanced, inventive, and incredibly labourious craftsmanship of these objects is itself highly appealing; the clever manipulation of difficult materials into such close facsimiles of real food objects is itself both intellectually and visually satisfying. Unlike other historically difficult processes of image or object-making which are now less fascinating due to the mass proliferation of images and objects, both the technological difficulty and inventive use of the material exhibited in carvings like Jadeite Cabbage and Meat-shaped Stone continue to have considerable cachet with the contemporary audience. The symbolic prestige and luxury status of the materials used to create these clever simulations add additional elements of desirability. However, the craftsmanship and status of the materials are not inherent to the visuality of the object; while a historical owner and beholder of such objects would certainly have some knowledge of its provenance, the appeal of these carvings does not require outside information. Rather, it is precisely the degree to which the carved simulations of food reveal their own materiality which produces their allure. The glossy surface of Jadeite Cabbage, for example, demonstrates a desire to reveal the precious jade material even as the other physical properties of this material have been manipulated to simulate those of another material. The revelation of the actual materiality serves several purposes. First of all, since the material of jade or other precious and semi-precious minerals is itself inherently desirable, revealing its actual materiality only displays additional elements of appeal. Moreover, the cleverness of these objects is only fully realized through the visualization of their inedible materiality; Meat-shaped Stone, for instance, is perhaps so convincing that the artifice of its craftsmanship and materiality may not be immediately evident. In other words, to read a simulation of meat as a real piece of meat neutralizes the effects and appeal that a simulation produces. Thus, a critical component to the success of these carvings as decorative
objects is the tension between a well-done simulation that conceals its materiality and the display of materiality which reveals the object as a simulation. The superb craftsmanship and symbolic power of a simulation, for example, can only be read and appreciated when the object reveals itself through surface and visuality to only simulate the real rather than completely reproduce it. The ways in which the resultant carving captures the beholder can subsequently be described in terms of both the physical properties of the object and the contexts of its display and consumption. Nigel Thrift describes contemporary consumer commodities in terms of a sort of secular magic or glamour which enchants and captivates the consumer without feigning supernatural qualities.23 Similar processes are in play in the different historical context of Qing decorative culture. The secular magic of hardstone carvings includes not only all of their physical and symbolic properties as previously elaborated but also the pervasive commodity and luxury culture of this period which generated a socially prescribed demand for such objects.24 In this manner, the prevalence of hardstone carvings of food and other subjects played into consumer desires for objects that fed their elite tastes for beautiful and alluring objects. Thrift additionally argues that this secular magic operates through an aesthetic and affective force that generates sensory and emotional gratification.25 The aesthetic component Thrift describes is parallel to Hay’s notion of a sensuous surface; the aesthetic or visual presentation of Thrift’s consumer objects captivate their beholder in a “process of imaginative exploration” similar to how Hay’s decorative surfaces illicit bodily and sensory engagement.26 To combine both vocabularies on this topic, the primarily visual presentation of hardstone carvings of food allows the beholder-consumer to imagine multiple other sensory explorations of the object and benefit from the affective gratification of many different kinds and levels of engagement simultaneously.
Conclusion To conclude, as incredibly closely as these hardstone carvings oftentimes seem to resemble real foodstuffs, they are nevertheless always made and displayed in such a way as to also show the fact of their simulation. The choice of material and subject stem in part from the physical, sensual, and symbolic properties of both the jade or hardstone material and food. Hardstone carvings of food additionally find historical parallels traditions of funerary mingqi making and decorative arrangements of real foods. These carvings’ subsequent appeal to the senses borrows from both the sensual experience of eating as well as generating new modes of symbolic engagement which owe to these objects distinct material and temporal ontology. The interplay between the verisimilitude of the simulation and the revelation of its inedible materiality thus produces an incredibly alluring object that appeals to not only the senses but also the socialized desire to consume in Qing decorative and luxury commodity culture. Through various modes of sensual surfaces and aesthetic appreciation, Qing hardstone carvings of food captivate and enchant the beholder through visual, sensual, and affective engagements.
Figures 1. Jadeite Cabbage. 19th century. Jadeite sculpture, 18.7 x 9.1 cm (7.4 x 3.6 in). National Palace Museum, Taipei. https://www.npm.gov. tw/exh96/Dazzling/large/e07.htm (Accessed November 15, 2017).
2. Meat-shaped Stone. 19th century. Jasper sculpture, 5.73 x 6.6 x 5.3 cm. National Palace Museum, Taipei. https://www.npm.gov.tw/ exh96/Dazzling/large/e08.htm (Accessed November 15, 2017).
3. Peanuts and jujube dates. 18th century. Chalcedony, H. 2.9 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/02.18.895/ (Accessed November 15, 2017).
4. Pomegranates. 18th century. Agate, 11.4 x 19.1 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/02.18.887/ (Accessed November 15, 2017).
5. Buddhaâ€™s hand. 18th century. Carnelian, h. 10.2 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/02.18.885/ (Accessed December 10, 2017).
Forsyth, Angus, and Brian McElney. Jades from China. Bath: The Museum of East Asian Art, 1994. Hay, Jonathan. Sensuous Surface. University. of Hawai‘i Press, 2014. Hay, Jonathan. “Diachronics of Early Qing Visual and Material Culture.” In The Qing Formation in World-historical Time, edited by Lynn Struve, 303-334. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004. Highmore, Ben. “Bitter After Taste: Affect, Food, and Social Aesthetics.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, 118-137. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2011. Hong, Jeehee. “Mechanism of Life for the Netherworld: Transformations of Mingqi in Middle-Period China.” Journal of Chinese Religions 43, no. 2 (2015): 161-193. Leidy, Denise P., Wai-fong Anita Siu and James C. Y. Wyatt. “Chinese Decorative Arts.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (1997): 1-71, accessed November 8, 2017, http://www. jstor.org/stable/3269222. Middleton, Andrew and Ian Freestone. “The Mineralogy and Occurrence of Jade.” In Chinese Jade From the Neolithic to the Qing, edited by Jessica Rawson, 413-423. London: British Museum Press, 2002. Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. Sun, Jason. “Chinese Hardstone Carvings,” in Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016), accessed November 10, 2017, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hard/hd_hard.htm. Thrift, Nigel. “Understanding the Material Practices of Glamour.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, 289-308. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2011.
