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Afghanistan in Victorian Literature  

Zarena Aslami

Afghanistan appears infrequently in Victorian literature. However, when it does appear, whether as detail or as the setting of stories that characters tell within the framing story, it is highly charged with affect and meaning. For Victorian writers, references to Afghanistan had to be carefully managed because of the conflicted feelings the public had toward two wars that the British empire conducted in Afghanistan, wars that were unprovoked, traumatic, and did not definitively gain their stated objectives. The ideological necessity of viewing Afghans as both sovereign allies, preventing the incursions of other empires on British holdings in India, and savage others, to be dominated, led not only to powerfully charged references to this country in Victorian literature. It also finds expression in 20th- and 21st-century postcolonial scholarship, including the formidable work of Edward Said. Within this field, scholarship also tends to reference Afghanistan as mere detail and to evacuate it of historical content. Returning to Victorian literature allows us to fill in the content, that is, to understand this generic quality of Afghanistan—detail or narrated, but not direct, setting—as the result not of historical insignificance but of powerful Victorian ambivalence.

Article

Copyright, Publishing, and Knowledge Economy in Modern China  

Fei-Hsien Wang

As a major form of intellectual property, copyright is a person’s right over their original literary and artistic works. Based on the idea or principle that the creators own what they created as property, copyright laws grant the author an exclusive right to use their creations. How was this doctrine, which emerged from the complex dynamics of commerce, lawmaking, and knowledge production in Western Europe, introduced and developed in China, a society with its own long and sophisticated book culture and legal tradition? Books and written texts occupied a centrality in imperial Chinese culture. As printed books became more commercialized in the late Ming dynasty, a printing block–centered literary ownership emerged and was practiced by cultural entrepreneurs. Since the mid-19th century, Western knowledge, technologies, and Westernization political reforms shook this late-imperial book production tradition and Confucian classic–centered epistemological order. Modern (and Western) copyright was introduced and popularized in the late Qing dynasty as a progressive alien doctrine to modernize China and as a new tool against piracy. Two Japanese kanji phrases—banquan/hanken版權 (right to the printing blocks) and zhuzuoquan/chosakuken著作權 (author’s right)—were borrowed as the Chinese translation of the term “copyright,” with the former more widely used than the latter. Multiple systems and understandings of banquan/copyright developed in the first half of the 20th century. Despite the modern and universal rhetoric used in these systems, they were influenced by late-imperial norms and customs in practices. Their effectiveness was also limited by the political uncertainties at the time and the capacities of institutions that executed them. When the publishing sector was reconfigured after 1949, these systems and the concept of copyright faded out in Maoist China. After the economic reform in the 1980s, China reintegrated into the international copyright system, but piracy also returned as an acute issue for its knowledge economy. This article only discusses copyright and piracy in China’s publishing world, not in film, other audiovisual recordings, and digital products; the copyright development and struggles of these modern mechanical forms of cultural (re)productions deserve a separate discussion.

Article

Foreign Trade in Tokugawa Japan  

Robert Hellyer

Despite common portrayals, Tokugawa Japan (1603–1868) was not a completely isolated or closed state that turned away from foreign trade. Instead, it maintained consistent but limited trading links with other Asian states and groups, as well as with the Dutch East India Company. The structure of foreign trade was defined by early modern Japan’s political system, in which the Tokugawa shogunate ruled as the central authority, dominating roughly 260 lords who exercised broad autonomy within their individual feudal domains. The Tokugawa shogunate directly administered trade with Chinese and Dutch merchants at the port of Nagasaki. However, in the north, the Matsumae domain controlled trade with Indigenous Ainu tribes, while to the west, the Tsushima domain maintained commercial ties with Chosŏn Korea. To the south, the Satsuma domain manipulated to its benefit the foreign trade of the Ryukyu Kingdom, over which it exercised suzerainty. In response to internal and external trends, the shogunate periodically revised the parameters of foreign trade. During the first century of the Tokugawa era, Japan’s foreign trade centered on exporting silver to China, in exchange for silk. In the mid-18th century, Japan definitively ended silver exports, focusing instead on exporting copper and marine products, which were used to obtain medicinal goods, primarily from China. Under Western military and diplomatic pressure, in the late 1850s, the Tokugawa shogunate signed a series of treaties with Western states that reshaped the structure of foreign trade. Beginning in 1859, Western and other foreign merchants began to reside in three treaty ports that became the main venues of foreign commerce. Japan’s foreign trade thus transitioned from a focus on exchanges with China and other Asian states. Instead, foreign trade, especially exports of silk and tea, centered on Western nations, a trend that accelerated in the closing years of the Tokugawa period.

