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The Buddhist monk Buddhadasa Bhikku (1906-1993) injected fresh life into Thai Buddhism by exploring and teaching little known transcendent aspects of the religion. His investigations excited both monks and lay people, and gave rise to vigorous discussion in shops, temple and yards and newly founded Buddhist associations. While these discussions included serious exchanges on doctrine and practice, they also included jokes and light humour, criticisms of weak evidence for various positions, and rumours that Buddhadasa was a communist sympathizer. Some of this material was captured in Buddhist journals and in numerous "pocket books" aimed at a general audience. Departing from the classical method of studying Buddhism through philology, Tomomi Ito's account of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu draws on this popular literature and on detailed interviews with a very broad spectrum of the people involved in these exchanges. The result is a lively intellectual and social history of contemporary Thai Buddhism built around the life of an exceptional monk who captured the interest of Buddhists pursuing spiritual depth in the context of the ideologcial conflicts of the Cold War.
A Panorama of Social Life in Melaka from the 1780s to the 1820s
This book presents a tapestry of social history of Melaka rich in details as never before, using the court records from the 1780s through to the 1820s serendipitously preserved. Through the eyes of Dutch judges who carefully recorded crimes committed in the town, Radin Fernando weaves a fascinating narrative of social history of ordinary people caught in the most serious of all crimes, murder, as both perpetrators and victims. They speak for themselves, revealing their anxiety, anguish, humour and mischief, feelings common in human life but rarely encountered in history books, projecting a lively picture of the life of ordinary people in Melaka.
Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism
Muslims and Matriarchs is a history of an unusual, probably heretical, and ultimately resilient cultural system. The Minangkabau culture of West Sumatra, Indonesia, is well known as the world's largest matrilineal culture; Minangkabau people are also Muslim and famous for their piety. In this book, Jeffrey Hadler examines the changing ideas of home and family in Minangkabau from the late eighteenth century to the 1930s.
Minangkabau has experienced a sustained and sometimes violent debate between Muslim reformists and preservers of indigenous culture. During a protracted and bloody civil war of the early nineteenth century, neo-Wahhabi reformists sought to replace the matriarchate with a society modeled on that of the Prophet Muhammad. In capitulating, the reformists formulated an uneasy truce that sought to find a balance between Islamic law and local custom. With the incorporation of highland West Sumatra into the Dutch empire in the aftermath of this war, the colonial state entered an ongoing conversation. These existing tensions between colonial ideas of progress, Islamic reformism, and local custom ultimately strengthened the matriarchate.
The ferment generated by the trinity of oppositions created social conditions that account for the disproportionately large number of Minangkabau leaders in Indonesian politics across the twentieth century. The endurance of the matriarchate is testimony to the fortitude of local tradition, the unexpected flexibility of reformist Islam, and the ultimate weakness of colonialism. Muslims and Matriarchs is particularly timely in that it describes a society that experienced a neo-Wahhabi jihad and an extended period of Western occupation but remained intellectually and theologically flexible and diverse.
Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia
The expansion of the Cholas from their base in the Kaveri Delta saw this growing power subdue the kingdoms of southern India, as well as occupy Sri Lanka and the Maldives, by the early eleventh century. It was also during this period that the Cholas initiated links with Song China.Concurrently, the Southeast Asian polity of Sriwijaya had, through its Sumatran and Malayan ports, come to occupy a key position in East-West maritime trade, requiring engagement with both Song China to the north and the Chola kingdom to its west. The apparently friendly relations pursued were, however, to be disrupted in 1025 by Chola naval expeditions against fourteen key port cities in Southeast Asia. This volume examines the background, course and effects of these expeditions, as well as the regional context of the events. It brings to light many aspects of this key period in Asian history.Unprecedented in the degree of detail assigned to the story of the Chola expeditions, this volume is also unique in that it includes translations of the contemporary Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions relating to Southeast Asia and of the Song dynasty Chinese texts relating to the Chola Kingdom.
Five Southeast Asian Histories
The book addresses questions such as: how should historians treat the earlier pasts of each country and the nationalism that guided the nation-building tasks? Where did political culture come in, especially when dealing with modern challenges of class, secularism and ethnicity? What part do external or regional pressures play when the nations are still being built? The authors have thought deeply about the issues of writing nation-building histories and have tried to put them not only in the perspective of Southeast Asian developments of the past five decades, but also the larger areas of historiography today.
