In this major reassessment of Japanese imperialism in Asia, Mark Driscoll foregrounds the role of human life and labor. Drawing on subaltern postcolonial studies and Marxism, he directs critical attention to the peripheries, where figures including Chinese coolies, Japanese pimps, trafficked Japanese women, and Korean tenant farmers supplied the vital energy that drove Japan's empire. He identifies three phases of Japan's capitalist expansion, each powered by distinct modes of capturing and expropriating life and labor: biopolitics (1895–1914), neuropolitics (1920–32), and necropolitics (1935-45). During the first phase, Japanese elites harnessed the labor of marginalized subjects as Japan colonized Taiwan, Korea, and south Manchuria, and sent hustlers and sex workers into China to expand its market hegemony. Linking the deformed bodies laboring in the peripheries with the "erotic-grotesque" media in the metropole, Driscoll centers the second phase on commercial sexology, pornography, and detective stories in Tokyo to argue that by 1930, capitalism had colonized all aspects of human life: not just labor practices but also consumers’ attention and leisure time. Focusing on Japan's Manchukuo colony in the third phase, he shows what happens to the central figures of biopolitics as they are subsumed under necropolitical capitalism: coolies become forced laborers, pimps turn into state officials and authorized narcotraffickers, and sex workers become "comfort women". Driscoll concludes by discussing Chinese fiction written inside Manchukuo, describing the everyday violence unleashed by necropolitics.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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.
Xiao Hong, Yom Sang-sop, Abe Kobo, and Zhong Lihe—these iconic literary figures from China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan all described Manchuria extensively in their literary works. Now China’s Northeast but a contested frontier in the first half of the twentieth century, Manchuria has inspired writers from all over East Asia to claim it as their own, employing novel themes and forms for engaging nation and empire in modern literature. Many of these works have been canonized as quintessential examples of national or nationalist literature—even though they also problematize the imagined boundedness and homogeneity of nation and national literature at its core.
Through the theoretical lens of literary territorialization, Miya Xie reconceptualizes modern Manchuria as a critical site for making and unmaking national literatures in East Asia. Xie ventures into hitherto uncharted territory by comparing East Asian literatures in three different languages and analyzing their close connections in the transnational frontier. By revealing how writers of different nationalities constantly enlisted transnational elements within a nation-centered body of literature, Territorializing Manchuria uncovers a history of literary co-formation at the very site of division and may offer insights for future reconciliation in the region.
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.