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Ayya's Accounts

A Ledger of Hope in Modern India

Afterword by Veena Das. Anand Pandian and M. P. Mariappan

Ayya’s Accounts explores the life of an ordinary man—orphan, refugee, shopkeeper, and grandfather—during a century of tremendous hope and upheaval. Born in colonial India into a despised caste of former tree climbers, Ayya lost his mother as a child and came of age in a small town in lowland Burma. Forced to flee at the outbreak of World War II, he made a treacherous 1,700-mile journey by foot, boat, bullock cart, and rail back to southern India. Becoming a successful fruit merchant, Ayya educated and eventually settled many of his descendants in the United States. Luck, nerve, subterfuge, and sorrow all have their place along the precarious route of his advancement. Emerging out of tales told to his American grandson, Ayya’s Accounts embodies a simple faith—that the story of a place as large and complex as modern India can be told through the life of a single individual.

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Barons, Brokers, and Buyers

The Institutions and Cultures of Philippine Sugar

Michael S. Billig

This innovative ethnography takes a new approach to the study of Philippine sugar. For much of the late colonial history of the Philippines, sugar was its most lucrative export, the biggest employer, and the greatest source of political influence. The so-called "Sugar Barons"--wealthy hacendero planters located mainly in Central Luzon and on the Visayan island of Negros--gained the reputation as kingmakers and became noted for their lavish lifestyles and the quasi-feudal nature of their estates. But Philippine sugar gradually declined into obsolescence; today it is regarded as a "sunset industry" that can barely satisfy domestic demand. While planters continue to think of themselves as wielding considerable power and influence, they are more often seen as vestiges of a bygone era. Michael Billig examines sugar's decline within both the dynamic context of contemporary Philippine society and the global context of the international sugar market. His multi-sited ethnographic analysis focuses mainly on conflicts among the various elite sectors (planters, millers, traders, commercial buyers, politicians) and concludes that the most salient political, economic, and cultural trend in the Philippines today is the decline of rural, agrarian elite power and the rise of urban industrial, commercial, and financial power. His reflections on his relationships with informants in the midst of the politically charged atmosphere that surrounds the sugar industry provide a candid look at the role of the observer who, try as he might to remain impartial, finds himself swept into the vortex of policy debates and power plays.

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The Battle for Manchuria and the Fate of China

Siping, 1946

Harold M. Tanner

In the spring of 1946, Communists and Nationalist Chinese were battled for control of Manchuria and supremacy in the civil war. The Nationalist attack on Siping ended with a Communist withdrawal, but further pursuit was halted by a cease-fire brokered by the American general, George Marshall. Within three years, Mao Zedong’s troops had captured Manchuria and would soon drive Chiang Kai-shek’s forces off the mainland. Did Marshall, as Chiang later claimed, save the Communists and determine China's fate? Putting the battle into the context of the military and political struggles fought, Harold M. Tanner casts light on all sides of this historic confrontation and shows how the outcome has been, and continues to be, interpreted to suit the needs of competing visions of China’s past and future.

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Becoming Religious in a Secular Age

Mark Elmore

Religion is commonly viewed as a timeless element of the human inheritance, but in the Western Himalayas the community of Himachal Pradesh discovered its religion only after India became an independent secular state. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival work, Becoming Religious in a Secular Age tells the story of this discovery and how it transformed a community's relations to its past, to its members, and to those outside the community. And, as Mark Elmore demonstrates, Himachali religion offers a unique opportunity to reimagine relations between religion and secularity. Tracing the emergence of religion, Elmore shows that modern secularity is not so much the eradication of religion as the very condition for its development. Showing us that to become a modern, ethical subject is to become religious, this book creatively augments our understanding of both religion and modernity.

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Betting on Biotech

Innovation and the Limits of Asia's Developmental State

After World War II, several late-developing countries registered astonishingly high growth rates under strong state direction, making use of smart investment strategies, turnkey factories, and reverse-engineering, and taking advantage of the postwar global economic boom. Among these economic miracles were postwar Japan and, in the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called Asian Tigers-Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan-whose experiences epitomized the analytic category of the "developmental state."

In Betting on Biotech, Joseph Wong examines the emerging biotechnology sector in each of these three industrial dynamos. They have invested billions of dollars in biotech industries since the 1990s, but commercial blockbusters and commensurate profits have not followed. Industrial upgrading at the cutting edge of technological innovation is vastly different from the dynamics of earlier practices in established industries.

The profound uncertainties of life-science-based industries such as biotech have forced these nations to confront a new logic of industry development, one in which past strategies of picking and making winners have given way to a new strategy of throwing resources at what remain very long shots. Betting on Biotech illuminates a new political economy of industrial technology innovation in places where one would reasonably expect tremendous potential-yet where billion-dollar bets in biotech continue to teeter on the brink of spectacular failure.

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Between the Eagle and the Sun

Traces of Japan

An invitation to voyage east leads Ihab Hassan to reflect on his origins in Egypt, on his home in America, and on his host country, Japan. Part memoir, part cultural perception, Between the Eagle and the Sun records a journey, echoing the "wanderers of eternity." The result is not a book about "them," some alien people living on a distant island, but rather a book about the author himself, living among others, living and seeing himself sometimes as another, assaying always to read the hieroglyphs of his past in the scripts of Japan.
 

