The Dynamics of Higher Education Development in East Asia: Asian Cultural Heritage, Western Dominance, Economic Development, and Globalization. Edited by Deane E. Neubauer, Jung Cheol Shin, and John N. Hawkins. Reviewed by Roger Y. Chao Jr.
China and Inner Asia
South Asia and the Himalayas
Australasia and the Pacific Islands
DOCUMENTARY FILM REVIEW
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone = Hēi Yān Quān. A film by Tsai Ming-Liang; a FortissimoFilms presentation; Homegreen Films, Soudaine Compagnie present; director, screenplay, Tsai Ming-Liang; producers, Bruno Pesery, Vincent Wang; director of photography, Liao Pen-Jung; editor, Chen, Sheng-Chang. Reviewed by Boreth Ly
CONSTRUCTING MODERN ASIAN CITIZENSHIP. Routledge Studies in Education and Society in Asia. Edited by Edward Vickers and Krishna Kumar. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. xiii, 365 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$165.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-85578-5.
In Constructing Modern Asian Citizenship, Krishna Kumar and Edward Vickers begin their introduction with two questions: “How has citizenship been constructed in Asian societies negotiating transitions to modern statehood?” “To what extent have such transitions, and associated citizenship discourses, been shaped by any distinctively ‘Asian’ ideas or conditions?” (1).
The first question is addressed convincingly. First, this volume covers India, China, Japan, the Philippines, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Mongolia, giving a broad view of citizenship in Asia. Second, the sketch of the reality of citizenship is multi-dimensional. Each chapter begins with theories of citizenship and modernity, then progresses to more and more concrete matters: the history of state formation, educational policies, textbooks, the actual images and narratives used to convey citizenship, and the reaction of students to them. Additionally, five chapters go beyond the school system, delving into other sites of education like museums, youth groups, and the internet. The end result is an understanding of modern Asian citizenship that is dense, vivid, and dynamic, not merely showing how citizenship evolves in various histories, but providing a glimpse of how students are shaped in various processes of education.
To what extent have these processes been affected by Asian conditions? Here, most chapters paint a dark picture of education as hegemonic (although multi-directional), a power play between key tensions of modernity: majority vs. minority, Asia vs. the West, the nation vs. the others. I will use these to summarize some key arguments in the book.
In the first tension, we see that modern education tends to create centralized unity and identity at the expense of minorities and those at the fringes. This is clearest in Kumar’s chapter on rural India and Vickers’ chapter on China. Be it the domination of urban India over rural areas, or majority culture in China being imposed on minorities, education functions as a method of enculturation, draining rural areas of young, talented people and centralizing power around the cities. Of course, this tension is quite complex, and nuance is added by chapters like Jiang Lei and Vickers’ on Shanghai’s museums, where Shanghai is shown as negotiating its own identity within that of China as a whole.
Amidst this erasure of the margins, both Vickers and Kumar call for a need to rebalance our understanding of society and history by allowing all children in school, including the marginalized, to discuss and critique this ethos. A concrete suggestion can be found in Latika Gupta’s study of India’s textbooks for Social and Political Life. Here, we see what a more genuinely democratic education might be like: foregrounding conflict and issues, and actively involving students in social change.
The second tension of modernity is between Asia and the West. As Kumar and Vickers repeatedly point out, Asian modernization has always been complexly related to Westernization. This tension shows in every chapter, but is particularly clear in Caroline Rose’s comparison of China and Japan, Filiz Keser Aschenberger’s discussion of Turkey, and Myagmarsuren Damdin and Vickers’ analysis of Mongolia. In all of these countries, modernization mixes learning from the West with attempts to resist the West with a strong national identity. However, Mark Maca and Paul Morris point out that the Philippines is an exception: for various historical and political reasons, it seems to have simply failed to create a strong national identity or citizenship, resulting in a widespread embracing of values of globality and easy assimilation into foreign cultures. In a country economically buoyed by overseas workers, this ethos is useful but perhaps unsustainable.
The third tension is the nation vs. the others, where Asian modernization seems to very often couple national unity with national chauvinism. Aschenberger’s chapter on Turkey, Rubina Saigol’s chapter on Pakistan, Rose’s chapter on Japan and China, and Rowena Xiaoqing He’s article on overseas Chinese student nationalism take this up directly. They depict the concrete processes by which individuals learn to love their own countries by hating others: reiterating instances of national victimhood, creating a sense of suspicion that others (or the West) are trying to destroy one’s country, depicting the state as a family that ought not to be betrayed, strongly depicting a binary between martyrs and traitors, etc. The dangers these pose for regional and global stability is clear.
With these tensions shown in their various forms, in a wide range of countries and levels, this volume provides an excellent entry point not only for those in comparative education but for anyone engaged with a study of modernization as a whole.
However, there is room for further argument. In this volume, we see that in the process of Asian modernization, Asian teachings (philosophies and religions)—“Asian values,” Confucianism, Islam, State Shinto, and the cult of Chinggis Khan—have been complicit in supporting anti-Western, chauvinistic, authoritarian regimes. The solution offered by Kumar, Vickers, Gupta, and others seems to be “discourse, discussion, and critique.” While these are important, perhaps it is still prudent to consider Asian teachings in the search for solutions.
First, alongside Helen Ting Mu Hung’s discussion of Islamizing Malaysia, I think there needs to be a more thorough engagement with post-secularism. Is secularist “neutrality” the only solution to a multi-religious state? Is secularism not a religion onto itself, with its own implications for private life and the existential needs of man, and thus in competition with other religions? (See Talal Asad, On Suicide Bombing, Columbia University Press, 2007.) Perhaps we, especially in education, need to take more seriously this “moral, spiritual void” secular modernity seems to create, especially in a region where the very idea of “religion” (in relation to the public and private spheres) formed in a distinctive way.
Second, might Asian teachings not provide alternate, profitable visions of participatory democracy that enable rather than merely presuppose discourse? One common idea in contemporary Confucianism and Japanese Philosophy (particularly Watsuji Tetsurô) is that perhaps, prior to reason, communication needs trust. In cases of an “allergy to critique” in countries like China, perhaps the ethics and psychology of critique and discourse need to be reconsidered.
Anton Luis Sevilla, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
THE DYNAMICS OF HIGHER EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN EAST ASIA: Asian Cultural Heritage, Western Dominance, Economic Development, and Globalization. International and Development Education. Edited by Deane E. Neubauer, Jung Cheol Shin, and John N. Hawkins. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. xiv, 219 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$100.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-137-35826-4.
This volume contributes significantly to ongoing debates on the influence of East Asian values and traditions, neo-liberalism, globalization, and the internationalization of higher education in the development of East Asian higher education and the dynamics involved in such developments. The chapters in this volume not only present cases and arguments on the diversity and localization of globalization and the internationalization of higher education, but also support a multiple perspective and strategically posed argument for the existence of a hybrid university.
Framed within four hypotheses, advanced by Hawkins, Neubauer, and Shin in the introductory chapter, the discussions and case studies provide multiple perspectives and empirical data to support or argue against the Western dominance hypothesis; the Asian values hypothesis; the economic determinism hypothesis; and the globalist inclusion hypothesis. This volume is presented in three major sections on cultural tradition, economic development, and globalization, respectively, as they relate to the development of higher education in East Asia.
In section 1, which focuses on the cultural tradition perspective, Shin (chapter 2) explains East Asian higher education development from a cultural-economic context and proposes a typology based on education development strategy (incremental vs. simultaneous), public recourse inputs (maximum or minimum), and planning approach (social demand vs. human resource demand). Looking into the trend towards the internationalization of higher education, Chan (chapter 3) discusses the challenges of balancing Eastern and Western values in East Asian higher education institutions, especially with the pursuit of an international reputation and world-class university status, the greater use of English in teaching and research, the proliferation of Western practices in transnational higher education, and the harmonizing effect of internationalization.
Tracing China’s traditional context and intellectual traditions, Hawkins (chapter 4) observes that China’s modern higher education system contains indigenous Chinese elements in its structure, curriculum, roles of and relationships between teachers and students, and learning and assessment, and argues for the existence of a hybrid higher education in Asia. Taking a cultural-historical perspective, Xun (chapter 5) explores how the modernization paradigm changed the views of and relationship between traditional and modern Chinese education, their forms and practices.
In section 2, which takes the economic perspective, the authors review the impact of economic development on higher education in the East Asian region. Reviewing major innovation policies across selected East Asian countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore), Mok (chapter 6) finds East Asian states to be more proactive in innovation, research, and development; the author theorizes that they tend to promote closer links between higher education institutions and industry to enhance global competitiveness. On the other hand, Bhumiratana (chapter 7) presents the case of Thailand, where the development of higher education tended to be driven more by economic determinism than globalist inclusion. This case study also looks at the challenges of balancing the adoption of Western higher education best practices in an environment where cultural and spiritual development is considered equally important to academic achievement.
Focused on the globalization perspective, the last section presents diverse views on globalization’s effect on East Asian higher education, its structural transformation and practices. Taking into consideration the various forces of global change, Neubauer (chapter 8) explores the implications of the globalization of higher education in terms of its conduct, structural changes, and the emergence of the globalized university, further posing three propositions as to the nature of the globalized university. Identifying Asia Pacific universities’ globalizing practices, Lee (chapter 9) notes two concurrent but opposing streams, namely homogenization and particularization, which reflect the importance of the sociopolitical and economic context of each country and the emergence of hybrid variations of education policy ideas in spite of its origination from multiple metropolitan centers.
Presenting the Japanese higher education case, Yamada (chapter 10) maps that country’s higher education policies over the past decades (e.g., the Global 30 program, Re-inventing Japan Project and its new policy for globalized talent) and shows that the structural transformation of Japanese higher education brought about by the challenges of globalization and the market economy. This structural change is seen in the increased stratification and diversification as well as the emergence of elitism in Japanese higher education. Furthermore, the chapter shows that Japanese elite universities tend to choose global approaches and best practices, while some universities, such as Doshisha University, built on its mission statement and tradition as a liberal arts university that was significantly enhanced by Japan’s higher education policies. Posing the question “Is there an Asian hybrid university?” Hawkins, Neubauer, and Shin, in the concluding chapter, discuss the notion of a hybrid university, presenting their arguments in terms of six key elements: Cartesian framing versus Yin and Yang; Western “muddling through” versus Asian pragmatic approach to modernity; Western hierarchy versus relational structures; freedom of expression versus politically and culturally constrained expression; and the notion of democracy as global currency versus university as a set of linkages of restraints.
Overall, this volume on the dynamics of higher education development in East Asia should be considered required reading for those dealing in higher education policy and those in international higher education. Its multiple perspective approach, the four hypotheses posed to frame the volume, and the wealth of historical and cultural insights into East Asian higher education development should inform higher education researchers and policy makers in the East Asian region and beyond. Lastly, it has set the tone for further intellectual inquiry of the Asian values discourse in higher education, posed new dimensions in terms of globalization’s impact and dynamics in higher education development, and facilitated significantly informed dialogue about the notion of a hybrid Asian university.
Roger Y. Chao Jr., Independent Education Development Consultant, Hong Kong, SAR, China
MEN TO DEVILS, DEVILS TO MEN: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice. By Barak Kushner. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. 403 pp. (Illustrations.) US$45.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0674-72891-2.
After a recent conference at Leiden, Ethan Mark (a comparative historian of Japan and Indonesia) showed me a remarkable film from the Philippines entitled Three Godless Years (1976), which confronted the experience of Japanese war atrocities with surprising complexity. I thought, if Mario O’Hara can direct such a film under Marcos and with little funding, why
is nuance so difficult to find in Chinese cinematic treatments? Some of the answers are in Barak Kushner’s new book, Men to Devils. At 321 pages, plus voluminous notes, this important work on Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) war crimes is not lite fare; nevertheless, it succeeds in being a readable and wide-ranging examination of the intersection of the legal history of B and C class war criminals’ trials, on the one hand, and the contentious memory of these events, on the other.
Kushner asserts that the legal history of adjudicating war crimes should be considered an independent “terrain” of memory (21). Although Kushner is careful to aver that the legal process here did not reveal hidden “truths,” at the level of basic self-expression (for example, in memoirs) the influence of trial language as a recognized method of discussing “what really happened” is palpable. Although space limitations do not permit me to describe them in depth, chapters 6 and 7 feature a useful critical examination of later memories of the trials, and their (ab)uses during the Cold War. “Given the show trial nature of many of the proceedings, the attempt to resolve disputes without further bloodshed was a noble one,” Kushner writes, “but the politicization of the trials quickly rendered them more as fodder in Cold War battlefields of propaganda” (247).
Consequently, Kushner begins his book by “triangulating” the Chinese (or, CCP), Taiwanese (or, KMT), and Japanese historical standpoints regarding war crimes (27). Right out of the gate in chapter 1, however, we see how the story of Japan’s surrender and war crimes trials are even more complex, involving European, Commonwealth, Southeast Asian, and American actors. Kushner shows how “Japanese at the edge of empire could not fathom that they had actually lost” (36); his account echoes Lori Watt’s When Empire Comes Home, as well as new comparative work by multilingual scholars like Konrad Lawson and Adam Cathcart. Then, Kushner confronts the debate about the legality of the trials, engaging with Yuma Totani’s The Tokyo War Crimes Trial and Richard Minear’s Victor’s Justice, siding with Totani against Minear in that the discussion of local perpetrators, including rapists and the infamous “Comfort Women” system, was advocated by Filipino (Pedro Lopez) and French (Roger Depo) prosecutors (46).
Chapter 2 explains how the KMT failed to eke out a place for Chinese jurisprudence in the international war crimes trials while simultaneously dealing with the rise of the CCP and the necessity of the Japanese Empire’s diaspora. In an interesting diversion, Kushner summarizes how Shanxi Province under Yan Xishan challenges Manichean views of treason and justice: during his fight with the CCP, Yan promoted remaining Japanese infantrymen to the officer class and encouraged them to take Chinese wives (106). As Kushner puts it, “there was no one path toward a war crimes trial,” and the process was hopelessly determined by forces that had little or nothing to do with any notion of “justice” (107). Chapter 4 returns to this theme in its discussion of KMT trials on the mainland, which drew on a tradition of revolutionary courts and never managed to make Chinese law accepted internationally. Kushner delves into scattered reports of early instances of torture, squalid prisons, and kangaroo courts set up to satisfy local Chinese populations’ “lust for revenge” (145). This was followed by the 30 May 1946 Nanjing Military Tribunal for War Crimes, which did not resolve conflicting Chinese domestic demands and international legal standards. The KMT eventually shipped Japanese POWs en masse back to Japan simply to deny the CCP the privilege of using the courts for political legitimization (182).
Chapter 3 looks closely at the confusing racial, ethnic, and national politics that spewed forth in the wake of empire, and the “legal snafu” behind determining who was Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean (128). The brutal and tragic “Sinification” of the Taiwanese people followed closely the various “Japanification” campaigns. Kushner also describes the violent encounters between Taiwanese residents of Japan, whose legal status was
now “reduced to that of aliens,” and Japanese gangs who were often backed by the police (132). Chapter 5 returns to Taiwan, with a special focus on the White Group (baituan) that formed to facilitate postwar KMT and Japanese military cooperation—a relationship that Kushner views to be “eminently consistent in the continuation of their mutual stance against Communism” (191). Here Kushner issues an important challenge to his colleagues: the network of alliances in Japan, Taiwan, and mainland China show how “discussions of Japanese behavior after the war cannot be examined within the national framework of Japanese history” (208).
The only problem I have with this otherwise excellent volume is its focus on the China theatre, which may be unfair as the book sets out to examine the Sino-Japanese relationship. As Kushner shows, however, understanding China is necessary for making sense of trans-war Japan, and I reckon Southeast Asia is also important. For example, echoing Joshua Fogel, another Sino-Japanese expert, Kushner mentions that Nanjing was “not a Holocaust” (23), which is fair enough, but should we see such incidents simply as “mass murder run viciously amok”? If so, what do we make of the IJA’s orders to systematically exterminate populations in the Philippines at the end of the war? Research on genocide has come a long way from using Nazi Germany as a standard, and I think the experience in Southeast Asia must now illuminate what we think we know about the war and its aftermath in China.
Aaron William Moore, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
PROTESTS AGAINST U.S. MILITARY BASE POLICY IN ASIA: Persuasion and Its Limits. Studies in Asian Security. By Yuko Kawato. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015. xvi, 224 pp. US$45.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8047-9416-9.
This book is a welcome and praiseworthy addition to the base politics literature. This is not just because the monograph aims to illustrate base politics through the constructivist lenses of process-tracing, argumentation, and norm diffusion, but also because the author aims to craft a new variable in determining basing policy, an issue that has received an extensive amount of attention by both seasoned and emerging specialists. Before analyzing base politics among three key allies of the US in East Asia, the author initially reviews the constructivist approaches on norms and processes and formulates her own analytical framework in the introduction. Those interested in the confrontations and struggles surrounding base relocation or polluting and criminal acts on and in the vicinity of US military bases may skip the introductory chapter and go directly to the case studies, featuring twelve protests: four in Okinawa between 1945 and 2010, and five in South Korea between 2000 and 2007, and three in the Philippines between 1964 and 1991.
Given her extensive field research, as well as her expertise in base politics in Japan, especially Okinawa, this book is a must-read for anyone concerned with base politics in this period of global power shift, generated by the rise of China and the US pivot to Asia. In particular, the author offers a penetrating peek into the black box of domestic decision-making processes, such as who is going to persuade whom and with what kind of rationale.
Basing policy could take many different forms, but contemporary basing policy is mostly the product of negotiations and compromises between those upholding national security and those calling for the enhancement of all kinds of human and environmental security. Rather than giving proportionate attention to the discourses of both national security and human security, the author devotes the lion’s share of her discussion to whether the protests against US military base policy produce the intended results. This asymmetry might cause frustration to some readers because the fundamental reasons for basing troops overseas are, without doubt, the existence of external threats and the possibilities for the enhancement of national security. Nevertheless, it is understandable why the author attempts to explore a new avenue of research from the perspectives of what is described as the “normative arguments,” defined as “norm-based policy proposals” (13), and how policy makers respond to different normative arguments with significant consequences for policy outcomes.
As the trigger factors leading to base closure or other major decisions, the extant literature has been focused on regime shift (Kent Calder, Embattled Garrisons: Comparative Base Politics and American Globalism, Princeton University Press, 2007), regime type and the regime’s level of political dependence on the United States (Alexander Cooley, Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military Overseas, Cornell University Press, 2008), and the security consensus among policy makers of a host state (Andrew Yeo, Activists, Alliances, and Anti-U.S. Base Protests, Cambridge University Press, 2011). If Calder’s Embattled Garrisons offers a bird’s eye view of base politics, including policy recommendations for the US government, Kawato’s contribution lies in offering a bug’s eye view by featuring how normative arguments, created and delivered in a bottom-up manner, could lead to a shift in base-related decisions by the policy makers. If both Calder and Cooley have taken systematic approaches to explain what drives base-related decisions, the author’s approach is much more nuanced, given that many decisions do not take the form of an all-or-nothing game. For instance, Cooley’s arguments support the possibility that the basing contracts sealed before the democratization of a host country will be the target of contestation after democratization and the United States will find it hard to maintain bases there. This did not happen in a democratized South Korea. What happened there was the revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on criminal jurisdiction and an increase in the legal and social pressures on the US bases for the observance of environmental guidelines, illustrated in detail by Kawato. Meanwhile, Yeo analyzes a shift in power balances between political elites and anti-base activists, leading to his argument that the weakening security consensus amongst the elites opens the window of opportunities for anti-base activists in changing basing policy. Nevertheless, the emerging consensus might be fleeting when faced with strong opposition from the United States and powerful bureaucracy, just like Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio had to give up his promise to relocate the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma out of Okinawa.
From the outset, Kawato understands that her main thesis, “normative arguments,” has only a limited impact on the policy makers, which could
be regarded as the weakest point of her book, but still argues that large-scale protests are effective for, at least, extracting a symbolic concession from the policy makers susceptible to the mobilized power of citizens, sometimes aligned with governors and mayors. Compared with the previous research, this book illustrates better the process of how normative arguments are crafted, diffused, and finally accepted, rejected, or compromised by the policy makers. The strength of this book lies in the fact that normative arguments could be more effectively used in persuading the policy makers to take action in the direction of strengthening environmental guidelines at US bases or revising criminal custody rather than preventing the construction or relocation of bases. Of course, the normative arguments could generate base closure, like the pullout of US troops from the Philippines in 1991 by ending the leases at Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base, or delays in base construction, such as the proposed relocation of Futenma to Henoko, northern Okinawa.
Key-Young Son, Korea University, Seoul, South Korea
CHINA’S EVOLVING INDUSTRIAL POLICIES AND ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING. China Policy Series, 36. Edited by Yongnian Zheng and Sarah Y. Tong. London; New York: Routledge, 2014. xviii, 267 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$155.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-65688-7.
This book explores the role of government policies on China’s industrial growth. It discusses how China’s industrial policies and priorities have evolved, and how they are linked to policies in other areas, such as trade, technology, and regional development. The book consists of three parts. Part 1 discusses China’s industrial policies and industrial development in general. Part 2 provides a group of case studies on the development of China’s mainstay industries, including automobile, telecom equipment, electronic information, and ICT as well as shale gas industries. Part 3 examines China’s regional industrial development and includes studies on China’s Yangtze River Delta Region, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Western Region, and the Central Region.
In part 1, chapter 1 reviews the structural evolution of China’s industrial economy and examines the problems of China’s current development model, including the economy’s over-reliance on investment, processing trade, and low-value-added segments for growth, and insufficient capabilities in R&D, product design, marketing, and brand and supply chain management. It provides policy suggestions for industrial restructuring during the 12th Five-Year Plan Period. Chapter 2 reviews the policy evolution of China’s regional economic development since 1949. It illustrates how different patterns of regional development emerge as the state’s policy priorities change and how the tensions between central and local government shape regional development policies. Chapter 3 examines the evolving framework and key trends of China’s innovation policies. It identifies several distinct characteristics of China’s innovation policies, including the aim to nurture globally competitive enterprises with strong innovation capacity, the comprehensive resource allocation approach, and the synergetic feature of involving various government agencies. Chapter 4 examines China’s recent R&D intensification and the role of the state. Based on both aggregate and firm-level data, it shows that Chinese state-owned enterprises are responsible for a disproportionate share of industry R&D. Its empirical investigation suggests China’s state-owned enterprises have lower threshold return of R&D and their R&D generates small technology spillover effects. Chapter 5 examines the relations between openness, productivity, and economic growth in China. It shows that openness in general has a positive impact on productivity performance in China’s regional economies and there is evidence to show that openness brings about competition and lowers the overall profit margins in China’s manufacturing sector.
