Full article: Some Reflections on the History of Masked Societies in East Asia

The history of face masks has become a very popular topic in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for news reporters and populace health experts. In mass media, history is spotlighted to find answers to the question “ why do Asians wear masks ” despite the miss of scientific evidence—which sociologist Mitsutoshi Horii, the generator of Masks and the Japanese マスクと日本人 [ Masuku to nihonjin ], has been endlessly asked by journalists after the coronavirus outbreak ( Horii 2020 ). The answer has been sought chiefly in terms of cultural norms. BBC News explained that mask-wearing symbolizes politeness in asian countries, while The New York Times found the prevailing mask-wearing in Asia over the West from “ Asia ’ s collectivism ” ( Breeden et aluminum. 2020 ; Wong 2020 ). A abruptly comment written by chinese scholars at the University of Oxford that appeared in The Lancet followed the cultural norm thesis, claiming that Asia ’ s social and cultural substitution class supports mask-usage hygienic practices without any empirical attest ( Feng et alabama. 2020 ). practical reasons are suggested as well. In contrast to the “ West, ” asian people have gone through patronize epidemic outbreaks, such as the 2002–2004 SARS crisis, so that they find it more acceptable to cover their faces ( Jennings 2020 ). While sharing the questions addressed by batch media, aesculapian professionals use mask history in more didactic ways. After national and external quarantine authorities reconsidered the role of mass dissemble in preventing community infection in the early summer of 2020, they began to cite the long history of mask usage to halt the spread of epidemics—despite a lack of scientific understanding—and suggest that it is hush a “ dim-witted but knock-down tool to help combat ” the coronavirus ( Issacs 2020 ; Matuschek et aluminum. 2020 ; Ike et alabama. 2021 ). In this narrative, the Manchurian Plague of 1910–1911 is a sine qua non of explaining geographic divergence in mass masking piece practices, which made a arrant contrast between westerly and asian countries in COVID-19 outcomes. “ asian ” doctor Wu Lien-teh 伍連德 ( 1879–1960 ) “ invented ” gauze masks and first used the device to protect aesculapian workers from possible airborne infection by plague. 1 Since then, “ asian countries never forgot the lessons of the Manchurian Plague, ” and people in these countries “ have been wearing masks in public for ages ” ( Matuschek et alabama. 2020 ). 2 As a consequence, “ Although New York and Hong Kong are both metropolitan areas, the coronavirus pandemic was devastating in the US and not in Hongkong ” ( Matuschek et alabama. 2020 ). jointly, the current mask history establishes a common report like the pursuit : first, Wu Lien-teh ’ s work against the manchurian infestation is the origin of the contemporary “ anti-plague masks. ” Secondly, mass-masking is a cultural practice with a low-science profile. third, the late epidemic outbreaks, including SARS, which did not occur in western countries, are the latest spread of multitude cover practices in East Asia. historian Akihisa Setoguchi, one of the authors in this comment, correctly notes critically that the motion “ why Asians do wear masks ” is undefined, and its culturalist answers are unobjective. But more of a problem is that such a diachronic narrative reproduces an honest-to-god practice of Orientalism in writing the history of the font mask. It treats Asia as a single entity sharing a homogeneous culture and uniform history. Diverse ( united nations ) entangled histories of the artifact and skill, culture, politics, and club at a local anesthetic level—that have made and unmade mask-wearing prevailing by region and country—become inconspicuous in the common account. Despite the rising care to face masks and their historicity among historians of skill, the Orientalist nature of the common history has remained unmoved. 3 With the belief that historians and STS scholars working on East asian topics should take an academic and social duty to intervene in the issue, we convened the virtual workshop “ The Socio-Material History of Masked Societies in East Asia ” in the late summer of 2020. At the beginning of the current forum, speakers challenged the above standard narrative by tracing heterogenous histories of mask-wearing while deconstructing the swelling categories “ Asia ” and “ Asians ” with a national focus. By providing an extensive summary of the virtual workshop, this comment aims to open up avenues for future inquiry on the asian history of mask-wearing.