Lucid as it is intensely felt, at once lyrical and critical, the work offers a beguiling vision of Japan and, by tacit contrast, of America. For writing, the author says, is more than praise or blame, it is also knowledge, empathy, and delight. These attributes are evident in Hassan's treatment of Japanese culture, its people and scenes. Indeed, the people, rendered in vibrant portraits throughout the book, abide when all the shadows of romance and exasperation have fled.
 

True to its moment, the work also reinvests the forms of memoir, travel, and quest. Cultural essays, travel anecdotes, autobiographical meditations, portraits of Japanese friends, a section titled "Entries, A to Z," fit into a tight frame, with clear transitions from one section to another. The style, however, alters subtly to suit topic, occasion, and mood.

Japan may not hold the key to this planet's future; no single nation does. Yet the continuing interest in its history, society, and people and the incresed awareness of its recent trends and growing global impact engage an expanding audience. Avoiding cliches, sympathetic to its subject yet analytical, unflinching in judgment, and withal highly personal, Between the Eagle and the Sun offers a unique image of its subject by a distinguished and well-traveled critic, at home in several cultures.

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Beyond Liberal Democracy

Political Thinking for an East Asian Context

Daniel A. Bell

Is liberal democracy appropriate for East Asia? In this provocative book, Daniel Bell argues for morally legitimate alternatives to Western-style liberal democracy in the region. Beyond Liberal Democracy, which continues the author's influential earlier work, is divided into three parts that correspond to the three main hallmarks of liberal democracy--human rights, democracy, and capitalism. These features have been modified substantially during their transmission to East Asian societies that have been shaped by nonliberal practices and values. Bell points to the dangers of implementing Western-style models and proposes alternative justifications and practices that may be more appropriate for East Asian societies.

If human rights, democracy, and capitalism are to take root and produce beneficial outcomes in East Asia, Bell argues, they must be adjusted to contemporary East Asian political and economic realities and to the values of nonliberal East Asian political traditions such as Confucianism and Legalism. Local knowledge is therefore essential for realistic and morally informed contributions to debates on political reform in the region, as well as for mutual learning and enrichment of political theories.

Beyond Liberal Democracy is indispensable reading for students and scholars of political theory, Asian studies, and human rights, as well as anyone concerned about China's political and economic future and how Western governments and organizations should engage with China.

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Beyond Partition

Gender, Violence, and Representation in Postcolonial India

Deepti Misri

In Beyond Partition , Deepti Misri shows how 1947 marked the beginning of a history of politicized animosity associated with the differing ideas of "India" held by communities and in regions on one hand, and by the political-military Indian state on the other. Assembling literary, historiographic, performative, and visual representations of gendered violence against men and women, she establishes that cultural expressions do not just follow violence but determine its very contours, and interrogates the gendered scripts underwriting the violence originating in the contested visions of what "India" means. Ambitious and ranging across disciplines, Beyond Partition offers both an overview of and nuanced new perspectives on the ways caste, identity, and class complicate representations of violence, and how such representations shape our understandings of both violence and of India.

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Beyond the Metropolis

Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan

Louise Young

In Beyond the Metropolis, Louise Young looks at the emergence of urbanism in the interwar period, a global moment when the material and ideological structures that constitute "the city" took their characteristic modern shape. In Japan, as elsewhere, cities became the staging ground for wide ranging social, cultural, economic, and political transformations. The rise of social problems, the formation of a consumer marketplace, the proliferation of streetcars and streetcar suburbs, and the cascade of investments in urban development reinvented the city as both socio-spatial form and set of ideas. Young tells this story through the optic of the provincial city, examining four second-tier cities: Sapporo, Kanazawa, Niigata, and Okayama. As prefectural capitals, these cities constituted centers of their respective regions. All four grew at an enormous rate in the interwar decades, much as the metropolitan giants did. In spite of their commonalities, local conditions meant that policies of national development and the vagaries of the business cycle affected individual cities in diverse ways. As their differences reveal, there is no single master narrative of twentieth century modernization. By engaging urban culture beyond the metropolis, this study shows that Japanese modernity was not made in Tokyo and exported to the provinces, but rather co-constituted through the circulation and exchange of people and ideas throughout the country and beyond.

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Black Yanks in the Pacific

Race in the Making of American Military Empire after World War II

By the end of World War II, many black citizens viewed service in the segregated American armed forces with distaste if not disgust. Meanwhile, domestic racism and Jim Crow, ongoing Asian struggles against European colonialism, and prewar calls for Afro-Asian solidarity had generated considerable black ambivalence toward American military expansion in the Pacific, in particular the impending occupation of Japan. However, over the following decade black military service enabled tens of thousands of African Americans to interact daily with Asian peoples-encounters on a scale impossible prior to 1945. It also encouraged African Americans to share many of the same racialized attitudes toward Asian peoples held by their white counterparts and to identify with their government's foreign policy objectives in Asia.

In Black Yanks in the Pacific, Michael Cullen Green tells the story of African American engagement with military service in occupied Japan, war-torn South Korea, and an emerging empire of bases anchored in those two nations. After World War II, African Americans largely embraced the socioeconomic opportunities afforded by service overseas-despite the maintenance of military segregation into the early 1950s-while strained Afro-Asian social relations in Japan and South Korea encouraged a sense of insurmountable difference from Asian peoples. By the time the Supreme Court declared de jure segregation unconstitutional in its landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, African American investment in overseas military expansion was largely secured. Although they were still subject to discrimination at home, many African Americans had come to distrust East Asian peoples and to accept the legitimacy of an expanding military empire abroad.

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