Part 2 provides a set of case studies that examines the development of China’s pillar industries and emerging strategic industries. Chapter 6 examines the proliferation of automobile producers in China. It shows that China’s automobile industry has both rampant exits and entries. China’s industrial policy has failed to consolidate the automobile sector, the structure of which is likely to remain dispersed in the near future. Chapter 7 examines the technological capability development in China’s telecom equipment industry. It argues that Chinese telecom equipment firms should focus more on developing strong innovation capabilities and core technologies, in addition to developing strong manufacturing capabilities. It also suggests government support is a precondition for the successful adoption of a locally developed technology standard. Chapter 8 analyzes the current environmental challenges faced by China’s electronic information industry. It proposes the use of green information and communications technology (ICT) products as a possible solution and strategy to handle these challenges. It also points out the problems and difficulties facing the Chinese government in the implementation of green ICT regulations. Chapter 9 examines the general features, trends, and challenges of ICT industries’ catching up in China and how to design policies to solve existing problems. It shows that the catch-up of China’s local ICT companies has relatively accelerated after the global financial crisis. It suggests that policy makers can construct new technology standards, develop the Internet of Things (IOT) and encourage local governments to participate in the commercialization of new technologies. Chapter 10 examines the recent shale gas revolution and the policy implications for China. It shows China’s shale gas industry is still in its early stage of development, and is dominated by state-owned enterprises. It argues that the Chinese government should open the shale gas industry to private companies, encourage innovation, and establish a market-oriented price mechanism as well as stronger regulations for environment protection.
Part 3 examines China’s regional industrial development. Chapter 11 examines how the location decisions of transnational corporations and the development of global-local production networks have shaped the industrial development of the Yangtze River Delta region (YRD). It shows that the formation of supply networks and the clustering of ICT firms in YRD have provided opportunities for local sourcing and subcontracting, but the important external inter-firm networks are still limited by foreign invested enterprises themselves. Chapter 12 examines the role of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region (Jing-Jin-Ji) in the transformation of the Chinese economy. It argues that over the recent decades, China’s growth poles have shifted gradually northward and westward, and the Jing-Jin-Ji has great potential to become a growth pole for China’s economy. Chapter 13 examines the achievements and obstacles of China’s western development campaign. It argues that relying solely on transfer payments and the equalization of basic public services is far from enough. The government should combine various fiscal and financial policy tools to promote western development. Chapter 14 analyzes the evolving role of the central provinces in China’s overall development and policy consideration. It argues that moving outward-oriented industries from coastal to central regions enhances the central region’s participation in the new global production configuration, which presents both opportunities and challenges to China’s neighbouring economies.
Combining both sectoral and regional perspectives, this book is a well-organized, important contribution to the studies of China’s economic policies. It provides valuable insights for scholars and policy makers to comprehend the evolving nature of China’s industrial policies.
Chen Li, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China
Anyone spending any time in China these days cannot help but be overwhelmed by the disorienting scale of urban transformation going on there. To say that the traditional urban fabric of most cities is being ripped to shreds would be an understatement. The built environments of imperial, Republican, and socialist urbanism—cityscapes of different eras that have until recently mingled together as part of a coherent whole—have all been rendered obsolete by an incessant quest for the new, the global, the ultra-modern. China is increasingly committed to an ex nihilo form of “green-field” urbanism, in which whole new cities are being planned, designed, and built from scratch. In Changing Chinese Cities, Renee Chow argues that what is being lost in this transformation is not simply an urban heritage of buildings, designs, and spatial arrangements, but an entire urban fabric that made cities legible and useful to their inhabitants. Instead of the continuities across neighbourhoods that gave Chinese cities their distinct identities, Chinese cities have joined “the globally familiar cacophony of discrete interventions” (1). By this, she means an urbanism dominated by “figures” rather than “fields.” The former refers to the object-qualities of buildings, their stand-alone character, their ability to draw attention to themselves. Beijing has become a city full of figures, from Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV Tower, to the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium, and Paul Andreu’s National Center for the Performing Arts. Figural urbanism, Chow argues, has “lobotomized” China’s cities, turning formerly “horizontal cities” like Beijing into collections of objects separated by voids of green space, their architectural coherence destroyed and replaced with singularity and verticality. In such cities, she argues, everyday life is splintered and disorienting, the urban fabric rendered illegible, uniform, monotonous, and homogenous.
The word Changing in her title should be read in two ways, as both a transitive and an intransitive verb. Chinese cities have clearly been changing at a pace perhaps never seen before on earth. But Chow’s book is also a manifesto for changing Chinese cities in a way that recovers the legibility, identity, and continuity of the urban fabric. “Field urbanism” is her proposed solution to the lobotomization of China’s cities. A field is “a mesh that invites appropriation of uses rather than being assigned functions, and supports spatial connections rather than isolation or separation” (8). As a subset of the urban fabric, a built field is “characterized by a relation of elements and spaces in which continuities bring coherence to diverse elements while maintaining the identity of each” (99). If that sounds like a tall design order, Chow demonstrates convincingly that it’s actually quite simple. The basic urban grid of Manhattan, some have pointed out, is a field in the way it maintains continuity throughout the urban fabric—linking blocks and neighbourhoods together—while being flexible enough to accommodate distinct features throughout. Traditional Beijing’s basic courtyard structure, separated (but also linked!) by garden walls and alleyways, is perhaps China’s quintessential urban field.
Chow argues that even though professional competence in designing fields lags behind the development of signature projects, China’s current mega-block urban development structure actually offers a good opportunity for designing progressive fields. After part 1’s initial exploration of “traditional” built fields in China (i.e., Beijing’s siheyuan courtyard structure, the linked canal structure of water towns such as Zhujiajiao, and Shanghai’s lilong alleyway and shikumen housing pattern), Chow explores in part 2 the key elements that are currently splintering and fragmenting these older built fields, such as the supersizing tendency in current urban development projects, the alienating nature of “public space,” and the “sunlight regulations” that govern the presence of empty outdoor space between buildings (such spaces become larger—and more empty—as residential blocks grow taller, in order to meet the sunlight requirement for each apartment). These are, of course, in addition to the more obvious infrastructural elements like vehicular transportation.
Part 3 of the book then explores the possibilities for field urbanism to challenge these fragmenting elements. Chow is careful to insist that this does not necessarily mean preservation of the older built fields, but it does mean drawing on what made those earlier built fields legible, that is, useful for residents. The essays in this part offer reflections on what makes fields work, what gives them their continuity, and how they create a sense of “being inside” a nesting of spatial patterns that allows one to always know where they are within the broad horizontality of the city. Each essay in part 3 also features a sample design project through which we can explore the possibilities of field urbanism. These include a project to enhance the legibility of neighbourhoods along the Huangpu River in Shanghai, a revitalization of Tianjin’s Wudadao neighbourhood, and an upgrading of Zhujiajiao that eschews frozen preservation but maintains the basic historic field through which the town’s layout relates to the water and canals.
Changing Chinese Cities is richly illustrated with diagrams and photos, and is—as one might expect—beautifully designed. It’s the kind of book you feel good about holding in your hands. The essays are short and crisp. Those looking for extended theoretical or historical discussions will not find them in Chow’s narrative, and aficionados of China’s traditional urban cultural landscapes may be disappointed by the book’s brevity in discussing the intricacies of siheyuan or shikumen design. I read the book as more of a guide for on-the-ground urban practice rather than a meditation for contemplation. As such, it is a guidebook for a possible future, more than a lamentation for the lost past. It would be ideal for introducing students to the underlying legibility of China’s cities, the ways that legibility is being destroyed, and what might actually be done to move forward in meaningful ways, rather than succumbing to the temptation, as many of us often do, of consigning China’s traditional built environments to the dustbin of history.
Tim Oakes, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
CHINA AND CYBERSECURITY: ESPIONAGE, STRATEGY, AND POLITICS IN THE DIGITAL DOMAIN. Edited by Jon R. Lindsay, Tai Ming Cheung, and Derek S. Reveron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. xvii, 375 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$34.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-19-020127-2.
China and cybersecurity are hot buzzwords in current global affairs, especially in Asia Pacific affairs. From the onslaught of sensational American news headlines about Chinese cyber espionage on the US to National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s bombshell revelations about US cyber espionage just three days before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s US visit in June 2013 to the September 2015 historical US-China agreement concerning economic espionage, no topic seems to be more complex, convoluted, and controversial than China and cybersecurity. At the same time, few topics are as at once elusive and emotive as China and cybersecurity. It not only concerns grand topics such as war and peace, and global power shifts, but also concerns everybody’s daily activities from web surfing to credit card purchasing.
It is thus to the credit of the editors and authors of this book that they have put together such a comprehensive, informative, and timely study on this topic. Originating in a pair of 2012 conferences, this volume offers a very ambitious and far-ranging overview of the multifaceted dimensions of China and cybersecurity. This is no easy task, not only because of the opaque nature of the subject, but also because of its paradoxical high visibility, not to mention its fluidity. As the book appropriately acknowledges at the onset:
“[T]he relentless pace of current events have both challenged our contributors through the course of many revisions and strengthened our belief in the need for an objective analysis of the political and institutional foundations of cybersecurity in China” (vii).
The book is indeed rather resourceful in analyzing the political and institutional dimensions of cybersecurity in China. However, whether it is possible to achieve any degree of “objectivity” on a topic as highly charged as this is perhaps beyond the point. In fact, given the prominent role of the US-China cybersecurity relationship in the volume—it appears not only as the proverbial big elephant in the volume, but also as its indisputable overriding policy focal point—one wonders whether even the book’s very title “objectively” captures its main thrust, and how the omission of this dimension in the title is itself an indication of a tension in the book’s underpinning empirical anchoring and analytical framing. That cyber espionage on the US constitutes “the greatest transfer of wealth in history”—a claim made by US General Keith Alexander, former command of US Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency—was reiterated three times in the first three chapters and only to be reaffirmed in the conclusion is certainly not an indication of sloppiness in copy-editing for an Oxford University Press volume. Rather, it is probably more illustrative of the challenges of pursuing any “objective” scholarship on a topic that has been so powerfully framed by high-flying political accusations and alarmist media headlines. Given that the book’s extraordinary ensemble of contributors includes not only civilian scholars from the American, Chinese, and Canadian academy, but also those who have past or current positions in such state and private institutions as US and Chinese military academies, the British Secret Intelligence Service, the Project 2049 Institute, and the Defense Group Inc., “objective analysis” is perhaps better understood and appreciated in terms of the broad range of topics, the diversity of perspectives, as well as the multiplicity of research methodologies on the offer.
And this is indeed one of the book’s merits. Its thirteen chapters, including an introductory chapter by Jon R. Lindsay and a concluding chapter by Jon R. Lindsay and Derek S. Reveron, are organized into four parts. Part 1, “Espionage and Cybercrime,” provides overviews of Chinese state intelligence gathering, economic espionage, internal political control, and the scale and scope of China’s online underground economy. Part 2, “Military Strategy and Institutions,” zooms in on the Chinese military, the PLA, with chapters exploring its strategy and doctrine, its intelligence gathering networks and units, as well as the PLA’s understandings of cyber warfare and its potential mobilization of information warfare militias. Part 3, “National Cybersecurity Policy,” moves to the policy plane to explore Chinese and American perspectives on cyber policy making and governance. Part 4, “Practical and Theoretical Implications,” concludes with one chapter offering policy suggestions for the US, and another offering theoretical reflections on international relations, the study of technology, as well as area studies.
A number of chapters are highly descriptive, predictable, and even a bit stretched in the analysis. Others are quite insightful and constructive in terms of their strategic and policy implications. Chapter 4, “Investigating the Chinese Online Underground Economy,” meticulously researched and rigorously written by Zhuge Jianwei, Gu Lion, Duan Haixin, and Taylor Roberts, stands out for providing a fascinating and well-structured reading into the wild world of underground online crime in China, with illustrative mapping of four distinctive value chains, and vivid capturing of the jargon of the cyber-crime world. This chapter, which focuses on the civilian and Chinese domestic dimension of cybersecurity, contributes significantly to the book living up to its title. Meanwhile, chapter 5, “From Cyberwarfare to Cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific and Beyond,” by PLA Senior Colonel Ye Zheng, not only productively engages with, and in some cases even offers a counterbalance to, the chapters written by outsiders on the PLA, but it also spells out a set of “principles of cybersecurity” so as to avoid cyber conflicts and a “virtual arms” race.
Given the high stakes and enormous gaps between Chinese and American understandings and agendas on cybersecurity, and with the above two chapters as examples, Lindsay and Reveron are certainly justified in concluding that the book “exemplifies” cooperation to improve understanding. It will be worthwhile reading not only for China scholars and cyber-security experts, but also for international relations and communications scholars.
Yuezhi Zhao, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
China’s rising nuclear capabilities are attracting worldwide attention. However, existing studies tend to adopt realist approaches and emphasize the evolving capabilities and doctrines of China’s nuclear forces. Balancing and deterrence are the standard angles through which China’s nuclear forces are analyzed and interpreted.
In this context, Nicola Horsburgh’s new book, China & Global Nuclear Order, represents a refreshing effort to cast China’s nuclear politics in a different context. As the author puts it, the aim of the book “is to explore China’s engagement with the process of creating and consolidating nuclear order by assessing the methods it adopts; the motivation behind its policy; and the implications of its actions for nuclear order. Put differently, this book focuses on the extent to which China has shaped global nuclear order, as well as its position in that order since 1949” (1).
Horsburgh’s understanding of global nuclear order is strongly influenced by the English school of international relations, which sees the world order comprised of rules and norms that govern the relations among states. In particular, Horsburgh borrows insights from various studies on nuclear order by William Walker, who emphasizes the importance of international regimes in shaping the nuclear relationship among states. These regimes include the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as well as norms of eventual global nuclear disarmament. Horsburgh offers an expanded definition of global nuclear order that is based on four core elements: nuclear deterrence, arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament. According to her, these four elements represent “enduring features of nuclear politics and the study of nuclear weapons since 1945” (22).
The book also explains states’ motivations to engage with global nuclear order and their attempts to shape that order. According to Horsburgh, there is a range of interconnected domestic and external variables that can explain why an actor might engage with nuclear order. They range from financial and technical incentives to a state’s quest for global images and prestige as well as international pressures.
In addition to the above conceptual contributions, the main part of the book examines China’s engagement with global nuclear order and its efforts to shape the rules and norms of that order. Several empirical chapters delineate the evolution of China’s position on global nuclear order. This begins with China’s rejection of global nuclear regimes, such as the NPT, during Mao’s era. During that period, China’s main aim was to develop an independent and credible nuclear deterrent. This effort required rejection of global non-proliferation regimes that were proposed by the two superpowers. In the post-Mao era, however, China began to engage with global nuclear order for a combination of domestic and international considerations. As a result, China joined the IAEA in 1984 and reversed its previous positions on arms control and non-proliferation. During the 1990s, through deeper engagement with institutions like the NPT, China reinforced elements of nuclear order related to non-proliferation, at the same time enhancing its global image and legitimacy. Horsburgh’s main conclusion is that China has had a bigger hand than previously thought in the creation, consolidation, and maintenance of global nuclear order.
This book offers a different angle to analyze and interpret China’s nuclear politics. Rather than focusing exclusively on the capabilities and doctrines of China’s nuclear forces, which represents the standard approach, Horsburgh is able to draw our attention to the roles played by China in shaping international regimes and norms for non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. As she argues, the English school’s international society approach “offers deep insights into how nuclear arms are governed and how actors behave across the four core elements of nuclear order” (148). As a consequence, this book complements and enhances existing studies which all use realist approaches to interpret China’s nuclear politics. Libraries and researchers on China’s nuclear issues will clearly benefit from this book’s unique insights and contributions.
Baohui Zhang, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, SAR, China
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN CHINA. By Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath; with Tian Qing, Huang Yu. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2014. xi, 244 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$120.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-85793-349-2.
This volume is an extremely comprehensive and informative book about environmental education in contemporary China. It would serve as a useful reference book for educators, students, and researchers alike. It is organized into eleven chapters, including an introduction and conclusion. The other nine chapters cover discussions of Confucianism as it relates to environmental ethics; environmental education in primary and secondary schooling (including “green schools”); informal vectors of environmental education (including the media, NGOs, GONGOs, and other non-state actors); variations in environmental education within China, and also between the PRC, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; and some assessment of levels of environmental consciousness, knowledge, and behaviour. Each chapter is divided into multiple sections with headings, which makes for a guided and organized read, allowing one to quickly move through sections if so desired. Some of the sections are one or two paragraphs long, however, and one cannot help but feel that this interrupts the flow of the discourse ever so slightly. Chapters range between 16 and 31 pages; none feel too long. Each chapter has extensive endnotes (chapter 7 in fact has 91 notes!), which demonstrate the far-reaching research that the authors have conducted on the subject. Missing is a final list of references, which this reviewer was disappointed with, but an index is provided (and chapter 3 has an appendix with sources).
There is some repetition throughout the volume. This is not a distraction, however, in that the enormous amount of detail provided is somewhat of a challenge to keep track of; a reader can benefit from a bit of repetition. This could also allow one to read chapters as stand-alone works, or in groupings, while still being exposed to the majority of the topics explored. While the authors state that their argument unfolds over the course of nine chapters, a single argument is not clearly stated. If anything the most important point to take away from this book is that there has been some progress in environmental education in China in the past several decades, but there is still more work to be done. The volume reads more as a descriptive account of environmental education in China (with some comparisons to other nations), providing suggestions for possible improvements to this type of education. There is an argument in chapters 2 and 11 that New Confucianism could potentially provide an important moral anchor for environmental education, but this argument is not sustained throughout the volume—as important as it is. In fact, one of the general findings in the volume is that while environmental knowledge or awareness may be high (it is not so everywhere), often behaviours do not match this heightened sensibility; what is missing is motivation, I would argue—and morality gives one exactly that (hence more focus on New Confucianism may have been warranted). This is not to say that there is no analytical rigour here, as there certainly is; chapter 5 in particular (“Environmental education in China’s training of teachers”) has some very insightful critical analysis of training programs. And the authors repeatedly point out that China’s top-down, authoritarian political structure makes grassroots organizations (which have spearheaded much environmental awareness-raising in Western countries) significantly challenged as key actors.
In addition to a comprehensive list of references, I would have appreciated more usage of Chinese (pinyin would have been fine) for key terms, and more information provided about the sample size and other methodological accounting for the surveys discussed in chapter 9. Surprisingly, overall I have become more optimistic about the future of environmental education in China from reading this book, largely because I was not aware of the extent to which various programs have been implemented. I was somewhat surprised to see that in some surveys conducted (not by the authors themselves) one of the indices of having environmental knowledge was knowing environmental laws, regulations, or policies (about sewage treatment, for example); I wondered how Americans would score on the same scale—my guess: quite low. In the very interesting chapter about the media, I of course thought of Chai Jing’s recent film Under the Dome and marvelled at what an excellent case study this would make for the volume in a future edition.
One of the larger epistemological questions that occurred to me throughout the volume, and with which I am left, is what counts as “environmental knowledge.” As an ethnobiologist and an anthropologist (who researches in China), I am used to thinking about the way that human rural communities, in long-term relationships with the flora and fauna around them, develop environmental knowledge. They know which local plants to use for stomach aches, how to process and utilize animal fat on their joints to ease discomfort, which crops grow best next to other crops, etc. But this is not what is meant in the field of environmental education. In this field, it is the urbanized and formally educated who hold the knowledge, about acid rain, smog, water pollution, biodiversity loss, energy-saving devices, “green” technologies, climate change, etc. Thus people in the countryside are in need of being educated about the environment, and in most measures they are lacking in environmental knowledge and awareness, according to this field of research. While I do not deny that most rural residents in China could benefit from learning about air, soil, and water pollution (among other things) from the perspective of Western science, if I were to offer suggestions to the developing field of environmental education in China, I would recommend that localized and rural ways of knowing about the natural world also be considered as important and legitimate forms of environmental knowledge, and be taught to educated urbanites. For one, such systems often have a key moral component—which, as the authors demonstrate, may be sorely needed to change behaviours toward the environment. In this way, environmental education should not be just a one-way dissemination project, but a two-way project of convergence and communication.
Denise M. Glover, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, USA
In his most recent book on US-China relations, Gordon H. Chang presents how generations of Americans perceived and interacted with China. Believing that China was a nation with strong implications for the destiny of the United States, these Americans actively engaged in Chinese affairs and by doing so actually made China part of the US national experience.
Chang states in the introduction to his book that Fateful Ties “speaks to those beyond China specialists” (8). He has done well in achieving this goal. Carefully crafted and smoothly written, the book is rich in details, which Chang successfully brought together to create a mosaic that is at once colourful and revealing. Featured in Chang’s tale are Americans of diverse backgrounds, whose lives intersected Chinese history. Some of these Americans are high-profile figures, but their involvements with China are not as well known. Patriarchs bearing names that later became easily recognizable in the US—Astor, Cabot, Lowell, Russell, Peabody, and Forbes—championed the Old China Trade that was as old as the United States itself. George Washington, until a friend corrected him, long assumed that the Chinese were a white people. W.E.B. Du Bois, the eminent African-American scholar, visited China in 1959 when he was ninety-one years old. As the guest of Chairman Mao Zedong, he composed a long poem, “I Sing to China,” to celebrate the liberation of an oppressed people. Carl Crow, journalist and businessman in China, brought with him his best-selling book 400 Million Customers in 1937, which made a notable episode in America’s continuous endeavour to crack that famous but ever elusive market of China.
