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The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia
Archaeology and Historical Memory
Mark E. Byington
Harvard University Press, 2016
Mark E. Byington explores the formation, history, and legacy of the ancient state of Puyŏ, which existed in central Manchuria from the third century BCE until the late fifth century CE. As the earliest archaeologically attested state to arise in northeastern Asia, Puyŏ occupies an important place in the history of that region. Nevertheless, until now its history and culture have been rarely touched upon in scholarly works in any language. The present volume, utilizing recently discovered archaeological materials from Northeast China as well as a wide variety of historical records, explores the social and political processes associated with the formation and development of the Puyŏ state, and discusses how the historical legacy of Puyŏ—its historical memory—contributed to modes of statecraft of later northeast Asian states and provided a basis for a developing historiographical tradition on the Korean peninsula. Byington focuses on two major aspects of state formation: as a social process leading to the formation of a state-level polity called Puyŏ, and as a political process associated with a variety of devices intended to assure the stability and perpetuation of the inegalitarian social structures of several early states in the Korea-Manchuria region.

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Banner Legacy
The Rise of the Fengtian Local Elite at the End of the Qing
Yoshiki Enatsu
University of Michigan Press, 2004
The Eight Banners is increasingly recognized as a key institution of the Qing dynasty administration. In Banner Legacy, Professor Enatsu argues that at the end of the Qing, as this region was placed under civil administration, many Han bannermen in the newly created Fengtian Province came to local prominence, first as landlords, then as power elites—active participants in provincial politics—through the reforms of the late Qing and the early Republic. Key local leaders such as Yuan Jinkai, Zhang Rong, Zhang Huangxiang, Wu Jingliang, and Wang Yuquan may be traced to the roles of the Han Banners.
Drawing on classic Japanese and Chinese resources on the area and recent scholarship, Banner Legacy uncovers the interplay between historical Qing institutions and emerging modern political practices during this tumultuous period.

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Colonial Tactics and Everyday Life
Workers of the Manchuria Film Association
Yuxin Ma
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Following the Japanese invasion of northeast China in 1931, the occupying authorities established the Manchuria Film Association to promote film production efficiency and serve Japan’s propaganda needs. Manchuria Film Association had two tasks: to make “national policy films” as part of a cultural mission of educating Chinese in Manchukuo (the puppet state created in 1932) on the special relationship between Japan and the region, and to block the exhibition of Chinese films from Shanghai that contained anti-Japanese messages. The corporation relied on Japanese capital, technology, and film expertise, but it also employed many Chinese filmmakers. After the withdrawal of Japanese forces in 1945, many of these individuals were portrayed as either exploited victims or traitorous collaborators. Yuxin Ma seeks to move the conversation beyond such simplistic and inaccurate depictions.

By focusing on the daily challenges and experiences of the Chinese workers at the corporation, Ma examines how life was actually lived by people navigating between practical and ideological concerns. She illustrates how the inhabitants of Manchukuo navigated social opportunities, economic depression, educational reforms, fascist rule, commercial interests, practical daily needs, and more—and reveals ways in which these conflicting preoccupations sometimes manifested as tension and ambiguity on screen. In the battle between repression and expression, these Chinese actors, directors, writers, and technicians adopted defensive and opportunistic tactics. They did so in colonial spaces, often rejecting modernist representations of Manchukuo in favor of venerating traditional Chinese culture and values. The expertise, skills, and professional networks they developed extended well beyond the occupation into the postwar period, and may individuals reestablished themselves as cinema professionals in the socialist era.

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The Economic Development of Manchuria
The Rise of a Frontier Economy
Kang Chao
University of Michigan Press, 1983
The economic development of Manchuria holds special fascination, since within the compass of a limited area and a self-contained time span of about one hundred years—between 1860 and 1960—we witness three different types of development patterns, based on three alternative sources of economic growth. The first and longest period, extending roughly from 1860 to 1930, was based on the development of an open frontier, the settlement of a new region. Application of the staple theory of growth to Manchurian conditions can help to illuminate the character of the growth process during this first period. In this connection the Manchurian development case invites comparison with growth processes in other newly settled regions, for example, the US, Canada, and Australia. [1]

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Harbin and Manchuria
Place, Space, and Identity, Volume 99
Thomas Lahusen, ed.
Duke University Press
This special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly focuses on the layered cultures of the northeast China city of Harbin and the region formerly known as Manchuria. During the first half of the twentieth-century, Harbin—a by-product of the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway at the turn of the century—and the rest of Manchuria became the site of conflicting and competing Russian, Western, Japanese, and Chinese colonialisms. Home to émigrés from the famine-ridden Shandong province, impoverished Japanese settlers, Jews fleeing the pogroms of Russia, White Russians escaping the civil war, and Koreans caught between Japanese expansionism and Chinese nationalism, Harbin was a colonial place like no other, one that eventually comprised more than fifty nationalities speaking forty-five languages.
Crossing the boundaries of their specializations, contributors respond to the complexity of this history while considering the concrete concept of place and its relation to the more abstract idea of space. A rare encounter between scholars of East Asian and Slavic studies, this well-illustrated collections includes discussions of history, politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, cinema, and cultural studies. An eclectic and comprehensive exploration of memory and its reconstruction in the Harbin-Manchuria diaspora, Harbin and Manchuria provides the first full treatment of this colonial encounter.

