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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.
The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre
A native of Bruges (now part of Belgium), Jacques de Coutre was a gem trader who spent nearly a decade in Southeast Asia in the early 17th century. In addition to a substantial autobiography written in Spanish and preserved in the National Library of Spain in Madrid, he wrote a series of memorials to the united crown of Spain and Portugal that contain recommendations designed to remedy the decline in the fortunes of the Iberian powers in Southeast Asia, particularly against the backdrop of early Dutch political and commercial penetration into the region. Translated into English for the first time, these materials provide a valuable first-hand account of the bigger issues confronting the early colonial powers in Southeast Asia, and deep insights into the societies de Coutre encountered in the territory that today makes up Singapore, Malaysia,Thailand and the Philippines.
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.
Beneath the modern skyscrapers of Singapore lie the remains of a much older trading port, prosperous and cosmopolitan and a key node in the maritime Silk Road. This book synthesizes 25 years of archaeological research to reconstruct the 14th-century port of Singapore in greater detail than is possible for any other early Southeast Asian city. The picture that emerges is of a port where people processed raw materials, used money, and had specialized occupations. Within its defensive wall, the city was well organized and prosperous, with a cosmopolitan population that included residents from China, other parts of Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Fully illustrated, with more than 300 maps and colour photos, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea presents Singapore's history in the context of Asia's long-distance maritime trade in the years between 1300 and 1800: it amounts to a dramatic new understanding of Singapore's precolonial past.
This important study of the shifting diplomatic efforts around the response to and resolution of the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia is based on the records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, a key player in the complex diplomacy in the region at the end of the Cold War. The study provides a detailed account of the policies and decision-making of Singapore, as well as the diplomatic maneuverings of the other major parties and powers involved in the Cambodia conflict. It details one member country’s input into the process of defining and developing a collective ASEAN position, a process which was formative for future diplomatic efforts by the regional grouping. Ang makes use of a variety of sources contemporary to the period under study, as well as records which have become available post-1991. The use of detailed records from one of the Southeast Asian players is a first for the study of the region’s diplomacy. The book describes Singapore’s role and illustrate how Singapore’s management of the Cambodian issue was shaped by the fundamentals of Singapore’s foreign policy. The account also reveals the dynamics of intra-ASEAN relations, as well as ASEAN’s foreign relations in the context of the Cambodia problem.
Reinventing the Global City
Once a centre for international trade and finance, Singapore has become a "global city." Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City examines its evolution from trading port to city-state, showing how Singapore has repeatedly reinvented itself by creating or re-asserting qualities that helped attract capital, talent and trade. In the 14th century, the island's prosperity rested on regulating the regional carrying trade passing through the Straits of Melaka. In 1819, after a long period of decline, the British East India Company revived the island's fortune by making Singapore a "free" port, and trade sustained the city until the Japanese occupation and the postwar collapse of colonial rule. After independence, Singapore resumed its role as a major commercial and financial center, but added facilities to make the island a regional centre for manufacturing. More recently, it has transformed its population into an educated and highly-skilled workforce, and has made the island an education hub that is a magnet for research and development in fields such as biotechnology. Singapore's dramatic evolutionary struggle defies description as a sequentially unfolding narrative, or merely as the story of a nation. In this volume, an international group of scholars examines the history of Singapore as a series of discontinuous and varied attempts by a shifting array of local and foreign actors to optimise advantages arising from the island's strategic location and overcome its lack of natural resources.
Understanding the Foreign Relations of the Burmese Praetorian State
Soldiers and Diplomacy addresses the key question of the ongoing role of the military in Burma’s foreign policy. The co-authors, a political scientist and a former top Asia editor for the BBC, provide a fresh perspective on Burma’s foreign and security policies, which have shifted between pro-active diplomacies of neutralism and non-alignment, and autarkical policies of isolation and xenophobic nationalism. The authors argue that key elements of continuity underlie Burma’s striking postcolonial policy changes and contrasting diplomatic practices. Among the defining factors here are the formidable dominance of the Burmese armed forces over state structure, the enduring domestic political conundrum and the peculiar geography of a country located at the crossroads of India, China and Southeast Asia. The authors argue that the Burmese military still has the tools needed to retain their praetorian influence over the country’s foreign policy in the post-junta context of the 2010s. For international policymakers, potential foreign investors and Burma’s immediate neighbors, this will have strong implications in terms of the country’s foreign policy approach.
The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore
The crowded, bustling "squatter" kampongs so familiar across Southeast Asia have long since disappeared from Singapore, leaving few visible traces of their historical influence on life in the city-state. In one such settlement, located in an area known as Bukit Ho Swee, a great fire in 1961 destroyed the kampong and left 16,000 people homeless, creating a national emergency that led to the first big public housing project of the new Housing and Development Board (HDB). HDB flats now house more than four-fifths of the Singapore population, making the aftermath of the Bukit Ho Swee fire a seminal event in modern Singapore. Loh Kah Seng grew up in one-room rental flats in the HDB estate built after the fire. Drawing on oral history interviews, official records and media reports, he describes daily life in squatter communities and how people coped with the hazard posed by fires. His examination of the catastrophic events of 25 May 1961 and the steps taken by the new government of the People's Action Party in response to the disaster show the immediate consequences of the fire and how relocation to public housing changed people's lives. Through a narrative that is both vivid and subtle, the book explores the nature of memory and probes beneath the hard surfaces of modern Singapore to understand the everyday life of the people who live in the city.