Chang’s narrative begins with America’s colonial era in the late eighteenth century, when pioneering American merchants started the trans-Pacific trade with China, exchanging furs, ginseng, and the infamous opium for Chinese tea. In the nineteenth century, two conflicting trends dominated US-China relations. On one hand, numerous dedicated missionaries journeyed to China to bring the Chinese into Christendom. On the other hand, Chinese labourers who came to work in America encountered open discrimination, which culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Entering the twentieth century, China and the US developed a greater sense of solidarity, partly because of Japan’s imperialist expansion in East Asia. Many Americans advocated support for China as a way to help America. Philosopher John Dewey, for his part, very much hoped that his pragmatic philosophy would assist the Chinese in their struggle to solve many of their difficult problems. Along with John Dewey, Chang introduces quite a few other Americans who during this period tried to influence the newly created Republic of China with the American Way, and one additional figure that could have been included in the book is Frank J. Goodnow, the renowned legal scholar who for three years served as a constitutional advisor to President Yuan Shikai, and who, in an ironic turn of events, seemed to have endorsed Yuan in his ultimately disastrous scheme for an imperial restoration.
To the bitter disappointment of many Americans, events in China did not turn out as they expected. The Chinese Communists, taking advantage of domestic strife and Japanese invasion, rallied the vast masses of Chinese peasants and fought their way to power in China. Chang depicts how, as all this took place, concerned Americans such as Franklin Roosevelt, Patrick Hurley, General Joseph Stilwell, journalist Edgar Snow, and Times magazine owner Henry Luce argued over the course to follow but in the end were unable to prevent the “loss of China.” Ideological differences and conflicts of national interests would freeze US-China relations for over twenty years. But, as Chang demonstrates, even during this period of virtual separation, interesting undercurrents flowed beneath the surface. Years before he became US president, Richard Nixon confided that one day he would travel to China, and he dismissed Chiang Kaishek, the Chinese Nationalist leader whom he publicly supported, as “a small man” only capable of “running a small island” (222). It is also here that Chang takes care to report on some African-American leaders’ associations with Communist China, a subject often overlooked in the context of US-China relations.
In the chapter that deals with the most recent period of US-China relations, Chang highlights the contradicting views of China held by Americans. For some Americans, China’s recent economic success means that the long-awaited modernization of China is finally materializing, and this offers a great opportunity for the United States to continue its westward movement. For some other Americans, however, China’s rise poses a threat. As Chang points out, such conflicting views have their historical origins, and that’s the way the Americans are currently carrying on their reflection and debate on China and on their own nation.
At one point in his book, Chang acknowledges that Fateful Ties represents views expressed by leading Americans, namely Americans who have left behind written records. Historians work with sources, and the lack of records certainly makes it difficult to reconstruct average men’s opinions, especially in projects that cover periods extending far back and investigate topics that are foreign in nature. Despite this, Fateful Ties makes excellent reading for readers who are generally interested in US-China relations and for specialists who are looking for a well-written text on American views of China from early times to the present era.
Given the intended readership of the book, it may be helpful to mention here the difference between Gordon H. Chang and Gordon G. Chang. The former, author of the book under current review, is a university professor; the latter is a lawyer by training who works as a commentator on US-China relations for various media outlets. In the afterword to Fateful Ties Gordon H. Chang writes about the history of his family and himself in the United States, which in itself is part of the US-China relations that he examines.
Jing Li, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA
FROM COMRADES TO BODHISATTVAS: Moral Dimensions of Lay Buddhist Practice in Contemporary China. Topics in Contemporary Buddhism. By Gareth Fisher. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014. x, 263 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$50.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8248-3966-6.
From Comrades to Bodhisattvas, by Gareth Fisher, is a comprehensive and highly readable ethnographic study of lay Han Buddhists in post-Mao China in Beijing. Fisher magnificently gives the lay Buddhists, who were severely socially and economically marginalized during the grand social transition after the Mao administration, distinct faces and compelling voices as they apply “temple courtyard” Buddhist moral teachings to address what he calls the “moral breakdown” and imbalances of their daily lives. In the six chapters of this monograph, Fisher seeks to describe the social, as well as moral, transformations that lead these lay people from “chaos” to “balance” and the establishment of “Buddhic bonds.”
Borrowing the analytical framework of Jarrett Zigon and Foucault, Fisher defines moral breakdown “as an unsettled psychological state that occurs when changing circumstances challenge the cultural norms within which one exists as a social person, forcing one to engage ‘ethical demands’ to work out the contradictions that these changing circumstances provoke” (3). Fisher attempts to advance Zigon’s concept by suggesting that “the solution of moral breakdown can occur only through the wholesale rejection of social persons and institutions that brought about the breakdown in the first place” (4). After the establishment of new Buddhist personhood, the sustainability of identity depends on practitioners’ relationships with her/his fellow Buddhists and “minimizing interactions outside of the temple.” Taking the emic approach, Fisher analyzes the notion of foyuan (chapter 3 and 4), a concept lay people use to “ethically remake themselves from marginalized persons in an illegible world into chosen participants in a vanguard to morally reform that world” (87). He looks at how practitioners utilize this term as a rationale for their own conversion and the establishment of a bond with the Buddha’s teachings. His study also shows how this concept was further employed to convert and socialize new practitioners. A Buddhist identity could be temporary and might shift, as Fisher describes in the conclusion when he witnesses a young practitioner effectively rejoining the secular world and changing the outlook of her Buddhist stance (202–203).
In chapter 4, Fisher investigates the guanxi-based morality under the Buddhist viewpoint of ethics and discovers that yinguo (cause and consequence) is treated as an alternative morality by his informants. The foyuan is evidence that practitioners have an important status in the cosmic universe that cannot be understood through the narrower perspective of other mainstream social relationships used by guanxixue. Fisher suggests that this practice is empowering to the practitioners because it leads them to believe that they are special. It is interesting to learn how the definitive idea of foyuan differentiates those who are converts, those who have prior connections with Buddhist teachings but without much memory or knowledge of them, and those who are non-believers. In the second part of the chapter, Fisher turns to the interpretation of the morality of exchange among his informants. In this yinguo-based system of morality, for Buddhists the exchange of literature and media takes place under the framework of jieyuan, often occurring anonymously, a pattern also found by research on a Protestant group. Fisher proposes that Buddhist and Protestant Christian communities in contemporary urban China share similar moralities of exchange for two reasons. First, both religions are dominated by adult converts. Secondly, both religions offer universalistic systems of morality that posit that all beings share an equal status. This is an appealing moral vision for those who have been marginalized by the moral discrimination of social persons in the ego-centered morality of guanxi (130–133). In chapter 5, Fisher argues that the spread of print matter and multimedia materials plays a similar role in the creation of an imagined community of lay Buddhists in contemporary mainland China. The discursive networks, formed under the impression that many others share in their practice, contributes to their belief that moral reform is attainable and can be created by Buddhists’ circulation of media through the moral framework of jieyuan.
Another contribution of Fisher’s book is that it cleverly designates those individuals who practice within isolated social spaces as encompassing the conceptual space of “islands of religiosity.” This concept signifies that most urban religious phenomena function as “religious islands in a larger sea of secularism” (204) due to the state’s control of space. Along with his sympathetic understanding of these socially demoted practitioners, the author also defends how they assert their own agency, such as when they distribute printing and multimedia materials. By doing so, they are creating a national imagined community that empowers them to make extensive Buddhist bonds and break away from their confined social space (89, 137, 168).
Weishan Huang, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China
LOVE’S UNCERTAINTY: The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China. By Teresa Kuan. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015. xiii, 255 pp. US$29.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-520-28350-3.
This book provides insights into the dilemmas of middle-class parenting in China, in a way that can also be generalized to other countries. It provides a scholarly yet eminently readable antidote to the thrills that global readers took from the tiger mother popular debates about whether children benefit from ambitious, autocratic parenting. The book unpacks what it means to balance the tensions between nurturing children to follow their own individuality, while preparing them for the competitive social and economic environment they face in China and in other populous countries.
The book builds from thorough ethnographic work in Kunming, the middle-sized capital city of Yunnan in southwest China. The chapters include engaging stories and illustrations from the research. The introduction starts by explaining the biopolitical (agency and governmentality) theoretical framework and anthropological methodology adopted in the research. The remainder of the book is also well referenced across the disciplines, in theories of parenting, childhood, education, identity, and human capital topics relevant to the subject. It concentrates on parents’ choices about education in its widest sense as the focus of parenting and child development.
Chapter 1 introduces the concept of suzhi—improving human quality. It argues that Chinese parents try to balance the scientific engineering of childhood against the agency and subjectivity of the child by engaging in the first in order to maximize opportunities for the second. Yet agency is disrupted or abandoned due to pressure to achieve, and conform by scoring well in examinations to enter good schools and universities.
Chapter 2 analyzes stories of good and bad parenting to illustrate the suzhi tension, noting the subjectivity of both the child and the parent and nurturing the potential of the child. Chapter 3 follows with an examination of the gendered aspects of the emotional work of parenting, including the conflict of different pressures and the irreconcilable contradiction of expectations to manage the internal wellbeing of children with the external competitive context.
Chapter 4 introduces the second Chinese concept explored in the book, tiaojian—the conditions in which children can flourish. Chinese parents’ explain that their focus on tiaojian is because it is the responsibility of parents to maximize tiaojian from which the child can take advantage. Even if parents disagree with the pressure on children, they invest in tiaojian to avoid regret. As well as investing in tiaojian, they also attempt to change tiaojian if it is bad, such as removing bad friends, avoiding child and parent behaviour that will provoke teachers to negatively label or discriminate against their child and avoiding risk by keeping a low profile so the teacher does not notice the child.
Chapter 5 analyzes the popular reaction to a television soap opera about three young women cousins, their mothers, and the godmother-like grandmother. The research is based on Internet discussions and the author’s ethnographic work, about how the young women’s autonomy and self-actualization conflict with the mothers’ efforts to establish tiaojian for “potential born of effort.” Popular sympathy rests with the young women, undermining the mothers’ recognition of how effort is needed to address the competitive world and the importance of status in their children’s lives.
Chapter 6 takes two contrasting examples of understanding child development as human capital. Teacher Wang, a popular parenting commentator, has the notion that a child’s human capital is a resource to build and invest in like material capital. Mr Deng, an engineer and father, views human capital as a limited entity like a natural resource, which needs to be conserved because it can be used up and a child or young person can burn out early if pushed too hard. Yet both Wang and Deng understand that, when competing for limited opportunities, the human capital of children needs investment, which requires parents to make consumption choices in education, to determine how they spend their time and money. Chapter 7 follows a similar theme about “banking in affects” or emotions, which claims that parents must invest in opportunities for children to accumulate and reflect on their emotional experiences. The author participates in an expensive children’s trip to Beijing that goes awry but is aimed at this investment.
The book concludes with a reflection on the contrast between the author’s own Californian childhood and the Cultural Revolution childhoods of today’s Chinese parents. Her sympathetic conclusion is that parents are not following their own ambitions or investing in their own future, but are trying to do their best by preparing their children to be able to make choices in the China of today. The book will appeal to people who are familiar with China as well as those who are not, because it includes sufficient explanation and detail for both, and resonates with parenting choices in any middle- and high-income country. The quirks of today’s China told in the stories add further interest to the analysis of this common dilemma.
Karen R. Fisher, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
THE GOOD IMMIGRANTS: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority. Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America. By Madeline Y. Hsu. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. viii, 335 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$35.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-691-16402-1.
Asian Americans were portrayed as “bad” immigrants in American society for a long time. Since the mid-1960s, however, the stereotype has been changed from that of “problem minorities” to that of “model minorities.” As a consequence, one of the hottest debates and discussions in Asian American communities has been over the motives and impacts of the model minority characterization. Madeline Hsu’s book, The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority, proposes an historical perspective to understand the invention and its impacts. Hsu argues for two historical influences behind the myth’s construction: US-China educational diplomacy, and Cold War refugee politics. These two historical factors shaped both Americans’ perceptions of Chinese as “good” immigrants and US immigration policies. The creation of “model minorities” were embedded in these contexts.
Hsu details throughout the book how US immigration systems—not only restrictive, but also selective processes—contributed to the invention of this myth. She turns her eyes to the important but insufficiently discussed Asian immigrant subgroup—Chinese students and the institutionalized US-China constituencies that supported student migration—to fill the gap. Unlike its historically tight restrictions on Chinese low-skilled labourers, US immigration controls have been lenient to Chinese students and high-skilled professionals, exempting them from exclusion and treating them as welcome immigrants who can be readily assimilated into American society, even at the height of the Chinese exclusion period. By tracking the trajectory of US-China educational exchange activities, Hsu argues that because of trade and diplomatic relations with China, wartime allies, the need for valuable skilled trainees, and Cold War international competition, the US developed double-track immigration systems. On the one hand, the United States continued to exclude Chinese working-class immigrants from the country; on the other, it allowed economically and strategically useful immigrants to enter the country. The selectivity of US immigration laws, in other words, came to be based on class (individual merits and economic achievement), not race. This neoliberal thinking gradually came to dominate in US immigration law in 1965 and afterward.
Hsu shows unusual ingenuity by addressing another interesting but neglected topic: the Chinese refugee crisis in US global Cold War politics. She sheds light on the intertwined relationship between US foreign outreach and domestic immigration reforms. In chapters 6 and 7, Hsu demonstrates how economic nationalism and the effort to create propaganda showcasing US humanitarianism served as major principles and strategies in the US policy on Chinese refugees during the Cold War. On the one hand, to undercut communist influence on high-skilled Chinese refugees and strengthen America’s economic and technological advancement beginning in the 1950s, the US government prioritized visas for Chinese refugees with educational credentials and valuable job skills. This policy challenged the conventionally race-and-nation-based immigration controls and therefore opened the door to the future immigration reforms of 1965. On the other, to propagandize about the American dream and the vision of the nation as a world leader promoting racial integration and equality, American media in domestic and international spheres emphasized the “good immigrant” images of Chinese refugees and immigrants. Hsu convincingly argues that though the State Department only allocated a few thousand Chinese refugee visas, it greatly maximized the symbolic meaning of US refugee relief programs to cater to anti-communist sentiments.
Together, US-China educational collaboration and Cold War refugee politics paved the way for the immigration reforms of 1965 and repositioned Chinese immigrants as model minorities. As Hsu states in her conclusion, “the encoding of economic priorities and recoding of racial stigmas into immigration laws and employment preferences that began during the Cold War have transformed Chinese and other Asians into model immigrants” (237).
Transnational approaches have been widely used in recent Asian-American historical scholarship. Hsu demonstrated how to do transnational history in her award-winning book Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Homes. Here again, she adeptly analyzes English and Chinese sources and transnational perspectives in the book. Through the medium of Chinese student and refugee migration, Hsu shows how the dynamic and inextricable relationships between different nations shape their histories of each other. She tells the history of US immigration and refugee legislation, but also of the US-China educational and cultural exchanges in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, modern Chinese transpacific migration, the 1950s-1960s Hong Kong refugees, and of socio-political change in post-World War II Taiwan. This multi-centric historical writing complicates the current Asian immigration narratives that focus on domestic motives and impacts. Scholars of US-China foreign relations may be familiar with Hsu’s analysis of the US-China “open door constituency.” But they may be amazed at the imaginative combination of this material with other histories, a blending which produces this groundbreaking story.
An interesting comparative perspective between Asian and Latin American immigrants is briefly discussed. Further comparative analysis may highlight the differentiation and racialization of US immigration policies toward the two minority groups. For example, Hsu mentions in chapter 5 how the State Department had begun facilitating international education programs as an effective form of diplomatic outreach in the mid-1930s, particularly with Latin American neighbours and China (203). What were the similarities and differences in US policies toward the two different groups? If the educational exchange program was implemented in both groups, why did it seem to have more influence on Asian immigrants than on Latin American immigrants? Why did it not turn Latin American immigrants into model minorities?
Considering that the greater percentage of first-generation Asian Americans enter the country through education or employment, Hsu reminds us in her conclusion of the evil legacy left to both US foreign and domestic racial relations by the neoliberal logic of the immigration selection system. The Good Immigrants provides much insight on a variety of topics. Those who want to learn more about US immigration policies, cultural relations between the US and China during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Chinese refugees during the 1940s to 1960s, and Chinese transpacific migration will not want to miss it.
Chi-ting Peng, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
At a time in which there is a flurry of interest in studies of Burma/Myanmar there is a surprising dearth of engaging, readable, and contemporary ethnography from the country. Beyond Borders is a tremendous work which details—with considerable intimacy and reflection—the lives of both Yunnanese Chinese in Burma, as well as those who later migrated from Burma to Thailand, Taiwan, and Mainland China. The multi-sited nature of the ethnography is a fantastic boon to the work, as it reflects the trans-national character of the ethnographic subjects themselves. What is particularly moving about the book is its connection and engagement with the people, from the details of their economic activities, to their relationships not only with the Chinese communities in Burma and beyond, but also their connections with friends, neighbours, and colleagues across ethnic and religious boundaries.
The book itself consists of two major parts: 1) Migration history, and 2) (Transnational) trade. Each part consists of a handful of chapters, within which are the profiles and life stories of an individual and or a pair of individuals within a family unit. In her presentation of the ethnographic interviews, Chang is often reflexive, mentioning misunderstandings that took place during some of the field research, and suggesting some of the political implications for her subjects in their interaction with a research project. These help to illuminate for readers some of the complexities of doing field research in a country like Burma. But I will add, most admirably, the author does not dwell on this, rather, her goal is to present the experiences and lives of her subjects as they see them themselves.
The first part presents four chapters: 1) the story of Zhang Dage, one of the author’s principal informants who moved many times between the Shan State of Burma, Yunnan province in China, and Northern Thailand;
2) “Entangled Love”: a chapter about Ae Maew, a woman who has lived, worked, and studied in both the Shan State and Taiwan; 3) account of Mr. Li and the travails of his son working in a Bangkok factory; and 4) the experiences of Yunnanese Muslims in Burma. These chapters offer both overviews of life stories and experiences as well as ethnographic events involving the author herself. The authors’ objective is to communicate life experiences, and thus only goes into theoretical discussion briefly, and so these references often serve as footnotes or points of departure rather than the frame or the substance of the chapters.
The next part of Beyond Borders, entitled “(Transnational) Trade,” consists of three chapters: 1) the experiences of Yunnanese caravan traders; 2) an account of women traders; and finally, 3) an examination of the jade trade, as experienced by the Duan and Peng families. Like the previous part, these topics are illustrated by the subjective experiences of Chang’s interlocutors, but these chapters focus more on the economic aspects of transnationalism, a topic with which the author has had extensive engagement, particularly in regards to the jade trade. This latter nuanced knowledge comes through in the descriptions of mobility, and transport of the valuables. Through the ethnographic accounts readers learn of the ways in which goods are assessed, transported, and taxed, but often through personal connections of trust and expediency. From an overview of the situation, there might seem to be a great deal of business cunning and acumen, but the nuance of the ethnography shows that this skill came often at risk of failure and through the uncertain challenges of finding one’s way through dubious regulations and enforcements. The ethnographic lens on the economic transactions is incredibly useful, too, as we see how traders managed to do business and get loans at vastly varying rates, especially when banks opened and shut during the early 2000s. In a country with such a vast black market, these levels of ethnographic detail are, quite literally, gold.
Beyond Borders is a must-read for any scholar of the history, geography, economy, or ethnography of the so-called Golden Triangle region of upland Southeast Asia. Its nuanced attention to the historical relationship between the Kuomintang, civilian traders, the Shan insurgencies, and the Burmese government is compelling, especially since the information deals with firsthand accounts. The accessibility of the book would make it a good companion to undergraduate courses about Southeast Asian and/or transnational approaches to history and ethnography. Although the author could very easily bog the reader down with acronyms, dates, and events in military or political history, the priority placed on the subjects’ lives allows the reader to assimilate the context inductively, rather than with a preemptive roadmap of sorts. In this way, it would also be instructive for students new to the region, or in thinking about doing multi-sited ethnography. Overall, the book is quite an accomplishment, and an engaging read.
Jane M. Ferguson, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
In this richly illustrated full-colour study, Xiaobing Tang chronicles the development of the visual culture that has been produced from the founding of the People’s Republic of China (1949) to the (almost) present. As the author forcefully explains in the concluding chapter (250–258), devoted to an exhibition of Chinese woodcuts created between 2000 and 2010 that he curated in 2011 at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, USA, his goal is to break through the simplistic way of seeing Chinese visual culture as either mind-numbing government propaganda or barricade-breaching dissident art. His main aims are to make clear that Chinese visual culture in itself is complex and recognizably Chinese (2), a “reflection of the turbulent history of revolution” (65), yet of global and historical importance; that its practitioners are no dupes employed by a non-democratic regime but deeply committed to taking part in and being part of “a ‘cultural reorientation’ in China’s search for modernity” (26); and that Chinese cultural products should be evaluated and merited for their own qualities, in their own right, and not for what non-Chinese spectators might read into them, for whatever (political) reasons.
To accomplish these aims, the author looks at the creation, blossoming, and perseverance of the socialist visual culture that emerged as “a collective and deeply inspiring project in the 1950s, the period of socialist collectivization and construction,” as an expression of the “critical awareness of the relations between the visual and social transformation” (10). The author proves that contemporary Chinese art is the logical outcome of the revolutionary past, not in the sense of “a political mandate or paradigm” but rather as “a source of collective memory and cultural identity” (15). The author provides a comprehensive view of this evolution by analyzing paradigmatic works of different visual genres, such as printmaking; history paintings; rural films; the visuals of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) and their influence on contemporary artists; historical cinematographic productions; and the vagaries that prints and their creators face in the present.
In close readings of defining cultural expressions, the author provides valuable insights into the artistic climate and productive processes that inspired and helped create the works he unpacks. The first chapter, devoted to printmaking, vividly shows how woodcut artists, after joining the revolution while the Party was in hiding in Yan’an, scrambled to respond to the rapidly changing demands and conditions after 1949. Once the People’s Republic was founded, the styles they had worked in and the themes they had addressed proved less popular in the cities than they had been in the countryside. Thus, artists were faced with questions pertaining to their artistic identity, the relevance of their art, and their active participation in the exciting developments around them.
The second chapter focuses on The Bloodstained Shirt (Wang Shikuo, 1959), a large-sized pencil drawing that served as a study for an oil painting that was never made (62, 90). The work depicts the public trial of a landlord during the Land Reform Campaign (1950–1951) and is a “successful example of revolutionary realist art” (65). Beyond an analysis of the drawing, one of the finest and most comprehensive I have encountered, the chapter provides an informative discussion of the conditions and demands artists worked under, the considerations they had to deal with while engaged in the creative process, and the ways in which their works were evaluated, appreciated, or criticized.