1 Interconnected Histories of Masks

In the first session, titled “ Interconnected Histories of Masks, ” three speakers chiefly focused on Japan and China in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. By doing so, they revisited the Manchurian-origin thesis and suggested the place of the face dissemble in a ball-shaped history going beyond the binary star between East and West. The speakers besides addressed the necessity of paying attention to material dimensions vitamin a well as the historicity of symbolic attachments to the masks. The first presentation of the session was Tomohisa Sumida ’ s “ Western Origins of japanese Masks : 1899 German Plague Conference and the First Mask Directive in Yokohama. ” In this talk, informed by Meng Zhang and Cindy Wang, he traced the early function of the damp quick study mask to contain blight infections prior to the Manchurian plague. The earliest suggestion of mask usage for anti-plague purposes appeared in the german Plague Report in 1899. In the same year, when the harass outbreak first gear happened in Yokohama Port, an education given by the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture included the mask use to prevent plague infection. Sumida found that strange foreign advisors made the dissemble directive and speculated the possibility of german microbiologist Robert Koch ’ mho recommendation of the mask directive. 4 Sean Hsiang-lin Lei, the school term ’ s irregular loudspeaker, besides reconsidered the Manchurian Plague case with the title “ Face Mask and Handkerchief : The Invention of Anti-Plague Masks in the manchurian Plague ( 1910–11 ) and the spanish Influenza ( 1918–19 ). ” Lei claimed that Wu Lien-teh modeled anti-tuberculosis practices—that is, to avoid droplet and touch infection—for his preventive measures against pneumonic infestation. Under the uncertainty and fatality of the new type of infestation, Wu listed “ a package of precautionary measures ” including “ baths, masks, goggles, overalls, gloves, ” and other gadgets. Mask-wearing was barely one of the measures and did not have a clear-cut meaning in preventing the new blight. From Lei ’ mho horizon, a heavy transition happened during ( or just earlier ) the spanish Influenza of 1918–1919. The public health experts again understood the novel respiratory disease in terms of the transmission of tuberculosis. The contemporary anti-tuberculosis measures strictly controlled the “ careless spitting ” by defining it as a dangerous demeanor in spreading the germ-carrying droplets. He found that, for the first time, masks were used to reduce the infection hazard caused by “ cough and sneeze, ” which had been rarely considered bad behaviors in spreading disease. As a result, despite the apparent similarities of the two face masks in the Manchurian Plague and the spanish Influenza, the font mask was only used in the latter event in that way that we now do against COVID-19. Lei found some ocular evidence indicating Chinese/Taiwanese children were taught to practice using a handkerchief while coughing and sneezing in that period. In this respect, for a new focus in the asian history of masks, he suggested studying the history of the handkerchief and of sensitivity toward coughing and sneezing in East Asia. 5 The survive presentation in the seance was delivered by Meng Zhang, with the deed “ Face Masks in Modern Shanghai : A Gendered History. ” Zhang illuminated the gendered division of dissemble usage in Shanghai during the 1930s. 6 In China, gauze masks were eagerly promoted by male doctors during and after the manchurian plague. While promoting the mask-wearing practices as a “ rational ” choice for those who were different from “ ignorant ” and “ superstitious ” Chinese, the disguise promoters targeted young chinese men as the primary audience. chinese male elites came to be convinced of the utility of masks as a civilize instrument for achieving hygienic modernity and masculinity by looking at the japanese soldiers wearing black masks against epidemics in Shanghai. In contrast, taiwanese female celebrities did not prefer to wear masks since the device was “ not a beautiful decoration. ” Commercialism enforced the gendered division of disguise use. Shanghai ’ sulfur business people found their commercial opportunity in the gendered division. The pharmaceutical advertisements downplayed monochromatic masks due to their nefariousness and alternatively recommended using beautiful handkerchiefs for taiwanese women. The gender division would disappear only when the Chinese Communist Party seized control of the region and allocated gauze masks to both men and women soldiers to prevent them from inhaling scatter and sand .