1. Angus Forsyth and Brian McElney. Jades from China (Bath: The Museum of East Asian Art, 1994), 390. 2. Jonathan Hay, “Diachronics of Early Qing Visual and Material Culture,” in The Qing Formation in World-historical Time, ed. Lynn Struve (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004), 318. 3. Denise P. Leidy, Wai-fong Anita Siu and James C. Y. Wyatt, “Chinese Decorative Arts,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (1997): 19, accessed November 8, 2017, http://www.jstor. org/stable/3269222.; Andrew Middleton and Ian Freestone, “The Mineralogy and Occurrence of Jade,” in Chinese Jade From the Neolithic to the Qing, ed. Jessica Rawson (London: British Museum Press, 2002), 417-419. 4. Forsyth et al., Jades from China, 389. 5. Forsyth et al,, Jades from China, 40-41; Michael Sullivan, The Arts of China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 258-259. 6. Sullivan, The Arts of China, 284. 7. Hay, “Diachronics,” 317-318. 8. Leidy et al., “Chinese Decorative Arts,” 3. 9. Forsyth et al., Jades from China, 389. 10. Jeehee Hong, “Mechanism of Life for the Netherworld: Transformations of Mingqi in Middle-Period China,” Journal of Chinese Religions 43, no. 2 (2015): 167. 11. Hong, “Mechanism of Life for the Netherworld,” 161. 12. Hong, “Mechanism of Life for the Netherworld,” 169. 13. Jonathan Hay, Sensuous Surface (Honolulu: University. of Hawai‘i Press, 2014), 344. 14. Hay, “Diachronics,” 318. 15. Hay, Sensuous Surface, 362. 16. Ben Highmore, “Bitter After Taste: Affect, Food, and Social Aesthetics,” in The Affect Theory Reader, eds. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2011), 120. 17. Hay, Sensuous Surface, 63. 18. Hay, Sensuous Surface, 64. 19. Hay, Sensuous Surface, 67. 20. Jason Sun, “Chinese Hardstone Carvings,” in Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016), accessed November 10, 2017, http://www.metmuseum.org/ toah/hd/hard/hd_hard.htm. 21. Sun, “Chinese Hardstone Carvings.” 22. Hay, “Diachronics,” 318. 23. Nigel Thrift, “Understanding the Material Practices of Glamour,” in The Affect Theory Reader, eds. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (North
Carolina: Duke University Press, 2011), 290. 24. Hay, “Diachronics,” 319. 25. Thrift, “Understanding the Material Practices of Glamour,” 292. 26. Thrift, “Understanding the Material Practices of Glamour,” 292.
Working Bodies in a Fledgling Capitalist World The Question of Labour in Camel Xiangzi and The Good Earth Hongyang Cai Edited by Nora Murphy
Abstract: Camel Xiangzi and The Good Earth are two important works of fiction that depict Chinese labourers in a semi-colonial society at the beginning of the last century. While Camel Xiangzi takes place in Republican Beijing and The Good Earth was written by Pearl Buck, the daughter of missionary parents, they both confront the effects of capitalism on the old economic system in China. By situating the struggles of the protagonists of the two novels in a historical and sociological context, this article will explore the question of labour and compare these two novels in a trans-Pacific framework.
Rickshaw pulling as a symbol of social oppression was extensively explored and depicted in sociological studies and realist novels in Republican China, where a generation of writers believed in the power of literature to save society and the nation.1 The most famous of use of this symbolism is probably Lao She’s Camel Xiangzi, in which the author exposes the abject living conditions of lower-class inhabitants of Republican Beijing in a time when the traditional rural economy was challenged by capitalism. As Lydia Liu argues in Translingual Practice, we can see the inner world of Xiangzi as a symbolic one that represents the rural economy of land, which “is pitted against the rationality of urban capitalism” through his struggles in the chaotic city.2 Before Camel Xiangzi’s publication in 1937,
Pearl Buck, the daughter of missionary parents who had lived in China in her early years, also explored the theme of labour and economy in her novel, The Good Earth. Although these two novels diverge in their motifs and their afterlives, the discord brought forth by the capitalist world is also set at odds against the idyllic, healing rural life in The Good Earth. In order to explore the question of labour in pre-revolutionary and Republican China, this paper will juxtapose Xiangzi, the rickshaw puller and the failed capitalist in Camel Xiangzi, and Wang Lung from The Good Earth, the farmer, the rickshaw puller and the eventual self-made capitalist. Furthermore, through an examination of related historical and sociological accounts, this paper argues that Chinese bodies and Chinese labour are contextualized in a trans-Pacific
frame of reference. These two novels show that the struggles of Xiangzi and Wang Lung epitomize the anxieties brought about by modernization, urban life, and the emergence of a capitalist market. First published in 1931, The Good Earth tells the story of a poor farmer, Wang Lung, and his wife, O-lan, who survive drought, overcome the challenges of city life, and eventually become affluent landowners through hard work and sacrifice. While the eponymous hero of Camel Xiangzi is also a country boy, most of his adventures take place in the chaotic city of Beijing. Xiangzi has to both deal with the everyday hardships as an ordinary rickshaw puller and maneuver through a crowd of cunning characters. Through a chain of tragic events, such as losing his rickshaw and the mother of his unborn child, Xiangzi transforms from an optimistic young man to a pathetic misanthrope. Assimilating both realist literary traditions from China and the West, Lao She and Pearl Buck weave their stories around the two male protagonists who have a substantial yet deeply symbolic relationship with the material world around them. As Liu observes, Xiangzi can be considered as “homo economicus” or “economic individualist,” for, although he rarely talks, he is always calculating his wealth in his mind throughout the novel.3 One can argue that Wang Lung and Xiangzi are two homo economicus prototypes that are similar in many aspects. The most pronounced trait they share is their attachment to their means of production, namely Xiangzi’s rickshaw and “the land” for Wang Lung. Xiangzi’s passion for owning his very own rickshaw and Wang Lung’s obsession of clinging to his land not only emphasize the uncertainty that lower-class labourers might feel on a daily basis but also accentuate the symbolic—almost idealistic—relationship they have with the material world. For Xiangzi, owning his rickshaw would mean that he can provide for himself in the world and that he can be a real man; meanwhile, Wang Lung has a symbiotic relationship with his land that verges on a sentiment that evokes Romanticism. By labouring for a rickshaw or land, they exist and connect
