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History > Asian History > Southeast Asia

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Cauldron of Resistance Cover

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Cauldron of Resistance

Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and 1950s Southern Vietnam

by Jessica M. Chapman

In 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem organized an election to depose chief-of-state Bao Dai, after which he proclaimed himself the first president of the newly created Republic of Vietnam. The United States sanctioned the results of this election, which was widely condemned as fraudulent, and provided substantial economic aid and advice to the RVN. Because of this, Diem is often viewed as a mere puppet of the United States, in service of its Cold War geopolitical strategy. That narrative, Jessica M. Chapman contends in Cauldron of Resistance, grossly oversimplifies the complexity of South Vietnam's domestic politics and, indeed, Diem's own political savvy.

Based on extensive work in Vietnamese, French, and American archives, Chapman offers a detailed account of three crucial years, 1953-1956, during which a new Vietnamese political order was established in the south. It is, in large part, a history of Diem's political ascent as he managed to subdue the former Emperor Bao Dai, the armed Hoa Hao and Cao Dai religious organizations, and the Binh Xuyen crime organization. It is also an unparalleled account of these same outcast political powers, forces that would reemerge as destabilizing political and military actors in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Chapman shows Diem to be an engaged leader whose personalist ideology influenced his vision for the new South Vietnamese state, but also shaped the policies that would spell his demise. Washington's support for Diem because of his staunch anticommunism encouraged him to employ oppressive measures to suppress dissent, thereby contributing to the alienation of his constituency, and helped inspire the organized opposition to his government that would emerge by the late 1950s and eventually lead to the Vietnam War.

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Challenging the Secular State

The Islamization of Law in Modern Indonesia

Arskal Salim

Challenging the Secular State examines Muslim efforts to incorporate shari’a (religious law) into modern Indonesia’s legal system from the time of independence in 1945 to the present. The author argues that attempts to formally implement shari’a in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim state, have always been marked by tensions between the political aspirations of proponents and opponents of shari’a and by resistance from the national government. As a result, although pro-shari’a movements have made significant progress in recent years, shari’a remains tightly confined within Indonesia’s secular legal system. The author first places developments in Indonesia within a broad historical and geographic context, offering a provocative analysis of the Ottoman empire’s millet system and thoughtful comparisons of different approaches to pro-shari’a movements in other Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan). He then describes early aspirations for the formal implementation of shari’a in Indonesia in the context of modern understandings of religious law as conflicting with the idea of the nation-state. Later chapters explore the efforts of Islamic parties in Indonesia to include shari’a in national law. Salim offers a detailed analysis of debates over the constitution and possible amendments to it concerning the obligation of Indonesian Muslims to follow Islamic law. A study of the Zakat Law illustrates the complicated relationship between the religious duties of Muslim citizens and the nonreligious character of the modern nation-state. Chapters look at how Islamization has deepened with the enactment of the Zakat Law and demonstrate the incongruities that have emerged from its implementation. The efforts of local Muslims to apply shari’a in particular regions are also discussed. Attempts at the Islamization of laws in Aceh are especially significant because it is the only province in Indonesia that has been allowed to move toward a shari’a-based system. The book concludes with a review of the profound conflicts and tensions found in the motivations behind Islamization.

Clash of Spirits Cover

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Clash of Spirits

The History of Power and Sugar Planter Hegemony on a Visayan Island

Filomeno V. Aguilar

"Complex and imaginative" --Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32 (2001) "This book is truly a fabulous tale in all senses of the word.... Aguilar combines innovation and sound scholarship to provide insights into another dimension of the Filipino past and substantially expands our conceptualization of 'history from below'." --American Historical Review, October 2000 "In addition to being a talented researcher, Aguilar writes with ease and grace. His book is particularly insightful, albeit a definite downer." --Journal of Asian Studies, August 2000 "This is a world-class original work in which the author, Filomeno Aguilar, combines the skills of a historian, political scientist, anthropologist, and even a bit of an economist in a fascinating inquiry on the history of the island of Negros.... A delightful book." --Pilipinas

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Crisis in the Philippines

The Marcos Era and Beyond. Preface by David D. Newsom

John Bresnan

The book provides an overview of the history of the Philippines from the period of Spanish colonial domination to the present and analyzes the twenty-year Marcos record and the causes of the downfall of the Marcos regime. The essays will greatly aid the general reader in understanding the Philippine-American relationship.

Originally published in 1986.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Cult, Culture and Authority Cover

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Cult, Culture and Authority

Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History

Olga Dror

Princess Liễu Hạnh, often called the Mother of the Vietnamese people by her followers, is one of the most prominent goddesses in Vietnamese popular religion. First emerging some four centuries ago as a local sect appealing to women, the princess’ cult has since transcended its geographical and gender boundaries and remains vibrant today. Who was this revered deity? Was she a virtuous woman or a prostitute? Why did people begin worshiping her and why have they continued? Cult, Culture, and Authority traces Liễu Hạnh’s cult from its ostensible appearance in the sixteenth century to its present-day prominence in North Vietnam and considers it from a broad range of perspectives, as religion and literature and in the context of politics and society. Over time, Liễu Hạnh’s personality and cult became the subject of numerous literary accounts, and these historical texts are a major source for this book. Author Olga Dror explores the authorship and historical context of each text considered, treating her subject in an interdisciplinary way. Her interest lies in how these accounts reflect the various political agendas of successive generations of intellectuals and officials. The same cult was called into service for a variety of ideological ends: feminism, nationalism, Buddhism, or Daoism.

