Textiles and dress occupy a central position within the realm of material culture. Apart from fulfilling the basic human need for clothing and protection, textiles play important political, economic, and religious functions.
First time as tragedy, second time as kitsch. During the 1990s, China took on board Deng Xiaoping's message that 'to get rich is glorious'. Yet some of the country's elite, jaded by the endless supply of luxury goods now available in Beijing and Shanghai, favour restaurants with a new spin: the peasant cuisine of the Cultural Revolution.
The 1940 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are a non-event, because they never happened. Promoted by Japanese organisations since the early 1930s, decided on by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in 1936, and given up by the Japanese in 1938, they were soon forgotten, overshadowed by the war with China and the Second World War.
Cars for Comrades is a kind of ‘total history’ of the automobile and ‘car culture’ in the Soviet Union, one that is exhaustively researched and engagingly written.
What is a ‘Companion’ for?
There can surely have been few other books in Asian Studies and certainly not in South East Asian Studies in recent years that have been as widely anticipated as James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Southeast Asia (Yale University Press, 2009).
Japanese Society at War deepens our understanding of the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on Japanese society.
The revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky famously proclaimed in his suicide note, ‘the love boat has crashed against byt.’ That the banal problems of everyday life (byt) had undermined the hopes of the Revolution has since been widely inferred in evaluations of the Soviet system.
Donald Filtzer has added another major book to his long and impressive contribution to the study of Soviet history. It is a formidably detailed analysis of urban living conditions during the late Stalinist period, from the closing stages of the Second World War to the death of Stalin in 1953. While it bears Professor Filtzer’s unmistakable mark, it is also something of a new departure.
This is an unusual book in terms of the range of its discrete and varied chapters. Its strongest continuing themes are ecology and the Sundarbans. Despite an occasional lack of context and connection, each section is of interest, and some are original and thought-provoking.