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Letters of Sincerity Cover

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Letters of Sincerity

The Raffles Collection of Malay Letters (1780-1824), A Descriptive Account with Notes and Translation

Ahmat Adam

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.

The Life of a Balinese Temple Cover

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The Life of a Balinese Temple

Artistry, Imagination, and History in a Peasant Village

Hildred Geertz

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.

The Limits of Alignment Cover

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The Limits of Alignment

Southeast Asia and the Great Powers since 1975

John D. Ciorciari

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

Lines in Water Cover

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Lines in Water

Religious Boundaries in South Asia

edited by Eliza Kent

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.

Lords of Things Cover

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Lords of Things

The Fashioning of the Siamese Monarchy's Modern Image

Maurizio Peleggi

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.

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The Lost Territories

Thailand’s History of National Humiliation

Shane Strate

It is a cherished belief among Thai people that their country was never colonized. Yet politicians, scholars, and other media figures chronically inveigh against Western colonialism and the imperialist theft of Thai territory. Thai historians insist that the country adapted to the Western dominated world order more successfully than other Southeast Asian kingdoms and celebrate their proud history of independence. But many Thai leaders view the West as a threat and portray Thailand as a victim. Clearly Thailand’s relationship with the West is ambivalent.

The Lost Territories explores this conundrum by examining two important and contrasting strands of Thai historiography: the well-known Royal-Nationalist ideology, which celebrates Thailand’s long history of uninterrupted independence; and what the author terms “National Humiliation discourse,” its mirror image. Shane Strate examines the origins and consequences of National Humiliation discourse, showing how the modern Thai state has used the idea of national humiliation to sponsor a form of anti-Western nationalism. Unlike triumphalist Royal-Nationalist narratives, National Humiliation history depicts Thailand as a victim of Western imperialist bullying. Focusing on key themes such as extraterritoriality, trade imbalances, and territorial loss, National Humiliation history maintains that the West impeded Thailand’s development even while professing its support and cooperation. Although the state remains the hero in this narrative, it is a tragic heroism defined by suffering and foreign oppression.

Through his insightful analysis of state and media sources, Strate demonstrates how Thai politicians have deployed National Humiliation imagery in support of ethnic chauvinism and military expansion. The Lost Territories will be of particular interest to historians and political scientists for the light it sheds on many episodes of Thai foreign policy, including the contemporary dispute over Preah Vihear. The book’s analysis of the manipulation of historical memory will interest academics exploring similar phenomena worldwide.

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The Lotus Unleashed

The Buddhist Peace Movement in South Vietnam, 1964-1966

Robert Topmiller

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.

Malay Secret Societies in the Northern Malay States, 1821-1940s Cover

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Malay Secret Societies in the Northern Malay States, 1821-1940s

Mahani MusaMahani Musa

This study describes the origins, function and role of secret societies in the Malay society. The Malay secret societies emerged in the northern Malay states of the west coast of the Malay peninsula between 1821 and the 1940s. These societies were the main avenue to solve various problems which resulted from socio-economic development and competition among the Malays. They reflected an early Malay mode of organization at a time when political parties and associations had yet to be formed. Some of these societies started as religious and welfare organizations. Later they deteriorated into criminal activities due to the failure of the existing leadership to control these tendencies. Just like the Chinese secret societies, members of the Malay secret societies were bound by an oath of secrecy which made detection by the police rather difficult.

Masked Cover

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Masked

The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam

Migrants for Export Cover

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Migrants for Export

How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World

Robyn Magalit Rodriguez

Migrant workers from the Philippines are ubiquitous to global capitalism, with nearly 10 percent of the population employed in almost two hundred countries. In a visit to the United States in 2003, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo even referred to herself as not only the head of state but also “the CEO of a global Philippine enterprise of eight million Filipinos who live and work abroad.”
 
Robyn Magalit Rodriguez investigates how and why the Philippine government transformed itself into what she calls a labor brokerage state, which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad. Filipino men and women fill a range of jobs around the globe, including domestic work, construction, and engineering, and they have even worked in the Middle East to support U.S. military operations. At the same time, the state redefines nationalism to normalize its citizens to migration while fostering their ties to the Philippines. Those who leave the country to work and send their wages to their families at home are treated as new national heroes.
 
Drawing on ethnographic research of the Philippine government’s migration bureaucracy, interviews, and archival work, Rodriguez presents a new analysis of neoliberal globalization and its consequences for nation-state formation.

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