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Custodians of the Sacred Mountains

Culture and Society in the Highlands of Bali

Thomas Reuter

Custodians of the Sacred Mountains is the first comprehensive ethnography of the Bali Aga, a large ethnic minority that occupies the island's central highlands. The Bali Aga are popularly viewed as the indigenous counterparts to other Balinese who trace their origin to invaders from the Javanese kingdom of Majapait, who have ruled Bali from the fourteenth century A.D. Although Bali remains one of the most intensely researched localities in the world, the Bali Aga have long been overshadowed by the more exotic courtly culture of the south. A closer analysis of the changing position of the Bali Aga within Balinese society provides a key to understanding the politics and social process of cultural representation in Bali and beyond. The process is marked by a blend of representational competition and cooperation among the Bali Aga themselves, among the Bali Aga and southern Balinese, and later among the island's aristocratic elites and foreign colonizers or scholars, and state authorities. The study of this process raises important issues about the establishment and maintenance of status and power structures at regional, national, and global levels. Custodians of the Sacred Mountains explores the marginalization of the Bali Aga in light of a critical theory of cultural representation and calls for a morally engaged approach to ethnographic research. It proposes an intersubjective and communicative model of human interaction as the foundation for understanding the relative significance of cooperation and competition in the cultural production of knowledge.

The Dance That Makes You Vanish Cover

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The Dance That Makes You Vanish

Cultural Reconstruction in Post-Genocide Indonesia

Rachmi Diyah Larasati


Indonesian court dance, a purportedly pure and untouched tradition, is famed throughout the world for its sublime calm and stillness. Yet this unyieldingly peaceful surface conceals a time of political repression and mass killing. Between 1965 and 1966, some one million Indonesians—including a large percentage of the country’s musicians, artists, and dancers—were killed, arrested, or disappeared as Suharto established a virtual dictatorship that ruled for the next thirty years.


In The Dance That Makes You Vanish, an examination of the relationship between female dancers and the Indonesian state since 1965, Rachmi Diyah Larasati elucidates the Suharto regime’s dual-edged strategy: persecuting and killing performers perceived as communist or left leaning while simultaneously producing and deploying “replicas”—new bodies trained to standardize and unify the “unruly” movements and voices of those vanished—as idealized representatives of Indonesia’s cultural elegance and composure in bowing to autocratic rule. Analyzing this history, Larasati shows how the Suharto regime’s obsessive attempts to control and harness Indonesian dance for its own political ends have functioned as both smoke screen and smoke signal, inadvertently drawing attention to the site of state violence and criminality by constantly pointing out the “perfection” of the mask that covers it.


Reflecting on her own experiences as an Indonesian national troupe dancer from a family of persecuted female dancers and activists, Larasati brings to life a powerful, multifaceted investigation of the pervasive use of culture as a vehicle for state repression and the global mass-marketing of national identity.


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Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom

The Quest for Legitimation in French Indochina, 1850–1960

Mai Na Lee

Embodied Nation Cover

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Embodied Nation

Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos

Simon Creak

Viewing the country’s extraordinary transitions—from French colonialism to royalist nationalism to revolutionary socialism to the modern development state—through the lens of physical culture, Simon Creak’s incisive narrative illuminates a nation that has no reputation in sport and is typically viewed, even from within, as a country of cheerful but lazy people. Creak argues that sport and related physical practices—including physical education, gymnastics, and military training—have shaped a national consciousness.

Combining cultural and intellectual history, Creak draws on a creative array of Lao and French sources from previously unexplored archives, newspapers, and magazines, and from ethnographic writing, war photography, and cartoons. More than an “imagined community” or “geobody,” he shows that Laos was also a “body at work,” making substantive theoretical contributions not only to Southeast Asian studies and history, but to the study of the physical culture, nationalism, masculinity, and modernity in all modern societies.

Escape to Manila Cover

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Escape to Manila

From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror

With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s more than a thousand European Jews sought refuge in the Philippines, joining the small Jewish population of Manila. When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1941, the peaceful existence of the barely settled Jews filled with the kinds of uncertainties and oppression they thought they had left behind. _x000B__x000B_In this book Frank Ephraim, who fled to Manila with his parents, gathers the testimonies of thirty-six refugees, who describe the difficult journey to Manila, the lives they built there upon their arrival, and the events surrounding the Japanese invasion. Combining these accounts with historical and archival records, Manila newspapers, and U.S. government documents, Ephraim constructs a detailed account of this little-known chapter of world history.

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