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Power Relations and the Urban Built Environment
In the British colonial city of Singapore, municipal authorities and Asian communities faced off over numerous issue. As the city expanded, disputes arose in connection with sanitation, housing, street names, control over pedestrian “five-foot-ways”, and sacred spaces such as burial grounds. Brenda Yeoh’s Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore details these conflicts and how they shaped the city. The British administration structured the private and public environments of the city with an eye toward shaping human behaviour, following scientific principles and the lessons of urban planning in other parts of the world. For the Asian communities, Singapore was the place where they lived according to their own values, priorities and resources. The two perceptions of the city frequently clashed, and the author reads the cityscape of Singapore as the result of this contest between discipline and resistance. Drawing on meticulous research and a theoretically sophisticated use of cultural and social geography, post-colonial historical discourse, and social theory, the author offers a compelling picture of a critical stage in Singapore's past. It is an important contribution to the study of colonial cities and an indispensable resource for understanding the shape of modern Singapore.
Selected Papers from the 13th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists
Based on recent field research and excavation finds, the contributions in this volume focus on cultural practices and materials which reflect processes of integration, specification and diversification in the prehistory and early history of Southeast Asia. With chapters on the variability and distribution of lithic assemblages, funerary practices, the spread of Neolithic cultures and field agriculture, and the development of Metal Age remains, different approaches are presented to interpret these phenomena in their specific environmental context. Crossing Borders contains 25 papers presented at the 13th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA). Held in Berlin in 2010, the conference was jointly organized by the Institute of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology at the Freie Universitat Berlin and the German Archaeological Institute. The peer-reviewed proceedings bring together archaeologists, art historians and philologists who share a common interest in Southeast Asia's early past.
Purple Qi from the East
De Jiao ("Teaching of Virtue") is a China-born religious movement, based on spirit-writing and rooted in a tradition of "halls for good deeds", that emerged in Chaozhou during the Sino-Japanese war. This book relates the fascinating process of its spread throughout Southeast Asia in the 1950s, and, more recently, from Thailand and Malaysia back to post-Maoist China and elsewhere. Through a richly-documented multi-site ethnography of De Jiao congregations in the PRC, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, Bernard Formoso examines the adaptation of Overseas Chinese to sharply contrasted national polities, and the projective identity they build in relation to China. De Jiao is of special interest because its organization and strategies strongly reflect the managerial habits and entrepreneurial ethos of Overseas Chinese businessmen. It also utilizes symbols of the Chinese civilisation whose greatness it claims to champion from the periphery. A central theme of the study is the role that such a religious movement may play to promote new forms of identification to the motherland as substitutes for loosened genealogical links. The book also offers a comprehensive interpretation of the contemporary practice of fu ji spirit-writing, and reconsiders the relation between unity and diversity in Chinese religion.
Poverty and Policy in Laos
In this important new book, High argues that poverty reduction policies are formulated and implemented in fields of desire. Drawing on psychoanalytic understandings of desire, she shows that such programs circulate around the question of what is lacking. Far from rational responses to measures of need, then, the politics of poverty are unconscious, culturally expressed, mutually contradictory, and sometimes contrary to self-interest. Based on long-term fieldwork in a Lao village that has been the subject of multiple poverty reduction and development programs, High’s account looks at implementation on the ground. While these efforts were laudable in their aims of reducing poverty, they often failed to achieve their objectives. Local people received them with suspicion and disillusionment. Nevertheless, poverty reduction policies continued to be renewed by planners and even desired locally. High relates this to the force of aspirations among rural Lao, ambivalent understandings of power and the “post-rebellious” moment in contemporary Laos.
Journalism and State Power in Singapore
The city-state of Singapore has, for decades, been an international anomaly, combining an advanced and open economy with reduced civil liberties and press freedom. This book analyses the country's media system, showing how ithas been structured -- like the rest of the political framework -- to provide maximum freedom of manoeuvre for the People's Action Party (PAP) government. Going beyond critique, the author explains how the PAP's "freedom form the press" model has achieved its extraordinary resilience and stability. One key factor was the PAP's early recognition that capitalism and the profit motive could be harnessed as a way to tame journalism. Second, the PAP exercised strategic self-restraint in the use of force, progressively turning to subtler means of control that are less prone to backfire on the state. Third, unlike many authoritarian regimes, the PAP remained open to ideas and change, even as it insulated itself from political competition. These strategies, while subject to strain and failure, have helped the PAP consolidate its authoritarian form of electoral democracy. Freedom form the Press is essential reading for those who are interested in Singapore's media and political system. Singapore's unique place on the world map of press freedom and democracy makes the book an important contribution to the comparative study of journalism and politics.
