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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.

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Of Palm Wine, Women and War

The Mongolian Naval Expedition to Java in the 13th Century

by David Bade

What would a history that put women at the centre of the rise and fall of kingdoms be like? When the armies of Khubilai arrived on Java in 1293, they found themselves in the middle of two warring states. Two historical traditions developed concerning the ensuing events: the official Chinese dynastic records in which no women are mentioned, and a number of Javanese histories and poems in which everything depends upon the actions and fates of certain women. The Chinese account has long been regarded as factual, whilst the Javanese versions have been dismissed as mere romance, their women stereotypical representations of male fantasies. But what happens if the women and the narratives about them are taken seriously rather than dismissed? Of Palm Wine, Women and War offers just such a reading.

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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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The Open Door

Early Modern Wajorese Statecraft and Diaspora

Kathryn Anderson Wellen

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The OSS in Burma

Jungle War against the Japanese

A vivid and fascinating account an OSS detachment's evolution from small scale operations to an effective organization operating a major guerilla war behind Japanese lines in Burma.

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The Pearl Frontier

Indonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia's Northern Trading Network

Julia Martínez and Adrian Vickers

Remarkable for its meticulous archival research and moving life stories, The Pearl Frontier offers a new way of imagining Australian historical connections with Indonesia. This compelling view of maritime mobility demonstrates how, in the colonial quest for the valuable pearl-shell, Australians came to rely on the skill and labor of Indonesian islanders, drawing them into their northern pearling trade empire. From the 1860s onwards the pearl-shell industry developed alongside British colonial conquests across Australia’s northern coast and prompted the Dutch to consolidate their hold over the Netherlands East Indies. Inspired by tales of pirates and priceless pearls, the pearl frontier witnessed the maritime equivalent of a gold rush; with traders, entrepreneurs, and willing workers coming from across the globe. But like so many other frontier zones it soon became notorious for its reliance on slave-like conditions for indigenous and Indonesian workers. These allegations prompted the imposition of a strict regime of indentured labor migration that was to last for almost a century before giving way to international criticism in the era of decolonization. The Pearl Frontier reveals how Asian migration and the struggle against the restrictive White Australia policy left a rich legacy of mixed Asian-Indigenous heritage that lives on along Australia’s northern coastline.

Instead of the mythologies of racial purity, propagated by settler colonies and European empires, the authors dissect the social and economic life of the port cities around the Australian- Indonesian maritime zone and lay open the complex, cosmopolitan relationships that shaped their histories and their present situations.

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Pirates, Ports, and Coasts in Asia

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

John Kleinen and Manon Osseweijer

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.

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Polarising Javanese Society

Islamic and Other Vision, c. 1830-1930

M.C. Ricklefs

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.

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Policing America’s Empire

The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State

Alfred W. McCoy

At the dawn of the twentieth century, the U.S. Army swiftly occupied Manila and then plunged into a decade-long pacification campaign with striking parallels to today’s war in Iraq. Armed with cutting-edge technology from America’s first information revolution, the U.S. colonial regime created the most modern police and intelligence units anywhere under the American flag. In Policing America’s Empire Alfred W. McCoy shows how this imperial panopticon slowly crushed the Filipino revolutionary movement with a lethal mix of firepower, surveillance, and incriminating information. Even after Washington freed its colony and won global power in 1945, it would intervene in the Philippines periodically for the next half-century—using the country as a laboratory for counterinsurgency and rearming local security forces for repression. In trying to create a democracy in the Philippines, the United States unleashed profoundly undemocratic forces that persist to the present day.
    But security techniques bred in the tropical hothouse of colonial rule were not contained, McCoy shows, at this remote periphery of American power. Migrating homeward through both personnel and policies, these innovations helped shape a new federal security apparatus during World War I. Once established under the pressures of wartime mobilization, this distinctively American system of public-private surveillance persisted in various forms for the next fifty years, as an omnipresent, sub rosa matrix that honeycombed U.S. society with active informers, secretive civilian organizations, and government counterintelligence agencies. In each succeeding global crisis, this covert nexus expanded its domestic operations, producing new contraventions of civil liberties—from the harassment of labor activists and ethnic communities during World War I, to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, all the way to the secret blacklisting of suspected communists during the Cold War.

“With a breathtaking sweep of archival research, McCoy shows how repressive techniques developed in the colonial Philippines migrated back to the United States for use against people of color, aliens, and really any heterodox challenge to American power. This book proves Mark Twain’s adage that you cannot have an empire abroad and a republic at home.”—Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago

 “This book lays the Philippine body politic on the examination table to reveal the disease that lies within—crime, clandestine policing, and political scandal. But McCoy also draws the line from Manila to Baghdad, arguing that the seeds of controversial counterinsurgency tactics used in Iraq were sown in the anti-guerrilla operations in the Philippines. His arguments are forceful.”—Sheila S. Coronel, Columbia University
 
Winner, George McT. Kahin Prize of the Southeast Asian Council of the Association for Asian Studies

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