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History > Asian History > Southeast Asia

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Quagmire Cover

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Quagmire

Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta

By David Biggs

The Rebel Den of Nung Tri Cao Cover

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The Rebel Den of Nung Tri Cao

loyalty and identity along the Sino-Vietnamese frontier

James A. Anderson

The Rebel Den of Nung Tri Cao examines the rebellion of the eleventh-century Tai chieftain Nung Tri Cao (ca. 1025-1055), whose struggle for independence along Vietnam's mountainous northern frontier was a pivotal event in Sino-Vietnamese relations. Tri Cao's revolt occurred during Vietnam's earliest years of independence from China and would prove to be a vital test of the Vietnamese court's ability to confront local political challenges and maintain harmony with its powerful northern neighbor.

Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma Cover

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Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma

Chie Ikeya

Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma presents the first study of one of the most prevalent and critical topics of public discourse in colonial Burma: the woman of the khit kala—"the woman of the times"—who burst onto the covers and pages of novels, newspapers, and advertisements in the 1920s. Educated and politicized, earner and consumer, "Burmese" and "Westernized," she embodied the possibilities and challenges of the modern era, as well as the hopes and fears it evoked. In Refiguring Women, Chie Ikeya interrogates what these shifting and competing images of the feminine reveal about the experience of modernity in colonial Burma. She marshals a wide range of hitherto unexamined Burmese language sources to analyze both the discursive figurations of the woman of the khit kala and the choices and actions of actual women who—whether pursuing higher education, becoming political, or adopting new clothes and hairstyles—unsettled existing norms and contributed to making the woman of the khit kala the privileged idiom for debating colonialism, modernization, and nationalism.

The first book-length social history of Burma to utilize gender as a category of sustained analysis, Refiguring Women challenges the reigning nationalist and anticolonial historical narratives of a conceptually and institutionally monolithic colonial modernity that made inevitable the rise of ethnonationalism and xenophobia in Burma. The study demonstrates the irreducible heterogeneity of the colonial encounter and draws attention to the conjoined development of cosmopolitanism and nationalism. Ikeya illuminates the important roles that Burmese men and women played as cultural brokers and agents of modernity. She shows how their complex engagements with social reform, feminism, anticolonialism, media, and consumerism rearticulated the boundaries of belonging and foreignness in religious, racial, and ethnic terms.

Refiguring Women adds significantly to examinations of gender and race relations, modernization, and nationalism in colonized regions. It will be of interest to a broad audience—not least those working in the fields of Southeast Asian studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, cultural studies, and women’s and gender studies.

26 illus.

Regional Outlook Cover

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Regional Outlook

Southeast Asia 2009-2010

Ian Storey and Lee Poh Onn

Launched in 1992, Regional Outlook is an annual publication of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, published every January. Designed for the busy executive, professional, diplomat, journalist, or interested observer, Regional Outlook aims to provide a succinct analysis of current political and economic trends shaping the region, and the outlook for the forthcoming two years. This forward-looking book contains focused political commentaries and economic forecasts on all ten countries in Southeast Asia, as well as a select number of topical pieces of significance to the region.

Replacing France Cover

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Replacing France

The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam

Kathryn Statler

Using recently released archival materials from the United States and Europe, Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam explains how and why the United States came to assume control as the dominant western power in Vietnam during the 1950s. Acting on their conviction that American methods had a better chance of building a stable, noncommunist South Vietnamese nation, Eisenhower administration officials systematically ejected French military, economic, political, bureaucratic, and cultural institutions from Vietnam. Kathryn C. Statler examines diplomatic maneuvers in Paris, Washington, London, and Saigon to detail how Western alliance members sought to transform South Vietnam into a modern, westernized, and democratic ally but ultimately failed to counter the Communist threat. Abetted by South Vietnamese prime minister Ngo Dinh Diem, Americans in Washington, D.C., and Saigon undermined their French counterparts at every turn, resulting in the disappearance of a French presence by the time Kennedy assumed office. Although the United States ultimately replaced France in South Vietnam, efforts to build South Vietnam into a nation failed. Instead, it became a dependent client state that was unable to withstand increasing Communist aggression from the North. Replacing France is a fundamental reassessment of the origins of U.S. involvement in Vietnam that explains how Franco-American conflict led the United States to pursue a unilateral and ultimately imperialist policy in Vietnam.

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Resistance on the National Stage

Theater and Politics in Late New Order Indonesia

Michael H. Bodden

Resistance on the National Stage analyzes the ways in which, between 1985 and 1998, modern theater practitioners in Indonesia contributed to a rising movement of social protest against the long-governing New Order regime of President Suharto. It examines the work of an array of theater groups and networks from Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta that pioneered new forms of theater-making and new themes that were often presented more directly and critically than previous groups had dared to do.

Michael H. Bodden looks at a wide range of case studies to show how theater contributed to and helped build the opposition. He also looks at how specific combinations of social groups created tensions and gave modern theater a special role in bridging social gaps and creating social networks that expanded the reach of the prodemocracy movement. Theater workers constructed new social networks by involving peasants, Muslim youth, industrial workers, and lower-middle-class slum dwellers in theater productions about their own lives. Such networking and resistance established theater as one significant arena in which the groundwork for the ouster of Suharto in May 1998, and the succeeding Reform era, was laid.

