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Cult, Culture and Authority Cover

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Cult, Culture and Authority

Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History

Olga Dror

Princess Liễu Hạnh, often called the Mother of the Vietnamese people by her followers, is one of the most prominent goddesses in Vietnamese popular religion. First emerging some four centuries ago as a local sect appealing to women, the princess’ cult has since transcended its geographical and gender boundaries and remains vibrant today. Who was this revered deity? Was she a virtuous woman or a prostitute? Why did people begin worshiping her and why have they continued? Cult, Culture, and Authority traces Liễu Hạnh’s cult from its ostensible appearance in the sixteenth century to its present-day prominence in North Vietnam and considers it from a broad range of perspectives, as religion and literature and in the context of politics and society. Over time, Liễu Hạnh’s personality and cult became the subject of numerous literary accounts, and these historical texts are a major source for this book. Author Olga Dror explores the authorship and historical context of each text considered, treating her subject in an interdisciplinary way. Her interest lies in how these accounts reflect the various political agendas of successive generations of intellectuals and officials. The same cult was called into service for a variety of ideological ends: feminism, nationalism, Buddhism, or Daoism.

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Custodians of the Sacred Mountains

Culture and Society in the Highlands of Bali

Thomas Reuter

Custodians of the Sacred Mountains is the first comprehensive ethnography of the Bali Aga, a large ethnic minority that occupies the island's central highlands. The Bali Aga are popularly viewed as the indigenous counterparts to other Balinese who trace their origin to invaders from the Javanese kingdom of Majapait, who have ruled Bali from the fourteenth century A.D. Although Bali remains one of the most intensely researched localities in the world, the Bali Aga have long been overshadowed by the more exotic courtly culture of the south. A closer analysis of the changing position of the Bali Aga within Balinese society provides a key to understanding the politics and social process of cultural representation in Bali and beyond. The process is marked by a blend of representational competition and cooperation among the Bali Aga themselves, among the Bali Aga and southern Balinese, and later among the island's aristocratic elites and foreign colonizers or scholars, and state authorities. The study of this process raises important issues about the establishment and maintenance of status and power structures at regional, national, and global levels. Custodians of the Sacred Mountains explores the marginalization of the Bali Aga in light of a critical theory of cultural representation and calls for a morally engaged approach to ethnographic research. It proposes an intersubjective and communicative model of human interaction as the foundation for understanding the relative significance of cooperation and competition in the cultural production of knowledge.

The Dance That Makes You Vanish Cover

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The Dance That Makes You Vanish

Cultural Reconstruction in Post-Genocide Indonesia

Rachmi Diyah Larasati


Indonesian court dance, a purportedly pure and untouched tradition, is famed throughout the world for its sublime calm and stillness. Yet this unyieldingly peaceful surface conceals a time of political repression and mass killing. Between 1965 and 1966, some one million Indonesians—including a large percentage of the country’s musicians, artists, and dancers—were killed, arrested, or disappeared as Suharto established a virtual dictatorship that ruled for the next thirty years.


In The Dance That Makes You Vanish, an examination of the relationship between female dancers and the Indonesian state since 1965, Rachmi Diyah Larasati elucidates the Suharto regime’s dual-edged strategy: persecuting and killing performers perceived as communist or left leaning while simultaneously producing and deploying “replicas”—new bodies trained to standardize and unify the “unruly” movements and voices of those vanished—as idealized representatives of Indonesia’s cultural elegance and composure in bowing to autocratic rule. Analyzing this history, Larasati shows how the Suharto regime’s obsessive attempts to control and harness Indonesian dance for its own political ends have functioned as both smoke screen and smoke signal, inadvertently drawing attention to the site of state violence and criminality by constantly pointing out the “perfection” of the mask that covers it.


Reflecting on her own experiences as an Indonesian national troupe dancer from a family of persecuted female dancers and activists, Larasati brings to life a powerful, multifaceted investigation of the pervasive use of culture as a vehicle for state repression and the global mass-marketing of national identity.


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Escape to Manila

From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror

With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s more than a thousand European Jews sought refuge in the Philippines, joining the small Jewish population of Manila. When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1941, the peaceful existence of the barely settled Jews filled with the kinds of uncertainties and oppression they thought they had left behind. _x000B__x000B_In this book Frank Ephraim, who fled to Manila with his parents, gathers the testimonies of thirty-six refugees, who describe the difficult journey to Manila, the lives they built there upon their arrival, and the events surrounding the Japanese invasion. Combining these accounts with historical and archival records, Manila newspapers, and U.S. government documents, Ephraim constructs a detailed account of this little-known chapter of world history.

Everyday Life in Southeast Asia Cover

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Everyday Life in Southeast Asia

Edited by Kathleen M. Adams and Kathleen A. Gillogly

This lively survey of the peoples, cultures, and societies of Southeast Asia introduces a region of tremendous geographic, linguistic, historical, and religious diversity. Encompassing both mainland and island countries, these engaging essays describe personhood and identity, family and household organization, nation-states, religion, popular culture and the arts, the legacies of war and recovery, globalization, and the environment. Throughout, the focus is on the daily lives and experiences of ordinary people. Most of the essays are original to this volume, while a few are widely taught classics. All were chosen for their timeliness and interest, and are ideally suited for the classroom.