2 The Contemporary Life of Masks

In the second session, “ The contemporary Life of Masks, ” three speakers looked at recent developments of mask-wearing practices in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Their subject studies showed that the common account emphasizing the SARS outbreak as a holocene beginning of mass mask in East asian countries does not fit their national histories. alternatively, they show how Koreans came to wear a korean version of N95 masks, while the min tire surgical masks rather of N95 masks in non-quarantine contexts—such as breeze befoulment and political decisions. Their presentations besides illuminated the function of masks in the emergence of pandemic government in a heterogenous human body. In finical, newly ethical attachments to mask-wearing were examined from a comparative position. The first presenter, Shi Lin Loh, challenged the idealize description of mass masking piece in Asia during the pandemic as an consequence of Asia ’ s communitarianism. According to her have in Singapore, which is well known for the city state ’ randomness claim about “ asian values, ” mask-wearing is less about communitarian norms and preferably more about norms of government. The singaporean government initially discouraged mask-wearing in the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic following the recommendation of the World Health Organization ( WHO ). With the rising concerns about the risk of asymptomatic cases in early April, the politics reversed the policy commission by forcing citizens to wear masks. The government developed mask-centered pandemic administration by distributing reclaimable masks to all residents while punishing mask-rule breakers with fines and prosecution. Masks appeared as “ a forcible materialization of government generosity and capability during a populace health crisis, ” and pandemic government was advertised in terms of communal values by the politics itself. The punitive nature of the Singaporean mask rule became invisible under the apparent open of communitarian discourses. ultimately, Loh argued for the motivation to focus on the normative aspects of mask-wearing and its biopolitical implications. In the future display, titled “ The Making of Mass Medical Masking during SARS in Taiwan, ” Chia-Ling Wu shared the history of the mass masking experience in Taiwan during the SARS outbreak. Taiwan was a unique font in which SARS resulted in build “ a new physique of wearing font masks in populace space. ” Taiwan had the third highest mortality and contagion rates due to the SARS epidemic in the global. During the epidemic conflict from March to June of 2003, mask-wearing practices among goodly people became normalize. Wu claimed that multitude disguise resulted from a series of re-networking processes : mask custom was initially considered entirely in National Taiwan University Hospital, where the first gear SARS cases were hospitalized so that SARS infection could not occur. In former March, the taiwanese quarantine authorities issued home quarantine orders for those who had possible contacts with SARS cases. Since then, the “ risk zone ” of SARS infection became enlarged from some local hospitals to offices, schools, public transport, and neighborhoods, together with the increasing number of people quarantined. Following the increase of infection-risky places, more and more citizens began to wear masks in public places. With the changing risk perception of danger zones and growing mask usage, despite the lack of scientific justification, Taipei Major Ma Ying-Jeou introduced the compulsory mask rule for users of Taipei Mass Rapid Transit ( Taipei Metro ) on May 11. The government legislation accompanied a reevaluation of the mask-wearing practices from “ being ill and infection-suspicious to being responsible and care, ” and demonstrating “ collective efforts to fight against SARS. ” Simultaneously, the government promoted advocacy to save N-95 masks for health concern workers and people with underlying symptoms and encouraged others to use surgical masks as an alternative. As a leave, in mid-june, crowded people wearing surgical masks in public transportation became Taiwan ’ s national effigy. Wu concluded by pointing out that min citizens ’ high demand for surgical masks and the politics ’ s prompt reply in the current COVID-19 crisis could be understood only by taking account of the SARS experience.

