Katie StallardMay 6, 2022
Dancing on Bones
History and Power in China, Russia and North Korea
Oxford University Press, USA 2022
Present-day relations between ‘the West’ and each of China, Russia and North Korea are often fractious to say the least, yet today’s global atmosphere of menace or crisis just as often has to do with history as it does with contemporary disagreements. All states of course seek ‘usable pasts’ which may or may not be in conflict with one another, but as Katie Stallard shows in Dancing on Bones, leaders in each of Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang have of late gone to particularly great lengths to shape historical narratives which justify their grip on power.
Drawing on years of on-the-ground reporting and research in each of these three critically important countries, Stallard mixes analysis of political and historical events with first-hand interviews and reportage to offer a vivid sense of how history is put to ever-changing uses and why this matters. Accessibly written and richly referenced, Dancing on Bones: History and Power in China, Russia and North Korea (Oxford UP, 2022),sheds compelling light on often-under-considered connections between three countries which share much beyond their status as perceived ‘revisionist’ powers.
Ed Pulford is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and indigeneity in northeast Asia.