[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'
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> 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
> 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
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