Cambria Press Publication Highlight for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

As we close out Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we highlight a noteworthy title, Be(com)ing Korean in the United States: Exploring Ethnic Identity Formation Through Cultural Practices by S. Sonya Gwak.

Cambria Press publication

The following is a quote from the book:

The very act of exploring ethnic identity foregrounds the significance of articulating an aspect of our selves that links us to our families, peers, traditions, transnational histories, and diasporic communities and distinguishes us from the flattening effects of racial categorization. Therefore, producing ethnicity in the United States is in constant flux, negotiating between how we are identified as ethnic and racial subjects and how we identify ourselves as Korean.

Displacement from our ancestral home increases the salience of ethnic identity as something that must be produced and cultivated. In other words, being Korean cannot be predicated solely on originating from the nationstate, Korea, but necessitates further elaborations based on proof of ancestry, family history, and notions of primordial ties. The process of becoming Korean cannot rely merely on quotidian experiences but fosters the teaching and learning of cultural practices that are constructed as Korean in a variety of ways.

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Title: Be(com)ing Korean in the United States: Exploring Ethnic Identity Formation Through Cultural Practices
Authors: S. Sonya Gwak
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604975840
372 pp.  |   2008   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604975840.cfm

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Interview with Cambria Press author Professor Mark Bender

An interview with Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) about his new book was posted on the MCLC. Professor Bender’s book The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry was released last month at the 2017 AAS conference in Toronto.

Cambria Press author Mark Bender publication Borderlands of Asia

See also Professor Bender’s speech at the
AAS 2017 Cambria Press reception.

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Cambria Press Publication Excerpt from “North Korea Demystified”

Cambria Press publication

Given the recent events, it would be timely to revisit North Korea Demystified. The book was published in at the end of 2012, but the advice of expert Professor Bruce Cumings in his chapter “North Korea––Dealing with Irrationality” still resonates with most, especially given the precarious state of world politics and the reputation of the leaders in place. Professor Cumings urges that we “finally to shed the anachronistic polarized positions and mindset of the Cold War and to move in the direction of a calm, steady, nuanced, and persistent process of rapprochement with Pyongyang.” He explains why in the publication excerpt below:

How do psychiatrists deal with an angry, violent, insulting, aggravating, recalcitrant, prideful, self-defeating patient? With concern, empathy, understanding, deflection, subtle advice (usually suggesting alternative behavior), the setting of limits on the one hand and the opening of avenues toward change on the other. Think of Tony Soprano and Jennifer Melfi: did she call him a fat, slovenly, self-indulgent, and self-regarding Mafia thug? No, she treated him like a human being in pain who needed help. China has long used a concept, zixiao, which is usually translated “cherishing friends from afar” (or “cherishing the lesser”), but it really means not sweating the small stuff when it comes to relations with allied or tributary states, or enemies who are not really threatening. It is a classic hegemonic device to show that the power that everyone recognizes as superior nonetheless shows concern and regard for the smaller or lesser party. English does not have a good equivalent to this (although magnanimity comes close), so its speakers use foreign phrases, like noblesse oblige.

North Korea
North Korea Demystified (Cambria Press, 2012)

Buy this book from Cambria Press today and use coupon code AAS2017 to save 30% on the hardcover version.

See also A New Strategy for Complex Warfare: Combined Effects in East Asia by Thomas A. Drohan

Asia Warfare

Cambria Press author Wendy Larson (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Wendy Larson (University of Oregon) spoke about her new book Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania) and the Cambria Press Contemporary Global Performing Arts Series headed by Professor John Clum (Duke University).

Watch Professor Wendy Larson’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Wendy Larson publication Zhang Yimou

Below is a transcript of Professor Wendy Larson’s speech:

“I have been working on this book for ten years. When I first thinking about writing on Zhang Yimou, it was because of the film Hero. As you probably know, the film was extremely controversial. It came out and was widely criticized as being an apology for an authoritarian government as well as many other bad things. As I watched the film, I felt that it was more complicated than that, and I thought that wasn’t quite fair. So that got me into thinking about Zhang Yimou. I had done a little writing on him in the past. So I wrote an article about Hero with a different kind of argument and got a bit of a reaction–Nick Kaldis wrote a response–and I wrote a counter-response. But my idea at the time was to look at the way in which literature and film theorized the position of culture in China–not Chinese culture; that is not to say Chinese culture versus Western culture, or something like that, but rather how culture is structurally working at a time of transformation and crisis in China when there is a lot of pressures from globalization, from consumerism and capitalism, and there’s just rapid change in the information society going on. So, originally, at first I thought I would put Zhang Yimou in there as one person that I will look at. And then I thought I was so tired from doing the book before that, where I looked at so many filmmakers and authors. So I thought maybe I’ll just focus on one, and that will make it easier. [Hahaha] So I did focus on one, but it didn’t make it easier. The choice wasn’t that easy, but I looked at Zhang Yimou’s films and I felt that about half of them, maybe three-quarters of them, could work within my argument. So what I did really is not an auteur-type of study; it is not a study of Zhang Yimou that is going to give you his whole history, his biographical information, his every single film–it is not a survey. It’s really an argument about the way that the films are in themselves a kind of investigation into the way culture is working in China.

There are two questions I often get, so I’ll answer them now. Number 1: Have you met Zhang Yimou? The answer is no. I have not met Zhang Yimou, and that’s on purpose because I feel compromised when I personally know the subjects of my study and I think it is an unconscious thing that I slightly back away from perhaps some of the things I want to say. And that may just be me; it’s not every single person that falls into that kind of trap.

And the second question is: Do you like all of Zhang Yimou’s films? The answer is no. But I like enough of his films, which I think are interesting and I think sometimes they have gotten a bad rap. I’ve had many arguments about this, and that has of course brought out the contrarian in me, and I’m happy to argue about what the films are doing.

So, finally, I just want to say that I am really to be pleased to be able to publish with an independent academic press, and I want to thank Toni Tan and Victor Mair and everyone else who has worked who has worked on this. A lot of people worked very hard on this. I’m very impressed with the speed and quality of the work, and I’m really happy to have published with Cambria Press. Thank you.”

* * * * *

Zhang Yimou has the reputation for being one of the most famous filmmakers of China, as well as one of the most controversial. Despite his stature among Chinese film directors, Zhang Yimou has not yet been the subject of a book-length treatment in English. Film professors who teach his films only have access to a relatively small corpus of articles and book chapters published over some twenty-five years. This book is the first attempt to remedy that situation by laying out not simply a biographical or empirical study, but a polemical argument that counters some of the critical trends in the interpretation of Zhang’s films. In this first critical study of films by Zhang Yimou in English, Wendy Larson plumbs the larger field of debate to suggest thought-provoking ways of thinking about the films and their relationship to Chinese culture. This is an important book for film scholars and for scholars of Chinese culture and history.

Title: Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture
Author: Wendy Larson
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979756
440 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979756.cfm

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Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu (City University of New York) spoke about her new book Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in The Story of the Stone at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Watch Professor I-Hsien Wu’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu publication Story of the Stone

Below is a transcript of Professor I-Hsien Wu’s speech:

“Let me begin with a heartfelt thank you to Toni Tan and David Armstrong, and the whole production team at Cambria. Thank you for helping me transform my project into a book. And thank you, Professor Mair. It is my great honor to have my book included in the series. I feel extremely honored and grateful.

And I am so thrilled to be here today, because The Story of the Stone is not only the most celebrated prose fiction in Chinese literature but also my favorite book. I vividly remember reading an abridged version of the novel for young readers when I was in elementary school. And I remember reading the original for the first time when I was eleven — it was such a struggle! I was completely confused by Chapter 1 and gave up!

But now that’s history. Chapter 1 has since become where I turn to all the time, especially the metafictional framework. I am intrigued by the idea that a stone can be a character, a narrator, a jade pendant, and the book itself all at the same time. And I am fascinated by the stone’s famous criticism of historical romance, erotic fiction, and scholar-and-beauty novels. Although it looks like he is drawing a line between his story and these previous works, in fact he only reveals that The Story of the Stone is deeply rooted in these genres and conventions.

This is where the novel openly shows the author’s anxiety of influence and alludes to the nature of intertextuality, and this is also where my book comes in. To me, the novel’s construction of lust is a dialogue with erotic literature; its making of romance is about the use of drama; in the last forty chapters, the novel wrestles with the scholar-and-beauty ideals; and finally, the mythic stone is created to question the convention of storytelling, not only in pre-existing fiction but also in the novel’s many previous lives in manuscript versions and printed editions.

It has been a long journey for me reading and writing about The Story of the Stone. I hope you will all join me by reading my book. Thank you.”

* * * * *

How does The Story of the Stone utilize language and text to make meanings of the human lives it creates? How does The Story of the Stone exist through its relation to previous fiction? To answer these questions, this book argues that the mythic stone’s harsh critiques of historical romance (yeshi), erotic fiction (fengyue bimo), and scholar-and-beauty fiction (caizi jiaren) cannot be taken at face value. Instead, they signify The Stone’s anxiety of influence and allude to the nature of intertextuality. Professor Wu’s book, Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature, is thus a must-read for anyone interested in The Story of the Stone, and for readers interested in novel, fiction, drama, and other literary genres and subgenres in Chinese literature.

Title: Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in The Story of the Stone
Author: I-Hsien Wu
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979770
240 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979770.cfm

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Cambria Press author Mark Bender (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) spoke about his new book The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Watch Professor Mark Bender’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Mark Bender publication Borderlands of Asia

Below is a transcript of Professor Mark Bender’s speech:

“Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank-you to Toni Tan, Michelle Wright—and, of course, Victor Mair—of Cambria Press for helping me with this project.  I am endlessly grateful for their vision and hard work.

This project began as a side interest to my study of oral traditions in China.  It has grown organically from the translation of a few poems concerning cultural and environmental change written in Nuosu language by Yi poet and academic Aku Wuwu of Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu. The  present volume includes the works of 48 poets from Northeast India, Myanmar, Southwest China, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolia.

It has been my great pleasure to work with a number of onsite collaborators who helped in many ways to put me in touch with local poets.  These include Desmond Kharmawthlang from the Northeast Hill University in Shillong, Meghalaya in Northeast India; the poet ko ko thett, a former Burmese ex-pat, now living in Mandalay, Myanmar; poets Aku Wuwu and Burao Yilu, of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, China; Prof. Chen Ganglong of Peking University who connected me to poets of Inner Mongolia; and the inimitable Delgermaa Ganbat of the Union of Mongolian Writers in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The theme of the volume is the experiences of cultural and environmental change as channeled through the voices of poets from among the many ethnic groups within and without of the border areas of China and India. As I note in the Preface the array of poets included in this volume would have been different if I had met different people and if my travels had taken me to other places.  That said I feel strongly that the themes of cultural and environmental change treated in the volume have a sharp relevancy in many areas Asia and elsewhere on the planet.  One theme that I raise in the Introduction is that of “place-competency” – the deep familiarity with local environments and how to live in a place – knowledge threatened by new styles of living that require new competencies for survival.  Many of the poets in this volume have written poems that reflect their own adjustments to changing circumstances, and often speak for their local communities. To quote from page 15:

“Many of the poets in this volume reflect perceptual and experiential attitudes towards the lands and waters of specific places that belie deep place-competency—whether the environment they evoke is a humid jhum field in Northeast India, the sublime spaces of the northern steppes, the disorienting streets of an urban megalopolis in Southwest China, or a somehow familiar myth-world inhabited by speaking animals. Some of the poets stress the de-linkage from these familiar relationships with the environment, exhibiting nostalgia for an imagined world of harmony in contrast to the traumatic changes of the present. From another angle, poems such as Desmond Kharmawphlang’s “Thaiang Buried Roots,” reflect an attitude adopted by poets who seek to renew aspects of tradition amidst the chaos of cultural upheaval and environmental destruction and heal intimate ties between community and place (Syiem 2011, 129–130).”

Other themes, such as the imagery of ritual and material culture in relation to imagery are prominent in the poems, but as my three minutes are rapidly coming to a close, I will end here with an entreaty that we pay take advantage of the opportunity to listen to these voices from the borderlands of Asia and see what they have to teach us.”

* * * * *

The Borderlands of Asia is a rare collection that brings together the works of poets of diverse cultural backgrounds located in places that are only beginning to be recognized globally as sites of intense poetic work. This book contributes to raising global awareness of this poetry of land, waters, and cultures in less-highlighted parts of Asia. The subjects of environmental and cultural change are inescapable in the poetry represented in this volume, and many ethnic communities are on the front lines of development, affected in various ways by resource extraction (especially mining and logging), damming of rivers (a severe international issue), loss of wildlife and habitat, population displacement, and the effects of climate change. Likewise, the local cultures have variously experienced the effects of invasion, colonization, revolution, social engineering, insurgency, multi-spectrum development, and globalization contributing to often challenging (or worse) cultural changes. The intense contemporary poetry being produced is an index of the magnitude of these changes. An important book for Asian studies, Indigenous literature studies, and literature of the environment studies, this volume offers a substantial glimpse into contemporary poetry from exciting but under-represented poetic voices speaking out in the border areas of eastern Asia.

Title: The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry
Author: Mark Bender
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979763
396 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book

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Cambria Press author & series editor Victor Mair (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author & series editor Professor Victor Mair spoke at the 2017 AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Cambria Press reception about how he first learned about Cambria Press at the 2008 conference and eventually came to head the Cambria Sinophone World Series, which he is pleased to note has “exploded” in such a short time. Thanks to Professor Mair’s leadership, the Cambria Sinophone World Series has grown with outstanding works from established, renowned scholars and rising academic stars.

Watch Professor Victor Mair’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception.

Victor Mair

Professor Mair also spoke about his new book Buddhist Transformations and Interactions: Essays in Honor of Antonino Forte, which was released at the AAS conference. The book is testimony to Forte’s reputation as an important scholar for his contributions, including the publication of his research and his generous assistance to many scholars. The authors in the volume are some of these scholars, and they include Tansen Sen (Baruch College), Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania), Antonino Forte, Timothy Barrett (SOAS, University of London), Jinhua Chen (University of British Columbia), Hubert Durt (International College for Advanced Buddhist Studies Tokyo), Phyllis Granoff (Yale University), Paul Groner (University of Virginia), John R. McRae (Indiana and Cornell Universities), Michael Radich (Victoria University of Wellington), James Robson (Harvard University), Koichi Shinohara (Yale University), Albert Welter (University of Arizona), and Mimi Yiengpruksawan (Yale University). This is an important book for scholars in the fields of Buddhist studies and Sinology.

Title: Buddhist Transformations and Interactions: Essays in Honor of Antonino Forte
Editor: Victor H. Mair
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979718
598 pp.  |   2017   |   Paperback & E-book

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