with the world around them. Without material means, they walk towards their disillusionment and eventually cease to be. Although they can both be argued to be homo economicus prototypes, Xiangzi and Wang Lung are two unique inventions of authors from two distinct cultural backgrounds. While we can look at these two protagonists as typical manual labourers influenced by a nascent global market and the capitalist circulation of a semi-colonial society, the specific historical and sociological circumstances that engender them are worth further scrutiny and comparison. Although it was not as connected to the global market as other port cities in Republican China, the city of Beijing in Camel Xiangzi presents the reader with an example of the transitory stage from an old economy to a capitalist economy. Caught in the constant conflict between warlords and mired in economic instabilities, Beijing in the 1920s and 1930s starkly illustrates the “urban ills” and the tremendous pressure on its lower-class populace.4 Contrary to its contemporary image as both a prosperous ancient capital and modern metropolis, Beijing in the 1920s and 1930s, in fact, exerted little substantial economic influence in the rest of China and was vastly overshadowed by treaty port cities, such as Tianjin nearby. In her book on Republican Beijing, Madeleine Dong presents a picture of the city as dominated by two kinds of economic systems: a global industrial-economic system and a preindustrial-economic system that was built around what she terms as “recycling economy.”5 In the first system, the local government and inhabitants had no real control over their participation in the national and global markets. As Owen Lattimore notes, the railway network that was being avidly constructed then did not set out to “integrate a national economy but to tie a powerless China into the world market.”6 Industrial growth was limited in Beijing, and there were few traces of a stable supply of professional workers capable of maneuvering the newly imported machines. On the contrary, the city itself mostly depended on its craftsmen, scattered workshops, and even families as production and sales units. To a certain extent, Beijing
thrived under this second system wherein the predominant mode of production was handicraft, and everything was recycled, including scraps of paper.7 In Camel Xiangzi, these two contrasting systems are manifested in the trivial details of Xiangzi’s life as an insignificant rickshaw puller. In the opening scene where the different “ranks” of rickshaw pullers are outlined, Lao She emphasizes that a vital criterion that differentiates pullers is their knowledge, such as a sufficient level of pidgin in order to communicate with the “generous foreigners.” Those who know how to speak pidgin are referred to as “吃洋饭的” (“people who eat foreign rice”), and they have their own language that is “esoteric.”8 Although rickshaw pullers mainly pulled middle-class Chinese, there was a “global market” within the city itself, namely the foreign clientele market that was considered much more profitable but also more difficult to penetrate. Xiangzi, a country boy by birth lacking the linguistics repertoire even in his native tongue, never has any interaction with the foreigners in Beijing. Interestingly, however, Pearl Buck’s fictional character Wang Lung has a close encounter with an American woman, in which he realizes that “people of black hair and black eyes” and “people of light hair and light eyes” are two different sorts.9 Although Buck never explicitly described a robust urban economy, the bizarre experience that Wang Lung feels he has had in the city presents the reader with a clash of racial, economic, and political differences. The discrepancy is so drastic that he feels like “he lived in the rich city as alien as a rat in a rich man’s house.”10 In addition to the presence of foreigners in these two novels, there is also the fledgling conception of modern banking that contributes to the changes of modern life in the city. Republican Beijing underwent the transition from old-style credit institutions, such as pawnshops, money shops (“钱庄”, qianzhuang), and Shanxi Banks, to more modern banks that supported small local businesses and financed the government.11 At the same time, old-style credit institutions, unable to integrate into the new system, vastly decreased in number. Much
like the old-style institutions, Xiangzi fails to immerse himself in the new spirit of capitalism. He holds the archaic belief that money is only money when it is in one’s own hand. He, therefore, refuses to deposit his money at the bank in exchange for a flimsy piece of paper to prove it, as is “kindly suggested” by his mistress.12 For Xiangzi, the capitalist banking system is nothing more than a ridiculous scam. Gao Ma provides contrast to Xiangzi, as she is the cunning maid of the Cao family and is a much more successful homo economicus and investor. One cannot help but admire this brave and resourceful widow, for she deals with all sorts of shady men and women in dire need and lends money to them to gain a tiny margin of interest. As Lao She describes: “这需要眼光，手段，小 心，泼辣……她比银行经理并不少费心 血” (“This requires precision, methods, cautiousness, and shrewdness… she spends no less time and effort than a bank manager does”). In a sense, Gao Ma is managing her own old-credit system in the back alleys of Beijing.13 Xiangzi, in contrast, clings to his rural-economy mindset and stubbornly goes his usual way, which costs him dearly when he is blackmailed by corrupt Detective Sun and the money lying around his room is ruthlessly taken. While one can argue that Xiangzi is a misogynist and a miser, his fate pitted against an emerging exploitative capitalist system marks the helplessness of the vast rural refugees uprooted from their relative comfort of the old system and thrown into the turmoil of the unknown. In comparison to Xiangzi, Wang Lung in The Good Earth is a considerably better capitalist. Unlike the rich men in the cities who hoard their riches, Wang Lung claims that if he had all the jewels, he would buy land with it and “bring forth harvests.”14 By the end of the novel, he is affluent enough to rent out his field to others in the village and transform from an ordinary farmer to a petty capitalist. Although far from a direct criticism of capitalism, Buck’s Good Earth reflects her longstanding interest in Jeffersonian democracy, which represents a firm belief of distributing land equally among farmers and the distrust of aristocratic elitism.15 Charles Hayford clearly delineates between
the word “farmer” and “peasant” in 20th century American ideologies: the former is related to the concept of cultivating the frontier, the virgin land, which is vital to America’s self-image; the latter evokes a picture of feudal Europe or, in the case of The Good Earth, Chinese feudalism.16 Published during the height of the Great Depression, The Good Earth depicts a “farmer” who is not so different from the frontier farmers working in the American virgin land, rendering it “particularly appealing to Depression Americans.”17 Despite potential interpretations of Orientalism, The Good Earth has an atemporal quality—a timelessly attractive theme of “rags to riches.” Most importantly, the Chinese body, represented by Wang Lung’s labour on his land in this novel, transcends the boundary of nations. In a sense, not only is Wang Lung an American invention, but he is also simply an American. One can further argue that, due to the universalizing aspect of this novel, the body of Wang Lung represents the alternative to the working bodies of worldwide labourers under the influence of global capitalism. Instead of working for “the machine,” Wang Lung returns to nature and works for himself. However, following this line of logic, the interpretation of the ending brings forth some troubling questions. In his old age, Wang Lung lives in the inner court of a mansion and looks “no more to see how the skies were over the land.”18 Still, he has a connection to his land and exclaims “evil, idle sons!” when his sons deliberate on selling the land.19 However, after his sons assure him that they will not sell the land, they look at each other and smile. The novel ends with this ambiguous scene that leaves the reader to ponder: what is the future of the Jeffersonian democratic ideals presented in the novel? Will this idyllic rural economy be swept away by the forthcoming revolution? Will Wang Lung as an embodiment of the ideals of Depression-era Americans be wiped out by a new generation of bourgeois capitalists? By asking these questions, one can speculate the underlying anxieties about—or even perhaps the fears of—where modern economics are steering the world in this novel.