East and West
Nationalism and globalization are two major contradicting forces in the world today. The roles that these two forces play and the impact of globalization on countries differ. Both Western and Asian "nation-states" have faced the challenge of globalization in recent decades, and the challenge has become more intense since the 1990s. The decline of communism and socialism as ideologies, and the decreasing importance of national boundaries for capital, companies and even labour, have had profound implications for national identity. Thus, the impact of globalization on "nation-states" is not identical. How have "nation-states" coped with globalization? Has it led to stronger nationalism or national disintegration? What has happened to national identity? Is the concept of "nation" still relevant in the era of globalization? To answer these questions, twelve countries -- six from the West (France, UK, USA, Yugoslavia, Australia, and Russia) and six from Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, and India) have been selected for study. These countries represent a wide range of national experiences — from "old" states to "new" states, from mono-ethnic nations to multi-ethnic ones, and from surviving nation-states to decaying ones. Apart from the individual country studies, the last chapter summarizes and compares the findings of these country studies, throwing light on the various types of nationalism, and the gains and losses of these countries in the process of globalization.
Historiography is both the study of the writing of history, and the history of historical writings. The book deals with the current research interests, methods, thinking and trends in Malaysian historical writing. The individual essays focus not only on new historical sources and methodologies, but also on debates between different schools of Malaysian historians on conceptual issues and on ways to reconstruct the Malaysian past. For a long time the primary object of Malaysian historical studies has been the nation-state, but some of the historians in this volume now argue that local history, social history, economic history, and the role of women, minorities and marginalized groups like trishaw riders are equally important concerns within Malaysia's socially diverse and multi-ethnic society. The essays also discuss challenges Malaysian historians face from new movements like post-modernism in representing historical truth and objectivity. This book should be of interest not only to students of Malaysian history, but also to the general reader.
Maritime Interactions in Eastern Asia before Steamships
This exemplary work of international collaboration takes a comparative approach to the histories of Northeast and Southeast Asia, with contributions from scholars from Japan, Korea and the English-speaking academic world. The new scholarship represented by this volume demonstrates that the vast and growing commercial interactions between the countries of eastern Asia have long historical roots. The so-called “opening” to Western trade in the mid-nineteenth century, which is typically seen as the beginning of this process, is shown to be rather the reversal of a relatively temporary phase of state consolidation in the long eighteenth century.
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Pirates, Ports and Coasts in Asia aims to fill in some of the historical gaps in the coverage of maritime piracy and armed robbery in Asia. The authors highlight a variety of activities ranging from raiding, destroying and pillaging coastal villages and capturing inhabitants to attacking and taking over vessels, robbing and then trading the cargo and its people. Generally speaking, what connects these activities is the fact that they are carried out at sea, often in the coastal inshore waters, by vessels attacking other vessels or raiding coastal settlements. Acts of maritime piracy cannot be regarded as being located outside the relevant framework of the coastal zone. Coastal zones have therefore become highly desirable places, a circumstance which has transformed them into places subject to great social and ecological pressures. Piracy being the most dramatic of marginal(ized) maritime livelihood, this book brings the relationship between pirates, ports, and coastal hinterlands into focus.
Islamic and Other Vision, c. 1830-1930
By the early 19th century, Islam had come to be the religious element in Javanese identity, but it was a particular kind of Islam described by the author as a “mystic synthesis”. The Javanese held firmly to their identity as Muslims and fulfilled the basic ritual obligations of the faith, but they also accepted the reality of local spiritual forces. Polarising Javanese Society discusses how colonial rule, population pressure and Islamic reform undermined this distinctively Javanese syncretism. A fourfold division appeared among pious Muslims -- some remained adherents of the “mystic synthesis”, some followed reformers who demanded a more orthoprax way of life, some supported reformist Sufis, and some accepted messianic ideas. A new category emerged comprising Javanese who resisted Islamic reform and began to attenuate their Islamic identity. These increasingly nominal Muslims -- the majority -- became known as abangan. The priyayi elite meanwhile embraced the forms of modernity as represented by their European rulers and modern scientific learning, and Christianity began to make limited inroads into Javanese society. Some even came to regard the original conversion of the Javanese to Islam as a civilisational mistake, and within this social element explicitly anti-Islamic concepts took shape. In the early 20th century, these categories became politicised in the context of Indonesia’s nascent anti-colonial movements. Thus were born the contending political identities that lay behind much of the conflict and bloodshed of 20th-century Indonesia. Based on a wide range of original sources in Javanese and Dutch, this book is the first thoroughly researched publication on Islam in Java.