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The Buddhist monk Buddhadasa Bhikku (1906-1993) injected fresh life into Thai Buddhism by exploring and teaching little known transcendent aspects of the religion. His investigations excited both monks and lay people, and gave rise to vigorous discussion in shops, temple and yards and newly founded Buddhist associations. While these discussions included serious exchanges on doctrine and practice, they also included jokes and light humour, criticisms of weak evidence for various positions, and rumours that Buddhadasa was a communist sympathizer. Some of this material was captured in Buddhist journals and in numerous "pocket books" aimed at a general audience. Departing from the classical method of studying Buddhism through philology, Tomomi Ito's account of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu draws on this popular literature and on detailed interviews with a very broad spectrum of the people involved in these exchanges. The result is a lively intellectual and social history of contemporary Thai Buddhism built around the life of an exceptional monk who captured the interest of Buddhists pursuing spiritual depth in the context of the ideologcial conflicts of the Cold War.
The rapid urbanisation of the Asian continent and the transformation of its cityscapes have led many professionals and scholars to pay urgent attention to the study of Asian streets and public places in the hope of recording them, learning their complex nature, and testing theories in new environments before they disappear under the assault of rapid urban transformation. This volume presents articles focusing on four prevalent themes, namely transformation and modernity, the culture of streets, the experience of the street and finally, the design and quality of streets. However, these themes inevitably overlap, pointing out the complexity of what we call the "street" and the necessity for interdisciplinary research. Finally, adding "Asian" to "street" opens up the discussion about spaces in the Asian city, and concepts of "Asian-ness," if indeed such a concept can be defined. This book will interest not only urban planners, architects and other design and building professionals, but also geographers, sociologists, environmentalists, anthropologists, historians as well as the general public.
History, Culture and Identity
The world's population negotiates a multiplicity of naming systems. Some are compatible with the "normative" system of the world of passports and identity cards but a great many are not. This is particularly true in Asia, a region with some of the most sophisticated naming devices found anywhere in the world, including nicknames and teknonyms, religious and corporation names, honour and death names, pseudonyms and retirement names, house names and clan names, local and foreign names, official and private names. People across the continent carry multiple names meaningful to different audiences. Some are used only in family relations while others locate individuals in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion, caste, class, and nation. The centrality of names to many of the crucial debates and preoccupations of the modern world — identity, hybridity, migration, nationalism, multi-culturalism, globalization — makes it particularly surprising that there has been little systematic comparative exploration of Asian names and naming systems. This path-breaking volume classifies and theorizes the systems underlying naming practices in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia where systems are abundant and fluid. Using historical and socio-anthropological perspectives, the authors of this exceptionally close collaborative effort show the intricate connections between naming systems, notions of personhood and the prevailing ethos of interpersonal relations. They also show how the peoples of Asia are fashioning new types of naming and different ways of identifying themselves to suit the demands of a changing world
Islamic and Other Vision, c. 1830-1930
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.
In recent years, popular culture production in East and Southeast Asia has undergone major changes with the emergence of a system that organizes and relocates production, distribution, and consumption of cultural goods on a regional scale. Freed from the constraints associated with autonomous national economies, popular culture has acquired a transnational character and caters to multinational audiences. Using insights drawn from a number of academic disciplines, the authors in this wide-ranging volume consider the implications of a region-wide appropriation of cultural formulas and styles in the production of movies, music, comics, and animation. They also investigate the regional economics of transcultural production, considering cultural imaginaries in the context of intensive regional circulation of cultural goods and images. Where scholarship on popular culture conventionally explores the "meaning" of texts, Popular Culture Co-productions and Collaborations in East and Southeast Asia draws on empirical studies of the culture industries of Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines and Indonesia, and use a regional framework to analyze the consequences of co-production and collaboration.
