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Contemporary Publications in Southeast Asian Studies
The Art of Not Being Governed by James C. Scott
Publication Date: 2009-09-30
For two thousand years the disparate groups that now reside in Zomia (a mountainous region the size of Europe that consists of portions of seven Asian countries) have fled the projects of the organized state societies that surround them—slavery, conscription, taxes, corv#65533;e labor, epidemics, and warfare. This book, essentially an “anarchist history,” is the first-ever examination of the huge literature on state-making whose author evaluates why people would deliberately and reactively remain stateless. Among the strategies employed by the people of Zomia to remain stateless are physical dispersion in rugged terrain; agricultural practices that enhance mobility; pliable ethnic identities; devotion to prophetic, millenarian leaders; and maintenance of a largely oral culture that allows them to reinvent their histories and genealogies as they move between and around states. In accessible language, James Scott, recognized worldwide as an eminent authority in Southeast Asian, peasant, and agrarian studies, tells the story of the peoples of Zomia and their unlikely odyssey in search of self-determination. He redefines our views on Asian politics, history, demographics, and even our fundamental ideas about what constitutes civilization, and challenges us with a radically different approach to history that presents events from the perspective of stateless peoples and redefines state-making as a form of “internal colonialism.” This new perspective requires a radical reevaluation of the civilizational narratives of the lowland states. Scott’s work on Zomia represents a new way to think of area studies that will be applicable to other runaway, fugitive, and marooned communities, be they Gypsies, Cossacks, tribes fleeing slave raiders, Marsh Arabs, or San-Bushmen.
The Banana Tree at the Gate by Michael R. Dove
Publication Date: 2011-03-08
The “Hikayat Banjar,” a native court chronicle from Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as “the banana tree at the gate.” Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo’s native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful and that processes of globalization began millennia ago. Dove’s analysis replaces the image of the isolated tropical forest community that needs to be helped into the global system with the reality of communities that have been so successful and competitive that they have had to fight political elites to keep from being forced out.
Linguistics in a Colonial World by Joseph Errington
Publication Date: 2007-09-11
Drawing on both original texts and critical literature, Linguistics in a Colonial World surveys the methods, meanings, and uses of early linguistic projects around the world. Explores how early endeavours in linguistics were used to aid in overcoming practical and ideological difficulties of colonial rule Traces the uses and effects of colonial linguistic projects in the shaping of identities and communities that were under, or in opposition to, imperial regimes Examines enduring influences of colonial linguistics in contemporary thinking about language and cultural difference Brings new insight into post-colonial controversies including endangered languages and language rights in the globalized twenty-first century
Property and Politics in Sabah, Malaysia by Amity A. Doolittle
Publication Date: 2005-09-01
In 1990, shortly after a Malaysian politician announced that the boundaries of Kinabalu Park, a primary tourist destination, were to be expanded to include the species-rich tropical forest known locally as Bukit Hempuen, most of the area was burned to the ground, allegedly by local people. What would motivate the people who had for generations hunted and gathered forest products there to act so destructively? In this volume, Amity Doolittle illuminates this and other contemporary land-use issues by examining how resources were used historically in Sabah from 1881 to 1996 and what customary rights of access to land and resources were enjoyed by local people. Drawing upon anthropology, political science, environmental history, and political ecology, she looks at how control over and access to resources have been defined, negotiated, and contested by colonial state agents, the postcolonial Malaysian state, and local people. The study is grounded in methodological and theoretical advances in the field of political ecology, merging the traditions of human ecology and political economy and looking at environmental conflicts in terms of the particulars of place, culture, and history. Doolittle assumes that environmental problems have causes that are complex and changing and that solutions must be specific to time and place. Using a political ecology perspective allows her to focus on the root causes of environmental degradation, exposing the underlying political, economic, and social forces at work. The challenge in the twenty-first century, she writes, is to move beyond blaming local people for resource degradation and to find ways to achieve equitable access to natural resources and more sustainable land use practices. Property and Politics in Sabah, Malaysia has great relevance to development studies, political ecology, environmental planning, anthropology, and legal studies in natural resource management.
Saigon's Edge by Erik Harms
Publication Date: 2011-03-04
Much of the world's population inhabits the urban fringe, an area that is neither fully rural nor urban. Hú3c Mú4n, a district that lies along a key transport corridor on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, epitomizes one of those places. In Saigon's Edge, Erik Harms explores life in Hú3c Mú4n, putting forth a revealing perspective on how rapid urbanization impacts the people who live at the intersection of rural and urban worlds.Unlike the idealized Vietnamese model of urban space, Hú3c Mú4n is between worlds, neither outside nor inside but always uncomfortably both. With particular attention to everyday social realities, Harms demonstrates how living on the margin can be both alienating and empowering, as forces that exclude its denizens from power and privilege in the inner city are used to thwart the status quo on the rural edges. More than a local case study of urban change, Harms's work also opens a window on Vietnam's larger turn toward market socialism and the celebration of urbanization--transformations instructively linked to trends around the globe.
Vietnam by Ben Kiernan
Publication Date: 2017-03-10
For many Westerners, the name Vietnam evokes images of a bloody televised American war that generated a firestorm of protest and brought conflict into their living rooms. In his sweeping account, Ben Kiernan broadens this vision by narrating the rich history of the peoples who have inhabitedthe land now known as Viet Nam over the past three thousand years.Despite the tragedies of the American-Vietnamese conflict, Viet Nam has always been much more than a war. Its long history had been characterized by the frequent rise and fall of different political formations, from ancient chiefdoms to imperial provinces, from independent kingdoms to dividedregions, civil wars, French colonies, and modern republics. In addition to dramatic political transformations, the region has been shaped by its environment, changing climate, and the critical importance of water, with rivers, deltas, and a long coastline facilitating agricultural patterns, trade,and communications.Kiernan weaves together the many narrative strands of Viet Nam's multi-ethnic populations, including the Chams, Khmers, and Vietnamese, and its multi-religious heritage, from local spirit cults to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Catholicism. He emphasizes the peoples' interactions over the millenniawith foreigners, particularly their neighbors in China and Southeast Asia, in engagements ranging from military conflict to linguistic and cultural influences. He sets the tumultuous modern period - marked by French and Japanese occupation, anticolonial nationalism, the American-Vietnamese war, andcommunist victory - against the continuities evident in the deeper history of the people's relationships with the lands where they have lived. In contemporary times, he explores this one-party state's transformation into a global trading nation, the country's tense diplomatic relationship with Chinaand developing partnership with the United States in maintaining Southeast Asia's regional security, and its uncertain prospects for democracy.