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Vol. 1 (1978) through current issue
For thirty years, Biography has been an important forum for well-considered biographical scholarship. It features stimulating articles that explore the theoretical, generic, historical, and cultural dimensions of life-writing; and the integration of literature, history, the arts, and the social sciences as they relate to biography. Each issue also offers insightful reviews, concise excerpts of reviews published elsewhere, an annual bibliography of works about biography, and listings of upcoming events, calls for papers, and news from the field.
Stories and a Novella
Together, the five stories and novella in this collection follow the lives of first- and second-generation Indian Americans living in contemporary California. The characters share a similar sensibility: a sense that immigration is a distant memory, yet an experience that continues to shape the decisions they make in subtle and surprising ways as they go about the complicated business of everyday living. The collection is anchored by the title novella about a love triangle between an aging, blind writer, his younger beautiful wife, and a young man desperate to start a writing life. Over several months, the three will get to know one another and move toward a moment that will change the lives of each of them forever.
The Donglin Faction and its Repression, 16201627
From 1625 to 1627 scholar-officials belonging to a militant Confucianist group known as the "Donglin Faction" suffered one of the most gruesome political repressions in China's history. Many were purged from key positions in the central government for their relentless push for a national moral rearmament under the Tianqi emperor. While their martyrs' deaths won them a lasting reputation for heroism and steadfastness, their opponents are remembered for fatally degrading the quality of Ming political life with their arrests and tortures of Donglin partisans. John Dardess employs a wide range of little-used primary sources (letters, diaries, eyewitness accounts, memorials, imperial edicts) to provide a remarkably detailed narrative of the inner workings of Ming government and of this dramatic period as a whole. Comparing the repression with the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989, he argues that Tiananmen offers compelling clues to a rereading of the events of the 1620s. Leaders of both movements were less interested in practical reform than in communicating sincere moral feelings to rulers and the public. In the end the protesters succeeded in commemorating their dead and imprisoned and in disgracing those responsible for the violence. A work of unprecedented depth skillfully told, Blood and History in China will be appreciated by specialists in intellectual history and Ming and early Qing studies.<
A Study and Translation of the <i>Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā-sūtra</i>
Bodhisattvas of the Forest delves into the socioreligious milieu of the authors, editors, and propagators of the Rastrapalapariprccha-sutra (Questions of Rastrapala), a Buddhist text circulating in India during the first half of the first millennium C.E. In this meticulously researched study, Daniel Boucher first reflects upon the problems that plague historians of Mahayana Buddhism, whose previous efforts to comprehend the tradition have often ignored the social dynamics that motivated some of the innovations of this new literature. Following that is a careful analysis of several motifs found in the Indian text and an examination of the value of the earliest Chinese translation for charting the sutra’s evolution. The first part of the study looks at the relationship between the bodily glorification of the Buddha and the ascetic career—spanning thousands of lifetimes—that produced it within the socioeconomic world of early medieval Buddhist monasticism. The authors of the Rastrapala sharply criticize their monastic contemporaries for rejecting the rigorous lifestyle of the first Buddhist communities, an ideal that, for the sutra’s authors, self-consciously imitates the disciplines and sacrifices of the Buddha’s own bodhisattva career, the very career that led to his acquisition of bodily perfection. Thus, Boucher reveals the ways in which the authors of the Rastrapala authors co-opted this topos concerning the bodily perfection of the Buddha from the Mainstream tradition to subvert their co-religionists whose behavior they regarded as representing a degenerate version of that tradition. In Part 2 Boucher focuses on the third-century Chinese translation of the sutra attributed to Dharmaraksa and traces the changes in the translation to the late tenth century. The significance of this translation, Boucher explains, is to be found in the ways it differs from all other witnesses. These differences, which are significant, almost certainly reveal an earlier shape of the sutra before later editors were inspired to alter dramatically the text’s tone and rhetoric. The early Chinese translations, though invaluable in revealing developments in the Indian milieu that led to changes in the text, present particular challenges to the interpreter. It takes an understanding of not only their abstruse idiom, but also the process by which they were rendered from an undetermined Indian language into a Chinese cultural uh_product. One of the signal contributions of this study is Boucher’s skill at identifying the traces left by the process and ability to uncover clues about the nature of the source text as well as the world of the principal recipients. Bodhisattvas of the Forest concludes with an annotated translation of the Rastrapalapariprccha-sutra based on a new reading of its earliest extant Sanskrit manuscript. The translation takes note of important variants in Chinese and Tibetan versions to correct the many corruptions of the Sanskrit manuscript.
Women, Society, and Detective Fiction in 1990s Japan
The publication in 1992 of Miyabe Miyuke’s highly anticipated Kasha (translated into English as All She Was Worth) represents a watershed in the history of Japanese women’s detective fiction. Inspired by Miyabe’s success and the increasing number of Western mysteries in translation, women began writing mysteries of all types, employing the narrative and conceptual resources of the detective genre to depict and critique contemporary Japanese society—and the situation of women in it. Bodies of Evidence examines this recent boom and the ways in which five contemporary authors (Miyabe, Nonami Asa, Shibata Yoshiki, Kirino Natsuo, and Matsuo Yumi) critically engage with a variety of social issues and concerns: consumerism and the crisis of identity, discrimination and harassment in the workplace, sexual harassment and sexual violence, and motherhood. Bodies of Evidence moves beyond the borders of detective fiction scholarship by exploring the worlds constructed by these authors in their novels and showing how they intersect with other political, cultural, and economic discourses and with the lived experiences of contemporary Japanese women.
Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan
Since the 1990s the Japanese pet industry has grown to a trillion-yen business and estimates place the number of pets above the number of children under the age of fifteen. There are between 6,000 to 8,000 businesses in the Japanese pet funeral industry, including more than 900 pet cemeteries. Of these about 120 are operated by Buddhist temples, and Buddhist mortuary rites for pets have become an institutionalized practice. In Bones of Contention, Barbara Ambros investigates what religious and intellectual traditions constructed animals as subjects of religious rituals and how pets have been included or excluded in the necral landscapes of contemporary Japan.
Pet mortuary rites are emblems of the ongoing changes in contemporary Japanese religions. The increase in single and nuclear-family households, marriage delays for both males and females, the falling birthrate and graying of society, the occult boom of the 1980s, the pet boom of the 1990s, the anti-religious backlash in the wake of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyō incident—all of these and more have contributed to Japan’s contested history of pet mortuary rites. Ambros uses this history to shed light on important questions such as: Who (or what) counts as a family member? What kinds of practices should the state recognize as religious and thus protect financially and legally? Is it frivolous or selfish to keep, pamper, or love an animal? Should humans and pets be buried together? How do people reconcile the deeply personal grief that follows the loss of a pet and how do they imagine the afterlife of pets? And ultimately, what is the status of animals in Japan? Bones of Contention is a book about how Japanese people feel and think about pets and other kinds of animals and, in turn, what pets and their people have to tell us about life and death in Japan today.
Evangelicalism in Korea
Known as Asia’s "evangelical superpower," South Korea today has some of the largest and most dynamic churches in the world and is second only to the United States in the number of missionaries it dispatches abroad. Understanding its evangelicalism is crucial to grasping the course of its modernization, the rise of nationalism and anticommunism, and the relationship between Christians and other religionists within the country.
Born Again is the first book in a Western language to consider the introduction, development, and character of evangelicalism in Korea—from its humble beginnings at the end of the nineteenth century to claiming one out of every five South Koreans as an adherent at the end of the twentieth. In this thoughtful and thorough study, Timothy S. Lee argues that the phenomenal rise of this particular species of Christianity can be attributed to several factors. As a religion of salvation, evangelicalism appealed powerfully to multitudes of Koreans, arriving at a time when the country was engulfed in unprecedented crises that discredited established social structures and traditional attitudes. Evangelicalism attracted and empowered Koreans by offering them a more compelling worldview and a more meaningful basis for association. Another factor is evangelicalisms positive connection to Korean nationalism and South Korean anticommunism. It shared in the aspirations and hardships of Koreans during the Japanese occupation and was legitimated again during and after the Korean conflict as South Koreans experienced the trauma of the war. Equally important was evangelicals’ relentless proselytization efforts throughout the twentieth century.
Lee explores the beliefs and practices that have become the hallmarks of Korean evangelicalism: kibok (this-worldly blessing), saebyok kido (daybreak prayer), and kumsik kido (fasting prayer). He concludes that Korean evangelicalism is distinguishable from other forms of evangelicalism by its intensely practical and devotional bent. He reveals how, after a long period of impressive expansion, including the mammoth campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s that drew millions to its revivals, the 1990s was a decade of ambiguity for the faith. On the one hand, it had become South Korea’s most influential religion, affecting politics, the economy, and civil society. On the other, it found itself beleaguered by a stalemate in growth, the shortcomings of its leaders, and conflicts with other religions. Evangelicalism had not only risen in South Korean society; it had also, for better or worse, become part of the establishment.
Despite this significance, Korean evangelicalism has not received adequate treatment from scholars outside Korea. Born Again will therefore find an eager audience among English-speaking historians of modern Korea, scholars of comparative religion and world Christianity, and practitioners of the faith.
