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Modern Thai Buddhism and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: A Social History Cover

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Modern Thai Buddhism and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: A Social History

Tomomi Ito

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.

Mourning Headband for Hue Cover

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Mourning Headband for Hue

An Account of the Battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968

Translated with an Introduction by Olga Dror. Nha Ca

Vietnam, January, 1968. As the citizens of Hue are preparing to celebrate Tet, the start of the Lunar New Year, Nha Ca arrives in the city to attend her father’s funeral. Without warning, war erupts all around them, drastically changing or cutting short their lives. After a month of fighting, their beautiful city lies in ruins and thousands of people are dead. Mourning Headband for Hue tells the story of what happened during the fierce North Vietnamese offensive and is an unvarnished and riveting account of war as experienced by ordinary people caught up in the violence.

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Murder Most Foul

A Panorama of Social Life in Melaka from the 1780s to the 1820s

Radin Fernando

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.

Muslims and Matriarchs Cover

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Muslims and Matriarchs

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.

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Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa

Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia

Hermann Kulke, K Kesavapany and Vijay Sakhuja

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.

Nation Building Cover

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Nation Building

Five Southeast Asian Histories

Wang Gungwu

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.

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Nationalism and Globalization

East and West

Leo Suryadinata

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.

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New Perspectives and Research on Malaysian History

Cheah Boon Kheng

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.

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No Man's Land

Globalization, Territory, and Clandestine Groups in Southeast Asia

The increased ability of clandestine groups to operate with little regard for borders or geography is often taken to be one of the dark consequences of a brave new globalized world. Yet even for terrorists and smugglers, the world is not flat; states exert formidable control over the technologies of globalization, and difficult terrain poses many of the same problems today as it has throughout human history.

In No Man's Land, Justin V. Hastings examines the complex relationship that illicit groups have with modern technology-and how and when geography still matters. Based on often difficult fieldwork in Southeast Asia, Hastings traces the logistics networks, command and control structures, and training programs of three distinct clandestine organizations: the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, the insurgent Free Aceh Movement, and organized criminals in the form of smugglers and maritime pirates. Hastings also compares the experiences of these groups to others outside Southeast Asia, including al-Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, and the Somali pirates.

Through reportage, memoirs, government archives, interrogation documents, and interviews with people on both sides of the law, he finds that despite their differences, these organizations are constrained and shaped by territory and technology in similar ways. In remote or hostile environments, where access to the infrastructure of globalization is limited, clandestine groups must set up their own costly alternatives. Even when successful, Hastings concludes, criminal, insurgent and terrorist organizations are not nearly as mobile as pessimistic views of the sinister side of globalization might suggest.

Offshore Asia Cover

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Offshore Asia

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.

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