Friday, April 10, 2009

Joshua Fogel's "Articulating the Sinosphere"

Joshua Fogel is Canada Research Chair in Chinese history at York University in Toronto. He has taught previously at Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Ai Ssu-chi's Contribution to the Development of Chinese Marxism and Nakae Ushikichi in China: The Mourning of Spirit.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Articulating the Sinosphere: Sino-Japanese Relations in Space and Time, and reported the following:
My book is a revised version of the Reischauer Lectures that I gave at Harvard in 2007. As a result, the volume is rather slender, and p. 99 happens to be the last page of text before all back matter. Rather than summarize the volume as a whole and prove Ford Madox Ford’s point, it actually looks to the future and assumes readers have read the preceding 98 pages (or most of them).

I have been working on Sino-Japanese cultural interactions throughout history for the past thirty or more years. The three chapters correspond to the three ways in which history is most often done by its practitioners. The first and longest is a macro-history of Sino-Japanese relations from the first through the mid-nineteenth centuries, also providing a tripartite periodization to characterize changes in the relationship over time. The second is a micro-history following several unexplored trails extremely closely that led up to the restarting of diplomatic ties between the two countries with the historic voyage of the Senzaimaru from Nagasaki to Shanghai in 1862. The third is the most familiar approach to historical research—midway between macro- and micro-history—and examines the first generation of the first Japanese expatriate community of Shanghai.

In these pieces I explore a new concept, the Sinosphere, for understanding China’s relationship with her neighbors, in particular Japan. I introduced the term Sinosphere in my original lectures in an innocent, almost innocuous, way, but in the questions raised at all three lectures, I found myself forced to refine and rethink the idea. It is an effort—resembling the Bohr atom—to comprehend Sino-Japanese relations both in space and time, as my subtitle suggests.
Read an excerpt from Articulating the Sinosphere and learn more about the book at the Harvard University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue