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Inside Challenges, Outside Interests
Burma had the brightest prospects of any Southeast Asian nation after World War II. In the years since, however, it has dropped to the bottom of the world's socioeconomic ladder. The grossly misruled nation officially known as Myanmar is in the midst of a political transition based on a new constitution and its first multiparty elections in twenty years. That transition, together with a recent change in U.S. policy, prompted this book.
Two military dictators have ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for nearly fifty years. A popular uprising in 1988 was brutally suppressed, but it forced the generals to hold an election in 1990. When an anti-regime party led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landside, however, the generals rejected the results, put Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of two decades, and continued to exploit the country's abundant resources for their own benefit while depriving citizens of basic services. Years of Western sanctions had no measurable impact, but in 2009 the Obama administration adopted a new policy of "pragmatic engagement," encouraging greater respect of democratic principles and human rights as a basis for eventual removal of sanctions.
This thoughtful volume examines Burma today primarily through the eyes of its ASEAN partners, its superpower neighbors China and India, and its own people. It provides insights into the overarching problem of national reconciliation, the strategic competition between China and India, the role of ASEAN, and the underperforming, resource-cursed economy.
Contributors include Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore), Termsak Chalermpalanupap (ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta), David Dapice (Tufts University), Xiaolin Guo (Institute for Security & Development Policy, Stockholm), Gurmeet Kanwal (Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi), Kyaw Yin Hlaing (City University of Hong Kong), Li Chenyang (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Yunnan University, Kunming), Andrew Selth (Griffith University, Brisbane), Michael Vatikiotis (Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Singapore), Maung Zarni (London School of Economics)
In this anthropological history, Mary E. Hancock examines the politics of public memory in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Once a colonial port, Chennai is now poised to become a center for India's "new economy" of information technology, export processing, and back-office services. State and local governments promote tourism and a heritage-conscious cityscape to make Chennai a recognizable "brand" among investment and travel destinations. Using a range of textual, visual, architectural, and ethnographic sources, Hancock grapples with the question of how people in Chennai remember and represent their past, considering the political and economic contexts and implications of those memory practices. Working from specific sites, including a historic district created around an ancient Hindu temple, a living history museum, neo-traditional and vernacular architecture, and political memorials, Hancock examines the spatialization of memory under the conditions of neoliberalism.
Culture and Identity in the Luso-Asian World: Tenacities & Plasticities
In 1511, a Portuguese expedition under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque arrived on the shores of Malacca, taking control of the prosperous Malayan port-city after a swift military campaign. Portugal, a peripheral but then technologically advanced country in southwestern Europe since the latter fifteenth century, had been in the process of establishing solid outposts all along Asia's litoral in order to participate in the most active and profitable maritime trading routes of the day. As i... In 1511, a Portuguese expedition under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque arrived on the shores of Malacca, taking control of the prosperous Malayan port-city after a swift military campaign. Portugal, a peripheral but then technologically advanced country in southwestern Europe since the latter fifteenth century, had been in the process of establishing solid outposts all along Asia's litoral in order to participate in the most active and profitable maritime trading routes of the day. As it turned out, the Portuguese presence and influence in the Malayan Peninsula and elsewhere in continental and insular Asia expanded far beyond the sphere of commerce and extended over time well into the twenty-first century. Five hundred years later, a conference held in Singapore brought together a large group of scholars from widely different national, academic and disciplinary contexts, to analyse and discuss the intricate consequences of Portuguese interactions in Asia over the longue durée. The result of these discussions is a stimulating set of case studies that, as a rule, combine original archival and/or field research with innovative historiographical perspectives. Luso-Asian communities, real and imagined, and Luso-Asian heritage, material and symbolic, are studied with depth and insight. The range of thematic, chronological and geographic areas covered in these proceeding is truly remarkable, showing not only the extraordinary relevance of revisiting Luso-Asian interactions in the longer term, but also the surprising dynamism within an area of studies which seemed on the verge of exhaustion. After all, archives from all over the world, from Rio de Janeiro to London, from Lisbon to Rome, and from Goa to Macao, might still hold some secrets on the subject of Luso-Asian relations, when duly explored by resourceful scholars." - Rui M. Loureiro, Centro de Historia de Alem-Mar, Lisbon"This two-volume set pulls together several interdisciplinary studies historicizing Portuguese 'legacies' across Asia over a period of approximately five centuries (ca. 1511-2011). It is especially recommended to readers interested in the broader aspects of the early European presence in Asia, and specifically on questions of politics, colonial administration, commerce, societal interaction, integration, identity, hybridity, religion and language." - Associate Professor Peter Borschberg, Department of History, National University of Singapore
The North Indian Epic Dhola in Performance
"... [T]ells a wonderful story, one much loved in northern India.... fills an important lacuna in the work on oral epic." -- Lindsey Harlan
Dhola is an oral epic performed primarily by lower-caste, usually illiterate, men in the Braj region of northern India. The story of Raja Nal, "a king who does not know he is a king," this vast epic portrays a world of complex social relationships involving changing and mistaken identities, goddesses, powerful women, magicians, and humans of many different castes. In this comprehensive study and first extended English translation based on multiple oral versions, Susan Snow Wadley argues that the story explores the nature of humanity while also challenging commonplace assumptions about Hinduism, gender, and caste. She examines the relationship between oral and written texts and the influence of individual performance styles alongside a lyrical translation of the work.