Article

Infrastructure, Circulation, and Ecology in the Maldives  

Luke Heslop and Lubna Hawwa

In the Maldives, interconnected human and ecological systems of circulation both sustain and corrode social, cultural, and environmental life. Therefore, a focus on infrastructure in the Maldives requires conceptualizing infrastructure as an assemblage of more-than-human networks and interactions. As well as being a known category of public good, infrastructure in the Maldives is also experienced as an accumulation of networks and meeting points between the ecological and subaquatic world, and the world dreamed of, designed by, and built by people. Infrastructure encompasses the relationship between the islands in the Maldives, island inhabitants, the sea, networks of people, and the movement of people through the islands over time. In taking such an approach, attention must be paid to the significance of the ocean and its reefs as unruly infrastructures that shape the permissibility of life on the archipelago.

Article

The Chinese in Colonial Myanmar  

Yi Li

Exchanges of people and goods between Myanmar (formerly Burma) and China have a long history spanning over a millennium. However, it was during the British colonial era in Burma (1824–1948) that substantial and consistent migration of ethnic Chinese occurred, laying the foundations of Sino-Burmese communities in present-day Myanmar. Two distinct migration routes were initially taken by Chinese immigrants: the overland route between northern Burma and Yunnan, predominantly used by southwestern Chinese since precolonial days; and the overseas route connecting the southern coast of China with port cities in Southeast Asia, including Rangoon. The latter forms part of the Nanyang Chinese network and was primarily used by immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong provinces. Over time, regional differences between different Chinese immigrant groups blurred, and Chinatowns or Chinese quarters in Rangoon, Mandalay, and other major towns across the colony emerged with distinctive Chinese characters. In colonial Burma, migrants from China constituted a smaller population, were less influential commercially and socially, and were generally less visible than their Indian counterparts. Nonetheless, they were recognized as a distinct ethnic group in the colonial state. Given colonial Burma’s geographic and administrative position, Chinese immigrants, while maintaining strong connections with other Southeast Asian Chinese communities, experienced a unique trajectory under colonial rule, navigating through internal tensions and World War II, and, alongside their multiethnic fellow residents, in British Burma, declared the independence at the beginning of 1948.

Article

Feminist Student Movement in Japan 1945–1975  

Anna Vittinghoff

Contrary to the common notion that depicts Japanese postwar student activism, and leftist activism more broadly, as being predominantly male, female activists within these movements played more than just supporting roles. Upon closer inspection of modern Japanese history, it becomes evident that female students were integral to and contributed in multiple ways to campus-based activism across Japan, ultimately pushing the liberatory discourse beyond schools, colleges, and universities into everyday life in the 1970s. During Japan’s nation-building project of the prewar period, sex-segregated education was a direct expression of the binary division of the site of activity between men and women. However, in the postwar period the introduction of coeducation and the subsequent student movement ultimately formed the hotbed for the women’s liberation movement of the early 1970s and the fundamental challenge it posed to the masculine bias of modern Japanese society. The experiences of female student activists across Japan were an important catalyst for feminist movements of the following decades because they not only highlighted the gendered discrimination of postwar Japanese society but also the necessity of an intersectional analysis of the systems of power at play.