Contributors. Olga Bakich, Sabine Breuillard, James Carter, Elena Chernolutskaya, Prasenjit Duara, Thomas Lahusen, Hyun-Ok Park, Andre Schmid, Mariko Asano Tamanoi, David Wolff


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The History of Manchuria, 1840-1948
A Sino-Russo-Japanese Triangle
Ian Nish
Amsterdam University Press, 2016
In A History of Manchuria, Ian Nish describes the turbulent times which the three Northeastern Provinces of China experienced in the last two centuries. The site of three serious wars in 1894, 1904 and 1919, the territory rarely enjoyed peace though its economy progressed because of the building of arterial railways. From 1932 it came under the rule of the Japanese-inspired government of Manchukuo based at Changchun. But that was short-lived, being brought to an end by the punitive incursion and occupation of the country by Soviet forces in 1945. Thereafter the devastated territory was fought over by Chinese Nationalist and Communist armies until Mukden (Shenyang) fell to the Communists in October 1948. Manchuria, under-populated but strategically important, was the location for disputes between China, Russia and Japan, the three powers making up the 'triangle' which gives the name to the sub-title of this study. These countries were hardly ever at peace with one another, the result being that the economic growth of a potentially wealthy country was seriously retarded. The story is illustrated by extracts drawn from contemporary documents of the three triangular powers.

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Inheritance of Loss
China, Japan, and the Political Economy of Redemption after Empire
Yukiko Koga
University of Chicago Press, 2016
How do contemporary generations come to terms with losses inflicted by imperialism, colonialism, and war that took place decades ago? How do descendants of perpetrators and victims establish new relations in today’s globalized economy? With Inheritance of Loss, Yukiko Koga approaches these questions through the unique lens of inheritance, focusing on Northeast China, the former site of the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo, where municipal governments now court Japanese as investors and tourists. As China transitions to a market-oriented society, this region is restoring long-neglected colonial-era structures to boost tourism and inviting former colonial industries to create special economic zones, all while inadvertently unearthing chemical weapons abandoned by the Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II.
Inheritance of Loss chronicles these sites of colonial inheritance––tourist destinations, corporate zones, and mustard gas exposure sites––to illustrate attempts by ordinary Chinese and Japanese to reckon with their shared yet contested pasts. In her explorations of everyday life, Koga directs us to see how the violence and injustice that occurred after the demise of the Japanese Empire compound the losses that later generations must account for, and inevitably inherit.

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Knowing Manchuria
Environments, the Senses, and Natural Knowledge on an Asian Borderland
Ruth Rogaski
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Making sense of nature in one of the world’s most contested borderlands.

According to Chinese government reports, hundreds of plague-infected rodents fell from the skies over Gannan county on an April night in 1952. Chinese scientists determined that these flying voles were not native to the region, but were vectors of germ warfare, dispatched over the border by agents of imperialism. Mastery of biology had become a way to claim political mastery over a remote frontier. Beginning with this bizarre incident from the Korean War, Knowing Manchuria places the creation of knowledge about nature at the center of our understanding of a little-known but historically important Asian landscape. 

At the intersection of China, Russia, Korea, and Mongolia, Manchuria is known as a site of war and environmental extremes, where projects of political control intersected with projects designed to make sense of Manchuria’s multiple environments. Covering more than 500,000 square miles, Manchuria’s landscapes include temperate rainforests, deserts, prairies, cultivated plains, wetlands, and Siberian taiga. With analysis spanning the seventeenth century to the present day, Ruth Rogaski reveals how an array of historical actors—Chinese poets, Manchu shamans, Russian botanists, Korean mathematicians, Japanese bacteriologists, American paleontologists, and indigenous hunters—made sense of the Manchurian frontier. She uncovers how natural knowledge, and thus the nature of Manchuria itself, changed over time, from a sacred “land where the dragon arose” to a global epicenter of contagious disease; from a tragic “wasteland” to an abundant granary that nurtured the hope of a nation.