Heewon Kim and Hyungsub Choi finished the session with their display “ The Everyday Life of Masks in South Korea. ” 7 They examined the role of previous multitude masking against atmosphere pollutants, including asian dust ( hwangsa ) and toxic particulate topic ( PM ), in South Korea ’ mho answer to the coronavirus outbreak. In the mid-2000s, as a response to growing concerns about airborne pollutants, manufacturers began to produce a fresh type of disposable mask called “ hwangsa masks ” offering protection from these pollutants. In 2008, the south korean politics established a performance and quality criterion for this character of mask, that is, they defined Korea Filter ( KF ) -80 masks for protecting against hwangsa and KF-94 and KF-99 masks for preventing viral infection. After establishing the KF authentication system, the domestic mask industry grew significantly. Masks became an everyday token by the late 2010s. The mask-wearing practices and domestic mask industry already precipitated by tune pollution issues led to mass disguise in the initial time period of the COVID-19 outbreak and helped the government supply adequate numbers of high-quality masks to the public. Yet as the authors claimed, the transition from “ masks for PM ” to “ masks for COVID-19 ” required adjustments : due to scientific uncertainty concerning the coronavirus transmission and the short supply of KF-94 and KF-99 masks in the early months of the pandemic, the public health authorities had to adjust the performance standard for masks. furthermore, as in the taiwanese SARS case, a newfangled ethical connotation was added to mask-wearing : solidarity and social responsibility .

3 Reflections and Future Directions

face masks are a simple joyride, good some piece of fabric on the confront, hiding the mouth and nuzzle. They are a tool for personal use, not a large-scale mechanical engineering, and are distributed through the release market. Some people tend to think that wearing a face mask depends on each person ’ second mentality, which has its roots in the acculturation of that person ’ second society. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many people raised a wonder : Why are asian people so bequeath to wear font masks ? There are many ways to answer this question. For exercise, some people argued that, in comparison to European or american people, asian citizens are not loath to hide their faces. As we indicated earlier, this kind of cultural essentialist suffice is, however, excessively dim and unobjective. Some others provided answers from a historical background, such as the SARS pandemic and air befoulment. however, connections between the past and present are not identical absolved. In fact, these answers are not persuasive, because the question itself is not good formulated. consequently, we need to raise more denotative questions, which can be answered in a confirmable way. This workshop was a starting point for brushing up such questions. Three points arising from the confluence were particularly striking. First, three papers on the historic aspect of face masks have shown that wearing a face mask is not simply a massive practice. Tomohisa Sumida examined the multiple context in which the rehearse of wearing a face mask among asian people has taken place since the nineteenth hundred. This was a good start charge to realize the numerousness of masking practices ; future studies should consider carefully the context of each case. Meng Zhang showed that in Shanghai in the 1930s, wearing a front masquerade had a masculine implication arsenic well as a political connotation in the context of the japanese invasion. Sean Hsiang-lin Lei persuasively pointed out that when discussing the history of wearing face masks, one must think about the history of handkerchief. Hence, according to these studies, wearing a confront masquerade is not something intrinsic to asian cultures, or even the culture of each society, but is rather the solution of versatile events that belong to a wide spectrum of culture and politics. indeed, face masks did not represent a uniformity of beliefs — not merely in different times and places, but flush within given populations. Zhang ’ sulfur paper suggests that wearing masks helped reconstruct modern Chinese maleness in part by evoking resistance to japanese imperialism. It connects here to Tomohisa Sumida ’ s paper, which suggests that people in Japan and China identified wearing face masks with hygienic modernity, a concept that arose in the hyper-colonial treaty ports of China ( Rogaski 2004 ). Sumida ’ mho cultivate discusses the divers audiences for masks in Japan, but besides the imperial states of Germany, France, and Britain, where grimace masks were deployed in unique ways. Future oeuvre might explore the ramifications of imperial dynamics, connections, and commerce for masking practices from the perspective of colonial medicine. The second compass point relates to the analysis of the contemporary site of face masks in each society. In three studies examining the recent development of face masks in Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea, the authors argued that confront masks have been embedded in broad public health policies. Chia-Ling Wu examined the circulation of face masks during the SARS pandemic in Taiwan and discussed how it was not a simple development but preferably a building complex “ re-networking ” of people and materials. Shi Lin Loh argued that the current site of wearing face masks is “ less about communication norms ” and “ more about norms of governance. ” Kim and Choi attempted to elucidate the “ corporeal footing ” of wearing a mask in South Korea and showed that governmental regulations are crucial for the standardization of expression masks. It can be seen that the perspective of these three papers is authorize : although face masks are an individual cock, they are network fair like a boastfully technological system. here, I have used the term “ technical system ” in a exchangeable common sense to how Thomas Hughes used it in his sour on the history of electricity. Like electricity, confront masks are networked and centrally controlled by the government and companies, but at the lapp clock are dispersed to each consumer. consequently, the practice of wearing a face mask in each company is the consequence of the growth of complex networks that needs to be explained. From this point of position, it can be said that the japanese situation is rather different from the site in other asian countries. Both the government and the people do not think that face masks are something controlled as a public health policy. The government has distributed two of the alleged Abenomasks for every family. Compared to other asian countries, this quite individualistic policy seems to be very irregular. This, however, does not mean that face masks in Japan are mugwump of any social network. many japanese citizens, who felt hopeless toward the government ’ s ability to supply confront masks, tried to make their own face masks using their sew machines, which represents another history and another network. Since the early twentieth hundred, most japanese households have owned sewing machines. here again, we can reframe the original wonder : How are face masks connected to the network of versatile materials and practices in each club ?