Article

The History of Anthropometry and Fingerprinting in Colonial South Asia  

Mira Rai Waits

In the late 19th century, an obsession with identifying and classifying people emerged in the West. Efforts to develop lines of inquiry to support this obsession were common; visual technologies were harnessed and invented to further the acquisition of knowledge about human identity and classification. Anthropometry, the measurement of the human individual to understand physical variation, was used as the foundation for Bertillonage, a system designed to identify recidivists through a standardized collection of images and data sets about the human body. Consequently, anthropometry came to be associated with broader efforts to manage crime in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as law enforcement touted the potential of visual technologies and their related archival systems as mechanisms for improving criminal identification. This interest in visual technologies and criminal identification coupled with the colonial exploration of South Asia in the 19th century led to anthropometric studies of South Asian peoples. Some of these studies were tied to institutions of colonial law enforcement, such as the police or prison system, but others, including the late 19th-century study of the people of the Andaman Islands, demonstrate how the broader obsession with human identification and classification was tied to efforts to study race as a measurable subject. Colonial civil servants also turned to visual technologies for assistance with the management of colonial subjects. In 1858, Sir William James Herschel, the chief administrator of the Hooghly district of Bengal, after observing a native practice where fingermarks were used as marks of authenticity for the illiterate, began to experiment with taking handprints and fingerprints as identifying images. Scottish doctor Henry Faulds had contemporaneously expressed a similar interest in studying fingerprints after observing sample prints on ancient pottery while serving as a medical missionary in Japan. Herschel shared his findings with Sir Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics, who, after reviewing Herschel’s findings, posited that fingerprints were permanent visual markers of identity. Following this observation, Sir Edward Richard Henry, inspector-general of police of Bengal, along with police sub-inspectors Chandra Bose and Azizul Haque, developed a classification system for using fingerprints to identify recidivist criminals. This system was exported from colonial India to Britain and then on to police organizations globally.

Article

Lothal in the History of the Indian Ocean  

Shereen Ratnagar

Whether Lothal was a port is a problem, and this question is no longer seen as an inquiry only of whether it had a dock basin or how it compares with contemporary Ur. (Ur had two basins sheltering inside its perimeter wall; Lothal had none.) Since the beginning of excavation in Lothal in the 1950s, archaeology has become increasingly focused on matters other than local landscapes and seasonal rivers and whether ships could enter the basin from the Gulf of Khambhat. In the early 21st century, it can be compared the water storage reservoirs in the 1995 excavation of Harappan Dholavira with the basin at Lothal, as has been tried. Archaeologists have, besides, realized the significance of the Gulf of Kutch and its sites. Thus, world routes for ships have to be considered and, with that, the relevance of the Oman Peninsula to India, the nearest landmass and its neighbor across the sea. Perhaps the Omani seafaring tradition was as old as that in India. International archaeology has put Oman on the “Harappan trade” map, and Indian students would do well to read about its past—strange as it is in its culture from India.

Article

Partition and the Reorganization of Commercial Networks  

Rinchan Ali Mirza

The Partition of British India represents one of the largest episodes of involuntary mass migration in recorded history—an estimated 17 million people were displaced because of the event. Among the many changes that resulted from the Partition was the substantive untangling of the business architecture that had developed under the colonial regime. A central feature of the untangling was the separation of the extensive commodity trade network that had developed in areas that went to Pakistan from its agro-processing base that was inherited by areas that became part of post-independence India. The implications of such a restructuring of the business architecture were particularly relevant for Pakistan, which started off with a severe imbalance between its commodity trade and industrial sectors, the former of which was at a much more advanced stage than the latter. The rudimentary industrial base from which Pakistan started off in turn fostered a greater reliance of the state on the private capital of a small business elite when it came to promoting industrial growth. It is the changing dynamics of just such a relationship between the state and a small close knit business elite that has characterized the post-Partition business history of the country.

