[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-Japan]: Kranz on Ren and Ikeda and Woo, 'Media, Sport, Nationalism: East Asia: Soft Power Projection via the Modern Olympic Games. Essays in Honour of Professor J. A. Mangan's Contributions to East Asian Studies'

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Fri Feb 28 09:59:20 MST 2020



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Andrew Stewart 
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Begin forwarded message:

> From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review at lists.h-net.org>
> Date: February 28, 2020 at 9:42:57 AM EST
> To: h-review at lists.h-net.org
> Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.org>
> Subject: H-Net Review [H-Japan]:  Kranz on Ren and  Ikeda and  Woo, 'Media, Sport, Nationalism: East Asia: Soft Power Projection via the Modern Olympic Games. Essays in Honour of Professor J. A. Mangan's Contributions to East Asian Studies'
> Reply-To: h-review at lists.h-net.org
> 
> Tianwei Ren, Keiko Ikeda, Chang Wan Woo, eds.  Media, Sport, 
> Nationalism: East Asia: Soft Power Projection via the Modern Olympic 
> Games. Essays in Honour of Professor J. A. Mangan's Contributions to 
> East Asian Studies.  Berlin  Logos Verlag Berlin, 2019.  320 pp.  
> $66.00 (paper), ISBN 978-3-8325-4651-9.
> 
> Reviewed by Susanne Kranz (Independent Scholar)
> Published on H-Japan (February, 2020)
> Commissioned by Martha Chaiklin
> 
> This volume, written in memory of J. A. Mangan, a leading academic 
> and editor in the field of sports studies, expands the discourse on 
> sports, nationalism, and the media as part of the larger framework of 
> soft power and its use in East Asia's political and economic 
> development. It is a comprehensive collection of essays that offers 
> various insights into the field of sports studies and its undeniable 
> impact on politics in a region that has not received sufficient 
> attention in this particular specialization. The rationale behind 
> this book is to draw attention to the complexities of soft power 
> itself and the complex relationship between sports, nationalism, and 
> the media. The book explores the nature of nationalism and its impact 
> on East Asia, in particular China, Japan, and South Korea, during a 
> particular time in their development processes as nation-states and 
> sports nations. Given their historical, political, and economic 
> variances, these three nations faced divergent issues, hence used 
> their soft power via the Olympic Games differently. The volume is 
> divided into four sections: "China," "Japan," "South Korea," and 
> "International Perceptions," each containing three chapters. 
> 
> The book starts with a preamble and prologue outlining its major 
> arguments and concerns. At the outset of the volume, William W. Kelly 
> and Tianwei Ren offer a general overview of the Olympic movement in 
> relation to the two major themes of the book, media and nationalism, 
> before presenting a closer look at the particularities of East Asia 
> and its sports history and socioeconomic and sociopolitical 
> developments. The authors highlight the sociopolitical changes in the 
> region, the economic growth patterns of the states in question, and 
> the long-term consequences of sports on nationalism and the media. 
> They distinguish between different types of media, keeping in mind 
> the enormous shifts and developments in that area and its impact on 
> sports but also the region as a tremendous power in the field of 
> sports. The authors formulate a clear distinction between the three 
> countries and the Olympic Games hosted in each country. They place 
> them within their specific historical and political contexts, since 
> "the past has provided the three nations with distinctive political 
> 'personalities'" (p. 9). In addition, they discuss the importance of 
> the Olympic Games, "an unparalleled extravaganza," in particular (p. 
> 11). Both sections nicely introduce the themes of the book, providing 
> the relevant backdrop to this volume. However, they could have been 
> combined into one introductory chapter to avoid repetition. 
> Additionally, a short discussion of soft power in East Asia would 
> have added context into this informative and essential section of the 
> book. 
> 
> Chapter 1 examines broadly the relationship between Chinese 
> nationalism and the media. It provides a short historical background 
> to Chinese nationalism and sports before endeavoring to analyze the 
> relationship between elite athletes, the media, and the nation-state. 