A third point concerns the analytic frameworks which further inquiry might adopt in approaching some of the questions considered in these papers. There is an interesting lack of specificity associated with face masks—to what extent are they linked to protection against certain diseases, or do they reflect detail theories about disease causing ? The studies in this publish suggest that one authentication of side masks has been their variety of functions. For exemplify, Kim and Choi show that what worked to prevent disease besides works to ameliorate environmental problems. But that tractability besides limits the significance that can be attributed to them, as Lei points out for the case of Manchuria in 1910–11, when masks were precisely one among many interventions. grimace masks are typically implemented in the presence of quarantines and disinfection practices, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as in the specific absence of early kinds of interventions, like vaccinations. Future work might consider what is gained and lost by singling out face masks for consideration. Although masks are characterized by ambiguity in function and aim, the studies discussed here show how sealed groups of people can become the focus of masking practices and regulations. For case, Chia-ling Wu considers the significance assumed by users of bulk transit in Taiwan, and Tomohisa Sumida discusses cleaners who disinfected clinical settings. These observations of differentiation within populations raise interest questions of gender and socio-economic class, and these categories can intersect in interesting ways. For case, how did masks figure into medical exercise that became feminized over the 1920s and 1930s, particularly breastfeed ( Barnes 2018 ) ? besides, Lei Hsiang-lin ’ randomness discussion of practices of hygiene includes pictures in which children are being taught to use handkerchiefs. How are children significant in these narratives, as populations much targeted for hygienic education but for whom mask can be difficult ? These papers draw on rich people ocular cultures, and many of the images provided are pedagogical ; what screen of audience is being assumed, and how do instructions for making and using masks reveal assumptions about their function ? If public health is basically about the relationship between secret rights and the common adept, as mediated by states and organizations, then wearing face masks reflects unlike ideas about the function of the person in that kinship, and it can besides reflect identical different ideas about hazard. Lei points out that in Manchuria, masks were worn to protect oneself, whereas in 1918 masks were encouraged in order to protect others. This switch in function, from protecting a vulnerable wearer who risks catching disease to protecting others from the dangerous wearer who risks spreading disease, requires imaginative work. And it is this imaginative work, Lei suggests, that we need to explore in far research. We hope that we have provided some useful foundations here, and that the stream crisis can result in insights applicable to past and present .

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