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Interactions with a Violent Past

Reading Post-Conflict Landscapes in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Vatthana Pholsena and Oliver Tappe

The Second and Third Indochina Wars are the subject of important ongoing scholarship, but there has been little research on the lasting impact of wartime violence on local societies and populations, in Vietnam as well as in Laos and Cambodia. Today’s Lao, Vietnamese and Cambodian landscapes bear the imprint of competing violent ideologies and their perilous material manifestations. From battlefields and massively bombed terrain to reeducation camps and resettled villages, the past lingers on in the physical environment. The nine essays in this volume discuss post-conflict landscapes as contested spaces imbued with memory-work conveying differing interpretations of the recent past, expressed through material (even, monumental) objects, ritual performances, and oral narratives (or silences). While Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese landscapes are filled with tenacious traces of a violent past, creating an unsolicited and malevolent sense of place among their inhabitants, they can in turn be transformed by actions of resilient and resourceful local communities.

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Interpreting Southeast Asia's Past

Monument, Image and Text

Elisabeth A. Bacus, Ian C. Glover and Peter D. Sharrock

Interpreting Southeast Asia's Past: Monument, Image and Text contains 31 papers read at the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. The authors present new research on monumental arts, sculpture and painting, epigraphy and heritage management across mainland Southeast Asia adn as far south as Indonesia. New monumental arts research includes papers focused on the enduring enigma of the Bayon of Angkor, as well as material on the great brick temple sites of the state of Champa, neighbors of the ancient Khmers. The sacred art of Burma, Thailand and southern China incites new analysis of sculpture and painting including the first study of the few surviving Saiva images in Burma. The collection includes an account of a spectacular find of bronze Mahayana Buddhas, an analysis of the sculpted bronzes of the Dian culture, and an assessment of the purpose of making and erecting sacred sculptures in the ancient world. Ancient Khmer materials, including recently discovered Cambodian ceramic kiln sites, are the main focus of new research on craft goods and crafting techniques that treat the source, dating and adoption of amalgam gilding among Khmer craft specialists; the sandstone sources of major Khmer sculptures; and the rare remaining traces of paint, plaster and stucco on Khmer stone and brick buildings. More widely distributed goods also receive attention, including Southeast Asian glass beads. There are also contributions to Southeast Asian heritage and conservatioin, including research on Angkor as a living World Heritage site, and discussion of a UNESCO project on the stone jars of the Plain of Jars in Laos that combines recording, safeguarding, bomb clearance, and eco-tourism development.

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Isan Writers, Thai Literature

Writing and Regionalism in Modern Thailand

Martin B. Platt

Regional characteristics and regional language feature prominently in discussions of Thai identity, but there is little mention of regional literatures. In northeastern Thailand’s Isan region, authors write primarily in Thai, but it is possible nonetheless to identify an Isan literature, which played a significant and at times pivotal role in the development of Thai literature in the second half of the 20th century, as authors grappled with how their origins and experiences related to the Thai centre. Martin Platt’s account of Isan literature is an important first step toward a broader study of regional literatures in Thailand, and shapes a model that has relevance for examining literary works in other Asian countries.

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Islam and Politics in Indonesia

The Masyumi Party between Democracy and Integralism

Remy Madinier

The Masyumi Party, which was active in Indonesia from 1945 to 1960, constitutes the boldest attempt to date at reconciling Islam and democracy. Masyumi proposed a vision of society and government which was not bound by a literalist application of Islamic doctrine but rather inspired by the values of Islam. It set out moderate policies which were both favourable to the West and tolerant towards other religious communities in Indonesia. Although the party made significant strides towards the elaboration of a Muslim democracy, its achievements were nonetheless precarious: it was eventually outlawed in 1960 for having resisted Sukarno’s slide towards authoritarianism, and the refusal of Suharto’s regime to reinstate the party left its leaders disenchanted and marginalised. Many of those leaders subsequently turned to a form of Islam known as integralism, a radical doctrine echoing certain characteristics of 19th-century Catholic integralism, which contributed to the advent of Muslim neo-fundamentalism in Indonesia. This book examines the Masyumi Party from its roots in early 20th-century Muslim reformism to its contemporary legacy, and offers a perspective on political Islam which provides an alternative to the more widely-studied model of Middle-Eastern Islam. The party’s experience teaches us much about the fine line separating a moderate form of Islam open to democracy and a certain degree of secularisation from the sort of religious intransigence which can threaten the country’s denominational coexistence.

