Organized Panel Session
We live in a period of widespread destruction: of neighborhoods, of ecosystems, of international legal frameworks, of long-held ideas. Noting the varied contexts of loss, Fabio Rambelli and Eric Reinders in their 2014 work Buddhism and Iconoclasm in East Asia called for closer attention to the social transformations that accompany destruction. The papers on this panel respond by focusing on a core set of questions that cross both political and disciplinary borders. What does destruction enable? What new hierarchies does it create? What does the process of destruction tell us about the things being destroyed? Each panelist focuses on a specific case, but each case involves transformations of wide geographic scope. Wooldridge considers iconoclasm, placing the Taiping movement of southern China in the context of the nineteenth-century Pacific. DiMoia examines bombing, showing how campaigns the destruction of dams during the Korean War shaped post-war planning and infrastructure. Murray focuses on ecological devastation, revealing how loss permeates contemporary practices of politics and community in Okinawa. Park traces the more metaphorical, but equally capacious, ruins of the tribute system to find insights into the Westphalian diplomatic order. Taken together, the papers suggest the next methodological steps for the investigation of destruction: studies that are both connected and comparative, that replace the generalization of "the global" with details of particular networks (which often lead one afield of East Asia), and that attend both to what destruction erases and what it makes possible.