In the third chapter, the focus is on movies that were filmed
in the countryside or made with a rural audience in mind; in particular, movies dealing with the more active role that women took on in society. The analysis starts with Li Shuangshuang (1962), representing the “new collective life in a people’s commune” (106), and moves to In the Wild Mountains (1985), a film devoted to the early years of the Reform Era, and subsequently to Ermo (1994), when the socialist market economy started to take root. The main aim of the analysis is to show how past visions of a future continue to influence our view of the present.
Cultural Revolution visual culture is discussed in chapter 4 in a fruitful juxtaposition with Wang Guangyi’s acclaimed series of Great Criticism paintings. Wang’s works, which combine Red Guard aesthetics with logos representing contemporary global consumer culture, employ the “socialist turn” (144) to revisit the “socialist visual experience” (167), again indicating that what once was cannot be glossed over in the present.
The analysis of the blockbuster movie The Founding of the Republic (chapter 5) makes clear that what non-Chinese audiences (or critics) immediately perceive of as irrelevant or boring propaganda actually resonates with the intended Chinese audience. The much more problematized, orientalist art house films are embraced by Western audiences, while the development of the Chinese (entertainment) movie industry is neglected or disparaged.
The final chapter deals with the neglect that printmaking faced and still faces after the Reform period started. No longer used to educate the people, nor a medium that attracts critical acclaim or huge interest, printmakers look for relevance while experimenting with techniques, subject matter, and marketing schemes.
In conclusion, in this very readable history of the development of visual culture in contemporary China, Tang has succeeded in bringing together a number of vastly different topics and artistic styles and developments. In a historical overview through the lens of the art world, he singles out specific styles to forcefully illustrate the larger historical picture. In doing so, he approaches his subjects with sympathy and understanding. At the same time, he succeeds in opposing the Western tendency to write off Chinese visual culture and the various media and styles it encompasses as either propagandistic or dissident.
Stefan Landsberger, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
Weihong Bao’s Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915–1945 is a groundbreaking work that sets a new bar for scholarship in the field. Combining bold theoretical arguments, sharp critical observations, and meticulous archival research, this is the single most important book to be published in the field of pre-1949 Chinese film studies since Zhang Zhen’s An Amorous History of the Silver Screen: Shanghai Cinema, 1986–1937, a decade earlier.
Like many great books, it is hard to boil down Fiery Cinema to a single theme or argument as this is a complex, multi-faceted work that simultaneously engages with several important theoretical questions, and does so from a variety of perspectives. At its heart is the concept of “fiery cinema,” which Bao plays with in a variety of ways—from the fire scenes that come at the climax of numerous martial arts films to the fiery emotions that films and stage dramas incite in viewers—as a thematic hub to tie the chapters together. Linked to this notion of “fiery cinema” is the argument that Chinese film of this period is what Bao coins an affective medium, which the author describes as “a distinct conception of medium as a mediating environment, in contrast to the currently dominant understanding of medium as a vehicle of information transmission according to an epistolary communication model—predicated on divisions between the sender, the receiver, and the message. The affective medium connotes a new conception of medium, space, and spectatorial body, as well as the entwinement of media in a dynamic ecology. The affective medium also heightens affect as a shared social space in commercial and political mass publics” (7–8).
In many ways Fiery Cinema is not just about film, instead it is about the intersections of cinema and print culture, stage dramas, photography, radio, architecture, and, most significantly, its affective impact on audiences. By partially detaching Chinese film studies from its traditionally text-based foundations, Bao allows for a more nuanced, layered, and complex understanding for how the entity known as “cinema” was constructed, functioned, and interacted with spectators both on screen and off. The book excavates seldom-studied filmic texts, going so far as to re-animate several examples of “lost cinema” that are no longer extant. While the challenge of carrying out in-depth research on lost films would turn away many scholars, Bao uses this limitation to her advantage and offers an innovative research approach, rescuing these and other lost pages of Chinese cinema history.
Fiery Cinema is divided into three parts: Resonance, Transparency, and Agitation, each of which features two chapters. Resonance, which Bao describes as “a tangible topos of the 1920s concerning the aesthetic and technological attunement of the spectator’s body in cultivating a sensorial field of social experience as an affective medium” (32), is used as a framework to examine the rise of martial arts films through new perspectives on physiology and technology. Chapters 1 and 2, “Fiery Action: Toward an Aesthetics of New Heroism” and “A Culture of Resonance: Hypnotism, Wireless Cinema, and the Invention of Intermedial Spectatorship,” explore the interactions and negotiations between early Chinese martial arts films, Western serialized dramas, and Chinese stage plays before going on to bring wireless technology and hypnotism into the fold. Part 2, Transparency, explores the seemingly divergent areas of left-wing film, architecture, and sound film, yet manages to bring these themes together in creative and surprising ways. Chapters 3 and 4, “Dances of Fire: Mediating Affective Immediacy” and “Transparent Shanghai: Cinema, Architecture, and a Left-Wing Culture of Glass,” feature readings of dramatist Tian Han’s Dances of Fire (1929) and the rise of wireless technology and architecture under the rubric of a new modernist “culture of glass.” With Agitation, the third and final section, Bao turns to the era of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), exploring the entanglements between cinema and propaganda. Chapters 5 and 6, “A Vibrating Art in the Air: The Infinite Cinema and the Media Ensemble of Propaganda” and “Baptism by Fire: Atmospheric War, Agitation, and a Tale of Three Cities,” offer some of the most thoughtful scholarship ever published on the Chinese film industry’s war-time relocation to Chongqing and its eventual geographical (and ideological) split between Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Chongqing. With each section spanning roughly a decade of modern Chinese history, Bao also unveils a stirring portrait of how media culture transformed during the tumultuous early Republican years leading up to the war with Japan.
Throughout this study Bao consistently offers deep and challenging engagements with Chinese cultural history and Western theory (coining several useful theoretical concepts of her own along the way), offers penetrating readings of several important films including Orphan of the Storm (1929), New Women (1934), and Scenes of City Life (1935), and, most importantly, reconstructs “cinema” as an affective medium. Weihong Bao’s Fiery Cinema stands as an impressive study that is destined to become required reading for scholars working in the fields of film and media studies and modern Chinese cultural studies. In a sea of formulaic academic monographs this is one of those rare books that changes the formula and breaks the mold.
Michael Berry, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
CHINA’S MACAO TRANSFORMED: Challenge and Development in the 21st century. Edited by Eilo W.Y. Yu, Ming K. Chan. Kowloon: City University of Hong Kong Press, 2014. cv, 411 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$38.00, paper. ISBN 978-962-937-207-1.
This edited volume of eighteen essays could not have come at a better time than 2014, which marked the fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR), as well as the first decade of Vegas-style entertainment entering Macao. The eighteen essays, containing much useful and updated data, treat an array of post-handover issues and phenomena pertaining to vital domains wherein Macao, as a unique city under the framework of “One Country, Two Systems,” grows and morphs; topics explored are grouped into, namely, 1) legal and political dimensions; 2) socio-economic dimensions; 3) identity, education, and cultural dimensions; and 4) external links.
Preluding the volume’s interdisciplinary discussion are two overviews by Zhiliang Wu (xxxv–liv) and Jorge Rangel (lv–lxii), who offer their analytical observations of post-handover Macao from local Chinese and Luso-Macanese perspectives, respectively. The overviews are immediately followed by Ming Chan’s historical sketch (lxiii–cv), which outlines Macao’s recent changes and developments through examining Luso legacies in Macao as well as post-colonial changes, breakthroughs, and readjustments in the MSAR.
Part 1 contains four essays that focus on legal and political matters.
In chapter 1, Herbert Yee evaluates the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” in the MSAR and argues that “the trend of ‘mainlandization”’ (4) could jeopardise the city’s future development. Bill Chou demonstrates in chapter 2 how the MSAR government has been negatively impacted by inadequate autonomy, inadequate representativeness, and inadequate civic participation. In chapter 3, Jorge Godinho assesses the representativeness and legitimacy of chief executive and legislature elections. Asking a similar question of legitimacy and representativeness, Bruce Kwong in chapter 4 reviews the 2009 chief executive election. The essays in this part share a collective hope that a higher degree of public involvement in electoral procedures will be beneficial to the MSAR political landscape.
The three essays in part 2 analyse Macao’s transformation from a socio-economical perspective. In chapter 5, Sonny Lo looks at the city’s casino capitalism and examines the implications of its impact on Macao’s society, politics, and economy. Ricardo Siu and Miao He conduct a case study of VIP gambling rooms in Macao in chapter 6, in which they offer a comparative analysis of the Macao gambling room model and the Las Vegas casino resort model, and investigate the potential, obstacles, and tensions of integrating the two models. In chapter 7, Eilo Yu, Emma Lao, and Duncan Cheong paint a scenario of e-politics in Macao by presenting analytical readings of how young people, including university students, engage themselves in cyber politics and how such online platforms have enabled and promoted a continuous growth of a new socio-political voice in Macao.
Part 3 houses five essays that look at Macao’s culture, identity, and education. Jean Berlie studies in chapter 8 the identity of Macao Chinese by making reference to aspects including language use, social problems, and association membership. In chapter 9, Malte Kaeding offers an interesting analysis of how the Macao identity has been and continues to be formed by looking into the cultural identities and civic identity present in the city, and by identifying and interpreting indicators for a Macao identity. In chapter 10, Benson Wong, while addressing issues pertaining to education reform, argues that teacher professionalism in Macao is essentially a political matter and that Macao and Hong Kong share a few factors leading to the underdevelopment of teacher professionalism. Hayes Tang in chapter 11 evaluates the ecology of higher education in Macao and expresses concern for the phenomenon of academic capitalism in Macao that will likely threaten academic autonomy and hamper positive advancement of skills and the quality of the city’s workforce. Through reviewing four heritage dispute cases—the municipal market of S. Lourenço, the Social Welfare Bureau building (affectionately known as laam ook jaai 藍屋仔, or “the blue house”), the Guia Lighthouse, and the Mong Ha Military Barracks, Derrick Tam evaluates in chapter 12 the negotiating forces of heritage production, tourism, and urban planning in Macao.
The three essays in the eclectic part 4 present different types of external links Macao has. José Matias presents in chapter 13 how Macao has developed into a hub that bridges China and Portuguese-speaking countries. In chapter 14, Minxing Zhao examines how the case of Macao’s Banco Delta Asia, a bank blacklisted by the US Treasury Department in 2005 for “its alleged involvements in facilitating North Korea’s illicit financial activities” (365), was only an isolated event which really played to the US’s foreign policy objectives. In chapter 15, Cathryn Clayton looks at three types of internationalisation, namely, making globality, making locality, and globalising the local, in an attempt to venture a description of a/the local identity in post-colonial Macao.
This collection of essays makes a valuable contribution to the study of contemporary Macao as well as modern China. The chapters are appropriately dialogical and balanced in terms of perspectives, although, if the reviewer may, the inclusion of a discussion of Macao’s increasingly vibrant performing arts scene and creative industry would have made the volume even more comprehensive. This reviewer would not hesitate to recommend China’s Macao Transformed to students and researchers who wish to have an organic understanding of China’s “One Country, Two Systems.”
Katrine K. Wong, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
CAN ABENOMICS SUCCEED?: Overcoming the Legacy of Japan’s
Lost Decades. By Dennis Botman, Stephan Danninger, Jerald Schiff. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 2015. vii, 193 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$25.00, paper. ISBN 978-1-49832-468-7.
Those already well versed in both economics and Japan’s policy debates will find plenty of nuggets of information and insight in this collection of essays. However, those looking for a detailed assessment of the contributions and shortcomings of “Abenomics”—the nickname for the policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—will find it wanting. It does not live up to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) usual standards. Most of this collection of essays reads like it could have been written five years ago or five years from now, and its title could have been “Stuff we think Japan should do to avoid a fiscal crisis.”
This volume is organized around the famous “three arrows” of Abenomics: monetary ease, “flexible” fiscal policy, and structural reforms to promote higher long-term growth. Even though the volume repeatedly stresses that success requires all three arrows, the majority of chapters seem to judge the arrows, not on their ability to raise per capita growth and living standards, but mainly by their ability to provide enough real growth and inflation and spending/taxation adjustments so as to lower the ratio of government debt to GDP. That reinforces the contention of critics that IMF stands for “It’s Mostly Fiscal.”
Each chapter starts with a solid analysis of the problems facing Japan in areas like deflation, fiscal stability, growth rates, labour markets, corporate behaviour, finance, and so forth. Surprisingly, there is no chapter devoted to the economic gains and losses caused by the large depreciation of the yen, one of the few impactful facets of Abenomics. In most chapters, this analysis is well-reasoned, even if expert readers will find themselves in agreement with some of it and in disagreement with other parts. That is to be expected; if the diagnosis were so self-evident, the cure would have come much more quickly. One helpful bit was illustrating how most of Japan’s fiscal dilemmas stem from the consequences of insufficient revenue to deal with the costs of aging rather than more easily corrected wasteful spending. Particularly illuminating was the essay on Japan’s rigid labour markets. It highlighted the adverse consequences for growth of the growing bifurcation between higher-paid, better-trained “regular” workers and the lower-paid “non-regular” workers, to whom firms do not provide the on-the-job training essential to productivity growth.
Each chapter then moves to detailed proposals on how to address these problems. Some readers will agree with the proposals; some will disagree, and that is fine. But one would think the proposals would set the yardstick by which Abe’s policy efforts would then be judged. But no chapter gives more than cursory mention of what Abe is doing in that particular policy area. There is little detailed evaluation of what is working and what is not, where there is action and where mere rhetoric.
The volume inherently limits its audience by assuming a great deal of familiarity with economic theory, the statistical methods of econometrics, and the intricacies of policy debates about Japan. It would not be suitable for most undergraduate economics students.
That is a valid editorial choice. However, even when addressing experts, one finds glaring omissions. For example, in the chapter on aging, the author tells us that, “[i]n the simulation, it is assumed that structural reforms raise potential growth [i.e., the growth rate at full employment and full of physical capacity—ed.] by 0.25 percentage point by 2015 and 0.5 percent point by 2018” (44). This would be a stupendous achievement: a doubling in just five years of the IMF’s current estimate of Japan’s annual potential growth rate of just 0.5 percent. Yet, nowhere in the entire volume is there an attempt justify, or even explain, this assertion. Nor in a book published in 2015 is there any analysis of whether Abenomics has, in fact, gone anywhere in meeting the 2015 projection, let alone the one for 2018. We get fascinating reportage on cases where other countries have raised their potential growth over a decade-long process, as well as many worthwhile proposals on how Japan could raise its long-term growth. But there is no detailed assessment on whether Abenomics has any realistic chance of attaining Abe’s promise of 2 percent long-term real growth. Nor does it try to measure what it would take to reach that goal. It just tells us that reaching 1 percent is hard, and 2 percent even harder.
This reviewer has a fundamental disagreement with the premise offered in several essays that, as stated in the chapter on growth policies, “[s]tripping out the effects of population aging, Japan’s growth was solid until the global financial crisis. During the 2000s, growth per capita was at par with the US and TFP [Total Factor Productivity growth, i.e., output per unit of labour and capital combined—ed.] was comparatively high and at similar levels to Germany” (93). If this were the case, it would imply that what Japan most needs is an increase in investment levels and labour supply, for example, more women workers, more immigrants, rather than a productivity revolution. The chapter does, in fact, make many worthwhile proposals for productivity hikes, but the overarching premise would allow those who oppose politically difficult structural reforms to downplay their necessity.
The fact is that, from 1991 to 2007, per capita GDP growth in Japan, at 0.8 percent per year, was just half the average of the Group of Seven countries. As for TFP, which is the foundation for sustainable growth in GDP per work-hour, during 1991–2007, Japan’s TFP growth at 0.6 percent per year was lower than that of any other G7 country except for Italy. It was just half of the growth rate seen in Germany. Japan’s comparatives look better in the post-2007 period, not because its performance improved, but because Europe did so much worse as a result of its devotion to fiscal austerity.
The bottom line is this: economists with expertise in Japan will be able to glean gems of information, analysis, and proposals. Others will find it disappointing and sometimes even hard to get through.
Richard Katz, The Oriental Economist, New York, USA
INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS IN JAPAN: Contributions in an Era of Population Decline. Japanese Society Series. Edited by Yoshitaka Ishikawa. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press; Kyoto: Kyoto University Press; Portland: International Specialized Book Services [exclusive distributor], 2015. xxiv, 313 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$84.95, cloth. ISBN 978-1-92090-191-2.
Over the last thirty years Japan has become a country of immigration again. While the literature on migration to Japan is growing, reliable data on the issue is still scarce. Yoshitaka Ishikawa’s edited volume is a major contribution to filling this void. The book consists of twelve papers exclusively by geographers, featuring four nation-wide empirical studies, five ethnic- and regional-specific surveys, and three papers on national policies, the labour market and local government responses, with a focus on recent immigration. The book thus does not cover the Korean and Chinese communities which have existed since Japan’s prewar colonial encroachment on Asia.
As the title suggests, the overall theme is the contribution of migrants to Japan’s economy and society during the current phase of population decline. Besides settlement, economic and social integration, naturalization, and fertility outcomes of migrants in Japan, the important role of long-term (migrants with Japanese ancestry) and short- to mid-term labour migration (foreign trainees and interns), especially in semi-urban and rural industries, is being stressed. Here the three policy-oriented papers make for a good introduction, though one wonders why they are placed at the end of the book.
The first chapter, on occupational attainment, compares household data from the 2010 population census and finds variations in the labour market integration based on nationality, length of stay, and gender. As its main merit the study highlights the share of high occupational attainment (white-collar jobs) among eleven nationalities. However, correlations are presented as causalities and it remains unclear how “positive selection” and “limited international transferability” can be identified as explanatory factors, while racial and gender discrimination, as well as discriminatory Japanese immigration policies, are being excluded from consideration (15).
Chapter 2 examines the contribution of immigrant women to fertility in Japan. Though the “number of births to foreign women increased between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s,” it did not contribute to an increase in Japan’s “total fertility rate” (41). This situation differs significantly from that found in Europe.
Applying logistic regression models on microdata from the 2005 population census, chapter 3 compares the fertility outcomes of cross-border, immigrant, and native-born couples in Japan and finds significant variations. It shows low fertility outcomes of cross-border couples of Japanese spouses with either Asian wives or husbands from “less developed countries” (71). Husband’s employment status and dwelling type had a higher effect on fertility than the country of origin (71).
Addressing a major desideratum, chapter 4 analyzes the spatial distribution of naturalized Japanese citizens, pointing out that “statistics on naturalization are practically nonexistent” (75). Detailed data was electronically retrieved from the Naturalization Permission Official Gazette Notice database and produced a number of 462,795 people living in Japan who acquired Japanese citizenship through naturalization between 1950 and 2009. Large naturalized populations are concentrated in the Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe metropolitan areas, followed by Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Fukushima Prefecture.
Chapter 5 sheds light on a specific ethnic migrant group in Japan: female Filipino migrants as well as Filipino mothers and their children with Japanese fathers and thus Japanese nationality re-migrating to Japan, who are referred to as “Shin Nikkei Filipinos” (102). Female Filipino migrants mostly find employment in the care and nursing industry in regional urban areas afflicted by aging and depopulation.
Chapters 6 to 8 analyze different aspects of mostly Brazilian nationality migrant life in the town of Hamamatsu. Brazilian ethnic businesses had not expanded to the non-ethnic market, while Brazilian customers frequented Japanese “non-ethnic” stores (145). One explanation is that Brazilian migrants concentrate in industrial cities and “remain in lower socioeconomic classes” (145). Ethnic businesses functioned as ethnic employers when many Brazilian workers lost their jobs in manufacturing due to the economic crisis from 2008 onward.
Addressing migrants’ quality of life, chapter 7 examines the density of public and private facilities providing services and goods for daily needs in areas where migrants live. Though access to services and goods was adequate and there was no spatial segregation between Japanese and foreign nationality residents, most migrants concentrated in built-up zones close to industrial areas, an indicator of their limited social mobility.
Taking a closer look at the education of migrant children, chapter 8 discusses the relations between local government, public schools, and volunteer groups teaching Japanese to migrants in Hamamatsu. While hierarchical and non-cooperative relations between teachers and volunteers are observed, the paper stresses the importance of voluntary activity, which however suffers from limited funding through the local government.
Religion is an often overlooked aspect of migration to Japan. Chapter 9 therefore studies the function of religion and the ways the Quran is taught in the small Turkish communities of Aichi prefecture. It argues that Islam is at the centre of the communities and facilitates “remote nationalism” (209), but that its teaching differs with the socio-economic background of the communities: stricter in communities from rural Turkey and “more easygoing” in communities with an urban “white-collar” background (210).
Due to the normative focus on “contributions,” many papers in this book stress problems, difficulties, and concerns related to migration and most papers conclude with recommendations for more and better integration policies and services for foreign residents and their children, so they can contribute more effectively in the future. However well-intentioned this approach is, it perpetuates the view of the presence of migrants as a problem, rather than as an opportunity to think about social change and how to make life more fair and enjoyable for everybody.
Overall the papers compiled in the book are a good introduction to the complex and multifaceted realities of newcomer migrants and shed light on some understudied quantitative and qualitative aspects of migration to Japan.
Daniel Kremers, German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), Tokyo, Japan
INTIMATE RIVALS: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China. By Sheila A. Smith. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. xviii, 361 pp. (Figures, tables, maps.) US$40.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-231-16788-8.
This carefully researched book looks at how Japanese social actors have mobilized in response to China’s rise in the twenty-first century. It builds on comprehensive insight into both the Japanese and English literature on how Japan has reacted to the increasing activity and influence of China. The author has had remarkably good access to some of Japan’s major politicians: four prime ministers, four foreign ministers, and two cabinet secretaries (one of whom later became a prime minister) have been interviewed. Overall, the picture drawn is that there are a variety of opinions on China in Japan, but an increasing number of people are skeptical of the Japanese government’s ability to negotiate agreements with Beijing.