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Islam, Nationalism and Democracy

A Political Biography of Mohammad Natsir

Audrey Kahin

As Indonesia's leading Muslim politician in the second half of the 20th century, Mohammad atsir (1980-1993) went from heading the country's first post-independence government and largest Islamic political party to spending years in rebellion and in jail under the Soekarno regime. After initially welcoming Soekarno's overthrow in 1965, he became one of the most outspoken critics of the successor Suharto government's increasingly autocratic rule. Natsir's copious writings stretch from his student days in the late colonial period, when his debates with Soekarno over the character of Indonesian nationalism first attracted public attention, to the years immediately preceding his death when his trenchant criticisms brought him the enmity of the Suharto regime. They reveal a man struggling to harmonize his deep Islamic faith with his equally firm belief in national independence and democracy. Drawing from a wide range of materials, including these writings and extensive interviews with the subject, this political biography of Natsir places the important Muslim politician and thinker in the context of a critical period of Indonesia's history, and describes his vision of how a newly independent country could embrace religion without sacrificing its democratic values.

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Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java

A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to Present

M.C. Ricklefs

The Javanese -- one of the largest ethnic groups in the Islamic world -- were once mostly "nominal Muslims", with pious believers a minority and the majority seemingly resistant to Islam's call for greater piety. Over the tumultuous period analyzed here -- from colonial rule through japanese occupation and Revolution to the chaotic democracy of the Sukarno period, the Soeharto regime's aspirant totalitarianism and the democratic period since -- the society has changed profundly to become an extraordinary example of the rising religiosity that marks the modern age. Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java draws on a formidable body of sources, including interviews, archival documents and a vast range of published material, to situate the Javanese religious experience from the 1930s to the present day in its local political, social, cultural and religious settings. The concluding part of the author’s monumental three-volume series assessing more than six centuries of the on-going Islamisation of the Javanese, the study has considerable relevance for much wider contexts. Beliefs, or disbeliefs, about the supernatural are important in all societies, and the final section of the book, which considers the significance of Java’s religious history in global contexts, shows how it exemplifies a profound contest of values in the universal human search for a better life.

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It’s a Living

Work & Life in Vietnam Today

Gerard Sasges

Through 67 interviews and 59 photographs, It’s a Living reveals the energy and struggle of the world of work in Vietnam today. A goldfish peddler installing aquariums, a business school graduate selling shoes on the sidewalk, a college student running an extensive multi-level sales network, and a promotion girl intent on moving into management are just a few of the people profiled. Based on frank and freewheeling interviews conducted by students, the book engages a broad range of Vietnamese on their feelings about work, life and getting ahead. By providing a ground-level view of the texture of daily working life in the midst of rapid and unsettling change, the book reveals Vietnam today as a place where ordinary people are leveraging whatever assets they have, not just to survive, but to make a better life for themselves, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Journal, Memorials and Letters of Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge

Security, Diplomacy and Commerce in 17th-century Southeast Asia

Peter Borschberg

Admiral Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge, a Director in the Rotterdam chamber of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) for three decades during the early 17th Century, set sail from the Dutch Republic in 1605. He launched an attack on Portuguese Melaka in 1606 and signed landmark treaties with the rulers of Johor (1606) and Ternate (1607). After his return to the Netherlands in the autumn of 1608 he wrote a series of epistolary reports and memoranda that were carefully studied by leading policy makers in the Republic, among them the renowned jurist Hugo Grotius, and Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. These materials contributed to the formulation of early VOC policy for the Southeast Asian region in the period 1605‒20, and they yield candid insights into key issues of trade, security and the diplomacy of regional polities and their relations with Spain and Portugal. Here translated into English for the first time, this collection of treaties, reports and excerpts from Matelieff's travelogue will be of great interest to students of Southeast Asian and early colonial history and of the history of international law.

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Journal of Chinese Overseas

Vol. 1 (2005) through Vol. 4 (2008)

Journal of Chinese Overseas publishes research articles, reports and book reviews dealing with Chinese overseas throughout the world, and the communities from which they trace their origins. Moving across regions and disciplines, the Journal examines Chineseness in its many diverse settings. With a Board of Editors drawn from fields as varied as history, anthropology, sociology, geography, cultural studies and political science, the Journal contributes to transnational studies, as well as the study of Chinese communities in specific national contexts.

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The Khmer Lands of Vietnam

Environment, Cosmology and Sovereignty

Philip Taylor

The indigenous people of Southern Vietnam, known as the Khmer Krom, occupy territory over which Vietnam and Cambodia have competing claims. Regarded with ambivalence and suspicion by nationalists in both countries, these in-between people have their own claims on the place where they live and a unique perspective on history and sovereignty in their heavily contested homelands. To cope with wars, environmental re-engineering and nation-building, the Khmer Krom have selectively engaged with the outside world in addition to drawing upon local resources and self-help networks. This groundbreaking book reveals the sophisticated ecological repertoire deployed by the Khmer Krom to deal with a complex river delta, and charts their diverse adaptations to a changing environment. In addition, it provides an ethnographically grounded exposition of Khmer mythic thought that shows how the Khmer Krom position themselves within a landscape imbued with life-sustaining potential, magical sovereign power and cosmological significance. Offering a new environmental history of the Mekong River delta, this book is the first to explore Southern Vietnam through the eyes of its indigenous Khmer residents.

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