New Worlds from Below

New Worlds from Below

Informal life politics and grassroots action in twenty-first-century Northeast Asia

Edited by: Tessa Morris-Suzuki orcid, Eun Jeong Soh

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In Asia today, the grand ideologies of the past have lost their power over the popular imagination. Even in many of the region’s democracies, popular engagement in the political process faces profound challenges. Yet amidst this landscape of political disenchantment, groups of ordinary people across Asia are finding new ways to take control of their own lives, respond to threats to their physical and cultural survival, and build better futures. This collection of essays by prominent scholars and activists traces the rise of a quiet politics of survival from the villages of China to Japan’s Minamata and Fukushima, and from the street art of Seoul and Hong Kong to the illegal markets of North Korea. Introducing an innovative conceptual framework, New Worlds from Below shows how informal grassroots politics in Northeast Asia is generating new ideas and practices that have region-wide and global relevance.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Mar 2017
Asian Studies Series Monograph 9
ANU Press
Asian Studies Series
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History; Social Sciences: Politics & International Studies, Social Policy & Administration, Sociology
East Asia: China, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, South Korea; South Asia: India; Southeast Asia: Thailand

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New Worlds from Below »

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  1. Provincialising the State: Symbiotic Nature and Survival Politics in Post-World War Zero Japan (PDF, 0.3MB)Sho Konishi doi
  2. Social Change and Rediscovering Rural Reconstruction in China (PDF, 0.6MB)Ou Ning doi
  3. A Century of Social Alternatives in a Japanese Mountain Community (PDF, 0.8MB)Tessa Morris-Suzuki doi
  4. Transnational Activism and Japan’s Second Modernity (PDF, 0.2MB)Simon Avenell doi
  5. Animism: A Grassroots Response to Socioenvironmental Crisis in Japan (PDF, 0.6MB)Shoko Yoneyama doi
  6. Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management (PDF, 0.4MB)Adam Broinowski doi
  7. National Subjects, Citizens and Refugees: Thoughts on the Politics of Survival, Violence and Mourning following the Sewol Ferry Disaster in South Korea (PDF, 0.6MB)Cho (Han) Haejoang doi
  8. Thinking of Art as Informal Life Politics in Hong Kong (PDF, 1.2MB)Olivier Krischer doi
  9. Informal Life Politics of Marketisation in North Korea (PDF, 0.4MB)Eun Jeong Soh doi
  10. Social Innovation in Asia: Trends and Characteristics in China, Korea, India, Japan and Thailand (PDF, 0.4MB)The Hope Institute doi


This book offers empirical insights for less visible political activities at the grassroots level and is a must read for those working on civic space in Asia.

—Yasuo Takao, Pacific Affairs Journal, 91 (3), September 2018

Each chapter of the book vividly portrays how in a situation when no official settlement is made, people in Northeast Asia have sought change in their everyday lives through autonomous collective practices … The cases of informal life politics in this book shed light on some fundamental dilemmas of twenty-first-century political life in Northeast Asia.

—Hyeon Jung Lee, International Journal of Asian Studies, 16 (1), 2019
The full review can been read on the Cambridge University Press website.

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