The first of the book’s seven chapters gives a brief overview of diplomatic tensions between Japan and China in recent years and introduces the cases that will be examined. Chapter 2 begins with a broad presentation of China’s rise and moves on to describe the maneuvers by Japan and the United States in the early 1970s that led to their establishment of diplomatic relations with China. It ends with a presentation of the policies toward China advocated by the main political and business groups. The next four chapters examine the impact on Japan of disagreement with China in four fields.
Visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, an institution
with an unrepentant attitude to Japan’s past wars, is criticized by China. The analysis shows that Nippon Izokukai, which is both a policy advocacy group representing those who lost family members in World War II and an important vote gatherer for the Liberal Democratic Party, has taken a moderate stance on the shrine in recent years. Nevertheless, support for Yasukuni by Prime Minister Koizumi and others made it difficult to establish a new, more neutral national facility to memorialize the country’s war dead.
Under new UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules that were ratified in 1996, Japan and China had to negotiate maritime boundaries. Japan proposed a median line to divide the East China Sea, whereas China claimed an exclusive economic zone that extended far beyond that line. It took many years for Japan to develop a policy to achieve its interests under the new UNCLOS rules, and some politicians blamed this delay on diffusion of authority over maritime issues among several ministries. In order to achieve better coordination, the Japanese government passed a new oceans law and established a Headquarters for Ocean Policy at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in 2007.
Several people in Japan fell ill in 2008 when they ate frozen Chinese dumplings that were found to contain poison. This brought attention to the increasing dependence on food imports from China. In Japan, food importers reacted by seeking to have Chinese factories meet Japanese food safety standards. The scandal also stimulated the establishment of Japan’s first Consumer Affairs Agency, and Shufuren (Japan Housewives Association) played a role in deliberations about the new agency’s mandate.
China disputes Japan’s sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Therefore, Beijing reacted strongly in 2010 when a Chinese fishing trawler captain was arrested near the islands and in 2012 when the Japanese government purchased them from a private owner and “nationalized” them. China sent its own patrol ships to the islands after the events in 2012. These two incidents furthered Japanese moves already under way to strengthen the defense of the islands, to start training Japanese self-defense forces in amphibious operations together with US forces, and to give the Japan Coast Guard policing authority over the country’s remote islands.
Japan’s response to the rise of China has thus been characterized by a diversity of social groups advocating policy on China, incremental problem solving, and adaptation. Groups as diverse as Nippon Izokukai and Shufuren were often critical of the government’s deference to Chinese interests. As maritime affairs were handled by several ministries with insufficient coordination, it took nearly ten years to develop a policy on the implications of new UNCLOS rules for the East China Sea. Difficulties in negotiating policy with Beijing in various fields seldom led to Japanese accommodation or confrontation but more often to adaptation. For example, Japan made a new oceans law and established a new agency for consumer affairs, and as a result of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands conflict, strengthened cooperation between the Maritime Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard.
In this way, the book charts the effect of the opinions of social groups and domestic institutions on foreign policy choices toward China. This is a valuable contribution to a field where most of the focus has been on the perspective of the elite. The analysis would, however, benefit by bringing in other factors as well, some of which belong to the international level of analysis. One such factor is the degree to which Japan views China as a threat. One way to gauge this is by looking at the strength of China’s military capabilities compared to Japan’s and whether the Japanese perceive China’s intentions to be in any way aggressive. Japan’s policy choices are also affected by the balance that it must strike in its alliance policy to avoid being abandoned by the US while also avoiding entrapment in a conflict involving the US that it wants to keep away from. Such factors, in addition to the ones examined in the book, have contributed to Japan’s policy of having a close economic relationship with China while maintaining a strong alliance with the US, and in recent years, reorganizing its self-defense forces so that they can respond to contingencies in parts of Japanese territory that lie close to China.
Eivind Lande, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
JAPANESE DIPLOMACY: The Role of Leadership. SUNY Series, James N. Rosenau Series in Global Politics. By H.D.P. Envall. Albany: SUNY Press, 2015. xiv, 251 pp. (Tables.) US$85.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4384-5497-9.
How have Japanese prime ministers’ leadership styles, personalities, perceptions, and beliefs shaped Japan’s foreign relations? To what extent have Japanese prime ministers, especially those before the arrival of Koizumi Junichiro in the 2000s, been able to pursue idiosyncratic leadership styles not necessarily in step with their political environment? In the existing literature related to Japanese foreign policy, most studies have focused on the role of Japanese national identity and the change of material structure in the context of the power rivalry between China and the United States in East Asia. By contrast, this book successfully demonstrates the significant impact of the prime minister in shaping Japanese foreign policy. It offers an alternative theoretical perspective on understanding Japanese foreign relations via
the lens of political leadership.
The main body of the book consists of two parts. In the first part, three aspects focused on the theoretical, environmental, and historical context of Japanese leadership at the macro level are discussed. Chapter 1 introduces the general literature of leadership studies, and the foreign and domestic constraints towards political leadership. Chapter 2 offers a general analysis of Japanese political leaders and their diplomatic leadership, and chapter 3 reviews the role of Japanese prime ministers since the Second World War. In the second part, three case studies of Japanese prime ministers before the 2000s are presented in a stimulating and thoughtful way. The three cases all focus on Japanese prime ministers’ performances during international summits. Chapter 4 evaluates Ohira’s leadership at the Tokyo summit in 1979. Chapter 5 examines Prime Minister Suzuki’s leadership in Ottawa in 1981, and Nakasone’s leadership at the Williamburg summit in 1983.
Two major arguments are offered in the book. First, the author rightly points out that Japanese political leadership in foreign affairs cannot be easily typecast and viewed as simply a representation of domestic preferences. Through the three case studies, all three prime ministers demonstrated a distinct leadership vision and style that reflected their personal beliefs, proving that preferences do matter in the process of Japanese foreign policy making. Second, by developing two concepts, action and actor dispensability, the author finds that Japanese prime ministers had a significant influence on the country’s diplomacy. The author points out that this is particularly true in Japan’s summit diplomacy, with the effective employment of leadership strategy.
The book makes a significant contribution to understanding the role of prime ministers in Japan’s foreign policy making through the theoretical lens of political leadership. It would be more interesting if the author could offer further discussion on how the change of electoral systems influences the degree of Japanese prime ministers’ autonomy on making their foreign policy decisions based on their own personal beliefs and preferences. As the author rightly points out, leadership environments matter in the decision-making process. Since 1994, the role of the Japanese prime minister in the ruling party has been significantly empowered due to electoral system reform, with a combined electoral system initiated in the House of Representatives (Lower House) with single-member districts and proportional representation in regional constituencies. Under the new electoral system, with the introduction of 300 single-member districts, the prime minister has the authority to endorse party members as official candidates and to allocate the political funding of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Unlike in the previous medium-sized election district system, only a single LDP candidate runs in each lower-house election district, which means that a Japanese prime minister (as party leader) would be able to discourage party members who do not follow his or her policy preferences by not nominating him/her or allocating political funding for a national election campaign (for example, Koizumi’s election on postal service privatization in 2005). On the other hand, Japanese prime ministers are also being constrained due to the linkage of their approval rating (naikaku shijilitsu) and their domestic political survival. If the prime minister’s approval rating declines significantly, he or she will be perceived by party members as not being able to lead the party to win the next national election, undermining his or her domestic legitimacy within the ruling party. In many cases, seeking political survival has been the precondition for Japanese prime ministers when they decide whether to pursue a policy based on their personal preferences and political beliefs. The policy variation revealed in the recent two Abe administrations over the Yasukuni problem (Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine in 2013 but not in 2006, 2014, or 2015) indeed offers an interesting insight to understanding the power and limitations of Japanese prime ministers, which should be the subject of future research.
In sum, this book is highly recommended for anyone interested in Japanese foreign policy, domestic politics, and leadership studies, as it offers a unique perspective on our understanding of Japanese foreign policy making that has been typically ignored in the current IR literature in general and Japanese foreign relations in particular. A leadership study of Japanese prime ministers will be able to provide an effective road map for readers to understand the future development of Japanese diplomacy.
Mong Cheung, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
KŌMEITŌ: Politics and Religion in Japan. Japan Research Monograph 18. Edited by George Ehrhardt, Axel Klein, Levi McLaughlin and Steven R. Reed. Berkeley, CA: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 2014. 298 pp. US$25.00, paper. ISBN 978-1-55729-111-0.
The first chapter in Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan is written by the editors of the volume, and its title, “Kōmeitō: The Most Understudied Party of Japanese Politics,” makes the main purpose of their project clear from the start. The editors, along with five other contributors, have filled a void in the study of Japanese politics and religion that has been long neglected, and have provided the field with an essential study of the fifty-year collaboration between the twentieth-century Buddhist sect, Sōka Gakkai (創価学会), and its political offshoot, Kōmeitō (公明党). In addition to providing a detailed investigation of the party’s founding and historical evolution, as well as its electioneering operations, funding, and political coalitions, the writers were also motivated to counteract the predominance of slanderous representations of Kōmeitō from Japanese news media and contentious former associates of the party who are primarily concerned with settling scores. By presenting a thorough up-to-date study based in data-driven evidence and operational observations, the collaborators in this volume have provided a much-needed objective source for serious researchers.
The chapters are divided into four areas, including context, history, structure, and strategies of power. The first chapter, “Religious Groups in Japanese Electoral Politics,” shows that while there is little evidence to suggest religion-based parties in Japan hold any real advantage in electoral politics, Kōmeitō is the one exception. The party has benefitted from the political activities of Sōka Gakkai, successfully electing three to four times more candidates than all other religious parties combined (26). This level of political weight also suggests the importance of examining the sect in order to understand how its members organize and promote nominees.
The chapters in the history section are divided into two periods: from the inception of Sōka Gakkai in 1930 to the year 1970 when Kōmeitō was rocked by scandal, and from 1970 to the present. After the founder of Sōka Gakkai, Makiguchi Tsunesaburō, died of malnutrition in jail for refusal to support State Shinto during the Pacific War, his successor, Toda Jōgai, reformed the movement as a religion of the poor, and expanded membership during the 1950s through sectarian publications and “proactive conversion.” The ultimate vision of Toda’s reforms was the achievement of the “ordination platform,” a state-sponsored ordination system for universal conversion to Sōka Gakkai. It was from this primary goal of the ordination platform that the necessity for a political party evolved. After a period of strong outside opposition, Ikeda Daisaku inaugurated the formation of Kōmeitō in 1964 (67).
The subsequent rapid expansion of both Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai was severely damaged in 1969 with the publication of a university professor’s book denouncing Sōka Gakkai as a fascist sect. This criticism was further exacerbated by a public scandal resulting from stories of Kōmeitō officials attempting to stop the book’s publication. Ikeda responded in 1970 with a public apology, stating that Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai were two separate organizations, and renouncing the plans for an ordination platform.
Kōmeitō pursued coalitions with left-leaning parties during the early 1970s in order to alter its identity as a religious organization. But by the end of the decade the party began a shift right to expand the voter base beyond Sōka Gakkai, and to begin courting a coalition with the establishment Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). At the same time, members of Sōka Gakkai were beginning to lean right as well, due to improvements in socio-economic standing, and continued to support Kōmeitō.
In “The Structure” section, details on choosing candidates, the organization of rallies, the funding of campaigns, and the mobilization of voters are examined. The influence and support of Sōka Gakkai continues to be a necessary component of Kōmeitō success, due to the sect’s well-organized social networks. These networks are primarily led by married women, which in turn drives much of the policy making decisions for the party. In addition, candidate selection is still, “largely shaped by the party’s relationship with Sōka Gakkai” (141). A study of Kōmeitō campaign finance reveals that the party mirrors Sōka Gakkai fund-raising activities as well, based mainly in newspaper sales and the contributions of individual donors.
The final section analyzes the strategies that have been employed by competing parties to weaken Kōmeitō’s political standing. These countermobilizations have primarily been led by rival religious organizations ever since the formation of Kōmeitō in 1964. In the 1990s the political countermobilizations were mainly related to political maneuverings of the rival LDP, which ironically led to a coalition between the two parties in 1999.
The conclusion of the authors is that Kōmeitō is a “normal” political party, operating in a similar fashion as other Japanese or Western political parties that have supporting constituencies. While members of Sōka Gakkai provide a highly successful voter mobilization for Kōmeitō, the authors did not find evidence of “brainwashing” as their critics have contended, or even Sōka Gakkai functioning as some kind of “litmus test” for Kōmeitō policymaking (270). Although the volume provides a wealth of insight regarding the functioning of Kōmeitō as a political party, the authors contend they have only “scratched the surface” (272), calling for more research on Kōmeitō’s role in a coalition government, as well as research on the relationship between Sōka Gakkai and the party. The main constraints in the present volume may be in the limited access of the authors to the inner workings of the party and its relationship with Sōka Gakkai. George Ehrhardt’s contributions to the volume are the only ones that relied on fieldwork, while the other chapters are primarily relying on data collected from public documents and previous studies. Regardless of these limitations however, the text is a must-read for anyone interested in the study of election politics in Japan.
Victor J. Forte, Albright College, Reading, USA
LICENSE TO PLAY: The Ludic in Japanese Culture. By Michal Daliot-Bul. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014. xxxiv, 186 pp. (Black and white illustrations.) US$45.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8248-3940-6.
Michal Daliot-Bul’s License to Play is a worthy addition to the field of cultural studies in Japan. In this monograph, she investigates the changes in cultural understandings of play over time and analyzes how those changes are both a product of and an influence on the sociohistorical context in which they occur. In doing so, she seeks to demonstrate the dynamic relationship between culture and play to better understand the way this relationship influences daily life. While this work offers an overview of the history of play in Japan, Daliot-Bul focuses her analysis on what she perceives to be the three most instructive periods for this topic: the Heian period (794–1185), the Edo period (1603–1868), and the 1970s.
With her first chapter, “The Linguistic Concept of ‘Play’ in Japanese,” Daliot-Bul starts her study of play in Japan by delineating the boundaries of the word “asobi,” arguing that through its susceptibility to cultural shifts, there is a clear role for play in Japanese sociocultural life. While the idea of play is found throughout the history of Japan, Daliot-Bul argues that at certain periods, certain groups, by their position and status, could engage in “legitimized” play, rendering it a “formative element of culture” as “a seedbed of cultural production” (15). According to Daliot-Bul, there is a cycle, albeit irregular, during which play achieves high cultural status and legitimacy and when play becomes the model for aesthetic and moral ideals. Her analysis of various usages of the word asobi is interesting and helps readers understand the long history of play in Japan, but by confining the history of pre-modern play to this chapter, Daliot-Bul misses out on some of the intertextual richness she might have incorporated into later chapters.
In chapter 2, “Play as a Formative Element of Culture,” Daliot-Bul discusses how play came to be part of daily life by focusing on the courtiers of Heian Japan, the city dwellers of Edo Japan, and the urban youth of the 1970s. While she acknowledges that these aren’t the only three possible examples, she argues that in these three groups one can see the most instructive changes in the scope of asobi as embodied in the sociocultural and economic developments and thus demonstrates how play becomes an increasingly influential force. The choice to focus on these specific groups seems unconvincing at times and causes the reader to wonder why other important examples from Japanese history (the mobo and moga urban culture of the Taisho era being a notable example) are omitted.
In chapter 3, “The Otherness of Play,” Daliot-Bul moves beyond the historical and turns her focus to contemporary playscapes. In particular, she argues that the boundaries of play are culturally constructed symbols of the separation between play and reality and uses the example of modern-day Tokyo sakariba as a liminal “third space” that facilitates a sociocultural inversion. Even as the boundaries shift, Daliot-Bul argues, it is precisely in this third space that players are given an opportunity to critique social norms and experiment with different identities. As her analysis shifts to contemporary practices of play, the crux of her arguments regarding the significance of play in Japan becomes much clearer.
In chapter 4, “The Rules of the Game, or, How to Become the Best Player,” Daliot-Bul studies the practice of play as enacted by many different types of players, from the high school club member to the Shinjuku cosplayer. According to Daliot-Bul, the “ideologies of hegemonic work-oriented culture” (77) and the growing information culture of contemporary Japan have heavily influenced late-twentieth and early twenty-first-century consumer culture, and, as a result the way people play. By looking at how people learn to play and then how they play, Daliot-Bul highlights the culturally and temporally constructed practices of play.
In “Creativity in Play,” the fifth chapter, Daliot-Bul turns the discussion away from the complex rules and social structures of play, and explores instead the connections between play and creativity. Daliot-Bul argues that the best creative players are not the ones who work outside of the rules but the ones who are able to use mimicry and parody—what she refers to as the “eloquent subjugation to rules, patterns, and structures of knowledge” (114)—to legitimize their play. Daliot-Bul’s discussion of the practice of play (in chapter 4) and its derivatives (in chapter 5) speaks to the long history of intertextuality in Japanese culture.
In the final chapters “Contested Meanings of Play” and the epilogue, Daliot-Bul analyzes the potential for play to be the avenue through which people can best engage with cultural rhetoric relating to shifting notions of societal value. By focusing on the various sociocultural discourses that give play its meaning in contemporary Japan, Daliot-Bul suggests that play has become idealized precisely because it allows players to have agency in a world of constantly shifting realities.
Daliot-Bul covers a broad sweep of history and cultural shifts while also giving readers a firm grounding in the theoretical underpinnings of her argument. The brocade of analysis she presents focuses on trends in play culture from the 1970s to today. This is a dense, scholarly book with thick academic prose. As such, it may not be accessible to a broader and more general audience, who would greatly benefit from the research presented here. That aside, given the depth and breadth of research here, Daliot-Bul has created an engaging theoretical and analytical work that should appeal to scholars interested in intellectual history, contemporary Japanese cultural studies, and play and game theory.
Susan W. Furukawa, Beloit College, Beloit, USA
INTIMATE EMPIRE: Collaboration and Colonial Modernity in Korea and Japan. By Nayoung Aimee Kwon. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. xi, 277 pp. (Figures.) US$24.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8223-5925-8.
Nayoung Aimee Kwon’s expertly researched and handsomely illustrated Intimate Empire: Collaboration and Colonial Modernity in Korea and Japan examines the frequent and varied cultural encounters between Korean and Japanese literary figures and literatures during the colonial period (1910–1945), as well as the disavowals of these ties for much of the postcolonial era. In so doing, Intimate Empire joins a growing corpus of scholarship, now liberated from the constraints of national literatures and literary histories, that rigorously probes the deep albeit regularly fraught interconnections between Korean and Japanese writers.
A principal concern of Kwon’s book is to move away from such binaries as assimilation and differentiation, as well as collaboration and resistance, and instead to reframe “the scandalous confluence of cultures under imperialism … within a more historical term of intimacy” (8). Kwon also seeks to redefine colonial modernity as “the experience of modernity in colonial subjection, whether through actual colonial domination or the hegemonic power and occupation of the West, both real and imagined.” For Kwon, colonial modernity is “a disavowed conundrum shared between the colonizer and the colonized in Korea and Japan, and more broadly shared throughout the non-West, with troubling implications for postcolonial legacies into the present” (10). Kwon uses the term “conundrum of representation” to refer to the impasse that the colonial modern subject was forced to negotiate. She divides this challenge into five categories: conundrum of (modern) subjectivity, of language, of history, of aesthetic representation, and of recognition. Intimate Empire probes the intricacies of these conundrums by shining the spotlight on a body of imperial-language texts by colonized cultural producers that reflect conditions of modernity lived under both direct colonial rule and the threat of Western imperialism.
Following the introduction, chapter 2, “Translating Korean Literature,” examines colonial debates regarding Korean literature, particularly focusing on the complexities of the colonial modern condition. As Kwon argues, “In the absence of Korea as a sovereign entity, the perceived lack of a modern national literature in the colony exemplified the paradoxes of the conundrum of representation in the imperial global order” (18). Chapter 3, “A Minor Writer,” highlights Kim Saryang, the Akutagawa Prize-winning author of the Japanese-language short story “Into the Light” (Hikari no naka ni), as a case study of the “minor” writer and translator. For its part, chapter 4, “Into the Light,” probes more deeply into this text, revealing how textually and metatextually it “embodies the complex process of imperial co-optation” (59) and how it does not, contrary to the assertions of metropolitan critics, embrace the form of the I-novel. Kwon rightly notes that this story, composed at a time when writings by the colonized were being both subsumed and marked as “different” vis-à-vis the canon of imperial literature, exhibits much of the “deep pain and anxiety about its own uncertain location in the cultural politics of representation in the empire” (78). In chapter 5, “Colonial Abject,” the scope broadens to the great recognition that the Japanese gave some colonial writers, which far from celebrating their individual talent, “relegated them to new secondary roles as ethnic translators or native informants.” They were expected to write “exotic self-ethnographies in translation for the consuming passions of the metropolitan audience” (82), which placed them in a clearly subordinate position.
Chapter 6, “Performing Colonial Kitsch,” takes up Chang Hyŏkchu, who although largely forgotten in the postwar years because of the alleged collaborative nature of his writings, achieved great prominence during the colonial period. As its title suggests, through the case study of the staging of Ch’unhyang, this chapter also deepens our understanding of the broader phenomenon of “colonial kitsch,” a term referring to the “devaluation and exoticization of the colony’s culture circulated as mass-produced commodities to fulfill imperial consuming desires” (104).
In chapter 7, “Overhearing Transcolonial Roundtables,” the focus turns to the staged and well-publicized discussions among colonizers and colonized. Kwon correctly argues that the roundtables were a relative failure in enhancing understanding between the two often very different groups. Chapter 8, “Turning Local,” reexamines the colonizer/colonized divide by contextualizing the increase in translated texts advertised as ethnographic “colonial collections,” exploring the significance of colonial literature “being collected and curated as mass-produced objects of colonial kitsch for consumption in the empire” (156). Chapter 9 introduces the life and works of Kang Kyŏngae, a Korean colonial writer who migrated to Manchuria, revealing the triangulated position of Korea between Japan and China. Chapter 10, “Paradox of Postcoloniality,” takes the reader into the postwar period, revealing as Eurocentric the assumptions undergirding postcolonial studies.
Intimate Empire provides valuable insight into Japanese imperialism. But at times it can be a bit repetitive, as Kwon tells us again and again that “binary thinking,” the “binary logic of national resistance and colonial collaboration,” is inadequate, that it is this “binary logic of resistance and collaboration which … still dominates the study of colonial literature.” Kwon is absolutely correct that discussing historical phenomena in terms of either/or is counterproductive, but she overestimates the extent to which this mode of thinking continues to monopolize scholarly discussion. In fact, much recent scholarly work outside East Asia on Japanese and other forms of colonialism has argued strongly for more nuanced understandings. Also, it is ironic that despite Kwon’s emphasis on thinking beyond binaries, she speaks constantly of “contact zones.” As has been pointed out, the term “zone” itself establishes separations, indeed binaries, that can unintentionally misrepresent colonial and postcolonial dynamics by not leaving space for the many phenomena that do not fit neatly inside or outside a particular “zone.”
But these are small concerns, given Kwon’s admirable use of archival materials and her clear command of the colonial literary scene in Japan and Korea. Intimate Empire is a most welcome addition to transcultural scholarship on East Asian literatures and cultures and sets an excellent example for future research on imperialism in East Asia and well beyond.
Karen Thornber, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
RECASTING RED CULTURE IN PROLETARIAN JAPAN: Childhood, Korea, and the Historical Avant-Garde. By Samuel Perry. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014. xii, 228 pp. (Illustrations.) US$49.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8248-3893-5.
By the late 1920s, the proletarian cultural movement had evolved into one of the most complex and vibrant movements in the cultural and intellectual history of twentieth-century Japan. In this well-presented volume, Samuel Perry sets out to shed new light on the flourishing cultural activities associated with the Japanese Communist Party. He does this by drawing on a wide array of writings ranging from reportage to fairy tales and also from poetry to educational journals. In order to foreground what the author calls “marginal” aspects of the proletarian cultural movement, the book delves into three case studies: childhood literature, the revolutionary genre of “wall fiction,” and literary works about Korea and the Korean minority in Japan. Purposely shifting the focus away from canonized works of proletarian literature and art, these detailed case studies serve to “restore much of the forgotten ideological and aesthetic complexity of Japan’s proletarian movement and show that it must be central to any understanding of modern Japanese culture in the early Shōwa period” (3). Perry maintains that in Japan proletarian literature “was rich and diverse as were the social experiences of its many participants and it came into being within a history that gave a particular shape to its evolving aesthetic forms, critical consciousness, and social practices in Japan” (8).
Following an introductory chapter, the book takes up the formation of revolutionary children’s literature. Motivated by the founding of a revolutionary school for poor farmers’ children in the village of Kizaki in Niigata Prefecture, from about 1926 the genre of leftwing children’s fiction emerged among proletarian authors who contested many middle-class assumptions about childhood by criticizing traditional “liberal” or “nationalist” approaches to education. Citing a wide range of writers and sources, Perry argues that the proletarian movement made an “immense impact on children’s culture in Japan” (68) by indefatigably insisting that the division of classes produced different childhood experiences and by emphasizing the children’s revolutionary potential, which ran counter to the bourgeois ideal of the innocent child. The chapter stresses global influences on children’s literature that not only fostered class solidarity and praise for the Soviet Union, but also internationalism and a critique of Japanese imperialism. A variety of writers like Kaji Wataru or Fujieda Takeo wrote stories about African or Chinese boys becoming revolutionaries and defying colonial authorities. Another positive aspect is the citation of the periodical Shōnen senki that favourably reported on the Korean Children’s Day, eliciting compassionate responses from its young readers, who stressed the importance of international solidarity. Nevertheless, at times it seems that Perry exaggerates the political content as well as the impact of single works for young children. While the inclusion of questions of race and imperialism add another important layer to the analyses, one is left wondering about the relationship between proletarian children’s literature and the children of other marginalized groups within Japan, in particular Dōwa Japanese.
By analyzing kabe shōsetsu (“wall fiction”) in chapter 3, Perry goes on to buttress the central narrative of the book: offering a correction to the “dominant assumptions about the role the Communist Party played in the cultural movement” and to point out “the vanguard character of its aesthetic vision” (71). A highly visual form of literature, kabe shōsetsu were illustrated short narratives designed to be cut out and posted on the walls of factories or in public that were also taken up by mainstream intellectual journals like Chūō Kōron (75). Perry shows how this short-form literature evolved into a platform for labour protest and antiwar activities. Furthermore, the chapter includes works by Korean writers in order to strengthen the argument that the practice of wall fiction not only radiated across Japan’s borders where it was adopted by Korean and Chinese revolutionaries, but also carried over into the postwar period. However, Perry only briefly touches upon other forms of participatory literature that might prove equally defining for postwar literature and art if more thoroughly examined.
As in both the preceding chapters there had already been a special focus on the role of Koreans within the movement, the narrative comes full circle in the last chapter when Perry turns to Japanese communist writers’ perceptions of colonial subjects. Citing works by Japanese authors Makimura Kō and Nakano Shigeharu alongside Korean works like Chang Hyŏk-chu’s Gakidō, he describes a wide array of literary strategies to expand class analysis across the borders of the Japanese nation-state. One does not have to concur with his blatant dismissal of scholarly critiques of the above-mentioned Japanese writers for putting class over nation as mere ahistorical anti-communism. However, he carefully reconstructs the “many different, often competing, claims within the movement about how best to translate revolutionary politics and radical literature into discussions about colonial Korea and the Korean people” (169). Against a backdrop of very low literacy rates the question as to what extent the majority of ordinary Koreans were able to actively participate in these debates remains unanswered.
Recasting Red Culture succeeds in offering an important corrective to the view that the proletarian cultural movement in prewar Japan and its expanding empire was merely a crude but ultimately ineffective instrument of communist propaganda. Perhaps its greatest contribution lies in adding another layer of complexity to our understanding of proletarian culture that was clearly more than a monolithic product of the typical male Japanese industry-worker. Nonetheless, the book covers only marginal literary and artistic works that reached only a comparatively small number of recipients during a rather short period of time. Due to its scope, the book is clearly not designed to provide an introduction to leftwing literature in Japan before World War II. Indeed, a concluding chapter that brings together the three interesting case studies under the main narrative certainly would have facilitated the reader’s understanding of the coherencies between prewar and postwar proletarian literature, as well as between the different forms of literature analyzed in this book. Hence, this work will mostly appeal to an audience that already possesses a substantial knowledge of the proletarian culture of prewar Japan and Korea.
Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
THE DECADE OF THE GREAT WAR: Japan and the Wider World in the 1910s. Edited by Tosh Minohara, Tze-ki Hon, Evan Dawley. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2014. xxi, 540 pp. (Figures, maps, tables.) US$234.00, cloth. ISBN 978-90-04-27001-5.
Perhaps at least in part because the impact of World War II on Japanese society was so enormous (and has thus been examined so exhaustively), Japan’s place within the historical context of World War I and that conflict’s global diplomatic, political, and cultural consequences has been less studied in English language scholarship to date. The Decade of the Great War is thus a welcome addition to the field that offers a rich variety of detailed explorations concerning the impact of the First World War on Japan’s relationships with nations both within and beyond East Asia. In particular, the editors contend that, more than merely complicating the typically Eurocentric chronology of the era, the chapters contained within this volume illuminate two significant East Asia-driven shifts in global history during the 1910s: first, “Japan replaced China as the core of East Asia” and, second, “Japan and the United States displaced Europe and began to shift the epicenter of global affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific” (17). While not all of the essays speak directly to these interpretive themes, the book as a whole offers a nonetheless fresh and valuable rendition of Japan’s engagement with the global scene during the first decades of the twentieth century.
A total of twenty-three chapters divided into two broad thematic categories of “Diplomacy and Foreign Relations” and “National and Transnational Networks” give the book a substantial and wide-sweeping range of vision. Part 1 covers topics ranging from immigration policy, the Siberian Intervention and merchant marine commerce to Swedish perceptions of Japan’s regional rise, Japan’s recognition of independent Poland, and the interactions of Pan-Asian activists in Japan and Ottoman Turkey. Part 2 then features studies on issues such as colonial migration, urban planning, and women’s education to Buddhist internationalism, railroad labour management, and cholera epidemics. Such diversity of research foci is one of the book’s greatest strengths, as is the editors’ inclusion of numerous East Asian scholars among their contributors. Not many multi-author edited volumes on modern East Asian history have done as well to bring the work of Japanese and Chinese historians to an English-reading audience. While some readers might find the topics examined by those authors to be a tad esoteric and data-heavy, the book deserves merit even so for its commitment to internationalism in both content and authorship.
For a work that aims to de-emphasize Europe, however, one might regret that Japan’s relations with the Western world still garner the lion’s share of interest from the volume’s contributors. Indeed, because a considerable majority of the book examines Japanese engagement with the peoples and states of Europe and North America, other more explicitly East Asian-focused and equally significant topics do not always receive their due attention. For example, the wartime years fundamentally transformed the developmental course of Chinese and Korean nationalism vis-à-vis Japan’s position at Versailles and the nature of the settlements reached there. While Caroline Rose’s insightful chapter reviews the politics of Sino-Japanese memory regarding the 1910s, and both Sōchi Naraoka and Yoshiko Okamoto unearth important new layers of meaning in Japan’s Twenty-One Demands upon China in 1915, that no chapter directly explores Japan’s impact on China’s May Fourth Movement of 1919 seems a striking absence. Likewise, the 1919 March First Movement in Korea significantly shaped the changing nature of Japan’s colonial rule on the peninsula, but Japan-Korea relations during the 1910s also largely escape the purview of the book (save for passing references in chapters by Shinohara and Dusinberre). Such observations, however, do not significantly detract from the overall value of this collection. In fact, that a reader would want to learn more about some of the topics left untreated in the volume is a testament to the power of the book as a whole to inspire deeper consideration of this complex and critically important period in early twentieth-century global history.
In sum, The Decade of the Great War is an exemplary achievement in transnational scholarly collaboration that offers its readers a valuable array of methodological approaches to the study of how Japanese society both influenced and was transformed by global events during the 1910s. Accessible to both East Asia specialists and World War I enthusiasts from other regional disciplines, the book will surely prove valuable as a source of new knowledge and an inspiration for future studies.
Erik Esselstrom, The University of Vermont, Burlington, USA
THE MASSACRES AT MT. HALLA: Sixty Years of Truth Seeking in South Korea. By Hun Joon Kim. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 2014. viii, 223 pp. (Maps, B&W photos.) US$39.95, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8014-5239-0.
The disastrous events of 1947 to 1954 on Jeju Island are still little known to those outside of Korea. The story of the protracted quest for truth and justice that followed them are even less so. Hun Joon Kim recounts the history of this quest in his informative and well-written new book The Massacres at Mt. Halla. It is an important case study for scholars of the transitional justice process to learn from, and is also relevant for our understanding of the contemporary politics of truth commissions in South Korea.
The beginning of Kim’s book consists of a description of the events themselves. In short, a leftist uprising on Jeju Island was brutally suppressed by the authorities (first, the US military government and, after 1948, the Republic of Korea), with thousands of locals brutally abused despite little or no connection to the initial uprising. During these years, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 civilians were killed or wounded, with state agents responsible for 84.4 percent of the casualties (12).
Kim then proceeds to relate the story of the local activists’ quest for truth and justice. During the period of 1954 to 1987, when Korea was ruled by a succession of authoritarian presidents, remembrance of the Jeju events was effectively suppressed, with an aborted attempt at truth-seeking only occurring during a brief period of liberalization in 1960. With the beginning of Korea’s transition to democracy in 1987, local activists gradually began to find more room for action. While political conditions remained unfavourable at the national level, courageous students and journalists began to investigate the long-ignored memories of abuse, and local civil society groups began to engage in memorialization and press the government for truth-seeking and rehabilitation.
The third section describes the establishment and operation of the Jeju Commission (2000–2003). The Commission is, in Kim’s narrative, the truth-finding climax, reached after years of work by local activists. Kim relates the political challenges that the Commission faced at all stages from military and police representatives, but argues that these challenges were overcome through the persistence of activists and the power of the truth, as strategically uncovered by local investigators. In Kim’s telling, Kim Dae-jung and the Seoul authorities were indispensable to the Commission’s establishment but were not the most important driving forces; rather, local activists were at all times critical in maintaining forward progress. This section culminates with a discussion of the Commission’s impact. In brief, Kim sees the Commission as a success, at least judging by the implementation of most of its recommendations (158). Kim also argues that the Jeju Commission succeeded where the Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission failed because the Jeju Commission “had a single and historical story to tell” while the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported on individual truth without a strong narrative (161). I found this argument relatively unconvincing, however; there were other political reasons for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s comparative lack of success, mostly due to the simple fact that its final report was issued during the Lee Myung-bak administration, while the Jeju Commission’s report was issued under the far more receptive Roh Moo-hyun administration.
In the concluding chapter, Kim claims that his research “suggest[s] that social movement theory and transnational advocacy networks provide useful conceptual frameworks for capturing the process of delayed truth commission establishment” (163), while rightfully noting that although transnational advocacy networks theory stresses the importance of both international and domestic pressure, in the Jeju case, pressure came mainly from local sources (165). Next, he relates that many of the local activists believe that ghosts helped them successfully press for truth and justice. The discussion of ghosts is interesting but out of place in his conclusion chapter. Finally, Kim comes up with a suggestion and two lessons that can be drawn from his research. His suggestion is that the experience of the Jeju Commission should be internationalized by, for example, translating key documents (170–172). The first lesson Kim draws is that despite its political setbacks, there is still hope for a successful legacy for the Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission because of the continuing advocacy of passionate and devoted activists (172–173). The second lesson is that there are both limitations and advantages to the delayed establishment of a truth commission, and that belated truth commissions can be helped by cultural activism and indisputable evidence (174–175).
Overall, Kim’s book works well as a case study of a little-researched but fascinating quest for justice, and will be of interest to both historians of Korea’s recent past and political scientists studying how truth commissions can successfully be established even decades after the commission of atrocities. Kim’s (convincing) conclusion that local activists played the critical role in establishing the Jeju Commission also represents an important contribution to the ongoing academic debate on the reasons for the spread of truth commissions around the world. The suggestions and implications that Kim draws from his research are largely sensible, and provide the basis for further research. Upon finishing reading Kim’s book, I was left wanting to learn more about this aspect of Korea’s modern history, which is surely one sign of a successful text.
Andrew Wolman, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea
Women throughout much of Korean history have left behind little evidence in the historical archives. The copious volumes of historical documents from the premodern period occasionally hint at the presence of women, but only a handful of sources, like petitions and letters, allow us to reconstruct their lives. Ji-Eun Lee addresses this dearth of women’s voices in Korean history in Women Pre-scripted: Forging Modern Roles through Korean Print through an examination of the discourse on “New Women” as Koreans discussed the issues of modernity, enlightenment, and nation for the first time within the print media in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By gathering together a wide range of materials such as cartoons, literary works, and editorials, the author contributes many insights into the construction of modern Korean womanhood.
The first chapter of Women Pre-scripted starts with a discussion of female readership during the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392–1910). A succinct overview of the secondary research on female participation in the book culture of Chosŏn highlights the difficulties in determining the extent of female writing and literacy. The general lack of conclusive evidence calls into question some of the claims that tend to link vernacular fiction and the han’gŭl script to women. The ambiguity of women’s participation in reading and authorship in the premodern era makes it hard for us to draw firm conclusions about how Korean women understood their gender relations. Therefore, the careful literature review allows us to appreciate the intellectual contribution of Women Pre-scripted, which provides a nuanced analysis of the historical period when the first writings on women and by women appeared in the modern media.
The second and third chapters introduce several representative periodicals such as The Independent newspaper and Korea’s first women’s journal Kajŏng chapchi to show how women’s roles became “prescribed” with modern knowledge that was “appropriate,” while critiquing those aspects of modernity found to be problematic. The initial male-dominated discourse of The Independent offers few discussions outside the topics of a woman’s role in the family and women’s education. In a sense, male guidance regarding a woman’s role restricted women to the home during this initial period. Ji-Eun Lee draws attention to the writings of Yun Chŏng-wŏn (1894–?) in the journal T’aegŭk hakpo, because she is the first known female contributor in the modern media. Yun’s writings differ from The Independent’s discourse on womanhood, because she establishes a clear role for women in public life. While women were encouraged to take an active role outside the home, at the same time the new women’s journals like Kajŏng chapchi, written mostly by men, emphasized the importance of practical knowledge and domesticity for women. The images of womanhood that emerge from this period are mired in contradictions, as women were called upon to construct a “home” for Korea’s male patriots while also taking a limited part in the public life beyond the confines of traditional gender roles.
Chapters 4 and 5 examine in detail two women’s journals from the colonial period, Sinyŏja and Sinyŏsŏng, and discuss their importance in fostering the emerging discourse on “New Women.” These two chapters highlight the importance of literary forms like confessions and letters in establishing an emerging female agency in the print media. Sinyŏja was particularly important because it was a journal edited by a woman and featured mostly female writers. This new space for imagining the role of Korean women was not without its limits, and the most successful women’s publication during the 1920s, Sinyŏsŏng, was predominantly produced by men and had few developments that could be viewed in a progressive light. Ji-Eun Lee’s analysis emphasizes the problematic assumptions within these journals and provides a broader historical framework for understanding how modern womanhood emerged from these women’s publications.
Women Pre-scripted brings to light the historical value of Korean periodicals as sources that can provide a major window into the cultural and social developments of modern Korea. The volume skillfully links the emergence of literary forms, readership, and authorship with newly emerging gender roles. Yet a number of unresolved issues remain in this study because of the limited selection of journals. For example, the author provides a valuable corrective that we should be careful in linking han’gŭl script with women by highlighting the usage of mixed Chinese-character script in Sinyŏja. While the diversity among female readers needs to be kept in mind, there is considerable indirect evidence that links women to the han’gŭl script. Several women’s journals published in the early 1920s, like Puin, were published all in han’gŭl and the association between women and the vernacular script becomes even more pronounced in the 1930s. Women Pre-scripted carefully limits its analysis to a small subset of highly educated women readers in the 1920s, who were mostly affiliated with religious organizations. However, this limited selection of journals does not allow for a broader overview of the female readership, which expanded rapidly through the mass publications that emerged in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Ultimately, the decision to examine only Sinyŏja and Sinyŏsŏng raises the problem that they represent only a small fragment of the female readership of the colonial period. Kaebŏksa, the publisher of Sinyŏsŏng, stopped publishing in the mid-1930s, because it could not compete with the relatively well-financed newspaper companies and other organizations that entered the journal market. The mass women’s publications of the late colonial period eventually reached tens of thousands of readers per issue. Examining the earliest publications to explain how the modern discourse on womanhood emerged is an important contribution, but the insights are not connected to the long-term trends in colonial print culture such as the increasing usage of the Japanese language and the commodification of female identities. Despite these reservations, Women Pre-scripted offers an excellent and compact introduction into the world of pre-1945 women’s journals for English-language audiences. The insights into the literary production and the discussion of key players in the discourse of womanhood provide a welcome contribution for specialists of East Asian history and literature.
Michael Kim, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
Recently, a certain type of Korean abstract painting has been commanding prices of well over half a million dollars. Called “Tansaekhwa” on the international art market, this art genre’s success has spurred unprecedented attention to its style, both in academic and artistic commercial circles. Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method by Joan Kee provides timely information on this group of painters and their Tansaekhwa works. Kee eloquently historicizes the development and practice of Tansaekhwa, a sub-genre of broader artistic trends in Korea dating to the 1970s. Kee argues that the Tansaekhwa painters’ lack of explicit expression in sociopolitical space under South Korea’s repressive regimes marginalized and ostracized them from the country’s artistic mainstream. She distinguishes Tansaekhwa’s abstract works from both the Western and Japanese Mono-ha abstract paintings, arguing that Tansaekhwa’s “inverted teleology” demonstrates instead strong ties with the historical and cultural particularities of Korea.
The Tansaekhwa paintings’ historical agony and sociopolitical complexes stem from the fact that the genre was born, practiced, and developed predominantly during the 1970s and 1980s, when socially expressive arts, i.e., “participatory arts,” prevailed in South Korea across all genres—visual, performative, and textual. Participatory arts were a reaction against the political repression of South Koreans’ freedom of expression, and Tansaekhwa paintings have often been criticized as being absent and silent during this trend.
The reasons for the Tansaekhwa paintings’ perceived passivity (if not complete silence) is partly attributed to their artists’ early exposure to Western-style abstract paintings while studying in Japan, Europe, or the US—mostly during the period of Japanese colonial rule over Korea. Their pursuit of universalities was another catalyst that might have caused these artists to remain silent on the specific, immediate social agendas of Korea. In the context of the historical imperatives of their society, Tansaekhwa paintings have long been relegated to a peripheral position within Korean artistic circles. Following decades of suspicion and uncertainty regarding Tansaekhwa as a genre, Kee undertakes the challenging task of redeeming the Tansaekhwa paintings and thus restoring their stolen symbolic power.
According to the author, Tansaekhwa was marginalized to an intellectual space that lacked different modes of interpretation. She argues that Tansaekhwa is not limited to a style of resistance. Rather, it requires a particular narrative form that reveals questions of political and social urgency. The author urges readers to leave the “bounds of style, the parameters according to which painting tended to be gauged in Korea and elsewhere” (3) and presses them to look further, to discover the unique arrangement of materials, techniques and process—what she terms “method”—used in the production of Tansaekhwa works. Kee describes “method” as a salient messenger that connects Tansaekhwa paintings to their own historical time and creates/discovers their symbolic relationship and historical space within the Korean society of their period. The author attempts to prove this by highlighting the group’s artistic “actions” of adopting methods, paying special attention to certain forerunners such as Kwon Young-woo, Yun Hyongkeun, Ha Chonghyun, Lee Ufan, and Park Seobo. Kee argues convincingly that their use of materials, colours, and techniques connects them to notions of postwar deprivation, industrialization, social oppression, and the Cold War by means of “methods of spreading,” “methods of bleeding,” “methods of spilling,” and “methods of pushing,” as well as “methods of painting,” as Yi Kyungsung puts it.
The historical particularities for artistic platforms have changed drastically in South Korea since the country’s democratization in 1987, and so have those of international art markets from the 1990s onward. Social demands under the country’s longstanding dictatorship faded away, while the global art markets became much more accessible and receptive to artists of different ethnic and cultural orientations. These historical shifts within and outside of Korea—especially those observed in international art markets—have anointed the Tansaekhwa paintings with the financial and social imprimatur of cultural and ethnic diversity. Thus, the Tansaekhwa painters’ original pursuit of universal, pure, and non-ethnic expressions has (ironically) evolved to meet contemporary demands for historical re-contextualization within its place of origin, while being positioned in the contemporary international art world as authentic and therefore ethnic artwork.