The next part of this paper aims to discuss a form of labour that can be often ignored or considered secondary to the general discussion of labour, namely women within labour. Although both novels portray intelligent, strong female characters who are well adjusted to the world around them, their roles seem marginal or secondary to the experience of the male protagonists. However, instead of arguing that the two authors overlooked the significance of female labour—or that they even sought to promote misogynistic attitudes—I argue that due to the limit of focus on the male protagonists, the scope of women’s suffering is unfathomable to readers. However, an embryonic form of sympathy is manifested through the transformation of these two male characters. There is no denying that in both stories there is a startling amount of misogynist remarks made by Xiangzi and Wang Lung. Xiangzi refuses to let women ride in his newly purchased rickshaw and deems women’s words unworthy to listen to, even though he himself is a reticent, inarticulate man. There is also the moment when Xiangzi ponders on his helpless decision to go back to Hu Niu, a dominating woman of a Machiavellian type: “it is like buying junk; in the midst of all the rusty iron and bits of copper are some gleaming and colorful little things you cannot resist.”20 Lydia Liu criticizes this comparison as “probably the most misogynist thing that Lao She ever wrote.”21 This criticism is justifiable in her analysis that, due to the narrative style, there is no clear boundary between the narrator and the character’s discourse and consciousness. Any remarks made on Xiangzi’s behalf could be interpreted as the narrator’s thoughts as well. However, regardless of Lao She’s personal stance, the profusion of misogynist comments is quite consistent with the character of Xiangzi, and these comments only make the gradual downfall of Xiangzi all the more poignant. One of the biggest ironies of this story is that, although Xiangzi looks down on women and denigrates them throughout the novel, in the end, he understands the hardships and the futility of everything through his experience with women and the adversity women face,
especially the suicide of the prostitute Xiaofuzi (小福子) with whom Xiangzi has a relationship. Her suicide is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Sex work can be classified as a form of “intimate labour,” which also includes bodily labour, household keeping, or personal maintenance.22 Radical feminists argue that commodification of women’s bodies is “the ultimate symbol of a patriarchal masculinity.”23 However, from the perspective of Xiangzi and sociologists in Republican Beijing, prostitution might be nothing more than an “urban ill.” The study of sociology that flourished in the late 1920s in Beijing was initiated in missionary institutions, such as churches, universities and charities.24 Therefore, the sociological pattern and outlook that these studies strove to find were heavily influenced by Protestant moralities. While doing social work for the Y.M.C.A in Beijing, Sidney Gamble conducted a series of surveys, one of which termed prostitution as the “social evil” of the city, outranking poverty or the practice of “plural wives.”25 The tragic female character of Xiaofuzi starts out as a wretched street prostitute who cannot even receive customers in her house and has to “borrow” Hu Niu’s room temporarily. She is later sold to a brothel, where she cannot bear her unjust life anymore and hangs herself. While most sociological surveys at that time acknowledged the unfair social conditions that forced women into prostitution, they did not explicitly point out the extent of the government’s involvement and underage prostitution. Although every prostitute in the brothel was asked to hand in an “application” to the government stating their age and the reason that they wished to join the brothel, many of these “applications” were forged by the brothel to take in more unwilling underage girls.26 An unregistered illegal prostitute in the city, Xiaofuzi later becomes a prostitute in what appears to be a fourth-class brothel among the slums, judging from its location near the woods.27 This is no improvement at all as she has absolutely no say in it. By entering the government-controlled brothel, she becomes a tiny part of the wider system of mass exploitation. After learning about Xiaofuzi’s death, Xiangzi in his despair
understands the futility of everything: “一领 席，埋在乱死岗子，这就是努力一世的下 场头！(Wrapped in a mat, buried in an anonymous graveyard. This is what you get for working hard all your life!)”28 Through the demise of a prostitute, the misogynist Xiangzi accepts for the first time that hard work is not enough to establish oneself in this society and that everything he works for is a lie. Although there is also the question of prostitution in The Good Earth, the question of women in labour is mainly manifested through the character of silent, resilient O-lan. Upon mention of O-lan, most readers would probably remember her as the woman who returns to work on the land immediately after giving birth to a baby. While the strength behind this action is uncanny, O-lan is simply referred to as “the woman” by Wang Lung in the story. When reading the treatment of women in The Good Earth, one ponders just what sort of agency Buck gave to O-lan, if any at all. As Hayford argues in his essay on The Good Earth, the feminism presented in this book is complicated.29 While there is explicit description of infanticide, foot-binding, and self-sacrifice to the extent of self-torture, there is no doubt that O-lan is a strong woman who contributes greatly to the household economy. O-lan and Wang Lung are also the perfect picture of the frontier couple working on the virgin land: “Moving together in a perfect rhythm, without a word, hour after hour, he fell into a union with her.”30 Although Wang Lung denigrates and even abuses her in a manner similar to Xiangzi, he only understands his relationship with the material world and his land through the relationship with his wife. The deepest connection between Wang Lung and O-lan lies in their “union” while working on the land. When there is a flood that prevents Wang Lung from working, he becomes idle and drifts away from O-lan to find a prostitute in town. It is not until O-lan is dying that he realizes just how vital she is for him. In a sense, the loss of O-lan signifies a subtle detachment from his land as well, leading the story towards its ambiguous end. In sum, the labour of women in the two stories discussed above might be considered a non-market activity or
something of low economic value; however, in effect, Xiaofuzi’s labour sustains her whole family and is indeed part of the market that commodifies intimacy, and O-lan’s labour is vital for the household economy. From the perspective of Buck’s somewhat problematic feminism, O-lan’s fertile, resilient, and enduring body could even be considered as the symbol of the land itself with which Wang Lung has a profound connection. So far, this paper has explored the historical and economic background related to Camel Xiangzi and The Good Earth, two novels that are neither simply Chinese nor simply American. As Richard Jean So claims in Transpacific Community, “[the] Good Earth was never just one; it was always two.”31 It originated from two realist literary traditions and depicts two types of bodies: both Chinese and American. Likewise, Camel Xiangzi is also a universalizing story that deploys both Western and Chinese traditional literary techniques. The struggle of Xiangzi could be the struggle of any marginalized labourer in the fledgling capitalist world of colonized or semi-colonized countries. His failure underlines the changing tide that the capitalist market has created for an unprepared rural populace in China. Although The Good Earth reads like a bucolic tale, the historical background that engenders it and its afterlife in America also reflect a deep anxiety for the global capitalist economy. This paper also touches upon women’s involvement in the economy. One effective way that the body’s suffering is conveyed to us is through its material relationship to the world—in this case, the body’s work.32 The male protagonists in these two stories understand, perhaps subconsciously, the body’s suffering through the work and the fate of women’s bodies. In contemporary times that are overshadowed by anxieties of unforeseeable changes and fears of bodies being replaced by machines, these fictional works compel the readers to sympathize with the marginalized, the working bodies, and ultimately, the bodies that suffer.
Notes 1. Chinese authors who explored this theme include Hu Shi, Yu Dafu, and Lu Xun. For sociological, refer to Sydney Gamble’s Peking: A Social Survey and David Strand’s Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 1920s. 2. Lydia Liu, “Homo Economicus’ and the Question of Novelistic Realism.” Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture and Translated Modernity---China, 1900-1937. (Stanford University Press, 1995), 115. 3. Liu, Translingual Practice, 108. 4. Hugh Shapiro, “The Puzzle of Spermatorrhea in Republican China.” East Asian Critique. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 1993), 578. 5. Madeleine Yue Dong and Reginald Zelnik. Eds. Republican Beijing: The City and Its Histories. (California Scholarship Online. 2012), 106. 6. Dong, Republican Beijing, 111. 7. Dong, Republican Beijing, 136. 8. Lao She,《骆驼祥子》Camel Xiangzi. (人民文 学出版社;第一版; 2012, Kindle电子书), 3. 9. Pearl Buck, The Good Earth. (Open Road Media. 2012. Kindle Edition), 108 10. Buck, The Good Earth, 106. 11. Madeleine Yue Dong and Reginald Zelnik. Eds. Republican Beijing: The City and Its Histories. (California Scholarship Online. 2012), 122. 12. Lao She, Camel Xiangzi, 67. 13. Lao She, Camel Xiangzi, 67. 14. Pearl Buck, The Good Earth, 122. 15. Richard Jean So, Transpacific Community: America, China and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network. (Colombia University Press. 2016), 97. 16. Charles W. Hayford, “What’s So Bad About The Good Earth.” Education about Asia. Vol 3, no. 3. (Association for Asian Studies, 1998), 5. 17. Hayford, Education about Asia, 6. 18. Pearl Buck, The Good Earth, 343. 19. Buck, The Good Earth, 357. 20. Liu, Lydia. H. “Homo Economicus’ and the Question of Novelistic Realism.” Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture and Translated Modernity---China, 1900-1937. (Stanford University Press, 1995), 120. 21. Liu, Translingual Practice, 120. 22. Eileen Boris, Parreñas, Rhacal Salazar. Eds. Intimate Labor: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care. (Stanford University Press, 2010), 2. 23. Boris, Intimate Labor, 8. 24. Madeleine Yue Dong and Reginald Zelnik. Eds. Republican Beijing: The City and Its Histories, 212. 25. Sidney D. Gamble, Peking: A Social Survey. (Leiden: BRILL. 2011. Accessed Dec. 10, 2017.
