#AAS2018 Program – Cambria Press Back Cover Ad

We are excited for the annual conference of the Association of Asian Studies, taking place in Washington, DC, next week. We have six book launches, and these books and their authors are featured on the outside back cover of the #AAS2018 program. Please come to the Cambria Press booth (109) in the exhibit hall to check these books out.



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AAS 2017 Toronto: Books and Scholars in Asian Studies to Watch

AAS 2017 Cambria Press Authors

Check out the new books by these Asianists at the Cambria Press booth 109 at the Association for Asian Studies, Inc. (AAS) #AAS2017 conference in Toronto.

Top (left to right): Wilt Idema (Harvard University), Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania), Wendy Larson (University of Oregon), Mark Bender (The Ohio State University), and Charlotte Furth (University of Southern California).

Bottom (left to right): Zhansui Yu (Nazareth College), Christopher Lupke (University of Alberta), Takayoshi Yamamura (Hokkaido University), I-Hsien Wu (City College of New York), and Philip Seaton (Hokkaido University).

Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania) will make a special appearance at the Cambria Press booth (109) on Friday (March 17) at 11 a.m. to discuss the Cambria Sinophone World Series and his latest book Buddhist Transformations and Interactions. In addition, six other new books are being launched just in time for the AAS conference. These are:

  • Zhang Yimou by Wendy Larson (University of Oregon)

    “Larson’s book is important for any reader interested in how the political sphere and visual culture redefine each other.” —Yomi Braester, University of Washington; and Coeditor, Journal of Chinese Cinemas

  • The Borderlands of Asia by Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) 

    “When it comes to other books on the market, there is nothing close to this book in terms of quality or range of material. This is a unique and valuable addition to the field of literature and Asian studies.”—Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma; and Editor, Chinese Literature Today

  • Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature by I-Hsien Wu (CUNY) 

    “I-Hsien Wu has done brilliant work in teasing out the intertextual threads of The Story of the Stone. In a very astute manner, she examines sources drawn from performing arts and erotic fiction, identifies ideological and affective contestations, and ponders the consequences of the novel as a text in flux.” —David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University

  • Chinese Avant-garde Fiction by Zhansui Yu (Nazareth College) 

    “This thoughtful book offers fresh insights into avant-garde fiction in the early decades of China’s reform. Engaging Chinese and Western traditions, Yu Zhansui argues forcefully that the Chinese avant-garde carries on the probe into the darkness of history in a quest for transcendent truths about human conditions.” —Ban Wang, Stanford University

  • Opening to China by Charlotte Furth (Univerity of Southern California) 

    “Few Americans today have any sense of how far China has come since its opening in the early 1980s. Charlotte Furth was there to see the start of the defrost with the country’s opening and her lively account of her experiences in China then provides a unique and invaluable record. It is useful in these days of rising tensions between China and the U.S. to be reminded of China’s social reality not very long ago.” —Gordon H. Chang, Stanford University

  • Contents Tourism in Japan by Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, and Kyungjae Jang

    “This may be the best book ever written on tourism in Japan! This work is on one of the most important subjects in contemporary tourism studies and Japan studies, perhaps a forerunner of things that are also happening in the Korean and Chinese worlds and elsewhere, which makes it doubly important.” —Nelson Graburn, UC Berkeley

Taika square sneak peek

Take a sneak peek at the Cambria Press Asian studies catalog

Taika square book sales

Use coupon code AAS2017 at http://www.cambriapress.com to save 30% on all hardcover titles. Offer ends May 15, 2017.

Taika square book

Forthcoming book in the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security Studies (RCCS) Series headed by Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn

Taika square BAG

Come to booth 109 to get a complimentary Cambria Sinophone World Series tote bag

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Taika square dessert

Sheraton Toronto Churchill Room

AAS 2016 Cambria Press Sinophone World Series Event

The AAS 2016 conference was one of our best conferences yet. It was great being right in the front of the exhibit hall and across from the AAS booth. We appreciated the compliments on our 8 ft long banners from both attendees and other exhibitors. Thanks to all who stopped by!

Asian Studies 1

Cambria Press AAS 2016 Book Exhibit Hall Banner 1

The Cambria booth had two banners–one for our Cambria Sinophone World Series Event and series, and the other for our latest books.

Asian Studies 2

Cambria Press AAS 2016 Book Exhibit Hall Banner 2

Thanks also to all who attended the Cambria Sinophone World Series Event! Speakers were:

Christopher Lupke Toni Tan Victor Mair Sinophone Asian Studies

Christopher Lupke (Washington State University; author of The Sinophone World Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien) with Toni Tan (Cambria Press director) and Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania; general editor of the Cambria Sinophone World Series)

Christopher Lupke Victor Mair Sinophone Asian Studies Toni Tan Cambria

Christopher Lupke (Washington State University; author of The Sinophone World Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien) with Toni Tan (Cambria Press director), Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania; general editor of the Cambria Sinophone World Series), and Minghui Hu (University of California Santa Cruz; coeditor, with Johan Elverskog of SMU, of Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600-1950)


Victor Mair Sinophone Christopher Lupke Hou Hsiao-hsien Toni Tan Cambria Press

AAS 2016 Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania; general editor of the Cambria Sinophone World Series), Christopher Lupke (Washington State University; author of The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien) and Toni Tan (Cambria Press director)


Buddhist Baodingshan Karil Kucera

Karil Kucera (St. Olaf College; author of Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhism)

Download the Asian Studies catalog and browse our titles. Enjoy 30% off all hardcover titles. Use coupon code ASIA30. Libraries can use this code too.

AAS 2016 Seattle: Cambria Sinophone World Series Event

Cambria Press will be holding its annual Cambria Sinophone World Series event at the AAS conference on Satuday (April 2, 2016) at 7:30 p.m. in the Jefferson Room (4th floor in the Union Street Tower) at the Sheraton Seattle. All are welcome to this event.

AAS 2016 Asian Studies

Dr. Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania) will be discussing the series and introducing the new books.


Dr. Mair will speak on behalf of Dr. Wilt Idema (Harvard University) and Dr. Chia-rong Wu (Rhodes College) about their books, The Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven and Other Precious Scrolls from Western Gansu and Supernatural Sinophone and Beyond respectively.

Wilt Idema author Cambria Press book publication baojuan precious scrolls China SinologistSupernatural Sinophone Taiwan

Dr. Christopher Lupke (Washington State University) will be present to discuss his book, The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien, which will make its highly anticipated debut at the conference.

Hou Hsiao-hsien

Another long-awaited book that will be released at the conference is Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600-1950 by Minghui Hu and Johan Elverskog. Both will be present to talk about their book.

Cosmopolitanism China

In addition, Dr. Karil Kucera (St. Olaf College) will be there to speak about her book (also being released at the AAS), Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhism: Visualizing Enlightenment at Baodingshan from the 12th to 21st Centuries. Her book features 159 color images as well as an innovative online component that takes readers through Baodingshan.


Finally, it is a great honor to have Colonel Thomas Drohan who will discuss his book, A New Strategy for Complex Warfare: Combined Effects in East Asia.

East Asia Warfare Strategy

This is the first book in the new series, Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security (RCCS), headed by general editor Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn.

Conflict and Security

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Authors to Watch: Minghui Hu and Johan Elverskog

Cambria Press book publication author Asian Sinophone Victor Mair Johan Elverskog Minghui Hu

Cambria Press authors Professors Minghui Hu (University of California Santa Cruz) and Johan Elverskog (Southern Methodist University) are among the group of scholars who are making the bold exploration into historian Joseph Levenson’s observation that China used to be cosmopolitan on account of Confucianism. Levenson’s assertion was made at the height of the Cultural Revolution and the Cold War in 1971.

At that time, the notion of China, much less Confucianism, as somehow being cosmopolitan may have surprised many of his readers, especially because so many conventional ideas about China—ranging from its “kith and kin” social structure to its purportedly eternal and monolithic state structure—seem to reflect a society that was the very antithesis of cosmopolitanism.

Indeed, even now, or perhaps even more so now on account of growing Chinese nationalism, Han chauvinism, and global fears of a rising China, the idea of Chinese cosmopolitanism may strike many as ill conceived. This supposition is well borne out by the fact that one can largely search in vain the last four decades of scholarship on China to find again the three words China, Confucianism, and cosmopolitanism combined in any meaningful way. It is not only scholars of late imperial (or early modern) China who have failed to pursue Levenson’s idea; China is also woefully absent in the burgeoning scholarship in the movement known as the “new cosmopolitanism.”

But Levenson, according to Professors Hu and Elverskog, as with so much of his scholarship, was clearly on to something important. In fact, in the current academic climate it seems almost irresponsible not to address this. Their forthcoming volume, Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600-1950, is therefore a pioneering attempt to explore the implications and possibilities of Levenson’s potent observation regarding China in relation to the growing scholarship on cosmopolitanism around the world.

This book is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, led by Dr. Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Cambria Press SInophone publication author book Cosmopolitan China Victor Mair

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International Day of Rural Women – Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India

October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women, and so Cambria Press is highlighting Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India: Making Place for Rural Development by Dr. Pratyusha Basu.

Cambria Press publication author book review

Cambria Press Publication Excerpt
Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India

“The constant appearance of India’s cooperative dairying program in celebratory itineraries of national and international development can be considered one of its principal distinguishing features. One prominent instance of this utilization of the program to mark the successes of rural development was the visit by Bill Clinton, then president of the United States, to the village of Nayala in the state of Rajasthan in western India on March 23, 2000, as part of an official visit to South Asia. In his meeting with members of a women’s dairy cooperative society in Nayala, Clinton marveled at their use of automated milk-testing and accounting technologies (BBC News 2000b; Joseph 2000) and offered the following parting words: ‘I grew up in a place with many dairy cows. And I know what hard work it is. And I will always treasure this. And I will put this up in the White House so that people from all over the world will know I have come here, and I can tell them the story of what you are doing. (American Presidency Project 2000)’ “

The Professional Geographer has noted that this book “has wider implications for development studies beyond the case of cooperative dairying in India. Basu’s research is critical of broad-brush studies, policies, and programs of international and national development that aim to alleviate poverty with “one-size-fits-all” perspectives and that are not sufficiently attentive to diversity within community cultures and politics or open to multifaceted approaches to sustaining livelihoods.”

Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India is an important resource for those studying geography, sociology, anthropology, rural studies, development studies, gender studies, and Asian studies (especially regional studies of India).

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Interview with Wilt Idema on his new book, “The Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven and Other Precious Scrolls from Western Gansu”

Wilt L Idema baojuan Asian Studies Cambria Press

The following is an interview with Cambria Press author Dr. Wilt Idema (Harvard University) whose new book has just been released. In addition to the many honors he has earned, Dr. Idema is one of twenty Sinologists this year to win the 9th Special Book Award of China, a national-level award was set up by General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

The Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven and Other Precious Scrolls from Western Gansu is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series headed by another eminent Sinologist, Dr. Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Cambria Press Interview with
Wilt Idema on New Publication

Q: What are precious scrolls?

Wilt Idema: “Precious scrolls (baojuan) is the name of a genre of prosimetric texts (texts written in an alternation of prose and verse) on religious subjects and written in vernacular Chinese. The most recent catalogue of precious scrolls lists more than 1500 titles. The oldest examples of the genre can be dated back to the 14th century. These earliest examples of the genre are all Buddhist in nature and range in content from adaptations of Buddhist sutras to retellings of pious stories. Originally, precious scrolls were performed by monks and nuns for lay audiences in a ritual setting. During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) the genre was also adopted by the founders of new religions who used the format to spread their message, while during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) many stories that were not necessarily religious in origin were also rewritten as precious scrolls (many stories are available in multiple versions). During these centuries precious scrolls also came to be performed by lay people, both men and women. The texts originally circulated in manuscript, but many of them also were printed. With the introduction of new printing technologies into China in the late 19th century, precious scrolls even became the staple of some specialized printing companies in Shanghai, whose products were shipped all over China.”

Q: What happened with precious scrolls in the 20th century?

Wilt Idema: In the 20th century the overwhelming majority of modern Chinese intellectuals condemned the genre, if they took notice of it at all, as a repository of the traditional religion and morality that were seen as the cause of China’s backwardness. The only exceptions were a few aficionados of Chinese folklore and popular arts who started to collect precious scrolls and compile catalogues.”

Q: So precious scrolls became extinct?

Wilt Idema: Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 precious scrolls could not be printed anymore. As the embodiment of “feudal superstition” performances of precious scrolls were absolutely outlawed during the period of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1978), and many performers and owners of texts were severely criticized and persecuted during these years. To all practical purposes the genre, both texts and performances, had disappeared from the earth.”

Q: But clearly there was a comeback for precious scrolls. Why?

Wilt Idema: With the political reforms of the 1980s, the genre made a comeback in several regions of China when precious scrolls were once again performed. Two regions stood out for their lively “precious scroll culture”: the Wu-dialect area around Shanghai and Suzhou, in many ways the most developed area of China, and Western Gansu (the Gansu Corridor), long one of the poorest regions of the country. Hidden texts resurfaced and other texts were copied from manuscript. But while in the Wu-dialect area the religious nature of the genre is still very outspoken, this is less so in the case of the precious scrolls of Western Gansu even though their performance has not lost its ritual character. Once precious scrolls were performed again they quickly attracted the attention of Chinese scholars folk literature, of traditional music, and of popular religion. The status of the genre was enhanced greatly when in the early 21st century some local traditions of precious scrolls were placed on China’s national list of “intangible cultural heritage,” which induced many local governments to collect and reprint the precious scrolls from their area.”

Q: Why read precious scrolls?

Wilt Idema: “Traditional Chinese literature as studied since the beginning of the modern era was mostly written by and for elite men who in their public pronouncements upheld Confucianism and disdained more popular traditions. Even the vernacular traditions of drama and fiction that were incorporated in the master narrative of Chinese literary history in the May Fourth Period and beyond were those works of drama and fiction that had been incorporated into the literati culture from the late Ming onwards. But China’s last two dynasties also left a huge body of popular literature in a great variety of genres, many of which continued to be popular well into the 20th century (or in some cases even into the 21st) . So if we want to learn what the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population thought and believed in premodern times we have to turn to these largely unstudied genres of popular literature. But Chinese scholars in the first few decades of the People’s Republic of China, looking for the living voice of the people, primarily focused their research on strictly oral genres and on performance, avoiding to a large extent the written record of popular literature because the written texts, whether in manuscript or in print, had to be the work of authors with at least some degree of literacy.”

Q: Clearly, there has been a change, a new focus by scholars on written texts in studying  popular literature in China?

Wilt Idema: “It is only in more recent decades that the scholars of popular literature in China also have turned their attention to written texts. Scholars outside China were hampered in their research by the fact that libraries traditionally have tended to collect high literature, with the result that works of popular literature were hard to locate. Despite this handicap, a growing number of scholars in Chinese studies have started to become interested in precious scrolls since the 1970s, and their work has been greatly facilitated by a number of large reprint projects in recent years, as well as by the increased availability of China for field research.”

Q: Regarding the scholars who work on precious scrolls–are they mainly from the field of religious studies? 

Wilt Idema: “Most scholars who have worked on precious scrolls so far have a background in religious studies, and they often focus on the origin and development of the new religions (or “sects”)  of the Ming and Qing. Indeed, precious scrolls provide us with excellent materials to study the characteristics of grass-roots religion and popular values, in all their bewildering variety. But precious scrolls also tell great stories that have been able to hold their audiences spell-bound for centuries. Some of these stories are also well-known from other genres, but others would appear to be unique to the genre. In telling these stories, the genre employs both prose and verse. The prose may range from the highest register of the vernacular to earthy colloquial, and the verse sections come both in ten-syllable lines and in seven syllable lines as well as various forms of poems and lyrics. But whereas works in many other genres of prosimetric literature defy translation because of their volume, precious scrolls often are of limited length. The stories of many of these precious scrolls should not only appeal to the specialists of Chinese studies but also should hold great interest to students of comparative folklore, comparative literature, and comparative religions because of their content and form.”

Q: How did you select the precious scrolls selected for your new book?

Wilt Idema: “This volume presents in complete English translations six precious scrolls from Western Gansu. Following an Introduction, the book opens with The Precious Scroll of the Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven based on the printed edition of 1698. This work in 19 chapters tells the life and miracles of the Immortal Maiden, a deity that was widely venerated in Zhangye and elsewhere in the Gansu Corridor. The first six chapters tell her mortal life, and show how she achieved divine status by her active piety, her persistent meditation and her spectacular death during a flood. The next six chapters narrate how she rescued the Chinese from the Tatars, first by saving the Chinese general Huo Qubing from his enemies by creating a bridge across the Black River, allowing him to escape, and next by inflicting three plagues on the Tatars who tried to demolish her temple in revenge. The final chapters narrate how she supports public morals among the Chinese by protecting a poor student from murder, by turning an unfilial daughter-in-law into a dog, by extending the life of a good Samaritan, and by saving a poor widow and her son from the shenanigans of her husband’s brother who tries to steal their inheritance. A later addition adds the accounts of some recent miracles. This precious scroll should not only appeal to students of Chinese literature and religion, but also to students of Chinese and Central Asian history as it reflects the tensions between Chinese and Mongols in the 16th and 17th centuries in this border zone.”

Q: Please tell us about the other precious scrolls featured in your book.

Wilt Idema: “Students of Chinese history should also be interested in The Precious Scroll of Kalpa Survival that provides an account of the terrible northwestern famine of 1928-1930 as seen through the eyes of its victims.

The Precious Scroll of Liu Quan Presenting Melon is a reworking of an episode from the famous 16th century novel Journey to the West. It tells the tale of a man who first causes his wife to commit suicide and in his desperation is willing to visit the world of the dead in order to bring her back, and succeeds in doing so. The Precious Scroll of the Con Artist Hu Yucui is rather unique is featuring as its heroine a negative character: the young and beautiful Hu Yucui who uses her charms to separate gullible men from their cash—only to be eventually punished gruesomely by King Yama, the lord of the underworld.”

Q: Your book also features some animal tales which were popular. Please tell us more.

Wilt Idema: “Yes, the collection also contains two animal tales that were quite popular locally. The Precious Scroll of the Parrot narrates the adventures of this filial bird that is captured when he leaves his nest to find his dear mother a sweet pear. Sold by his catcher to Judge Bao, he is donated by the latter to the emperor. But when the little parrot has duped the emperor to set him free, he finds that his mother has died during his absence, whereupon the other birds, each according to his innate ability assist him in burying her.

The second animal tale is The Precious Scroll of the Mouse which treats the court case of the mouse vs. the cat. Despite his precautions a mouse is caught and devoured by a cat. The rodent’s soul appeals for justice to King Yama, the ruler of the underworld. Hearing the mouse’s account of the unmotivated cruelty of the cat, King Yama summons that animal, who in his counter statement provides a detailed description of the damages wrought by the mouse. An enraged King Yama thereupon rejects the accusation of the mouse and orders the cat to devour mice and rats all through the world.”

Q: Is there anything else readers should know about this unique book?

Wilt Idema: “Each of the six translations is provided with its own introduction.  All selections are here printed for the first time.”

Excerpts from The Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven and Other Precious Scrolls from Western Gansu will be posted soon.

Wilt Idema author Cambria Press book publication baojuan precious scrolls China Sinologist

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