The Asian Development Bank, China, and Thailand
Transnational economic integration has been described by globalization boosters as a rising tide that will lift all boats, an opportunity for all participants to achieve greater prosperity through a combination of political cooperation and capitalist economic competition. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has championed such rhetoric in promoting the integration of China, Southeast Asia’s formerly socialist states, and Thailand into a regional project called the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). But while the GMS project is in fact hastening regional economic integration, Jim Glassman shows that the approach belies the ADB’s idealized description of "win-win" outcomes. The process of "actually existing globalization" in the GMS does provide varied opportunities for different actors, but it is less a rising tide that lifts all boats than an uneven flood of transnational capitalist development whose outcomes are determined by intense class struggles, market competition, and regulatory battles.
Glassman makes the case for adopting a class-based approach to analysis of GMS development, regionalization, and actually existing globalization. First he analyzes the interests and actions of various Thai participants in GMS development, then the roles of different Chinese actors in GMS integration. He next provides two cases illustrating the serious limits of any notion that GMS integration is a relatively egalitarian process—Laos’ participation in GMS development and the role of migrant Burmese workers in the production of the GMS. He finds that Burmese migrant workers, dam-displaced Chinese and Laotian villagers, and economically-stressed Thai farmers and small businesses are relative "losers" compared to the powerful business interests that shape GMS integration from locations like Bangkok and Kunming, as well as key sites outside the GMS like Beijing, Singapore, and Tokyo. The final chapter blends geographical-historical analysis with an assessment of uneven development and actually existing globalization in the GMS.
Cogent and persuasive, Bounding the Mekong will attract attention from the growing number of scholars analyzing globalization, neoliberalism, regionalization, and multiple scales of governance. It is suitable for graduate courses in geography, political science, and sociology as well as courses with a regional focus.
17 illus., 7 maps
Music, Myth, and Cultural Politics at an Indonesian Festival
The spectacular Lingsar festival is held annually at a village temple complex built above the most abundant water springs on the island of Lombok, near Bali. Participants come to the festival not only for the efficacy of its rites but also for its spiritual, social, and musical experience. A nexus of religious, political, artistic, and agrarian interests, the festival also serves to harmonize relations between indigenous Sasak Muslims and migrant Balinese Hindus. Ethnic tensions, however, lie beneath the surface of cooperative behavior, and struggles regularly erupt over which group--Balinese or Sasak--owns the past and dominates the present. Bridges to the Ancestors is a broad ethnographic study of the festival based on over two decades of research. The work addresses the festival's players, performing arts, rites, and histories, and considers its relationship to the island's sociocultural and political trends. Music, the most public icon of the festival, has been largely responsible for overcoming differences between the island's two ethnic groups. Through the intermingling of Balinese and Sasak musics at the festival, a profound union has been forged, which participants confirm has been the event's primary social role. Bridges to the Ancestors effectively reveals the Lingsar festival as a site of cultural struggle as the author explores how history, identity, and power are constructed and negotiated. He addresses the fascinating interaction between music and myth and the forces of modernity, globalization, authenticity, tourism, religion, regionalism, and nationalism in maintaining "tradition."
Identity and Development in Vanuatu
The South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu simultaneously experienced the two major types of colonialism of the modern era (British and French), the only instance in which these colonial powers jointly ruled the same people in the same territory over an extended period of time. This, in addition to its small size and recent independence (1980), makes Vanuatu an ideal case study of the clash of contemporary colonialism and its enduring legacies. At the same time, the uniqueness of Melanesian society highlights the singular role of indigenous culture in shaping both colonial and postcolonial political reality. With its close attention to global processes, Bridging Mental Boundaries in a Postcolonial Microcosm provides a fresh comparative approach to an island state that has most frequently been examined from an ethnographic or area studies perspective. William F. S. Miles looks at the long-term effects of the joint Franco-British administration in public policy, political disputes, and social cleavages in post-independence Vanuatu. He emphasizes the strong imprint left by "condocolonialism" in dividing ni-Vanuatu into "Anglophones" and "Francophones," but also suggest how this basic division is being replaced (or overlaid) by divisions based on urban or rural residence, "traditional" or "modern" employment, and disparities between the status and activities of men and women. As such, this volume is more than an analysis of a unique case of colonialism and its effects; it is an interpretation of the evolution of an insular society beset by particularly convoluted precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial fractures. Based principally on research conducted in 1991 and, following a key change in Vanuatu's government, a subsequent visit in 1992, the analysis is enriched by regular comparisons between Vanuatu and other colonized societies where the author has carried out original research, including Niger, Nigeria, Martinique, and Pondicherry. Extensive interviews with ni-Vanuatu are integrated throughout the text, presenting islanders' views of their own experience.