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Expressing Islam

Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia

Greg Fealy and Sally White

As the forces of globalisation and modernisation buffet Islam and other world religions, Indonesia’s 200 million Muslims are expressing their faith in ever more complex ways. Celebrity television preachers, internet fatwa services, mass religious rallies in soccer stadiums, glossy jihadist magazines, Islamic medical treatments, alms giving via mobile phone and electronic sharia banking services are just some of the manifestations of a more consumer-oriented approach to Islam which interact with and sometimes replace other, more traditional expressions of the faith. This book examines some of the myriad ways in which Islam is being expressed in contemporary Indonesian life and politics. Authored by leading authorities on Indonesian Islam, it gives fascinating insights into such topics as the marketisation of Islam, contemporary pilgrimage, the rise of mass preachers, gender and Islamic politics, online fatwa, current trends among Islamist vigilante and criminal groups, and recent developments in Islamic banking and microfinance.

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Faithful Education

Madrassahs in South Asia

Ali Riaz

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, discussions on ties between Islamic religious education institutions, namely madrassahs, and transnational terrorist groups have featured prominently in the Western media. In the frenzied coverage of events, however, vital questions have been overlooked: What do we know about the madrassahs? Should Western policy-makers be alarmed by the recent increase in the number of these institutions in Muslim countries? Is there any connection between them and the "global jihad"? Ali Riaz responds to these questions through an in-depth examination of the madrassahs in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. The first book to examine these institutions and their roles in relation to current international politics, Faithful Education will be of interest to policy-makers, researchers, political analysts, and media-pundits. It will also be important reading for undergraduate and graduate students of political science, international affairs, history, South Asian studies, religious studies, and journalism.

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Familiar Medicine

Everyday Health Knowledge and Practice in Today's Vietnam

David Craig

One of the first medical ethnographies to be written on contemporary Vietnam, Familiar Medicine examines the practical ways in which people of the Red River Delta make sense of their bodies, illness, and medicine. Traditional knowledge and practices have persisted but are now expressed through and alongside global medical knowledge and commodities. Western medicine has been eagerly adopted and incorporated into everyday life in Vietnam, but not entirely on its own terms. Familiar Medicine takes a conjectural, interdisciplinary approach to its subject, weaving together history, ethnography, cultural geography, and survey materials to provide a rich and readable account of local practices in the context of an increasingly globalized world and growing microbial resistance to antibiotics. Theoretically, it draws on current critical and cultural theory (in particular applying Pierre Bourdieu's work on habitus and practical logics) in innovative but approachable ways. David Craig addresses a range of contemporary fascinations in medical anthropology and the sociology of health and illness: from the trafficking of medical commodities and ideas under globalization to the hybridization of local cultural formations, knowledge, and practices. His book will be required reading for international workers in health and development in Vietnam and a rich resource for courses in cultural geography, anthropology, medical sociology, regional studies, and public and international health.

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Families Apart

Migrant Mothers and the Conflicts of Labor and Love

Geraldine Pratt

In a developing nation like the Philippines, many mothers provide for their families by traveling to a foreign country to care for someone else’s. Families Apart focuses on Filipino overseas workers in Canada to reveal what such arrangements mean for families on both sides of the global divide.

The outcome of Geraldine Pratt’s collaboration with the Philippine Women Centre of British Columbia, this study documents the difficulties of family separation and the problems that children have when they reunite with their mothers in Vancouver. Aimed at those who have lived this experience, those who directly benefit from it, and those who simply stand by and watch, Families Apart shows how Filipino migrant domestic workers—often mothers themselves—are caught between competing neoliberal policies of sending and receiving countries and how, rather than paying rich returns, their ambitions as migrants often result in social and economic exclusion for themselves and for their children. This argument takes shape as an open-ended series of encounters, moving between a singular academic voice and the “we” of various research collaborations, between Vancouver and the Philippines, and between genres of “evidence-based” social scientific research, personal testimony, theatrical performance, and nonfictional narrative writing.

Through these experiments with different modes of storytelling, Pratt seeks to transform frameworks of perception, to create and collect sympathetic witnesses—in short, to promote a wide-ranging public discussion and debate about a massive worldwide shift in family (and nonfamily) relations of intimacy and care.

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Fields of the Lord

Animism, Christian Minorities and State Development in Indonesia

Lorraine V. Aragon

Religious and ethnic violence between Indonesia's Muslims and Christians escalated dramatically just before and after President Suharto resigned in 1998. In this first major ethnographic study of Christianization in Indonesia, Aragon delineates colonial and postcolonial circumstances contributing to the dynamics of these contemporary conflicts. Aragon's ethnography of Indonesian Christian minorities in Sulawesi combines a political economy of colonial missionization with a microanalysis of shifting religious ideology and practice. Fields of the Lord challenges much comparative religion scholarship by contending that religions, like contemporary cultural groups, be located in their spheres of interaction rather than as the abstracted cognitive and behavioral systems conceived by many adherents, modernist states, and Western scholars. Aragon's portrayal of "near-tribal" populations who characterize themselves as "fanatic Christians" asks the reader to rethink issues of Indonesian nationalism and "modern" development as they converged in President Suharto's late New Order state. Through its careful documentation of colonial missionary tactics, unexpected postcolonial upheavals, and contemporary Christian narratives, Fields of the Lord analyzes the historical and institutional links between state rule and individuals' religious choices. Beyond these contributions, this ethnography includes captivating stories of Salvation Army "angels of the forest" and nationally marginal but locally autonomous dry-rice and coffee farmers. These Salvation Army "soldiers" make Protestantism work on their own ecological, moral, and political turf, maintaining their communities and ongoing religious concerns in the difficult terrain of the Central Sulawesi highlands.

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