ProQuest Ebook Central), 259. 26. Madeleine Yue Dong and Reginald Zelnik. Eds. Republican Beijing: The City and Its Histories, 234. 27. Dong, Republican Beijing, 235. 28. Lao She, Camel Xiangzi, 215. 29. Charles W. Hayford, “What’s So Bad About The Good Earth,” 6. 30. Pearl Buck, The Good Earth, 29. 31. Richard Jean So, Transpacific Community: America, China and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network, 42. 32. Xu, Jian. “Retrieving the Working Bodies in Modern Chinese Fiction: The Question of the Ethical in Representation.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture. Vol. 16 No. 1. 115-152. (Foreign Language Publication, 2004), 119.
Bibliography Boris, Eileen, and Parreñas, Rhacal Salazar. Intimate Labor: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care. Stanford University Press. 2010 Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth. Open Road Media. 2012. Kindle Edition. Dong, Madeleine Yue and Zelnik, Reginald. E. Republican Beijing: The City and Its Histories. California Scholarship Online. 2012. Gamble, Sidney D.. Peking: A Social Survey. Leiden: BRILL. 2011. Accessed Dec. 10, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central. Hayford, Charles W. “The Storm Over the Peasant: Rhetoric and Orientalism in Construing China,” in Shelton Stromquist, Jeffrey Cox, eds. Contesting the Master Narrative. University of Iowa Press. 1998. Hayford, Charles W. “What’s So Bad About The Good Earth.” Education about Asia. Vol 3, no. 3. 1998. Liu, Lydia. H. “Homo Economicus’ and the Question of Novelistic Realism.” Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture and Translated Modernity---China, 1900-1937. Stanford University Press. 1995. Shapiro, Hugh. “The Puzzle of Spermatorrhea in Republican China.” East Asian Critique. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 1993. So, Richard Jean. Transpacific Community: America, China and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network. Colombia University Press. 2016. Shu, Qingchun (Lao She). Camel Xiangzi. 《骆 驼祥子》人民文学出版社；第一版；2012 Kindle电子书。 Xu, Jian. “Retrieving the Working Bodies in Modern Chinese Fiction: The Question of the Ethical in Representation.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture. Vol. 16 No. 1. Pp. 115-152. Foreign Language Publication. 2004.
To Meme or Not to Meme: The role of e’gao culture in subverting state censorship in the Chinese cybersphere Sara Mansoor Syed Edited by: Anneliese Kluender
Abstract: Chinese Internet users – termed netizens – have responded to strict online censorship through the utilization of meme subculture called e gao and a dependency on the informal blogosphere in facilitating both political and cultural expression. E gao is defined as a mass participatory subculture characterized by satire, parody, grassroots spontaneity and a defiance of authority. This article uses the case study approach to analyze the rise of spoofing culture in the Chinese cybersphere, and to what impact e gao has had in breaching the Great Firewall of censorship mandated by the Chinese Communist Party.
Famed Chinese dissident and contemporary artist Ai Weiwei said in 2012, “the right for expression is fundamentally linked to our happiness, and even our existence. When a society constantly demands that everybody should abandon this right, then the society becomes a society without creativity. It can never become a happy society.” Indeed, the Chinese government has worked intensively to limit collective expression on the Internet that poses any threat of destabilization through mobilization and criticism. However, the rise of an informal subculture amongst Chinese Internet users that seeks to express an opinion—political and beyond—has greatly negated the state’s ability to curtail problematic creative expression. This subculture is termed e’gao, literally translating to “evil works,” and is defined as a “mass
participatory subculture characterized by satire, parody, grassroots spontaneity and a defiance of authority.”1 Within e’gao culture, Ai’s vision of a happy society wherein citizens participate in creative expression finds a potentiality of existence in China. This paper will aim to answer the following questions: why has the role of e’gao or “remix” culture manifested in the Chinese cybersphere over recent years? How do Chinese netizens utilize e’gao in political and cultural contexts? How successful has e’gao been in subverting online censorship in China? In answering these questions, I will begin by outlining Chinese state-mandated Internet censorship’s unintentional consequence of creating a space where creative and critical expression of the self can occur. My analysis of these questions
will be done through a qualitative case study approach, as I use examples to illustrate the impact of e’gao in creating political discourse and bypassing traditional state censorship in the cybersphere. The four case studies used in this paper are the Grass Mud Horse, Batman vs. Pandaman, Little Rabbit Be Good, and the Green Dam Girl. Creating a Space for E’gao: The Great Firewall To understand how the role of e’gao culture manifested in Chinese cybersphere, it is critical to first contextualize the role of the Chinese state in the inadvertent creation of a space wherein spoofing culture flourishes. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long used tools of mass censorship to limit the use of the Internet as a political outlet that could mobilize citizens into acts of civil disobedience against the state, much as it has worked to prevent manifestations of governmental criticism in print and traditional media. Freedom House firmly and regularly characterizes the Chinese Internet as being “Not Free,” citing the Chinese state’s blocking of certain social media websites and political content and its arresting of bloggers and writers who express criticisms of the state on personal websites.2 The strict regulations brought on by The Great Firewall have led to Chinese Internet users—termed netizens—turning to a subculture of memes and spoofs in the informal arena of the Chinese blogosphere to showcase frustration towards and distaste of strict state censorship laws. This subculture has been named e’gao. By using satiritical subterfuge, netizens have utilized e’gao to push the boundaries of the state.3 Netizens quickly realized that political satire did not face the same levels of strict censorship as direct political criticism—particularly due to the fact that it can be hidden within the contexts of pop culture and behind anonymous usernames. King argues that The Great Firewall functions primarily to block keywords that may spur social mobilization and collective expression but is laxer when censoring government
criticism since, according to King, the CCP’s primary goal is the prevention of organized political dissidence.4 The collective action potential of the Internet is greatly hampered by the censorship efforts, and it is through the prevention of participatory self-expression that the space for e’gao exists, as it becomes a necessary means for subversion.5 Ironically, e’gao has risen in popularity traditionally as a response to announcements of new censorship measures from the state, as exemplified by the case studies below, particularly in the case of the Grass Mud Horse. Fighting Against the River Crabs The most prolific example of e’gao has undoubtedly been the “Grass Mud Horse” meme, which became popular starting in 2009, a year which witnessed increased intensity in the Chinese Internet censorship. On January 5th, the Ministry for Public Security, alongside six other governmental agencies, announced a campaign targeting “low and vulgar content [on the Internet] that violates social morality and damages the physical and mental health of youth.”6 While these cleansing campaigns have been common practice in the Chinese cybersphere throughout the years, 2009 marked a departure from the typical practice as China’s five most popular websites, Sina, Sohu, Tencent, Baidu, and Netease, were named as contributors to the degradation of social values and were forced to issue public apologies for disrupting the “harmonious society” within the Chinese cybersphere.7 By mid-February, the campaign’s large-scale impact was realized when over 1,900 websites and 250 blogs were shut down, with the majority not being overtly pornographic but instead containing politically sensitive material. In the face of this vicious crackdown, a fuzzy mammal became the symbol of netizen frustration. The phrase “Grass Mud Horse” in Mandarin (cao ni ma) is phonetically similar to “fuck your mother,” with the meaning changing depending on the tone used. It originally appeared as an encyclopedia entry in the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia, Baidu Baike.