Kee’s attention to forms and method is brilliant, and her theoretical knowledge of contemporary Korean art provides pleasurable reading for even non-art historians like myself. Obviously, the Tansaekhwa is a case of “local meets global,” in which artists capitalize on Korean-ness to separate themselves in a crowded and demanding international market. It should be noted that an effort to redeem “proper” historical representation for Tansaekhwa, however, may overshadow the movement’s other historical context: questions of de-colonialization, which played a substantial role in the trend’s foundation. Addressing this issue will, I believe, broaden the academic effort on Tansaekhwa into the fuller historical redemption Kee seeks, rather than simply the teleological action of apprising readers of Tansaekhwa’s newly obtained iconography outside Korea.
Heejeong Sohn, State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA
This is an excellent comprehensive textbook that succeeds in presenting a nuanced story of India’s foreign engagement as an emerging power. It notes that the contradictions of India’s emergence lie in personalistic caste-based politics, rampant poverty, and an underfunded and poorly manned foreign service whose scale of operations far exceed the resources with which its objectives are pursued. The book succeeds as a description of the institutional setting and resources that undergird India’s diplomatic history. It deals with the performance of India’s foreign policy while engaging with both its external and domestic political roots.
Chapter 1 describes how India’s foreign policies are made. The Prime Minister’s Office is very powerful. The Parliament, ministries (including the Ministry of External Affairs, MEA), and think tanks are accorded a lesser role. This is a rather parsimonious view. Can we expect India to be very different from industrialized democracies where international relations occur to a much greater extent within the black box of government? What goes against the grain of too narrow a determination of Indian foreign policy are the many hotly debated issues such as the nuclear deal with the US, and economic agreements with organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the World Trade Organization, to name just a few. Policy movement in these and many other cases is slow largely because of the democratic impulse. The Indian prime minister today looks rather more like the American president or the British prime minister than the Chinese president or even the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Chapter 2 deals with the difficult topic of India’s strategic thinking and behaviour rather more deftly. It notes the importance of understanding strategic culture for explaining the roots of foreign policy. Does the ancient Indian text Arthashastra reveal more about India’s foreign policy than the country’s anti-colonial struggle? This chapter succeeds in describing India’s military and nuclear modernization more successfully than in explaining its grand strategy.
The chapter on India’s economic transformation is an impressive one. It is an authoritative story of India’s transition from a closed underperforming economy to one that has become the third-largest in terms of purchasing power parity. The chapter describes developmental challenges such as energy security, social development, and realization of the demographic dividend. There could have been a section on the rise of welfare and the rights-based approach to Indian development in the new millennium as well.
Is India a natural hegemon? Chapter 4 describes India’s relations with Pakistan and other South Asian neighbours, as well as its relations near Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar. The coverage is more extensive than analytical. It is a lucid summary of developments in foreign relations. India-Pakistan and India-Myanmar relations have recently been overtaken by events beyond the publication of this book.
Chapter 5 is a fine-grained survey of India’s tryst with multilateral organizations ranging from the United Nations and the World Trade Organization to the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Council, and India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA). India has moved away from non-alignment to pursuing its own developmental interest. Despite this, policy autonomy and attending to developing country concerns have not totally vanished from India’s strategic imagination.
The chapter on India and the great powers—China, Russia, European Union (EU), and Japan—is a comprehensive survey of these relationships. The merit of this chapter is both its crispness and its historical detail. We learn how India-China relations moved from hostility towards pragmatic cooperation; how India-Russia (Soviet) relations evolved from almost an alliance relationship to a cooperative one; why Indo-EU relations are functioning considerably below potential; and, the significant strategic and commercial value of Indo-Japan relations.
The chapter on India and the US, like the other historical chapters, is both detailed and comprehensive. We learn how Indo-US relations survived the Cold War to become one of the major relationships in the twenty-first century. More nuanced attention could have been paid to the period between 1957 and 1962 when the US and the USSR were both cosying up to India for two diametrically opposite reasons. The US thought that India had to be secured from communism while the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) seemed convinced that India’s state-led import substitution and independent positions in foreign policy were clearly not the makings of a camp follower of the US. These were the hey days of non-alignment.
The last chapter, titled “India Emergent,” demonstrates how Indian foreign policy is able to deal deftly with countries ranging from Israel to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Perhaps the conclusion could have stressed that such diversity of relationships has something to do with India’s preservation of its non-aligned identity. The book scores higher marks as a comprehensive historical account that connects with ideas of grand strategy than one that provides the reader with a conceptual orientation. This is both the strength and the weakness of this book. This book is arguably the best introduction to Indian foreign policy available for readers today.
Rahul Mukherji, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
BEYOND PARTITION: Gender, Violence, and Representation in Postcolonial India. Dissident Feminisms. By Deepti Misri. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014. xi, 201 pp. (B&W photos.) US$28.00, paper. ISBN 978-0-252-08039-5.
Beyond Partition, a powerful commentary on the “cultural history of violence associated with divergent ideas of India after 1947,” complicates how the meaning of the “floating signifier ‘India’, is secured and unsecured time and again through violence” (4). An exploration of representational practices of violence, Beyond Partition traverses literary texts such as short stories and memoirs, visual representations such as photographs and cartoons, and performance texts such as theatrical or embodied performances. Moving across a multitude of historical, social, and political contexts, Misri explores frame-by-frame diverse and contradictory ways of seeing violence in postcolonial India. Beyond Partition argues that it is crucial to underscore how forms of representations and creative expressions “figure violence” since these “lead to uncovering the ways in which violence itself is a representation” (10).
Chapter 1, “Anatomy of a Riot,” directs the reader to the genealogy of male-on-male violence often elided in Partition writings. The chapter opens with Manto’s powerful Black Marginalia to offer a reading of sexualized violence on male bodies. The reflection on Manto’s sketches explores the “logic of metonymy” (38) underlying the practices of identification of victims in a communal riot. The illegibility of the evidence of religious identity when read off the body materializes the fiction of “body-as-proof” (43). While pointing towards the “intersecting logics of commerce, communal hate and patriarchy” (39), Misri argues that “in [a] communal riot men become vulnerable by the same patriarchal rules that first appoint them as the privileged somatic bearers of religious identities, into which women enter merely by association” (53). The figure of the Sikh man or the violence of de-turbaning is evoked to destabilize this reading of Manto to highlight how the categories—minority, citizenship, and secular—come to be configured in the conversations between men who transact violence. Chapter 2, “The Violence of Memory,” moves our gaze from the inscription of violence on male bodies to women, who are “pre-figured in the sinister scripts of patriarchal representation—symbolically and literally—as dead metaphor” (86). Juxtaposing Krishna Mehta’s memoirs Kashmir 1947 with Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers, Misri concurs with Veena Das that “transgression of patriarchal norms is staged alongside and even through an observance of them” (69). She thereby points to the complex gendered politics of remembrance and mourning 1947.
Chapter 3, “Atrocious Encounters,” brings together two series of violence routinized in postcolonial India: the intersecting violence of caste atrocity with the state-sanctioned murder of suspects by the police, dubbed as encounter killings. Reading Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Misri notes that Roy “steered clear of the Dalit woman as the ‘most subaltern of subalterns’ … and focussed instead on the vulnerability of the Dalit male body to caste and state violence” (103). Misri is interested in how caste violence may be represented without being reduced to certain imaging of victimhood. Here we are led to an important discussion on atrocity photographs and what kind of testimonial burden is put on Dalit and Adivasi women. Misri takes seriously the critique of Dalit feminist Madhuri Xalxo, who critiqued how a 2007 photograph of an Adivasi woman who had been stripped and paraded was used during the Delhi protests in 2013. The use of the victim’s real name and the circulation of the photograph of the stripped body is critiqued for re-enacting repeatedly the original moment of stripping and parading. However, activists also use the atrocity photograph as evidence of injury and suffering. While Misri recognizes that activists may require the magnification of the “visual and visceral evidence of caste atrocity” (112), she points out that circulating photographs of mutilated and naked bodies may entail the re-inscription of unspeakable suffering.
If stripping and parading is a routinized technique of power, how do we make sense of those “naked protests” where women strip to protest against sexual violence challenging thereby the visual economy of shame and honour? Chapter 4, “Are You a Man?” is an examination of the “cultural specificities in which nakedness becomes intelligible as a ‘feminist’ mode of protest to the violence of the Indian state, while also examining the epistemic stakes of nakedness as a gendered mode of protest by women” (132). This chapter offers a complicated reading of Mahasveta Devi’s Draupadi that sits along her reading of the protests by Manipuri women who stripped in front of the army headquarters to protest against rape by army officials. Misri evokes other kinds of naked protests that do not quite displace appeals to paternalism and protectionist masculinities, thereby also suggesting that these protests may not inaugurate a new vocabulary of protest. Rather it may be folded back into circuits of voyeurism and spectacles of impunity.
Misri ends with a powerful commentary on the optics of state power and the protests over disappearances in Kashmir. In chapter 5, “This is not a Performance,” Misri argues that enforced disappearance “involves the literal and metaphorical re-organisation of perception. It is a process that extends beyond the mere abduction of a person: it is the process by which the seen is rendered unseen” (138). The protests of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) emphasize the fact that the grieving mothers, whose public performances challenge the scopic regime of forgetting and erasure, are not only “icons of grief” but also generate counter-knowledge around the form of violence enacted by the state. The centrality of the scopic regime to the maintenance of militarized state power institutes an entire apparatus for destroying visual evidence of impunity and regulates what “its citizens must, may or may not see” (138). Beyond Partition could be made to speak to the optics of power, where the split between development and violence finds terrifying enactment in India today. It allows us to contemplate how resistance itself operates within stabilized scripts of power. This brilliant and exciting book illuminates how representational practices of violence are co-constitutive of power and resistance.
Pratiksha Baxi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
DISPLACEMENT, REVOLUTION, AND THE NEW URBAN CONDITION: Theories and Case Studies. By Ipsita Chatterjee. New Delhi: Sage Publications India, 2014. xvi, 158 pp. (llustrations.) US$39.95, cloth. ISBN 978-81-321-1660-8.
Chatterjee’s book is an ambitious project for providing a comprehensive theory of contemporary urban transformation, in a short compass. It engages with theoretical developments as well as an empirical case study in an effort to “reverse the arrow of theory transfer” (xv). In doing so, Chatterjee reengages with the theories that originate within the context of Euro-America, including gentrification, new urban politics, municipal neoliberalism, and the right to the city. Chatterjee is invested in the Lefebvrian ideal of revolutionary transduction—the urban revolutionary praxis emanating from conceptualization and empirical observation. Like Lefebvre, the process of conceptualization remains the cornerstone of revolutionary spatial transformation for her. In her schema, conceptualization is not merely an intellectual exercise but a deeply embodied, affective, and political act. Thus, Chatterjee advances an activist and public intellectual claim for making connections across the globe for democratic politics.
Her starting point is the subject of displacement, which lies at the heart of urban exploitation and contemporary global conditions. Chatterjee steers clear of the wide-ranging body of postcolonial literature and varieties of urban theories emerging in the global South. Thus, the book is a Marxist meditation on what she argues is the estrangement of labor from the laboring spaces. According to her, labor estrangement is coterminous with spatial estrangement as “labor produces herself through space” (xiv). She takes up the specific case of Sabarmati River Front Development (SRFD) in the city of Ahmedabad to analyze the dialectical process of urban exploitation through displacement and resistance to it. Chatterjee conceptualizes the simultaneous displacement and exclusion of some and the emplacement and “development” of others as these processes define the urban/global condition of the contemporary world. She argues that the rapid urbanization that has become characteristic of the global condition takes place through a process of “territorialization of exploitation” and “deterritorialization of a people” (4). She also provides an account of the strengths and weaknesses of phenomenologists in addressing the issues of place-making, historical memory, and the production of identities. Her debt to the Marxist lineage of thought is obvious as she brings a political economy analysis to analyze place-making in the light of displacement and exploitation. However, she does not fully engage with some key theorists of phenomenology nor with the related work of David Harvey (“From Space to Place and Back Again,” in Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference [Blackwell Publishers, 1996, 291–326] and The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change [Blackwell Publishers, 1990]). Her primary theoretical resource is the body of literature concerning New Urban Politics (NUP). She argues, however, that NUP literature that focuses on the shift from redistributive policies to entrepreneurial strategies of urban governance falls short on two counts. It neither sufficiently engages with the overlapping municipal neoliberalism literature, which emphasizes the examination of actual local entrepreneurial strategies enshrined in neoliberal models of governance, nor does it take into account the cultural strategies and spectacles analyzed within the place promotion literature. She builds on the conceptual parameters noted above to address the inadequacies within each body of literature in order to provide a comprehensive theoretical apparatus for investigating urban exploitation.
Apart from her case studies on “estranged spaces,” she makes original contributions with respect to “scientific mysticism,” “plebeianization,” and the varieties of struggles to claim the “right to the city” propounded by multiple constituencies. In particular, she proposes the concept of scientific mysticism to illustrate how ethno-religious discourses are spliced with entrepreneurial strategies for the scientific management of urban space. For instance, performative urban governance strategies such as Rath Yatra (chariot processions) of Hindu gods accompany modern techniques of enumeration, inscription, and cartography. Thus, the cultural tropes of religiosity and ethno-phobia are conjoined with entrepreneurial strategies of capital accumulation in the service of urban exploitation. Here, the shift towards profit-making within what she calls a “farewell [to] welfare approach” only guarantees minimal redistribution (34). She proposes the concept of plebeianization to examine the simultaneous processes of displacement, gentrification, and resettlement. Thus, while she sees gentrification as “the territoriality of class displacement” (9), her focus is on the containment of the plebeian classes through the process of resettlement. In particular, she analyzes how poor Muslims are contained within resettlement sites through ethno-religious exploitation. Further, she updates the Lefebvrian theory of the “right to the city” by analyzing varying conceptualizations on the part of three different constituencies. For example, in the social movement attempting to include all communities under the banner of Sabarmati Nagrik Adhikar Manch, the activists claim resettlement, Muslims demand the right to stay put, fearing ethnic violence in resettlement sites, and Hindus demand the right not to live with Muslims, thereby advocating ethnic “purity.” She makes an important point here in noting that the call for a variation on transduction or right to the city may not always yield emancipatory or truly revolutionary results.
While it is a delight to read her reviews and revisions of a range of theorists, the book lacks coherence as a whole. The ethnography is unfortunately thin. Thus, while she mentions the reclamation of old mill lands, caste and religious differences, and the controversial lottery system concerning resettlement, we do not get much detail about the shifts in the political economy of labor and industrial relations, the mechanics of displacement and subsequent resettlement in redeveloped mill areas, the conflicts along the lines of caste, community, and gender, or the struggles for eligibility. Her argument also appears reductionist in applying a Marxist analysis to explain the cultural tropes of entrepreneurialism. In fact, her empirical example of ethno-phobia raises important questions about ethnicity, spatial containment, and planning theory. Oren Yiftachel has produced certain interesting conceptualizations on these themes (“Re-Engaging Planning Theory? Towards ‘South-Eastern’ Perspectives,” Planning Theory 5, no. 3 : 211–222). Further, an engagement with state secularism, policies towards minorities and inter-caste/community conflicts shaping plebeian urban aspirations in a postcolonial democracy, could have opened up an interesting path of analysis (see also Thomas Blom Hansen, Violence in Urban India: Identity Politics, ‘Mumbai’, and the Postcolonial City [Permanent Black, 2005]). It is also notable that she does not engage with Partha Chatterjee’s influential work, which has provided important perspectives to rethink capitalism, democracy, and subaltern politics—the concerns that occupy the author (Partha Chatterjee, Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy [Permanent Black, 2011]). The processes of habitation, displacement, and resettlement are often the consequence of protracted struggles. Thus, what is required is a critical examination of modernity and democracy, caste and ethno-politics, and informality and capital accumulation in the global South in order to understand urban transformations. While she has used ethnography, interviews, and oral history to build a narrative on Ahmedabad, a review of the history of planning and an account of the specific roles of the Ahmedabad Development Authority and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation are missing. This lack is particularly significant as Chatterjee has the grand vision of understanding the “global political economy of urbanism” as a comprehensive process (13). Along with understanding capitalist trends, patterns, and shifts of planning, it is also important to analyze historical legacies, cultural meanings, and the operation of social structures and institutions that shape urban transformations.
Chatterjee’s strength lies in showing how urban exploitation destroys the landscapes and lifescapes of labor but “reproduces the landscapes and lifescapes of accumulation” (5). Further, her innovative attempts yield important insights into “scientific mysticism,” “plebeianization,” and “farewell welfare approach.” In other words, perhaps only partial universalisms—to use an oxymoron—obtained with respect to capital accumulation and the neoliberal entrepreneurial spirit. As the book shows, theory has to emerge from context-specific realities and from comparative research across spaces and scales.
Sanjeev Routray, Northeastern University, Boston, USA
Robinson’s book, Café Culture in Pune: Being Young and Middle Class in Urban India, marks an important contribution to the literature on youth in India. The book is neatly divided into six chapters which separately deal with various aspects of the lives of young middle-class Puneites. These include public places, clothing, education, friendships, romantic relationships, and family life. In the same vein as Craig Jeffrey’s work on young lower-class men in Uttar Pradesh’s educational institutions, Ritty Lukose’s work on college students in Kerala, Jamie Cross’s work on young working-class men in Andhra Pradesh’s Special Economic Zones and Nicholas Nisbett’s work on young men in Bangalore’s internet cafes, Robinson frames Pune’s coffee shops and night clubs as similar spaces of encounter in which identities, relationships, aspirations, and ideas are constructed, negotiated, and subverted by youth in novel ways.
First, the book’s choice to examine what goes on behind the doors of the franchised coffee shops that have been dotting India’s cities and towns with increasing frequency is an important one given that they are among the most visible symbols of India’s current phase of modernity. Second, the book’s setting, Pune, is one that has been projected by many, much like Bangalore, as a model of development for the rest of India to follow, and so it is interesting to see how the city plays into the urban middle-class youth story. Third, and arguably the book’s most important contribution, is its focus on not only young men, but also young women, who in many ways, because of their class status, share the “café culture” space with their male counterparts as equals. Much of the literature on youth in India has been male-centric yet Robinson’s book achieves a balanced account of both young men’s and women’s stories of navigating a “rapidly changing world in Pune in 2008” (257).
Robinson begins the book by stating the middle- and upper-middle-class backgrounds of her participants. Their affluence can be inferred from the ease with which they are able to access Pune’s high-priced coffee shops and night clubs. However, greater detail could have been provided regarding some of the material aspects of their lives, including the types of possessions they own (although she does cover clothes), their parents’ professions, and the houses and neighbourhoods they live in (which she touches on briefly in the book’s introduction). These would have better located them within the context of India’s multi-layered and constantly shifting class hierarchy.
The constant references to certain practices in the book as “middle class,” lying “between the elite and the poor” (25), are somewhat problematic considering the sheer size of, and diversity within India’s middle class, where those with just enough capital to be considered middle class can be seen as inhabiting completely different worlds from those who are not yet quite rich enough to be considered upper class. The very term “middle class” itself is highly contested and perhaps requires further interrogation. Nevertheless, Robinson’s interpretation of middle class here is less concerned with issues of financial resources or locations within the labour market but rather its metaphorical meanings and imaginings within Indian society. These are evident from the telling interviews recorded by Robinson in which her participants convey their “middle-classness” in a variety of ways, from security and frugality to morality and social attitudes.
The book provides numerous insights into how the categories of middle class and youth intersect to create new practices, separating her participants from those of other age or class groups. For example, Robinson identifies playing football, smoking hookah, dating, and engaging in cross-gender friendships as increasingly common features of contemporary middle-class life among youth, whereas “many amongst the parents’ generation claimed to only have had same-sex friends” (181). She also links the growing individual autonomy of middle-class youth and the increasing amount of time spent outside the home and in the public space to shifting responsibilities and transforming social roles. She characterizes the influence of individualization amongst those she studied as leading to deeper and closer friendships, taking on functions such as “caring, protection, learning and communion” typically performed by the family (184). At the same time, rather than simplifying these friendships as purely resembling parent-child relationships, Robinson fleshes out the deeply layered nature of such friendships. She reveals they are equally rooted in fun, frivolity, and a sense of mutual understanding caused by being similarly aged or experiencing a similar phase of life. Numerous examples are included to illustrate these complexities, including one referring to a form of intimacy between young men that would be hard to find within a family or family-like relationship, as she writes how “in their intoxicated states of mind, they would pour out their hearts to each other about their problems with the ladies” (180).
Robinson argues how young Puneites frequently “transcended the local while domesticating the global” (183), providing an example of a young man who regularly visited the temple whilst at the same time was a DJ. However, the argument could be further developed given the ambiguities surrounding what constitutes the “local” and the “global.” Overall, the book is a powerful portrait of the agency with which Indian youth have negotiated the changes around them. As she details how the flourishing public spaces which form the sites of her study not only reflect rapidly growing markets but are also used by young adults as “tools to make and remake themselves” (79), she helps to dispel the myth that India’s youth are mere consumers of Westernization and liberalization, but rather, are active agents of change engaged in writing a new narrative for themselves of what it means to be Indian in an increasingly global world.
Rahul Advani, King’s College, London, United Kingdom
HINDU-CATHOLIC ENCOUNTERS IN GOA: Religion, Colonialism, and Modernity. By Alexander Henn. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. xi, 214 pp. (Illustrations, map.) US$30.00, paper. ISBN 978-0-253-01294-4.
This is an exciting book that touches on many issues: colonialism and Christianity, community and church, Hinduism and Catholicism, conversion and memory, narrative and ritual. Henn’s methods are eclectic: historical and comparative, textual and ethnographic. His questions are two-fold: about the politics of religious identity and difference, and the relation between syncretism and liberalism and the role of religion at the onset of modernity.
Goa was the political and religious capital of the Portuguese Asian empire and the Catholic archdiocese of Asia and Africa. Vasco da Gama’s arrival on the Malabar Coast in 1498 brought Christian theology, viewed as the only religion or “Truth,” and was meant to contain Islam and eradicate the pagan. It transformed both the region’s culture and religion.