> It draws attention to the importance of sports under socialism and 
> the Chinese sports system, which distinguishes it from the other two 
> countries in this volume. Richard Xiaoqian and Junjian Liang 
> introduce the idea of heroism, in this case a specific Chinese 
> socialist sports hero, and pay some attention to gender, a topic that 
> deserves much deeper analysis, given the gender-neutral portrayal of 
> Chinese athletes. In chapter 2, Ren also picks up the image of the 
> hero and investigates cartoons as a medial tool in the portrayal of 
> nationalism. She starts with a short history of the portrayal of 
> Chinese athletes, underlining the shifts that occurred leading up to 
> and following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, clearly expressing her own 
> sense of national pride. She focuses on the informing, mobilizing, 
> involving and connecting, and celebrating aspects of the cartoons, 
> providing plenty of examples. The last chapter of the China section 
> assesses the interdependence between sports and nationalism and the 
> role the media plays in projecting modern Chinese nationalism. Ying 
> Jiang provides an insightful but lengthy overview of the evolution of 
> Chinese nationalism that leaves little room to explore the actual 
> theme of the essay, creating more questions for the reader than 
> providing answers. What exactly is the forceful nationalism that is 
> being created? In all three essays, it becomes clear that, no matter 
> how much the portrayal of athletes has changed, a militaristic 
> approach to sports and glory to the Chinese nation remain the top 
> priorities of the government, the media, and the nationalist 
> discourse. One of the biggest positive changes is the continuing 
> support of athletes, no matter if they win or lose. 
> 
> Chapter 4, the first essay in the Japan section, compares the 
> emergence of sports journalism in nineteenth-century Britain and 
> Japan. Keiko Ikeda emphasizes the importance of the media as the 
> "fourth estate" and its impact on the evolution of Japanese 
> nationalism (p. 108). She implies that the Japanese media does 
> business rather than ensure independent journalism, which ultimately 
> has an impact on sports by creating a pure business venture, also 
> affecting the image of the 2020 Tokyo Games. The comparison between 
> Britain and Japan, however, does not hold up, given the different 
> time periods and different sociopolitical and cultural backgrounds. 
> Chapter 5, by Christian Tagsold, delves into the differing 
> motivations for hosting the Games twice and the images that have been 
> created of Tokyo. The types of media and access to media have evolved 
> tremendously, giving a clear and loud voice to an anti-Olympic 
> movement, which the author explores in detail. However, it seems that 
> two tragic events, World War II and 3/11, boosted Japan's 
> determination to host the Games, hoping to recreate and reshape its 
> national and international image. It is only in the conclusion that 
> the author hints at "increasingly rampant nationalism," which would 
> have added a needed angle to a thought-provoking essay, given the 
> overarching theme of this volume (p. 131). The final chapter in this 
> section attempts to show how Japan and the Games in 1964 compare to 
> Japan in 2020. Tyrel Eskelson asks why "Tokyo, a modern, developed 
> city needs the Olympics to answer to Japan's economic woes," 
> especially when the Games are known to be economic traps (p. 135). He 
> returns to the impact of the British Empire, although a focus on 1964 
> and 2020 would have sufficed; however, the short recap on post-1945 
> developments, the economic downturn of the 1990s, and the return of 
> Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2012 are useful to place the 
> developments within their historical and sociopolitical contexts. The 
> 2020 Games seem to have become a business venture with the 
> opportunity to increase government control and curtail citizen 
> rights, bringing up dangerous parallels to the past. What role does 
> the media play here? And what kind of nationalism is being created? 