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Manchurian Legacy
Memoirs of a Japanese Colonist
Kazuko Kuramoto
Michigan State University Press, 1999

Kazuko Kuramoto was born and raised in Dairen, Manchuria, in 1927, at the peak of Japanese expansionism in Asia. Dairen and the neighboring Port Arthur were important colonial outposts on the Liaotung Peninsula; the train lines established by Russia and taken over by the Japanese, ended there. When Kuramoto's grandfather arrived in Dairen as a member of the Japanese police force shortly after the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the family's belief in Japanese supremacy and its "divine" mission to "save" Asia from Western imperialists was firmly in place. As a third-generation colonist, the seventeen-year-old Kuramoto readily joined the Red Cross Nurse Corps in 1944 to aid in the war effort and in her country's sacred cause. A year later, her family listened to the emperor's radio broadcast ". . . we shall have to endure the unendurable, to suffer the insufferable." Japan surrendered unconditionally. 
     Manchurian Legacy is the story of the family's life in Dairen, their survival as a forgotten people during the battle to reclaim Manchuria waged by Russia, Nationalist China, and Communist China, and their subsequent repatriation to a devastated Japan. Kuramoto describes a culture based on the unthinking oppression of the colonized by the colonizer. And, because Manchuria was, in essence, a Japanese frontier, her family lived a freer and more luxurious life than they would have in Japan—one relatively unscathed by the war until after the surrender.  
     As a commentator Kuramoto explores her culture both from the inside, subjectively, and from the outside, objectively. Her memoirs describe her coming of age in a colonial society, her family's experiences in war-torn Manchuria, and her "homecoming" to Japan—where she had never been—just as Japan is engaged in its own cultural upheaval.


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Northern Frontiers of Qing China and Tokugawa Japan
A Comparative Study of Frontier Policy
Richard Louis Edmonds
University of Chicago Press, 1985

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Significant Soil
Settler Colonialism and Japan's Urban Empire in Manchuria
Emer O'Dwyer
Harvard University Press, 2015

Like all empires, Japan’s prewar empire encompassed diverse territories as well as a variety of political forms for governing such spaces. This book focuses on Japan’s Kwantung Leasehold and Railway Zone in China’s three northeastern provinces. The hybrid nature of the leasehold’s political status vis-à-vis the metropole, the presence of the semipublic and enormously powerful South Manchuria Railway Company, and the region’s vulnerability to inter-imperial rivalries, intra-imperial competition, and Chinese nationalism throughout the first decades of the twentieth century combined to give rise to a distinctive type of settler politics. Settlers sought inclusion within a broad Japanese imperial sphere while successfully utilizing the continental space as a site for political and social innovation.

In this study, Emer O’Dwyer traces the history of Japan’s prewar Manchurian empire over four decades, mapping how South Manchuria—and especially its principal city, Dairen—was naturalized as a Japanese space and revealing how this process ultimately contributed to the success of the Japanese army’s early 1930s takeover of Manchuria. Simultaneously, Significant Soil demonstrates the conditional nature of popular support for Kwantung Army state-building in Manchukuo, highlighting the settlers’ determination that the Kwantung Leasehold and Railway Zone remain separate from the project of total empire.


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Swallows and Settlers
The Great Migration from North China to Manchuria
Thomas R. Gottschang and Diana Lary
University of Michigan Press, 2000
Between the 1890s and the Second World War, twenty-five million people traveled from the densely populated North China provinces of Shandong and Hebei to seek employment in the growing economy of China's three northeastern provinces, the area known as Manchuria. This was the greatest population movement in modern Chinese history and ranks among the largest migrations in the world.
Swallows and Settlers is the first comprehensive study of that migration. Drawing methods from their respective fields of economics and history, the coauthors focus on both the broad quantitative outlines of the movement and on the decisions and experiences of individual migrants and their families. In readable narrative prose, the book lays out the historical relationship between North China and the Northeast (Manchuria) and concludes with an examination of ongoing population movement between these regions since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

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Two Dreams in One Bed
Empire, Social Life, and the Origins of the North Korean Revolution in Manchuria
Hyun Ok Park
Duke University Press, 2005
Rethinking a key epoch in East Asian history, Hyun Ok Park formulates a new understanding of early-twentieth-century Manchuria. Most studies of the history of modern Manchuria examine the turbulent relations of the Chinese state and imperialist Japan in political, military, and economic terms. Park presents a compelling analysis of the constitutive effects of capitalist expansion on the social practices of Korean migrants in the region.

Drawing on a rich archive of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese sources, Park describes how Koreans negotiated the contradictory demands of national and colonial powers. She demonstrates that the dynamics of global capitalism led the Chinese and Japanese to pursue capitalist expansion while competing for sovereignty. Decentering the nation-state as the primary analytic rubric, her emphasis on the role of global capitalism is a major innovation for understanding nationalism, colonialism, and their immanent links in social space.

Through a regional and temporal comparison of Manchuria from the late nineteenth century until 1945, Park details how national and colonial powers enacted their claims to sovereignty through the regulation of access to land, work, and loans. She shows that among Korean migrants, the complex connections among Chinese laws, Japanese colonial policies, and Korean social practices gave rise to a form of nationalism in tension with global revolution—a nationalism that laid the foundation for what came to be regarded as North Korea’s isolationist politics.


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