It was said that cao ni ma’s biggest enemy was the “river crab,” pronounced he xie, which is similar to the pronunciation of the Mandarin word for harmony. This was a direct parody of former president Hu Jintao’s signature ideology that called for a harmonious Chinese society. Furthermore, cao ni ma worked to defend their “grassland,” which is phonetically similar to free speech. The Grass Mud Horse has been one of the centrepieces of e’gao culture in the Chinese cybersphere. A video about Chinese-speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Grass Mud Horse has been used as a sociopolitical tool – an online symbol utilized in offline mobilization. The July 1st, 2009 protests for democracy in Hong Kong, for example, witnessed a group of protestors distributing Hong Kong Identity Cards for cao ni ma (Figure 1), and stuffed Grass Mud Horses (most similar to alpacas or llamas) are still frequently used in protests in the special administrative region.8 Ai Weiwei has also utilized the Grass Mud Horse in contemporary art, with his performance work titled “Grass Mud Horse Covering the Middle” (Figure 2), in which he captures himself posing against a wall completely naked, with nothing but a stuffed alpaca covering his genitalia.9 The title of the piece itself is a playon-words, as “the middle” can also be phonetically altered to sound as a term for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). From online viral popularity to offline mobilization in dogmatic and artistic contexts, the legacy of the Grass Mud Horse has persisted in establishing the importance of spoofing culture as a means of political criticism. The Panda Defeats a Superhero The second example of e’gao’s use in a political context comes from online spoofing in the aftermath of Chen Guangcheng’s house arrest in 2011. Chen is a blind Chinese civil rights activist and self-taught lawyer who advocated for women’s rights and land rights for the poor. He was placed under strict house arrest due to a lawsuit he filed against the government in Shandong Province for its alleged
strict adherence to the one-child policy; it was reported that city officials in Linyi forced women to undergo abortions against their will.10 The star of the Batman trilogy, Christian Bale, attempted to visit Chen but was blocked entry by the guards restricting access to Chen’s house. A video showing this incident was captured and broadcast internationally on CNN.11 Comic artist Wang Remon quickly noticed the resemblance of one of the guards—a particularly rotund man dressed in a green coat—with a panda. He distributed a poster online of a fictitious film named Batman vs. Pandaman.12 Quickly, subsequent comic strips and spoof images were created referencing the incident and disseminated online (Figure 3). The heartbreaking reality of Chen’s detention, which included reports of his wife and young daughter being abused and harassed by city officials, became a truth easier to tell through the medium of humour.13 It is critical to note that the presence of Chen’s legacy online has been carefully monitored and curtailed by the state. Not only was his name blocked from web searches, so too were phrases such as “blind man” and “CNN.”14 Thus, the sudden mass creative contributions in the form of spoofing highlighted a participatory environment that stood in solidarity with Chen. In contrast to the official stance of silence from the Chinese government, the popularity of e’gao culture allowed a substantial discussion of a controversial figure, even if done through means of humour. Indeed, the popularity of the Batman vs. Pandaman posters has showcased the impact of e’gao in ensuring political discourse is present in the minds of Chinese citizens, despite attempts by the state to block such criticism in both public and virtual spaces. Little Rabbit Be Good: Alternative History The examples of Grass Mud Horse and Batman vs. Pandaman underline that the most successful evasions of state censorship have occurred under creative circumstances wherein the CCP find it difficult to set up automatic
Figure 1: Hong Kong identity card made for the Grass Mud Horse. He was born on “35th May,” i.e. June 4th, the date of the Tiananmen Square Incident, which is also censored in the Chinese cybersphere.
Figure 2: Ai Weiwei’s “Grass Mud Horse Covering the Middle” self-portrait.
Figure 3: Posters of the Batman vs. Pandaman meme.
content filters that block critical content.15 The work of animator Wang Bo, who goes by the online nickname “Pi San,” has showcased this prolifically through episodes featuring the life of his cartoon character Kuang Kuang. Kuang Kuang is a little boy with a permanent nosebleed, living a relatively ordinary life. However, the world he lives in wants to constantly brutalize his existence. The episode “Little Rabbit Be Good” takes the form of a greeting card, with Kuang Kuang and his family ushering in the Year of the Rabbit in 2011. Kuang Kuang is given a storybook that Pi San uses as a medium to comment on various historical events that have been referenced to criticize the Chinese government. These events include the 1994 Karamay Fire (in which 288 schoolchildren perished in a fire after being told to remained seated to allow CCP officials to exit the building first16), the 2008 Melamine Poisoned Milk Scandal (in which 300,000 people suffered kidney illnesses due to poisoned milk powder17), and the Li Gang incident (in which a director of a public security bureau’s son claimed his father’s position would protect him after he drunkenly mowed down two university students18). Kuang Kuang’s storybook features rabbits as the victims of the atrocities caused by these incidents, and, as the story progresses, the rabbits turn from innocent victims to furious beasts attacking their oppressors, referencing the famed Chinese saying, “Pushed too hard, rabbits also bite.” The impact of “Little Rabbit Be Good” in the e’gao context is critical in challenging the historical narrative that is pushed by the state. The incidents referenced by Pi San in the “Little Rabbit Be Good” episode reinforce dark memories of Chinese history that the state has desperately attempted to minimize. During the 2008 milk scandal, Chinese media were forced to diminish the impact of the scandal in order to prevent citizen dissent.19 Moreover, the Li Gang incident, which was first made popular through online criticism, quickly became a censored topic in the Chinese cybersphere after criticisms began revolving around state corruption. Pi San’s portrayal of these events is important in shaping the collective memory of the viewers of
his work. As the memory is “lived” rather than “imposed,”20 it is more powerful than official historical narratives propagated by the state, which are often more clinically removed from the average Chinese netizen. The social reality that Pi San projects in his work is a far more popular and relevant reality than the historical narrative presented by Beijing. Thus, it is clear that the work of e’gao has the potential to move beyond basic subversions of state censorship of vulgar or controversial terms and challenge the very foundations of re-manufactured history— or propaganda—that the one-party state relies on. Green Dam Youth Escort The spoofs and online criticisms resulting from the proposal of the Green Dam Youth Escort, a content-control software developed and mandated by the CCP, may have played a role in the software’s failure, possibly showcasing the impact of e’gao culture on policy decisions.21 Under a directive from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, it would have been mandatory to install the Green Dam Youth Escort on all personal computers sold in Mainland China. The goal of the software was to “build a green, healthy and harmonious online environment” by limiting pornography on the Internet.22 However, it was soon discovered that only fifteen percent of the keywords blocked by the software were pornography-related, with the rest being politically related.23 Netizens showcased their frustration at the software by creating an anime version of the Green Dam Youth Escort called Green Dam Girl (Figure 4). She is wearing a “river crab” hat and is dressed in an ironically promiscuous manner. She is armed with paint to cover up explicit content and carries a rabbit—the official mascot of the Green Dam Youth Escort program. The public’s distaste with the program was shown through various incarnations of the Green Dam Girl appearing in the Chinese cybersphere, often in compromising positions as part of crude sexual jokes.24 While it would be an overstatement to argue that the popularity