Article

Reframing Ancient Afghanistan: Pre-Historic and Early Historic Spatial Connections to the Saka-Yuezhi Period (1st Century CE)  

Henri-Paul Francfort

Afghanistan has remained a crossroad of civilizations since its origins. Despite having no access to the sea, Afghanistan, in both the north and south of the high mountainous range of the Hindu Kuch, benefits from large fluvial arteries from the Amu Darya system in the north and the Helmand system in the south, along with their tributaries. This benefit brings opportunities for irrigation and for communications. The mountains, especially the Badakhshan and Pamir mountainous nodes, contain important mineral resources, including gold and lapis lazuli. Because Eurasia is an open space, Afghanistan had relations with external regions, groups, nations, cultures, as early as the Paleolithic and Neolithic (especially Kel’teminar) periods. During the Chalcolithic period (ca. 3000–2500 bce), the maps of exchange networks encompassed Iran, Pakistani Baluchistan, Tajikistan, and the steppe world. This is the period of pottery, metallurgy, and glyptics related to economic and social development: a proto-urban phase. This broad network strengthened and grew during the Bronze Age (ca. 2500–1400 bce) with the Oxus civilization, covering the north of the country (Bactria and Dashly) and neighboring regions (parts of Northeast Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan), and connected to the southern regions (Pakistani Baluchistan). During this period, Indus colonies settled in northeastern Afghanistan (Shortughaï). The territories of Afghanistan were developing as “urban” settlements where arts and crafts reached international high standards, but in a specific socioeconomic model without large cities and no writing system, and with an enormous network of trade and exchanges (semiprecious stones, metals, and possibly camels), connected to Elamite, Akkadian-Ur III, and Levantine arts. It was a sort of twin of the Indus civilization. It collapsed around 1800–1500 bce possibly because of the effect of climate change and coming of steppe peoples. During the Iron Age (ca. 1400– 500 BCE), changes in pottery and craftsmanship indicate an economic decline, when Iranian tribes of horsemen may have migrated coming from the steppes and early phases of Zoroastrianism appear (in Bactria, Chorasmia, or Sistan). “International” trade possibly continued (lapis and metals). A new “imperial” phase occurred with the inclusion of the Afghan territory in the Persian Achaemenid empire by Cyrus the Great (ca. 545–540 bce). A number of satrapies with capital cities were located in Afghanistan (Bactria, Arachosia, Aria, etc.). The ancient trade and administrative roads functioned and were controlled by the imperial power. With the conquest of Alexander the Great (ca. 330 bce), the empire fell into new hands. An important Greek colonization, especially in the north, expanded to the north of Amu Darya with the Seleucid and Greco-Bactrian kingdoms, founding cities and establishing their cultures. India, after the establishment of strong ties with the Indian Maurya dynasty, came also under Greek rule: the Indo-Greeks emerged after 180 bce. Around 145–130 bce, the Greek power disappeared in Bactria and newcomers from the steppes, the Saka (Scythians) and Yuezhi (other nomads, predecessors of the Kushans), installed their domination, preparing the advent of the Kushan empire’s stabilization in the 1st century ce. The dialectics between external and local archaeological remains is a difficult question to tackle; often the research focuses on the external origins of cultural elements. For example, the languages and the scripts (Aramaic, Greek, and Indian) belong to the external ruler groups rather than to the autochthonous cultures. Indeed, in the Early History of Afghanistan, it is almost impossible to clearly define any “autochthonous” archaeological remains, unless we consider the preceding period as being localadmit . In sum, without being the center of these “empires”, except during the two centuries of the Greco-Bactrian, but even then not, if we consider a larger “Hellenistic koinè”, Afghanistan was, from its origins, a meeting place for many cultures and civilizations, and it remained an important part of external politico-cultural entities for millennia—the crossroads of Eurasian civilizations.