Choices and Decisions in the Madrassas of Pakistan
Islamic schools, or madrasas, have been accused of radicalizing Muslims and participating, either actively or passively, in terrorist networks since the events of 9/11. In Pakistan, the 2007 siege by government forces of Islamabad's Red Mosque and its madrasa complex, whose imam and students staged an armed resistance against the state for its support of the "war on terror," reinforced concerns about madrasas' role in regional and global jihad. By 2006 madrasas registered with Pakistan's five regulatory boards for religious schools enrolled over one million male and 200,000 female students. In The Rational Believer, Masooda Bano draws on rich interview, ethnographic, and survey data, as well as fieldwork conducted in madrasas throughout the country to explore the network of Pakistani madrasas. She maps the choices and decisions confronted by students, teachers, parents, and clerics and explains why available choices make participation in jihad appear at times a viable course of action.
Bano works shows that beliefs are rational and that religious believers look to maximize utility in ways not captured by classical rational choice. She applies analytical tools from the New Institutional Economics to explain apparent contradictions in the madrasa system-for example, how thousands of young Pakistani women now demand the national adoption of traditional sharia law, despite its highly restrictive limits on female agency, and do so from their location in Islamic schools for girls that were founded only a generation ago.
"[W]ill be welcomed by students of comparative slavery.... [It] makes us reconsider the significance of slavery in the subcontinent." -- Edward A. Alpers, UCLA
Despite its pervasive presence in the South Asian past, slavery is largely overlooked in the region's historiography, in part because the forms of bondage in question did not always fit models based on plantation slavery in the Atlantic world. This important volume will contribute to a rethinking of slavery in world history, and even the category of slavery itself. Most slaves in South Asia were not agricultural laborers, but military or domestic workers, and the latter were overwhelmingly women and children. Individuals might become slaves at birth or through capture, sale by relatives, indenture, or as a result of accusations of criminality or inappropriate sexual behavior. For centuries, trade in slaves linked South Asia with Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The contributors to this collection of original essays describe a wide range of sites and contexts covering more than a thousand years, foregrounding the life stories of individual slaves wherever possible.
Contributors are Daud Ali, Indrani Chatterjee, Richard M. Eaton, Michael H. Fisher, Sumit Guha, Peter Jackson, Sunil Kumar, Avril A. Powell, Ramya Sreenivasan, Sylvia Vatuk, and Timothy Walker.
Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan
Since their founding as independent nations, nuclear issues have been key elements of nationalism and the public sphere in both India and Pakistan. Yet the relationship between nuclear arms and civil society in the region is seldom taken into account in conventional security studies. These original and provocative essays examine the political and ideological components of national drives to possess and test nuclear weapons. Equal coverage for comparable issues in each country frames the volume as a genuine dialogue across this contested boundary.
Zoe C. Sherinian shows how Christian Dalits (once known as untouchables or outcastes) in southern India have employed music to protest social oppression and as a vehicle of liberation. Her focus is on the life and theology of a charismatic composer and leader, Reverend J. Theophilus Appavoo, who drew on Tamil folk music to create a distinctive form of indigenized Christian music. Appavoo composed songs and liturgy infused with messages linking Christian theology with critiques of social inequality. Sherinian traces the history of Christian music in India and introduces us to a community of Tamil Dalit Christian villagers, seminary students, activists, and theologians who have been inspired by Appavoo’s music to work for social justice. Multimedia components available online include video and audio recordings of musical performances, religious services, and community rituals.
Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora
Vietnamese diasporic relations affect—and are directly affected by—events in Viet Nam. In Transnationalizing Viet Nam, Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde explores these connections, providing a nuanced understanding of this globalized community. Valverde draws on 250 interviews and almost two decades of research to show the complex relationship between Vietnamese in the diaspora and those back at the homeland.
Arguing that Vietnamese immigrant lives are inherently transnational, she shows how their acts form virtual communities via the Internet, organize social movements, exchange music and create art, find political representation, and even dissent. Valverde also exposes how generational, gender, class, and political tensions threaten to divide the ethnic community.
Transnationalizing Viet Nam paints a vivid picture of the complex political and personal allegiances that exist within Vietnamese America and shape the relations between this heterogeneous community and its country of origin.
In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