Figure 4: The Green Dam Girl
of the Green Dam Girl was singularly responsible for the software’s downfall, it is imperative to note that the international reach of online criticisms of the Green Dam Youth Escort may have infromed the CCP’s decision to relax its promotion on the software program.25 The Green Dam Girl essentially represents e’gao in its classic form: a political tool used to parody the paranoia of a state that claims to protect its citizens through strict censorship. The meme’s power to challenge a state-sponsored censorship program highlights e’gao’s ability to undermine the state’s hegemony over its citizens and empower digitally-savvy netizens to participate in political discourse. Limitations of E’gao The aforementioned case studies highlight two key limitations of this analysis of e’gao, namely the scarcity of examples in which e’gao has been used as a large-scale offline mobilization tool and the evolution of state control mechanisms to regulate the prevalence of spoofs. First, the covert and mass participatory nature of e’gao has allowed political expression to persist. However, the lack of policy change
provoked by e’gao may lead some to question its effectiveness as a political tool. While the Green Dam Girl was part of a barrage of criticism against the CCP’s Green Dam Youth Escort project, it was not the only tool that brought about the software’s downfall. Certainly, outspoken bloggers such as Wen Yunchao, who has claimed that the Internet would “bring democracy to China,”26 may find themselves having to settle for alternative means to effect substantial change since e’gao has largely been limited to humourous social commentary in the Mainland. While activists in Hong Kong have often taken advantaged of the popularity of mainstream Chinese memes such as the Grass Mud Horse to organize civil protests, e’gao has rarely been used as a call to action in the Mainland.27 There are two possible reasons for this: first, the disbelief of netizens that their spoofs could work to rally citizens and, second, the CCP’s successful and quick censorship of any memes calling for mobilization and civil disobedience. Furthermore, while e’gao is still a relatively successful form of subversion due to its hidden nature, government control mechanisms have been evolving with both technological advancement and cultural awareness. For example, newly published episodes from Pi San featuring Kuang Kuang are taken down within a matter of hours, as the state employs human censors to track the social websites of popular e’gao contributors.28 It appears evident that the Chinese state views e’gao as a threat, and it attempts to limit its use should it be overtly critical of the government. It is important to understand that the primary reason for e’gao’s existence is the CCP’s strict censorship. Thus, censorship of e’gao will itself likely lead to more spoofs and memes. Concluding Thoughts This paper has emphasized that limitations on political discourse imposed by The Great Firewall have inadvertently created a space in which political discussion can thrive in an underground manner. E’gao has succeeded not only as a strategic subversion of state censorship
but also as a means to highlight the discrepancy between official and popular discourse and, in turn, challenge the historical narrative perpetuated by party propaganda. While e’gao’s impact in creating real political change within China may be questionable, there is no doubt that its popularity has granted a citizenry bound by limitations on its free speech an ability to utilize creative expression to both vent frustration at the state and challenge official historical narratives. The future of e’gao looks promising, as increases in Internet use in China allow for the community of e’gao creators to expand and, thus, for its memes to become more diverse. The case studies presented in this paper have indicated that there is a positive correlation between state censorship and spoof culture, thus suggesting that e’gao’s future in the Chinese cybersphere may be secure.
Figure 1: Hong Kong Identity Card for the Grass Mud Horse
1. Wu Jiao, “E’gao: Art criticism or evil?” China Daily. January 22, 2007. Accessed December 10, 2017. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/200701/22/content_788600.htm. 2. Freedom House, “China Country Report | Freedom on the Net 2017.” Freedom on the Net. 3. Ashley Esarey and Qiang Xiao, “Political Expression in the Chinese Blogosphere: Below the Radar.” Asian Survey 48, no. 5 (Sept. & Oct. 2008): 752-72. 4. Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts, “How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression.” American Political Science Review 107, no. 02 (2013): 326-43. 5. Olesya Tkacheya, “The Internet in China: Threatened Tool of Expression and Mobilization.” In Internet Freedom and Political Space, 93-117. 6. Ying Xiao, “Grass Mud Horse Style: Popular Resistance, the Politics and Poetics of Internet in Post-Socialist Crisis.” American Association for Chinese Studies, 2013. 7. Bingchun Meng, “From Steamed Bun to Grass Mud Horse: E Gao as alternative political discourse on the Chinese Internet.” Global Media and Communication 7, no. 1 (2011): 33-51. 8. Lijun Tang and Peidong Yang, “Symbolic power and the Internet: The power of a ‘horse’.” Media, Culture & Society 33, no. 5 (2011): 676-91. 9. Max Fisher, “Explaining Ai Weiwei’s ‘Grass Mud Horse’ Obsession.” The Washington Post. October 24, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2018. https:// www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/ wp/2012/10/24/explaining-ai-weiweis-grass-mudhorse-obsession/?utm_term=.7a924446dde6. 10. Jonathan Watts, “Under House Arrest: Blind Activist Who Exposed Forced Abortions.” The Guardian. February 03, 2006. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/ feb/03/china.jonathanwatts. 11. Steven Jiang, “’Batman’ star Bale punched, stopped from visiting blind Chinese activist.” CNN. December 16, 2011. Accessed December 10, 2017. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/15/world/asia/ china-bale-activist/index.html?hpt=hp_c2. 12. Steven Jiang, “’Pandaman’ Creator Finds Political Cartoon a Risky Business in China.” CNN. March 07, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2018. https:// www.cnn.com/2012/01/23/world/asia/china-pandaman-cartoons/index.html. 13. An Xiao Mina, “Batman, Pandaman and the Blind Man: A Case Study in Social Change Memes and Internet Censorship in China.” Journal of Visual
Henochowicz, Anne. “Album: First Annual Grass-Mud Horse Festival.” China Digital Times (CDT). July 03, 2012. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2012/07/ album-first-annual-grass-mud-horse-festival/. Figure 2: Grass Mud Horse Covering The Middle by Ai Weiwei “Ai Weiwei: life and works.” Allpainters.org famous painters in the world. 2009. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://allpainters.org/artists/ai-weiwei.html. Figure 3: Batman vs. Pandaman Anonymous. “Batman vs. Pandaman.” China Change. 2011. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://chinachangedotorg.files.wordpress. com/2011/12/batman-movie-posts.jpg. Figure 4: Green Dam Girl Goldkorn, Jeremy. “Green Dam Girl.” Chinese media, advertising, and urban life. June 14, 2009. Accessed December 12, 2017. http:// www.danwei.org/net_nanny_follies/green_ dam_girl.php.