Resistance on the National Stage will have broad appeal, not only for scholars of contemporary Indonesian culture and theater, but also for those interested in Indonesian history and politics, as well as scholars of postcolonial theater and culture.

 

Responding to Globalization Cover

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Responding to Globalization

Nation, Culture and Identity in Singapore

Selvaraj Velayutham

Despite unprecedented levels of global interconnectedness, little academic attention has been paid to how governments actively deal with the challenges globalization poses for national identity. This book investigates the Singapore Government’s approach to the construction of national identity and the shifting ways in which Singapore has been imagined in official discourses. The hallmarks of Singapore’s nation-building project have been the state’s efforts to manage ethnic differences and ensure the economic well-being of its citizenry. Unlike other global cities which are embedded in a larger nation-state, Singapore is both a global city and a nation-state. Singapore embodies a curious contradiction: while global cities are often theorized as transient spaces, contradictorily, the nation-state needs to be bounded in order to remain viable. This book focuses on the global/national nexus: the tensions between the necessity to embrace the global to ensure economic survival, yet needing a committed population to support the perpetuation of the nation-state and its economic success. It critically explores how the government has been responding to the challenges of globalization through policy initiatives and official rhetoric to create a “space” for affective identification with the Singaporean nation-state and how Singaporeans relate to and articulate their sense of identity and belonging to Singapore within the context of globalization.

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The Return of the Galon King

History, Law, and Rebellion in Colonial Burma

Maitrii Aung-Thwin

In late 1930, on a secluded mountain overlooking the rural paddy fields of British Burma, a peasant leader named Saya San crowned himself King and inaugurated a series of uprisings that would later erupt into one of the largest anti-colonial rebellions in Southeast Asian history. Considered an imposter by the British, a hero by nationalists, and a prophet-king by area-studies specialists, Saya San came to embody traditional Southeast Asia’s encounter with European colonialism in his attempt to resurrect the lost throne of Burma.

The Return of the Galon King analyzes the legal origins of the Saya San story and reconsiders the facts upon which the basic narrative and interpretations of the rebellion are based. Aung-Thwin reveals how counter-insurgency law produced and criminalized Burmese culture, contributing to the way peasant resistance was recorded in the archives and understood by Southeast Asian scholars.

This interdisciplinary study reveals how colonial anthropologists, lawyers, and scholar-administrators produced interpretations of Burmese culture that influenced contemporary notions of Southeast Asian resistance and protest. It provides a fascinating case study of how history is treated by the law, how history emerges in legal decisions, and how the authority of the past is used to validate legal findings.

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Revolution Interrupted

Farmers, Students, Law, and Violence in Northern Thailand

Tyrell Haberkorn; Foreword by Thongchai Winichakul

In October 1973 a mass movement forced Thailand’s prime minister to step down and leave the country, ending nearly forty years of dictatorship. Three years later, in a brutal reassertion of authoritarian rule, Thai state and para-state forces quashed a demonstration at Thammasat University in Bangkok. In Revolution Interrupted, Tyrell Haberkorn focuses on this period when political activism briefly opened up the possibility for meaningful social change. Tenant farmers and their student allies fomented revolution, she shows, not by picking up guns but by invoking laws—laws that the Thai state ultimately proved unwilling to enforce.
    In choosing the law as their tool to fight unjust tenancy practices, farmers and students departed from the tactics of their ancestors and from the insurgent methods of the Communist Party of Thailand. To first imagine and then create a more just future, they drew on their own lived experience and the writings of Thai Marxian radicals of an earlier generation, as well as New Left, socialist, and other progressive thinkers from around the world. Yet their efforts were quickly met with harassment, intimidation, and assassinations of farmer leaders. More than thirty years later, the assassins remain unnamed.
    Drawing on hundreds of newspaper articles, cremation volumes, activist and state documents, and oral histories, Haberkorn reveals the ways in which the established order was undone and then reconsolidated. Examining this turbulent period through a new optic—interrupted revolution—she shows how the still unnameable violence continues to constrict political opportunity and to silence dissent in present-day Thailand.

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Rice in Malaya: A Study in Historical Geography

R.D. Hill

Rice is a staple part of the diet of virtually every Malaysian, to the extent that in each of the major languages used in Malaysia, rice means food and food means rice. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Rice in Malaya opens with an examination of the often fragmentary evidence of rice-growing in prehistoric South-East Asia and then considers the great changes that followed the rise of commercial agriculture in the region before and during colonial times. A pioneering work when it first appeared in 1977, Rice in Malaya successfully combined the area-by-area approach of the geographer with the period-by-period approach of the historian to give a well-balance picture of rice-growing. The comprehensive use of evidence in several languages made the study the definitive work in the field. This re-issue of Rice in Malaya makes a classic work of scholarship available to a new generation of readers. The book remains of great importance not only to geographers, historians, agriculturalists and economists but also to anyone with an interest in South-East Asia, for it explains in great measure many of the deeply-etched patterns of life found in modern Malaysia.

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