> 
> The third country, South Korea, is first explored by Chang Wan Woo 
> and Mikyung Bae's content analysis of newspaper articles surrounding 
> the 1988 and 2018 Olympics. The essay, while structurally weak, 
> offers interesting insights into ideas of nationalism and the media 
> during different time periods, offering obvious conclusions for a 
> Cold War and post-Cold War world. The authors set out to explain the 
> importance of economic and technological developments, nation versus 
> host city, and the Olympic movement and conflict frame. A survey of 
> the two distinct cities as well as a consideration of the difference 
> between Olympic Winter and Summer Games would have been interesting. 
> The authors touch on Eastern countries' longer process to "adopt the 
> concepts of Olympism," but do they need to (p. 176)? Is the world and 
> the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not benefiting from an East 
> Asian version of Olympism? Isn't this the actual spirit of the 
> Olympic Games? In chapter 8, Bae and Woo, similarly to the previous 
> essay, limit their investigation to newspaper articles, stressing the 
> influence of the democratic movement at the 1988 Olympics and the 
> fact that these movements set post-Olympic South Korean development 
> on a new path. They scrutinize various aspects of the media landscape 
> and its initially cautious but later determined impact on national 
> and international perceptions of South Korea and the growth of 
> nationalism and democracy. Chapter 9, by Kyoungho Park and Gwang Ok, 
> emphasizes the complexities of sports and politics and the unique 
> situation South Korea faced before, during, and after the 1988 
> Olympics. This informative essay provides evidence on the country's 
> political evolution but lacks an overview of the history of sports. 
> It draws attention to the positive shifts within the media in the 
> portrayal of the Olympics and its long-term impact on the country but 
> also international relations during the Cold War. The chapters of 
> these sections are fascinating to read but suffer from editorial 
> issues, such as insufficient proofreading, repetitions, and odd 
> paragraph structures. 
> 
> Soft power in relation to the media, nationalism, and sports is not 
> explored until the final three chapters on international perceptions. 
> Each of these well-written and well-argued chapters looks at soft 
> power from a slightly different angle, emphasizing the strengths and 
> weaknesses of the concept in relation to sports and politics. 
> However, all three chapters deal with China and the 2008 Beijing 
> Olympics, completely ignoring Japan and South Korea. Florian 
> Schneider, in chapter 10, offers an in-depth study of the opening 
> ceremony and its political implications on Chinese and Taiwanese TV 
> channels. He also nicely bridges the gaps between the essays in this 
> volume, making the whole volume coherent. Chapter 11, by Paul M. 
> Brannagan and Jonathan Grix, delves deeper into sports mega events 
> and their impact on and importance to politics and diplomacy in Asia 
> in particular. They also highlight the shortcomings of soft power in 
> relation to the field of sports studies. They suggest that China 
> hosting the Olympics was not all positive, coining the term "soft 
> disempowerment," in regard to China's image abroad, which, however, 
> did not slow down the country's importance as an international power 
> (p. 263). In the concluding chapter, Susan Brownell investigates the 
> role of the media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the 
> creation of a negative image of China. The main themes were human 
> rights and the environment. Brownell additionally analyzes surveys to 
> evaluate China's national image. Overall, surveys seem to indicate a 
> better public image of China than the media and NGOs promoted, as a 
> threat to the Western world and its supposed cultural superiority. 
> This posits the question of how Joseph Nye's concept of soft power 
> can be applied to the field of sports studies. 
> 
> This collection of essays is no doubt an important contribution to 
> the existing field of sports, nationalism, and the media. With its 
> interdisciplinary and interregional approach, it effectively bridges 
> the gap between these themes and connects it to the larger framework 
> of soft power, making it interesting for scholars in several fields. 
> 
> Citation: Susanne Kranz. Review of Ren, Tianwei; Ikeda, Keiko; Woo, 
> Chang Wan, eds., _Media, Sport, Nationalism: East Asia: Soft Power 
> Projection via the Modern Olympic Games. Essays in Honour of 
> Professor J. A. Mangan's Contributions to East Asian Studies_. 
> H-Japan, H-Net Reviews. February, 2020.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=54099
> 
> This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 
> Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States 
> License.
> 
> 



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