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Authors Hongyang Cai is a fourth year Linguistics and Hispanic Studies student. Being an avid reader and occasional amateur translator of Chinese and Latin American literatures, she is going to pursue a Master’s degree to explore the literary network between China and Latin America. She is also interested in less-studied, “marginal” languages in the world and what we can do to preserve them. Ely DeSandoli is a fourth year Sociology and Urban Studies student. As an aspiring urban planner, she is interested in understanding the social equity intrinsically built into city infrastructure and the diverse urban experiences of ethnic minorities and new immigrants. Community building, planning for active transportation, and culturally vibrant urban life are just some of her passions when it comes to designing the ideal city. Daniel Galef’s photography has appeared on-campus in Folio, the Veg, Vielfalt, and the Scrivener Creative Review, as well as on the covers of Steps and Voces. The picture used for the cover was taken on a beach in Weihai, Shandong Province. Yuki Kasaï-Paré is Kasai-Paré is in her final year at McGill university in Anthropology and East Asian cultural studies. Her main interests are representations of modes of existence as well as resistance of bodies through still and moving image. Her personal work is mainly directed towards her passion for photography, filmmaking painting, and translation. Her photography has growingly been published on multiple platforms both in Canada and Japan in the past three years. Some of her photography work can be viewed on her website https://www.yuki-kp.com/ Marie Plamondon has recently spent a six-month study abroad in Tokyo where she focused on Oriental legal history and comparative Chinese politics. Highly convinced understanding cultures come hand in hand with a deep learning of languages, she is studying Japanese, Tibetan, and Mandarin. Believing cultural exchange can promote reconciliation and strengthen diplomatic ties, Marie is currently an intern at the Cultural Diplomacy Section at the United Nations Office at Geneva. Anthony Portulese is a second-year Master’s student in the Art History department of McGill University. Alongside numerous publications in McGill’s art history journal Canvas, he was named winner of the Canadian Section of the Association for Late Antiquity’s Essay Contest. In addition to his studies, he is currently working with Galerie MX in Montreal to produce a collective art review on the work of contemporary Québécois painter Dominic Besner, planned to be published in the autumn of 2018. Sara Syed is a third year Political Science and East Asian Studies student. She is interested in contemporary Chinese politics, particularly in the domestic and regional social, political and cultural impacts of China’s rise. Sara currently serves as the VP Events of the McGill East Asian Studies Students’ Association and writes on Chinese affairs for the McGill International Review. Muhan Zhang is in her fourth and final year in Joint Honours Art History and East Asian Studies. Apart from decorative art and affect, she is also interested in diaspora studies, gender and queer theory, and global contemporary art. Her writing has previously been published in The Fine Print Magazine, The McGill Tribune, The McGill Daily, Canvas, and Fridge Door Gallery.
Editors Jean-FĂŠlix Caron is in his fourth and final year in East Asian Studies, with minors in East Asian Languages and Sexual Diversity Studies. It is his third year of involvement with Orientations, being the Co-Editor-in-Chief for this issue, after having been an editor in 2016-2017 and a published author in 2015-2016. His field of predilection is pre-modern Chinese history, with a specific focus on renegotiation of gender, sexuality and masculinity in the Ancient World. In addition to queering everything he can, he is learning Mandarin Chinese and one day aspires to be part of the Canadian diplomatic body in the Sinophone world. Caroline Wesley is in her fourth and final year in Joint Honours Political Science and International Development Studies and is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Orientations, having previously served as an editor for the 2016-2017 edition. To supplement her ambitions of advanced research in public policy, peacebuilding, and development within the East-West nexus, she is currently studying Chinese language and policy. Impassioned by diplomacy and representing Canadaâ€™s interests abroad, Caroline has worked for Global Affairs Canada, the U.S. Department of State, and the United Nations. Tianru Chen designed this issue of Orientations. Anneliese Kluender is a fourth year History, Political Science and East Asian Studies student. The focuses of her studies are both the United States and East Asia. While at McGill she has had the privilege of serving as an editor for the McGill Undergraduate Pre-Law Review as well as the Orientations journal. Anthony Kuan is a second year History and East Asian Studies student and an editor for Orientations. He is interested in studying the seminal historical dynamics responsible for developing modern East Asia, and the broader role that these dynamics have had in influencing the political relationships that extend through and beyond the region at present. In addition to his role in Orientations, Anthony is also an editor for Luminous, a student journal aimed at promoting the latest academic research at McGill University. Jason Li is a fourth-year Honours Political Science student with minors in East Asian Studies and International Development. To complement his impassioned research on Chinese foreign policy and East Asian comparative politics, Jason has contributed his political perspective to Orientations and broadened his own understanding of all aspects of East Asia: social, cultural, and historical. With this holistic picture of the region, he aspires to work within foreign policy and public policy back in the United States. In addition to his role as [Editor] for Orientations, Jason has served as editor for the McGill Left Review and staff writer, editor, and peer reviewer for the McGill International Review. Lily-Cannelle Mathieu is a second year Joint Honours Anthropology and Art History student with a minor in East Asian Studies. She is particularly interested in contemporary heritage management and the arts of East and South Asia. This year, Lily-Cannelle was an editor to both Orientations and Canvas, and she is looking forward to continuing her involvement in such stimulating academic activities at McGill. Already fluent in French, Italian, and English, she is impatient to further her Japanese language skills and is planning to do so while conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the Japanese peninsula in 2019 for her Honours thesis.
Nora Murphy is in her fourth and final year in East Asian Studies and International Development and her second year as an editor of Orientations. Her interests lie in Chinese language and culture and after graduation she plans on moving to China to pursue full time language study. In addition to East Asian Studies, Nora also enjoys travelling and exploring around Montreal and beyond. Sylvie Tran is in her third year studying International Development Studies and East Asian Languages and Literature, focusing on Japan and China. With a background in graphic design and visual arts, she is interested in the ways in which visual and written arts interact with history and become their own social actors. Born and raised in Canada, she believes in the way in which media and the arts can provide the Asian diaspora with ways to connect with a heritage to which they otherwise may not have access. Muhan Zhang is in her fourth and final year in Joint Honours Art History and East Asian Studies. Her honours thesis is a comparative case study of the installation works of contemporary Chinese Canadian artists, Gu Xiong and Karen Tam. She has been an editor of both Orientations and Canvas Journals at McGill for the past three years, serving as Editor in Chief of the former in 2016-2017 and the latter in 2017-2018. She is looking forward to attending grad school in New York City in the fall.
Orientations: Transcultural Perspectives on Asia is the East Asian Studies student journal of McGill University.