Processes of transformation typically defined as "modernising" have been pervasive in Indonesia and Malaysia over an extended period of time and have played a central role in shaping the societies of both countries. Questioning Modernity in Indonesia and Malaysia engages critically with the concept of modernity, considering the way it has been used in the analysis of cultural, social, economic and political processes in the two countries. The book argues that while Indonesia and Malaysia can both be considered fully modern, their modernities are not merely derivative of the Western understanding of the word. Written by scholars from both "inside" and "outside" the region, the case studies presented in this volume highlight the extent to which the intellectual tools, concepts, and theories commonly used in academic research reflect a European/Western modernist imaginary. Starting from the premise that modernity viewed from a local rather than a Western perspective takes on different qualities, the authors show how the process of conducting social research in Asia might be re-conceptualized on the basis of a revised understanding of this crucial idea. Their essays make a compelling case for the need to re-assess the application of a supposedly "Western" concept to the study of Asia.
Reading Bangkok is an account of stories and meanings derived from the built fabric and spaces of Thailand's capital city. The narrative shifts from King Taksin's mostly forgotten but wondrous Thonburi to the tourist spectacle of Rattanakosin, Dusit and Ratchadamnoen (King Rama V's superficial emulation of an admired, imperialist Europe), Sukhumvit Road (consumer land), and the slums that are part of the modern city. Levels of external intrusion (colonisation) and local resistance provide a structuring device for the book. The geographical movement from the centre to periphery (Thonburi, Rattanakosin, Ratchadamnoen, Sukhumvit, Ratchadapisek, Khlong Toei, the universities) takes place in tandem with a chronological transition from internal or self-colonisation (Bangkok's incorporation of its periphery, which in turn colonised Bangkok), to the economic colonisation of the 19th and 20th centuries, the invasion of globalised tourism (colonisation by consumption), colonisation by the "better" ideas of others — typically in the West, and finally to colonisation by "better" ways of thinking — notably the intrusions of the universities and of popular democracy. This highly original study draws on history, anthropology, urban planning and development and political economy, and is supported by a rich body of empirical detail. It provides insights into a maze of power relations, inequalities and global influences that is normally hidden from view. Reading Bangkok is a rare thing, an account that genuinely changes the way its subject is understood.
Resistance and Social Conflict During and After the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, 1941–46
Red Star over Malaya is an account of the inter-racial relations between Malays and Chinese during the final stages and the aftermath of the Japanese occupation. As Japanese forces retreated into the big cities, the Chinese guerrillas of the communist-led resistance movement, the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), emerged from the jungle and took control of some 70 per cent of the country's smaller towns and villages. The ensuing conflict involving the Malayan Communist Party, the Malay population, and the British Military Administration marked a crucial stage in the history of Malaya. Based on extensive archival research in Malaysia, Great Britain, Japan and the United States, Red Star Over Malaya provides a riveting account of the way the Japanese occupation reshaped colonial Malaya, and of the tension-filled months that followed surrender. This book is fundamental to an understanding of social and political developments in Malaysia during the second half of the 20th century.
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.
Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century
The first half of the 17th century brought heightened political, commercial and diplomatic activity to the Straits of Singapore and Melaka. Key elements included rivalry between Johor and Aceh, the rapid expansion of the Achenese empire, the arrival of the Dutch East India Company, andthe waning of Portuguese power and prestige across the region. This account of the period draws on archives in Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands that contain detailed information in the form of maps, rare printed works, and unpublished manuscripts, many of them unfamiliar to modern researchers. The Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century examines early modern European cartography as a projection of Western power, treaty and alliance making, trade relations, and the struggle for naval hegemony in the Singapore and Melaka Straits. This book provides an unprecedented look at the diplomatic activities of Asian powers in the region, and also shows how the Spanish and the Portuguese attempted to restore their political fortunes by containing the rapid rise of Dutch power. The appendices provide copies of key documents, transcribed and translated into English for the first time. This book will be invaluable for historians and others interested in the European presence in Asia. It provides a fascinating look at Malay world, trade and international relations during a pivotal period about which relatively little is known.