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Inventing the Performing Arts

Modernity and Tradition in Colonial Indonesia

Matthew Isaac Cohen

Indonesia, with its mix of ethnic cultures, cosmopolitan ethos, and strong national ideology, offers a useful lens for examining the intertwining of tradition and modernity in globalized Asia. In Inventing the Performing Arts, Matthew Isaac Cohen explores the profound change in diverse arts practices from the nineteenth century until 1949. He demonstrates that modern modes of transportation and communication not only brought the Dutch colony of Indonesia into the world economy, but also stimulated the emergence of new art forms and modern attitudes to art, disembedded and remoored traditions, and hybridized foreign and local.

In the nineteenth century, access to novel forms of entertainment, such as the circus, and newspapers, which offered a new language of representation and criticism, wrought fundamental changes in theatrical, musical, and choreographic practices. Musical drama disseminated print literature to largely illiterate audiences starting in the 1870s, and spoken drama in the 1920s became a vehicle for exploring social issues. Twentieth-century institutions—including night fairs, the recording industry, schools, itinerant theatre, churches, cabarets, round-the-world cruises, and amusement parks—generated new ways of making, consuming, and comprehending the performing arts. Concerned over the loss of tradition and "Eastern" values, elites codified folk arts, established cultural preservation associations, and experimented in modern stagings of ancient stories. Urban nationalists excavated the past and amalgamated ethnic cultures in dramatic productions that imagined the Indonesian nation. The Japanese occupation (1942–1945) was brief but significant in cultural impact: plays, songs, and dances promoting anti-imperialism, Asian values, and war-time austerity measures were created by Indonesian intellectuals and artists in collaboration with Japanese and Korean civilian and military personnel. Artists were registered, playscripts censored, training programs developed, and a Cultural Center established.

Based on more than two decades of archival study in Indonesia, Europe, and the United States, this richly detailed, meticulously researched book demonstrates that traditional and modern artistic forms were created and conceived, that is "invented," in tandem. Intended as a general historical introduction to the performing arts in Indonesia, it will be of great interest to students and scholars of Indonesian performance, Asian traditions and modernities, global arts and culture, and local heritage.

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The Ironies of Freedom

Sex, Culture, and Neoliberal Governance in Vietnam

by Nguyen-vo Thu-huong

In the late 1980s, Vietnam joined the global economy after decades of war and relative isolation, demonstrating how a former socialist government can adapt to global market forces with their neoliberal emphasis on freedom of choice for entrepreneurs and consumers. The Ironies of Freedom examines an aspect of this new market: commercial sex.

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Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java

A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to Present

M.C. Ricklefs

The Javanese -- one of the largest ethnic groups in the Islamic world -- were once mostly "nominal Muslims", with pious believers a minority and the majority seemingly resistant to Islam's call for greater piety. Over the tumultuous period analyzed here -- from colonial rule through japanese occupation and Revolution to the chaotic democracy of the Sukarno period, the Soeharto regime's aspirant totalitarianism and the democratic period since -- the society has changed profundly to become an extraordinary example of the rising religiosity that marks the modern age. Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java draws on a formidable body of sources, including interviews, archival documents and a vast range of published material, to situate the Javanese religious experience from the 1930s to the present day in its local political, social, cultural and religious settings. The concluding part of the author’s monumental three-volume series assessing more than six centuries of the on-going Islamisation of the Javanese, the study has considerable relevance for much wider contexts. Beliefs, or disbeliefs, about the supernatural are important in all societies, and the final section of the book, which considers the significance of Java’s religious history in global contexts, shows how it exemplifies a profound contest of values in the universal human search for a better life.

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Journal of Burma Studies

Volume 1 (1997) through current issue

The Journal of Burma Studies is one of the only scholarly peer-reviewed printed journal exclusively on Burma. The Journal of Burma Studies is jointly sponsored by the Burma Studies Group and the Center for Burma Studies at Northern Illinois University. It is published twice a year (June and December) by NUS Press, National University of Singapore. The Journal seeks to publish the best scholarly research focused on Burma/Myanmar and its minority and diasporic cultures from a variety of disciplines, ranging from art history and religious studies, to economics and law. Published since 1997, it draws together research and critical reflection on Burma/Myanmar from scholars across Asia, North America and Europe.

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Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

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.

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Knowing Southeast Asian Subjects

Edited by Laurie J. Sears

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Land and Loyalty

Security and the Development of Property Rights in Thailand

by Tomas Larsson

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.

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Land for the People

The State and Agrarian Conflict in Indonesia

Anton Lucas and Carol Warren

Half of Indonesia’s massive population still lives on farms, and for these tens of millions of people the revolutionary promise of land reform remains largely unfulfilled. The Basic Agrarian Law, enacted in the wake of the Indonesian Revolution, was supposed to provide access to land and equitable returns for peasant farmers. But fifty years later, the law’s objectives of social justice have not been achieved.

Land for the People provides a comprehensive look at land conflict and agrarian reform throughout Indonesia’s recent history, from the roots of land conflicts in the prerevolutionary period, and the Sukarno and Suharto regimes, to the present day, in which democratization is creating new contexts for peoples’ claims to the land. Drawing on studies from across Indonesia’s diverse landscape, the contributors examine some of the most significant issues and events affecting land rights, including shifts in policy from the early postrevolutionary period to the New Order; the Land Administration Project that formed the core of land policy during the late New Order period; a long-running and representative dispute over a golf course in West Java that pitted numerous indigenous farmers in Kalimantan against the urban elite; Suharto’s notorious “million hectare” project that resulted in loss of access to land and resources for numerous farmers; and the struggle by Bandung’s urban poor to be treated equitably in the context of commercial land development. Together, these essays provide a critical resource for understanding one of Indonesia’s most pressing and most influential issues.

Contributors: Afrizal, Dianto Bachriadi, Anton Lucas, John McCarthy, John Mansford Prior, Gustaaf Reerink, Carol Warren, and Gunawan Wiradi.

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Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010

Danielle Labb�

In the late 1990s, planning authorities in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi pushed the imaginary line between city and country several kilometres westward, engulfing dozens of rural settlements. This book explores how one such village, Hoa Muc, rapidly transitioned into an urban neighbourhood, and the state regulations and early urban changes that drove this transformation. The compelling story of this single village is both a portrait of a population that has endured despite drastic upheavals and a new analytical window into Vietnam's ongoing urban transition.

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Legitimizing Empire

Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique

Faye Caronan

When the United States acquired the Philippines and Puerto Rico, it reconciled its status as an empire with its anticolonial roots by claiming that it would altruistically establish democratic institutions in its new colonies. Ever since, Filipino and Puerto Rican artists have challenged promises of benevolent assimilation and portray U.S. imperialism as both self-interested and unexceptional among empires. Faye Caronan's examination interprets the pivotal engagement of novels, films, performance poetry, and other cultural productions as both symptoms of and resistance against American military, social, economic, and political incursions. Though the Philippines became an independent nation and Puerto Rico a U.S. commonwealth, both remain subordinate to the United States. Caronan's juxtaposition reveals two different yet simultaneous models of U.S. neocolonial power and contradicts American exceptionalism as a reluctant empire that only accepts colonies for the benefit of the colonized and global welfare. Her analysis, meanwhile, demonstrates how popular culture allows for alternative narratives of U.S. imperialism, but also functions to contain those alternatives.

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