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Vol. 83 (2010) through current issue
The Journal of Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (JMBRAS) is published half-yearly by the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS). It disseminates knowledge and matters of historical value pertaining to Malaysia and the surrounding region.
Security and the Development of Property Rights in Thailand
Domestic and international development strategies often focus on private ownership as a crucial anchor for long-term investment; the security of property rights provides a foundation for capitalist expansion. In recent years, Thailand's policies have been hailed as a prime example of how granting formal land rights to poor farmers in low-income countries can result in economic benefits. But the country provides a puzzle: Thailand faced major security threats from colonial powers in the nineteenth century and from communism in the twentieth century, yet only in the latter case did the government respond with pro-development tactics.
In Land and Loyalty, Tomas Larsson argues that institutional underdevelopment may prove, under certain circumstances, a strategic advantage rather than a weakness and that external threats play an important role in shaping the development of property regimes. Security concerns, he find, often guide economic policy. The domestic legacies, legal and socioeconomic, resulting from state responses to the outside world shape and limit the strategies available to politicians. While Larsson's extensive archival research findings are drawn from Thai sources, he situates the experiences of Thailand in comparative perspective by contrasting them with the trajectory of property rights in Japan, Burma, and the Philippines.
The State and Agrarian Conflict in Indonesia
The Raffles Collection of Malay Letters (1780-1824), A Descriptive Account with Notes and Translation
Letters of Sincerity is a study in the traditional Malay art of letter writing. The work is based on the Raffles collection of Malay letters first discovered in Aviemore, Scotland, in November 1970. In this book Ahmat Adam provides a transcription form the original Jawi, into Rumi script of a series of letters sent to Stamford Raffles mostly around 1810 and 1811 by rulers of regional Malay polities. He also provides a translation into English, and supplementary notes, which set the letters in the context of the times, and explain the issues which they raise. In the course of this he additionally povides a detailed guide to the intricacies of Malay-Islamic dating which was in use at that time in the Malay-Indonesian world. His study on this aspect of Malay culture is the first to link Malay dating with Sufism.
Artistry, Imagination, and History in a Peasant Village
Should a temple be seen as a work of art, its carvers as artists, its worshipers as art critics and patrons? What is a temple (and its art) to the people who make and use it? Noted anthropologist Hildred Geertz attempts to answer these and other questions in this unique look at transformations in material culture and social relations over time in a village temple in Bali. Throughout Geertz offers insightful glimpses into what the statues, structures, and designs of Pura Désa Batuan convey to those who worship there, deepening our understanding of how a village community evaluates workmanship and imagery. Following an introduction to the temple and villagers of Batuan, Geertz explores the problematics of the Western concept of "art" as a guiding framework in research. She goes on to outline the many different kinds of work—ideational as well as physical—undertaken in connection with the temple and the social institutions that enable, constrain, and motivate their creation. Finally, the "art-works" themselves are presented, set within the intricate sociocultural contexts of their making. Using the history of Batuan as the main framework for discussing each piece, Geertz looks at the carvings from the perspective of their makers, each generation occupying a different social situation. She confronts concepts such as "aesthetics," "representation," "sacredness," and "universality" and the dilemmas they create in field research and ethnographic writing. Recent temple carvings from the tumultuous and complex period that followed the expulsion of the Dutch and the increasing globalization and commercialization of Balinese society demonstrate yet again that any anthropology of art must also be historical.
Southeast Asia and the Great Powers since 1975
The Limits of Alignment is an engaging and accessible study that explores how small states and middle powers of Southeast Asia ensure their security in a world where they are overshadowed by greater powers. John D. Ciorciari challenges a central concep
Religious Boundaries in South Asia
This collection examines the projections and fantasies, conflict and cooperation, and borrowing and purifying that takes place around religious boundaries in South Asia and in the South Asian diaspora. These essays illustrate how people negotiate social divisions constructed on the basis of religious differences by describing, defining, maintaining, and blurring those religious boundaries in diverse ways. The authors approach religious traditions from a variety of angles including healing and pilgrimage practices, artistic performances, and national holidays. The principal strength of the volume lies in the way its regionally specific case studies generate insights that are more commonly associated with religious pluralism.
The Fashioning of the Siamese Monarchy's Modern Image
Lords of Things offers a fascinating interpretation of modernity in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Siam by focusing on the novel material possessions and social practices adopted by the royal elite to refashion its self and public image in the early stages of globalization. It examines the westernized modes of consumption and self-presentation, the residential and representational architecture, and the public spectacles appropriated by the Bangkok court not as byproducts of institutional reformation initiated by modernizing sovereigns, but as practices and objects constitutive of the very identity of the royalty as a civilized and civilizing class. Bringing a wealth of new source material into a theoretically informed discussion, Lords of Things will be required reading for historians of Thailand and Southeast Asia scholars generally. It represents a welcome change from previous studies of Siamese modernization that are almost exclusively concerned with the institutional and economic dimensions of the process or with foreign relations, and will appeal greatly to those interested in transnational cultural flows, the culture of colonialism, the invention of tradition, and the relationship between consumption and identity formation in the modern era.
The Buddhist Peace Movement in South Vietnam, 1964-1966
During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Buddhist peace activists made extraordinary sacrifices—including self-immolation—to try to end the fighting. They hoped to establish a neutralist government that would broker peace with the Communists and expel the Americans. Robert J. Topmiller explores South Vietnamese attitudes toward the war, the insurgency, and U.S. intervention, and lays bare the dissension within the U.S. military. The Lotus Unleashed is one of the few studies to illuminate the impact of internal Vietnamese politics on U.S. decision-making and to examine the power of a nonviolent movement to confront a violent superpower.