Projecting the Urban Space of New East Asia
The idea of "Asian space" is undergoing a transformation as a result of rapid techological, economic, social and cultural changes. Following the shift to a global economy and an urban population explosion, Asian cities have projected as one of the mainstays of progress, national pride, identity, and positioning on the global stage. The extraordinary pace and intensity of the changes have created a situation unique in the history of urban development. Despite the immense of diversity of Asian countries, "Asia-ness" is often treated as a distinctive quality that has emerged from unique recent circumstances affecting Asian urbanizations as a whole. In Future Asian Space, 15 authors explore broad concepts relating to the creation and re-creation of "Asian space" and contemporary Asian identity, and their examination of different sites and research approaches illustrates the difficulty of pinpointing what "Asia-ness" is, or might become. Appropriate design and planning of cities is a critical elementin building a sustainable future and coping with environmental, social and cultural problems. Future Asian Space is designed to stimulate interests and engagement in discussions of the Asian city, and its trajectories in architecture and urbanism.
The Contemporary Evolution of Southeast Asian Agriculture
Since the early 1960s, Southeast Asia countries have satisfied local demand for food while catering increasingly to the world market for agricultural produce, primarily through the export of industrial crops. Local production of food, particularly rice, has kept pace with population growth, while a massive intensification of cultivation along with territorial expansion of the agricultural realm have improved food security as a whole, although not for every country in the region. Expansion is also occurring in the maritime domain, with aquaculture growing even faster than land-based cultivation. Both forms of expansion have increased pressure on environmental resources, especially on forests, including coastal stands of mangrove. Countries in the region gambling higher production levels can be sustained without jeopardizing regional food security, and the stakes are very high. Gambling with the Land surveys and analyzes the production and trade of major agricultural crops throughout Southeast Asia between 1960 and the first decade of the 21st century. After reviewing the post-colonial role of agriculture in the eight major agricultural countries -- Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines -- the authors examine regional patterns of population growth and agricultural employment, positioning the region within broader world trends. Their carefully documented investigation highlights a number of salient processes as characteristics of the region's still rapidly expanding agricultural sector, and evaluates future prospects based on current trends.
Essays on the History and Historiography of Patani
At the heart of the on-going armed conflict in southern Thailand is a fundamental disagreement about the history of relations between the Patani Malays and the Thai kingdom.While the Thai royalist-nationalist version of history regards Patani as part of that kingdom "since time immemorial," Patani Malay nationalists look back to a golden age when the Sultanate of Patani was an independent, prosperous trading state and a renowned center for Islamic education and scholarship in Southeast Asia -- a time before it was defeated, broken up, and fell under the oppressive control of the Thai state. While still influential, in recent years these diametrically opposed views of the past have begun to make way for more nuanced and varied interpretations. Patani scholars, intellectuals and students now explore their history more freely and confidently than in the past, while the once-rigid Thai nationalist narrative is open to more pluralistic interpretations. There is growing interaction and dialogue between historians writing in Thai, Malay and English, and engagement with sources and scholarship in other languages, including Chinese and Arabic. In The Ghosts of the Past in Southern Thailand, thirteen historians who have worked on this sensitive region evaluate the current state of current historical writing about the Patani Malays of southern Thailand. The essays in this book demonstrate that an understanding of the conflict must take into account the historical dimensions of relations between Patani and the Thai kingdom, and the ongoing influence of these perceptions on Thai state officials, militants, and the local population.
Medicine and Health in Southeast Asia
The development of medicine in Southeast Asia over the past two centuries has not been a simple imposition of European scientific medicine, but a complex and negotiated process that drew on Southeast Asian health experts, local medical traditions, and changing national and popular expectations. The contributors to this volume show how the practices of health in Southeast Asia over the past two centuries were mediated by local medical traditions, colonial interests, governments and policies, international interventions, and by a wide range of health agents and intermediaries. Their findings call into question many of the claims based on medicalization and biopolitics that treat change as a process of rupture. While governments, both colonial and national, used their powers to institute policies that affected large numbers of people, much healthcare remained rooted in a more interactive and locally-mediated experience, in which tradition, adaptation and hybridization is as important as innovation and conflict. "Semi-subaltern" Western-trained doctors adn varied traditional healers, many of them women, were among the cultural brokers involved in the building of healthcare systems, and helped circulate mixed practices and ideas about medicine and health even as they found their place in new professional and social hierarchies in an era of globalization.
Challenging the Singapore Consensus
The Singapore polity is changing – profoundly and probably irrevocably. The consensus that the PAP government constructed and maintained over five decades is fraying. The assumptions that underpin Singaporean exceptionalism are no longer accepted as easily and readily as before. Among these are the ideas that the country is uniquely vulnerable, that this vulnerability limits its policy and political options, that good governance demands a degree of political consensus that ordinary democratic arrangements cannot ensure, and that the country’s success requires a competitive meritocracy accompanied by relatively little income or wealth redistribution. But the policy and political conundrums that Singapore faces today are complex and defy easy answers. Confronted with a more critical and sceptical public and a political landscape that is likely to become more contested, how will politics and policymaking in Singapore evolve? What reforms should the government pursue? This collection of essays suggests that a far-reaching and radical rethinking of the country's policies and institutions is necessary, even if it weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to succeed in its first 50 years.