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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.

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Mapping Chinese Rangoon

Place and Nation among the Sino-Burmese

Jayde Lin Roberts

Mapping Chinese Rangoon is both an intimate exploration of the Sino-Burmese, people of Chinese descent who identify with and choose to remain in Burma/Myanmar, and an illumination of twenty-first-century Burma during its emergence from decades of military-imposed isolation. This spatial ethnography examines how the Sino-Burmese have lived in between states, cognizant of the insecurity in their unclear political status but aware of the social and economic possibilities in this gray zone between two oppressive regimes.

For the Sino-Burmese in Rangoon, the labels of Chinese and Tayout (the Burmese equivalent of Chinese) fail to recognize the linguistic and cultural differences between the separate groups that have settled in the city—Hokkien, Cantonese, and Hakka—and conflate this diverse population with the state actions of the People’s Republic of China and the supposed dominance of the overseas Chinese network. In this first English-language study of the Sino-Burmese, Mapping Chinese Rangoon examines the concepts of ethnicity, territory, and nation in an area where ethnicity is inextricably tied to state violence.

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Masked

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

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The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre

Security, Trade and Society in 16th- and 17th-century Southeast Asia

Peter Borschberg

A native of Bruges (now part of Belgium), Jacques de Coutre was a gem trader who spent nearly a decade in Southeast Asia in the early 17th century. In addition to a substantial autobiography written in Spanish and preserved in the National Library of Spain in Madrid, he wrote a series of memorials to the united crown of Spain and Portugal that contain recommendations designed to remedy the decline in the fortunes of the Iberian powers in Southeast Asia, particularly against the backdrop of early Dutch political and commercial penetration into the region. Translated into English for the first time, these materials provide a valuable first-hand account of the bigger issues confronting the early colonial powers in Southeast Asia, and deep insights into the societies de Coutre encountered in the territory that today makes up Singapore, Malaysia,Thailand and the Philippines.

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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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Mission to Siam

Joan Acocella (ed.) & Jessie Mackinnon Hartzell

"Here ... I have really lived." Jessie MacKinnon Hartzell arrived in Northern Thailand in 1912, the young wife of a recently ordained Presbyterian missionary. Thousands of miles lay between her and her grandparents' farm in Nova Scotia, where she had been born and raised. But over the next sixteen years, Thailand became her beloved new home. She was awed by its physical beauty--the great rivers, the orchid-studded hills--and became devoted to its people. Beginning as a nurse, she eventually directed a small hospital. There she discovered her talent for organization and hard work. She also found, to her grief, that her work separated her from her children. Mission to Siam casts unexpected light on colonialism, the Asia missions, and the convulsive changes that a newly united Thailand underwent in the early twentieth century. It is a significant contribution to the handful of published works that describe firsthand the experience of women missionaries. This is a heartfelt account by a strong, intelligent woman caught between what she owed her family and what she felt she owed herself: a calling, a career, and adventure. With a biographical essay by Joan Acocella and an introduction by Rosalind C. Morris.

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Modern Noise, Fluid Genres

Popular Music in Indonesia, 1997–2001

Jeremy Wallach

What happens to “local” sound when globalization exposes musicians and audiences to cultural influences from around the world? Jeremy Wallach explores this question as it plays out in the eclectic, evolving world of Indonesian music after the fall of the repressive Soeharto regime. Against the backdrop of Indonesia’s chaotic and momentous transition to democracy, Wallach takes us to recording studios, music stores, concert venues, university campuses, video shoots, and urban neighborhoods.
Integrating ground-level ethnographic research with insights drawn from contemporary cultural theory, he shows that access to globally circulating music and technologies has neither extinguished nor homogenized local music-making in Indonesia. Instead, it has provided young Indonesians with creative possibilities for exploring their identity in a diverse nation undergoing dramatic changes in an increasingly interconnected world. Ultimately, he finds, the unofficial, multicultural nationalism of Indonesian popular music provides a viable alternative to the religious, ethnic, regional, and class-based extremism that continues to threaten unity and democracy in that country.

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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.

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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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Moving Mountains

Ethnicity and Livelihoods in Highland China, Vietnam, and Laos

Jean Michaud

The mountainous borderlands of socialist China, Vietnam, and Laos are home to some seventy million minority people of diverse ethnicities. In Moving Mountains, anthropologists, geographers, and political economists with first-hand experience in the region explore these peoples' survival strategies, as they respond to unprecedented economic and political change. Although highland peoples are typically represented as marginalized and powerless, this volume argues that ethnic minorities draw on culture and ethnicity to indigenize modernity and maintain their livelihoods. This unprecedented glimpse into a poorly understood region shows that development initiatives must be built on strong knowledge of local cultures in order to have lasting effect.

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