The Afro-Asian Century begins the task of excavating a multitude of Afro-Asian connections and collaborations in the twentieth century. With few exceptions, area studies and cultural studies have neglected or underestimated the significance of transethnic and transnational exchanges between African and Asian peoples.
By bringing instances of Afro-Asian traffic in the realms of politics, economics, and culture to the foreground, this collection maps an alternative global circuit. The issue examines the non-Eurocentric form of cosmopolitanism that emerged from creative encounters of racialized people in Jazz Age Paris, the Harlem Renaissance, and colonial Shanghai. It reconceptualizes the Indian Ocean as a crucial site for Afro-Asian cross-pollination and investigates the cinematic culture of kung fu as a global discourse of Afro-Asian anti-imperialism.
Contributors. Brent Edwards, Andrew F. Jones, Yukiko Koshiro, Bill Mullen, Vijay Prashad, William Schaefer, Nikhil Pal Singh, Françoise Vergès, Daniel Widener
In 1992 Deng Xiaoping famously declared, "Development is the only hard imperative." What ensued was the transformation of China from a socialist state to a capitalist market economy. The spirit of development has since become the prevailing creed of the People's Republic, helping to bring about unprecedented modern prosperity, but also creating new forms of poverty, staggering social upheaval, physical dislocation, and environmental destruction.
In Developmental Fairy Tales, Andrew Jones asserts that the groundwork for this recent transformation was laid in the late nineteenth century, with the translation of the evolutionary works of Lamarck, Darwin, and Spencer into Chinese letters. He traces the ways that the evolutionary narrative itself evolved into a form of vernacular knowledge which dissolved the boundaries between beast and man and reframed childhood development as a recapitulation of civilizational ascent, through which a beleaguered China might struggle for existence and claim a place in the modern world-system.
This narrative left an indelible imprint on China's literature and popular media, from children's primers to print culture, from fairy tales to filmmaking. Jones's analysis offers an innovative and interdisciplinary angle of vision on China's cultural evolution. He focuses especially on China's foremost modern writer and public intellectual, Lu Xun, in whose work the fierce contradictions of his generation's developmentalist aspirations became the stuff of pedagogical parable. Developmental Fairy Tales revises our understanding of literature's role in the making of modern China by revising our understanding of developmentalism's role in modern Chinese literature.
Yellow Music is the first history of the emergence of Chinese popular music and urban media culture in early-twentieth-century China. Andrew F. Jones focuses on the affinities between "yellow” or “pornographic" music—as critics derisively referred to the "decadent" fusion of American jazz, Hollywood film music, and Chinese folk forms—and the anticolonial mass music that challenged its commercial and ideological dominance. Jones radically revises previous understandings of race, politics, popular culture, and technology in the making of modern Chinese culture. The personal and professional histories of three musicians are central to Jones's discussions of shifting gender roles, class inequality, the politics of national salvation, and emerging media technologies: the American jazz musician Buck Clayton; Li Jinhui, the creator of "yellow music"; and leftist Nie Er, a former student of Li’s whose musical idiom grew out of virulent opposition to this Sinified jazz. As he analyzes global media cultures in the postcolonial world, Jones avoids the parochialism of media studies in the West. He teaches us to hear not only the American influence on Chinese popular music but the Chinese influence on American music as well; in so doing, he illuminates the ways in which both cultures were implicated in the unfolding of colonial modernity in the twentieth century.