How to Cite

Wagner, Rudolf G. et al. (Eds.): Testing the Margins of Leisure: Case Studies on China, Japan, and Indonesia, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2019 (Heidelberg Studies on Transculturality, Volume 6).


ISBN 978-3-947732-75-3 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-947732-73-9 (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-3-947732-74-6 (Softcover)




Rudolf G. Wagner, Catherine V. Yeh, Eugenio Menegon, Robert P. Weller (Eds.)

Testing the Margins of Leisure: Case Studies on China, Japan, and Indonesia

This volume offers eight studies on different historical and present-day aspects of leisure in Asia. It critically engages with the predominant Eurocentric focus of leisure studies, bringing into the discussion a number of crucial issues such as the role of leisure as a transcultural contact zone. The volume engages with a field that has been rapidly growing due to the heightened role of leisure activities in defining a person’s identity, the fading of the work/leisure divide in the post-industrial age, and the increasing economic importance of leisure pursuits such as tourism. Bringing Asia into the discussion contributes in resetting the study of leisure into a truly global context.

Rudolf G. Wagner was Senior Professor of Chinese Studies at Heidelberg University, and Associate at the Fairbank Center, Harvard University. An intellectual historian, he published widely on the political implications of philosophical and literary works and on the transcultural interaction between China and the world, in premodern wand modern times. He was a recipient of the Leibniz Award.

Catherine V. Yeh is Professor of Chinese Literature and Transcultural Studies at Boston University. Her research interest is in global cultural interaction and the flow in the fields of literature, media, and visual culture during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her most recent books include The Chinese Political Novel: Migration of a World Genre (Harvard University Press, 2015). Her current project is “Dan Actors and Chinese Theater Modernity, 1910s–1930s."

Eugenio Menegon trained in Chinese language and history at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice (Italy), Renmin University of China in Beijing, the University of California at Berkeley (USA), and the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven (Belgium). He currently teaches at Boston University (USA). His book Ancestors, Virgins, and Friars: Christianity as a Local Religion in Late Imperial China (Harvard Asia Center and Harvard University Press, 2009) centers on the life of Catholic communities in Fujian province between 1630 and the present. He is currently researching the daily life and social networking of Europeans at the Qing court in the long eighteenth century.

Robert P. Weller is Professor of Anthropology and Research Associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University. His most recent books include Religion and Charity: The Social Life of Goodness in Chinese Societies (co-author, Cambridge University Press, 2018) and How Things Count as the Same: Memory, Mimesis, and Metaphor in Social Life (co-author, Oxford University Press, 2019). Weller’s current research focuses on religious change and rapid urbanization in China. He has also been writing about silence, most recently in “Salvaging Silence: Exile, Death, and the Anthropology of the Unknown,” Anthropology of this Century, 2017 (available online).


Table of Contents
Front Matter
Table of Contents
Rudolf G. Wagner, Catherine V. Yeh, Eugenio Menegon, Robert P. Weller
Part I: The State’s Leisure Agenda
Tim Oakes
Transcultural Leisure and Governmentality in Urban China
Catherine V. Yeh
Staging Peking Opera’s New Tragic Heroines
Part II: The Margins of Leisure
Eugenio Menegon
Leisure, Europeans, and their “Skill Capital” in Eighteenth-Century Beijing
Nancy J. Smith-Hefner
Leisure and Consumption in Java’s New Muslim Middle Class
Sarah Frederick
Affective Labor, Leisure, and Taste in the Transnational and Transmedia Adaptations of "Stella Dallas"
Part III: Leisure, a Contact Zone
Yu-chih Lai
Selling and Consuming Japanese Illustrated Books in 1880s Shanghai
Rudolf G. Wagner
The Shenbao guan and Shanghai 1860–1900
Rudolf G. Wagner, Catherine V. Yeh
Theoretical Essay
About the Authors