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Environment, Cosmology and Sovereignty
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.
This is the first book to look at labor in Malaysia's service sector, and also the first to use the labor market segmentation approach to study Malaysian labor. As in most other countries, the service sector in Malaysia has long accounted for more of the labour force than manufacturing. Studies of those working in the service industry in developing countries have tended to focus on the public sector and, in recent decades, the informal sector.
Precarity and Bangkok's Urban Poor
The informal economy in Bangkok, Thailand, offers upward mobility but is fraught with risk. For members of the urban lower class, residence and occupation are closely inter-connected. Shifts in priorities in housing, occupation and education as family circumstances change affect the way they deploy their limited financial resources, while home fires and job lay-offs make it necessary for poor communities to accommodate frequent changes of residence and variations in production and consumption. People with limited resources are extremely sensitive to uncertainty. Living with Risk examines how lower class communities in the inner city and the urban fringe of Bangkok view their employment prospects and living conditions, and how they manage risk. The author draws on two case studies, one considering the situation of women who became self-employed after losing factory jobs during Thailand’s economic restructuring in the late 1990s, and the second a community displaced by a devastating fire. The book’s detailed examination of the dynamics of the informal economy makes a substantial contribution to the literature on development economics in urban areas.
Weddings, Births and Ritual Harm under the Khmer Rouge
For a decade, the author followed Cambodian men and women to former wedding and birth sites from the Khmer Rouge period (1975-79), filming their return to these locations. In the process she uncovered evidence of the way severe dislocation, induced starvation and other murderous activities paved the way for reconstructed communes. Group marriages, along with prescriptions for sex, pregnancies and births, were a central feature of the remaking of Cambodian society and contributed to the dissolution of the country's ritual practices. This "ritualcide" caused a massive loss of spirit-protective places, objects,and arbitrators, and had a traumatic impact on Khmer socity. Group marriages did, however, give spouses a reprieve from further dislocation. Approaching the phenomenon as an ethno-psychologist, LeVine argues that suffering was intensified by ritual tampering on the part of the Khmer Rouge. Such disruptions did not end in 1979, however, since Euro-American perspectives on trauma and reconcilation have also failed to accept spirit respect as a normative feature of Cambodian life.
Selected Papers from the 12th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists
Materializing Southeast Asia's Past contains articles in historical and anthropological archaeology, epigraphy, and art history. The interpretations of art and material culture provide new insights into the classical Hindu and Buddhist cultures of Southeast Asia and their relationship to the medieval cultures of South Asia. The volume contains 20 papers presented at the 12th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA). Held in Leiden in 2008, the conference was jointly organized by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and Leiden University.
Insurance in Malaysia, 1826-1990
The insurance industry in Malaysia is a large and important sector of the economy in terms of capitalisation, business turnover, assets, and the number of employees. It was integral to early Western economic expansion into Malaya, underwriting shipping, mining, and plantation ventures to protect entrepreneurs from excessive risk. The scope of the insurance business then broadened to cover fire risks, motor insurance, and workmen's compensation, while war risk coverage helped ensure that the economy continued to function during the 1940s and 1950s. After 1957, the social and political environment of independent Malaysia offered new directions for the insurance industry. A Matter of Risk shows how insurance companies established themselves in an unfamiliar environment, marketed new products, responded to diverse demands and safeguarded market share and profit against competition. Local firms faced a major challenge as overseas insurance companies moved from agency offices to the setting up of branches, taking over or collaborating with existing companies, and eventually incorporating themselves as local companies. The study looks at the role of tariff associations and insurance trade organisations such as Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (General Insurance Association of Malaysia) in maintaining order in the industry through self-regulation.
People within the Malay world hold strong but diverse opinions about the meaning of the word Melayu, which can be loosely translated as Malayness. Questions over whether Filipinos or Mon-Khmer speaking orang asli in Malaysia are to be properly called "Malay" can generate controversy and heated debate. So too can the question of whether it is appropriate to speak of a kebangsaan Melayu (Malay as nationality) as the basis of membership within an aspiring postcolonial nation-state -- as a political rather than a cultural community embracing all residents of the Malay states, including the immigrant Chinese and Indian population. In Melayu: Politics, Poetics and Paradoxes of Malayness, the contributors examine the checkered, wavering and changeable understanding of the word Melayu by considering hitherto unexplored case studies dealing with use of the term in connection with origins, nations, minority-majority politics, Filipino Malays, Riau Malays, orang asli, Straits Chinese literature, women's veiling, vernacular television, social dissent, literary women, and modern Sufism. Taken as a whole, this volume offers a creative approach to the study of Malayness while providing new perspectives to the studies of identity formation and politics of ethnicity that have wider implications beyond the Southeast Asian region.
Reminiscences of a Raffles Professor, 1953-67
Professor K.G. Tregonning's anecdotal memoir of his years as a member of the Department of History in the University of Singapore, culminating as Raffles Professor, captures the mood and milieu of Singapore as the country emerged from colonial rule to become a self-governing independent nation. Arriving at the height of the Cold War, Tregonning was acutely conscious of the ongoing Malayan Emergency and of the political shifts taking place across Southeast Asia. He records meetings with a number of the region's leaders, and encounters with students and colleagues who would later feature in Singapore's politics, or become leading figures in the academic world. The result is an engaging and very personal account of a university and a professional, political and social environment that is quite different from that found in Singapore today.
Philippine Nationhood and Class Relations in a Globalized Age
Since the 1960s, overseas migration has become a major factor in the economy of the Philippines. It has also profoundly influenced the sense of nationhood of both migrants and nonmigrants. Migrant workers learned to view their home country as part of a plural world of nations, and they shaped a new sort of Filipino identity while appropriating the modernity of the outside world, where at least for a while they operated as insiders. The global nomadism of Filipino workers brought about some fundamental reorientations. It revolutionized Philippine society, reignited a sense of nationhood, imposed new demands on the state, reconfigured the class structure, and transnationalized class and other social relations, even as it deterritorialized the state and impacted the destinations of migrant workers. Philippine foreign policy now takes surprising turns in consideration of migrant workers and Filipinos living abroad. Many tertiary education institutions aim deliberately at the overseas employability of local graduates. And the “Fil-foreign” offspring of unions with partners from other nationalities add a new inflection to Filipino identity.
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.