Goa witnessed forced religious conversion, iconoclastic violence, and attacks on Hindu practices, rituals, and festivals beginning in the mid-sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This involved the desecration of temples and idols and their replacement with churches, chapels, and crosses—the Vetal temple became St. Anthony’s Church in Siolim. Some 90 percent of the population became Christian. Francis Xavier, heralded as the “Apostle of Asia,” led the Counter-Reformation and was known to have targeted the famous Tirupati Temple, an important sacred centre of the powerful medieval Vijaynagara Empire. Simultaneously, Jesuit missionaries also became students of Indian languages and literature and produced the celebrated Kristapurana, authored by the English Jesuit Thomas Stephens (1549–1619) and which represented empathy.
Even as Goa experienced the Inquisition, Europe was giving birth to a modern understanding of religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as Henn elaborates.
Humanism and the Enlightenment conceived of religion as a universal human quality, but the Portuguese and Spanish encounters with pagan cultures in Asia and America involved the experience of a plurality of religions. The modern Western concept of religion, Henn argues, became the “theoretical paradigm for the integration of global religious plurality” (169). Books published in the late seventeenth century used the term religion in their titles and the new classifications of religion—for instance, Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, and idolatry—led to the comparative study of religion.
The modern idea of religion had two philosophical sources: Lord Edward Herbert’s idea of natural religion, which was the belief in and worship of a supreme power found in all human beings and the Protestant challenge to the Catholic claim of universal Truth.
Henn is also interested in the question of how religion relates to the social and economic realm, and its role in the coexistence and syncretism between Hindus and Catholics. Goa evolved into a cosmopolitan space including Moors, Jews, Armenians, and others. By the late eighteenth century Hindus began building temples in proximity to Catholic monuments. The book explores the village as the site of religious coexistence, the interaction of Hindus and Catholics and the affinity between village gods and Catholic saints and the Trinity. Goan Hindus came to worship Saiba St. Francis Xavier while Goan Catholics venerated the goddess as Saibini Sateri-Shanta Durga.
Syncretism constitutes religion, Henn argues. Goan syncretism comprises, as the ethnography demonstrates, spatial commonalities (neighbourhoods or sacred sites), ritual commemoration of shared pasts and therapeutic iconographies, and ritual memory that resists the historicism of modernity. Henn might have fruitfully used the idea of anti-syncretism, as when Christian liturgy prohibited Hindu sacred objects including plants, flowers, rice, coconut, betel leaf, areca nut, and turmeric or the more recent intervention by Hindu nationalist organizations emphasizing reconversion and de-Christianization. Syncretism has its limits: while Goan Christian practice continued with incense burning and the offering of flowers and Hindus and Catholics pay ritual homage to each other’s shrines, they do not challenge core religious identities; indeed, surface tolerance often reveals competition.
Henn addresses modern anthropology’s neglect of cultural hybridization in favour of viewing cultures as unique and self-contained. His reconsideration of syncretism discusses the landmark Shaw and Stewart volume that, in his view, overemphasizes the politics of syncretism as against its other aspects. Henn does not, however, see as problematic the argument made by van der Veer in this volume that the idea of Indian civilization as essentially tolerant and pluralistic is a “Hindu idea” that denies the idea of Islam in India.
Shail Mayaram, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India
BEING BENGALI: At Home and in the World. Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series, 77. Edited by Mridula Nath Chakraborty. London; New York: Routledge, 2014. xvii, 236 pp. US$155.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-62588-3.
If Bengal has long been “one of the key centers of civilisation and culture
in the Indian subcontinent,”, what does it mean to be Bengali, especially now that Bengal is divided between India and Bangladesh, and a large part of the Bengali diaspora does not live in either of those two countries? This is the inspiring question this edited volume sets out to answer. This book stems out of two workshops, one of which took place in Dhaka and the other in Sydney, and one would assume, therefore, that it would have a greater representation of chapters on Bangladesh; that, however, is unfortunately not the case.
“Using ‘Bengalis’ as a case study, this volume seeks to understand what constitutes Bengaliness, imagined or otherwise, as a way of entering the debate from a linguistic angle,” because, as aptly argued by Chakraborty, “being Bengali is built around the idea of a common language” (1). Unfortunately, we do not have enough articles taking up this debate. Next, there are some inaccuracies such as “(T)he Bengaliness that started consolidating itself around the fifteenth century and reached its peak during the nineteenth century Bengal Renaissance, underwent religious divisions under Mughal and British rule” (1). Can one, now, after Richard Eaton’s historiography, still use certain rehashed tropes to understand “Bengaliness”?
This said, there are some thought-provoking chapters which manage to take the book forward. Ranabir Samaddar’s “Eternal Bengal,” Sekhar Bandyopadhyay’s “Does Caste Matter in Bengal Examining the myth of Bengali exceptionalism,” and Ali Riaz’s “Being Bengali abroad: identity politics among the Bengali community in Britain” come closest to looking at issues of caste and religion when reflecting upon “Bengaliness.” Samaddar does this by pointing out how being “a Bengali is a product of modern time” and he goes on to seek the beginnings of this ‘modern time’by looking at the issue of death and of race and religion. Within the history of the ‘becoming’ or ‘being Bengali’, he adds another necessary faultline between the stereotypical identities of the “enthusiastic Hindu Bengali teenager and youth” versus that of the “fanatic Bengali Muslim,” and this becomes the marker of a divided nation (194). But, as he himself asks, “where does enthusiasm end and fanaticism begin?” (195). And so, Samaddar concludes, “It is as if Bengal is the subject that eternally encounters the division of its own subjectivity” as well as eternally remaining “an object of study to itself” (195).
In his chapter “Does caste matter in Bengal?” Sekhar Bandyopadhyay addresses the heart of the bhadralok myth that caste has never really mattered in Bengal. Bandyopadhyay reminds us that while there were attempts to ensure social justice for the untouchables or Dalits, caste maintained, and has maintained, its cultural hegemony by going against certain fundamental reformist endeavours, co-opting social challenges and marginalizing ideological dissidence. Indeed, he argues, “caste still survives, because of the ambivalence of Bengali modernity. It is still an important marker of social identity for many Bengali Hindus—an important cultural accoutrement to assert their distinctive self in the midst of the levelling impacts of modernization and globalization” (33). This rich chapter, which really addresses the heart of the issue of Bengali Hindu modernity, immensely contributes to the book, but the book would have gained by providing a similar study of its Bengali Muslim counterpart.
Ali Riaz’s “Being Bengali abroad: identity politics among the Bengali community in Britain” explores the reasons for the salience of “Muslim identity” (as opposed to, or at the expense of, say “Bengali/Bangladeshi identity”) amongst the younger generation of British-Bangladeshis. Riaz argues that this change occurred alongside the strengthening of religious groups and institutions such as the East London Mosque and has three main characteristics: Islam being a “global religion” allows one to transcend ethnic identity, be part of a global community, and to challenge traditional religious authorities (163). Riaz, agreeing with Stuart Hall, argues that this process allows the young to constantly reinvent an identity which is seen as coherent but which remains a fantasy.
Sibaji Bandyopadhyay’s “Producing and reproducing the New Woman: a note on the prefix ‘re’” and Paulomi Chakraborty’s “The refugee woman and the new woman: (en)gendering middle-class Bengali modernity and
the city in Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (The Big City 1963)” talk about the figure of the woman (albeit a Bengali Hindu one) in the making of the Bengali soul. In “The University of Dhaka and National Identity formation in Bangladesh,” Fakrul Alam discusses the importance of Dhaka University as a site for the production of the national imaginary and how it remains to this day a kind of “secular pilgrimage.” Sadia Toor’s “Bengal(is) in the house: the politics of national culture in Pakistan, 1947–71” problematizes the idea of nation-making in relation to the issue of the Bengali language. In her historical piece, Toor looks at the Urdu-Bangla controversy to highlight the
west Pakistani elites’ justification for disqualifying Bengali from being a “national” language. Toor looks at how the basis for Pakistan was Islamic culture and Bengali was considered not “Muslim” enough. Nayanika Mookherjee’s “In pursuit of the ‘authentic’ Bengali: impressions and observations of a contested diaspora” adds a very interesting layer of insight to what it means to be Bengali, from either side, in the context of multi-ethnic Britain, past and present. In her personal piece, Mookherjee appraises the fears and limits one is forced to deal with when confronting the “other” Bengali.
The book on the whole is a welcome new study of an old question and one wishes academics such as Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Meghna Guhathakurta, Vivek Bald, Reece Jones, Jason Cons, Willem Van Schendel, Hans Harder, Joya Chatterji, Andrew Sartori, and Muntassir Mamoon, all of whom have dwelled upon Bengali identity at some point in the recent past, had made more of an appearance in it—at least in the reference and footnotes section.
Annu Jalais, National University of Singapore, Singapore
ON THE EDGE OF EMPIRE: Four British Plans for North East India, 1941–1947. Edited by David R. Syiemlieh. New Delhi: Sage Publications India, 2014. xiv, 255 pp. (Illustrations.) US$39.95, cloth. ISBN 978-81-321-1347-8.
After more than sixty years of Indian independence and Northeast India’s participation in that project, debates about that region’s tenuous and often troubled relationship with the rest of the country abound. The history of how the once fiercely independent hill tribes came to be part of the Indian state-making project is widely contested, and this has given fuel and sustenance to decades-old insurgency in the region. The multiple versions of history that have arisen, partly due to the lack of written records of the region, provide both sides of the fence with a legitimacy that cannot ultimately be ascertained. This collection of essays that brings into the public domain primary sources on a crucial aspect of planning for the region following the departure of the British administration establishes a solid empirical foundation on which future debates can now be anchored.
The book, which in chronological order takes readers through plans written by four different colonial administrators towards the end of the Raj, throws light, and in some cases provides much detail, on the different futures that were then being considered for Northeast India. These confidential plans were drawn up by four members of the Indian Civil Service who all served in various capacities in Northeast India. The authors of these plans were Sir Robert N. Reid, Governor of Assam (1937–1942); his successor Sir Andrew G. Glow (1942–1947); James P. Mills, Advisor to the Government of Assam for Tribal Areas and States; and this latter’s successor and fellow officer, Philip F. Adams. The book begins by providing useful contextual background in terms of the administrative machinery and political activities among the hill tribes around the time the plans were secretly being discussed. It also makes insightful references to the careers of British officers and their relationships with colleagues as well as the hill tribes.
It was Reid who first put across the idea that the hill people of the region should be afforded special attention by the British Government. Within his note of 1941 is the concept of the Crown Colony for Northeast India and the hill regions of Burma. The note makes a detailed study of how the hill people were to be governed, with suggestions for another and different phase of British administration. Governor-General Lord Linlithgow, who was amongst the first to receive a copy of Reid’s note, in turn sent a copy to L.S. Amery, the Secretary of State for India. Amery, who was impressed with the plan, sent a copy to the Oxford Professor Reginal Coupland who was writing the third and final volume on the constitutional problem in India. Given the confidential nature of the idea, Coupland was prohibited from quoting British officers and the proposed plan was to be aired as one of many broad ideas, with one intention being to garner views on the matter. This is how the first public conjuring of the idea of a crown colony took Coupland’s name.
However, Reid’s successor, Sir Andrew Clow, the last British Governor of Assam, disagreed with Reid on many issues. His long note is a detailed review of the administration of the Assam tribes. Both Reid and Clow had Mills as their adviser. Mill’s own note, quite different from his bosses’, puts in perspective the future of the hill tribes of the region in a self-governing India, given that by the time he wrote his note, it had become clear that the British would not stay much longer in India. Adams, who took over from Mills, stayed on as Secretary to Sir Akbar Hydari, the first Indian Governor of Assam. His short note provides some insights and references on the British thinking towards the hill tribes.
Interestingly, all the notes to varying extent dwell on the common idea of a balance between preservation of culture and development of the tribal population, though they differ in their views on how to go about this. This is an issue that continues to resonate and these documents provide a historical context to the policy confusion that has bound successive governments in independent India. Finally, the book is also hugely significant in providing direction for further research that might give greater clarity to the events that followed, and which determined the fate of the region. Two areas stand out in particular, the different accounts raise many interesting questions about the views of the locals on these plans and the factors and dynamics driving the opinions of different tribal organizations of them. Secondly, the production of primary sources around the plans begs for similar scholarship and more sources on the plans as well as the negotiations and correspondence with the Indian and regional leadership that immediately followed independence.
Laldinkima Sailo, National University of Singapore, Singapore
First published in 1991 as Political Agenda of Education: A Study of Colonialist and Nationalist Ideas, this third edition is a substantially revised one. Challenging the popular and simplistic view of colonial education—that it was designed by a “twisted mind” (x) to produce clerks to assist colonial administration—Kumar not only details continuities between colonialist and nationalist ideas of education but also analyzes colonial attempts to socialize and train “the native to become a citizen” (14). These processes and their residues continue to shape Indian schooling into the present. While the title refers to colonial “India” the primary focus of this book is the “Hindi region,” that is, the Central and United provinces of British India. Kumar, however, does highlight influences from other parts of India. One of Kumar’s biggest strengths is an engagement with vernacular scholarship in Hindi; he draws liberally from Hindi sources including speeches, autobiographies, fiction, magazines, and other documents. His other source materials include educational reports written by colonial officers and other official documents; works of social reformers and nationalist leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, and Rabindranath Tagore; and scholarly works that examine schooling and experiences of schooling in colonial India.
The book is divided into two parts, Dynamics of Colonization and Dynamics of the Freedom Struggle, each comprised of three chapters. Part 1 begins with “Colonial Citizen as an Educational Ideal” (chapter 1) and deals with the logic that informed the idea of creating a “little civil society” (26) in India and the role of education in this process. English education produced a civil society in India and simultaneously legitimized and accentuated traditional hierarchies, creating a “collaborating class” that shared in the colonizer’s paternalism towards the masses (31).
In “Appropriate Knowledge: Conflict of Curriculum and Culture” (chapter 2) Kumar elaborates on zones of “conflict” between the indigenous and colonial educational systems, and how resolutions of these conflicts “moderated the transition from old to new hierarchies” (65). Colonial education transported schools and teachers from community life—both the school and the teacher having been supported by resources drawn from the community—to state control. This impacted curriculum or what was considered “worth learning” (58). Curricular changes necessitated teacher training. It also marked the introduction of the examination system, thereby evolving a “bureaucratic, centralized system of education” (59). Schools thus emerged as a “certifying authority [that] regulated social mobility and moderated the transition from old to new hierarchies” (65).
“Meek Dictator: The Paradox of Teacher’s Personality” (chapter 3) juxtaposes a teacher’s identity prior to and after the introduction of colonial schooling, in which the teacher, who had once been a well-respected part of the local community, became a meek salaried servant of the government. The teacher’s concerns were no longer the selection, pacing, and transaction of knowledge, but pleasing school inspectors, covering textbook content, and preparing the students for examinations without disrupting the teacher’s authority in the classroom.
In the second part of the book, Kumar focuses on three “quests”—equality, self-identity, and progress—and the ways in which they inspired and inflected educational thought during freedom struggle. In “Pursuit of Equality” (chapter 5) Kumar takes up discourses on education vis-à-vis the lower castes and girls in colonial India, while being cognizant of regional variations. Nationalistic perspectives view the political awakening of the lower castes as an outcome of the spread of education among the oppressed classes. However, Kumar argues this does not account for the narrow spread of education nor the egalitarian struggles by lower castes. Rather, education “contributed” to these struggles by creating lower-caste elites, who found in the British “an audience and an agency for fighting against Brahmin domination” (103). With regard to girls’ education, Kumar points out that the educated Englishman and the colonial Indian elite were in agreement over socializing girls into becoming “better wives for English-educated Indian men … and more enlightened mothers” (121). While education might have widened the employment opportunities available for women, it “remained incapable of rivaling patriarchy as a socializing force” (122).
“Quest for Self-Identity” (chapter 6) illustrates that the search for an identity in a colonial society can be rife with conflict, and that education was one of the prominent arenas in which this quest and conflict found expression. For the educated colonial citizen, English education was a vehicle for exposure and social mobility even when it was considered alien and deficient in moral training. In the Hindi region, this conflict found expression in the development of Hindi prose as a language indigenous to India and untainted by external influences unlike Urdu. Through an analysis of Hindi literary history and school textbooks, Kumar illustrates that the entrenchment of Hindi in schools and colleges played a crucial role in the identification of Hindi with “Hindu.” The colonial administration further fuelled the Hindi-Urdu divide.
“Meanings of Progress” (chapter 7) highlights contestations over nineteenth-century ideals of progress. India’s backwardness was compared to the superior scientific knowledge of Europe, resulting in “ambivalence … in nationalist thought on education” (170). While nationalist leaders concerned with education did not fail to criticize the “alien character” of English education, its narrow curriculum, and its limited spread, they also acknowledged the necessity of this education for India’s material advancement.
To conclude, this book sheds light on the establishment of a “modern” system of state-sponsored schooling in colonial India. Unlike in colonizing countries (see I. Hunter, “Assembling the school,” in Foucault and political reason: Liberalism, neo-liberalism, and rationalities of government, eds. A. Barry, T. Osborne, & N. Rose, London, UK: UCL Press, 1996, 143–165), in colonized India, associated transitions were inflected by the bureaucratic and disciplinary concerns of an ontologically exploitative state. Kumar regards the disconnect that colonial education policy wrought between school knowledge and everyday knowledge as “the most negative of all the consequences” (214) and one of the most enduring legacies of colonial education. A “history of ideas,” this seminal work is invaluable for those examining the legacies of pre-colonial, colonial, and nationalist thought on modern schooling in postcolonial societies.
Mary Ann Chacko, Columbia University, New York, USA
DYNAMICS OF RELIGION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: Magic and Modernity. Global Asia (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2; IIAS Publications Series, Monographs. By Volker Gottowik. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, in close collaboration with the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS); Chicago: University of Chicago Press [distributor], 2014. 338 pp. (Illustrations.) US$99.00, cloth. ISBN 978-90-8964-424-4.
This book is the outcome of six conferences organized at various German universities.
Comprising thirteen essays and an introduction by European and mostly German anthropologists, the book addresses changes and continuities in the religious life of members of contemporary Southeast Asian societies as they deal with processes of modernization and forces of “modernity.” Chapters concern both the impact of modernity on religion and the impact of religion on modernity. As the editor points out, the inclusion of “magic” in the title reflects a view of “modernity” itself, possessing an “almost magic aura” and therefore has little to do with magic in the conventional anthropological sense. In one respect, however, the book’s title is somewhat misleading, for ten of the thirteen chapters focus exclusively on Indonesia. Like the editor’s introduction, one—Bräunlein’s chapter on spirits—addresses the wider Southeast Asian region, and the other two respectively concern Vietnam and Laos (in the second case, specifically the highlanders called Rmeet, formerly “Lamet”). Of the Indonesia chapters, six are focused on either Java or Bali, while the rest concern developments in some of the “outer islands” (specifically, Sumatra, Sulawesi, the Moluccas).
The focus on Indonesia is perhaps understandable in view of that country’s far greater size in relation to its regional neighbours and perhaps also its greater accessibility.
Superimposed on this qualified diversity is a formal division of chapters into three sections called “Spirits,” “Modern Muslims,” and “Modern Traditions.” The attention given to Islam is obviously consistent with the greater attention given to Indonesia. However, all the chapters included in “Modern Traditions” also relate to Indonesia, more specifically to religious developments in non-Muslim parts of that country (including “Hindu” Bali and Christian north Sumatra).
Religion, including both “world” and local regions, unquestionably continues to play an important part in the lives of Southeast Asians, and all the authors engage this fact to challenge the long-standing (and mostly discredited) view, dating back to Weber and nineteenth-century evolutionary anthropology, that modernization entails “secularization,” meaning both a loss of religious belief and a relegation of surviving belief and practice to the private sphere. By the same token, various authors advance a view of “modernity” as something that comes not only in a single European or Western version but in many forms, including at least one in which religion not only survives but apparently prospers.
At the same time, the chapters reveal how religion has undergone obvious changes in the region, in the case of Indonesia bound up with internal and external political change. Changing government policy towards religion
and spirituality in Vietnam, the topic of Dickhardt’s chapter, is another case in point.
As Reuter notes, while maintaining the constitutional requiring that all Indonesians adhere to a world religion (and enforcing identification of atheism with a despised communism), until his fall in 1998 Suharto kept religion out of the political sphere, and was partly by this means especially effective in countering more fundamentalist brands of Islam. At the same time, practices bound up with local religions, while being denied official status as “religions,” were subjected to a process of folklorization (or “Disneyfication,” as it has sometimes been called) in the interests of promoting tourism (see the chapters by Christensen and Rodemeier). Followed shortly by the attacks on New York in September 2001, the post-Suharto era has largely coincided with a period of deteriorating relations between the West and the Islamic world, including of course Indonesia, and as Nertz and Reuter point out, this has raised questions about how to reconcile a positive value on modernity—for obvious historical reasons still largely identified with the West—and a commitment to Islam. One resolution, according to Reuter, has been sought in a revival of cultural nationalism including Pancasila and the principle of “unity in diversity” associated with the first (and repopularized) Indonesian president, Sukarno.
Illustrating the diversity of the volume, and without meaning to suggest other contributions are without merit, specific mention may be given to the other three chapters that especially drew the present reviewer’s interest. Whereas a Western and especially Christian worldview treats religion and economics—like religion and rationality—as radically opposed, Sprenger’s essay on Rmeet ritual and “ritual money” shows how the model of a market permeates the Rmeet spirit world and relations between this world and the world of humans, facilitating their interrelation, and hence moderating the impact of a modernizing economy on religion in a way that promotes both. Writing on Balinese religion, Hornbacher shows how a recent adoption of Hindu orthodoxy, serving the aim of modernizing Balinese religion to conform to the definition of “religion” required by the Indonesian constitution, is combined with continuing adherence to practices reflecting an indigenous value on ancestor spirits. Focusing on relatively elaborate cremation rituals contrasting with the Hindu conception of cremation as a simple rite of purification, the author then shows how the ultimate Hindu aim of moksa—escape from the cycle of death and rebirth—is contradicted by Balinese rites that aim to transform spirits of the death into ancestors for the benefit of the living.
Not only are religion and modernity not radically opposed in Southeast Asia but in many cases world religions—or in the case of Islam, some purified version of religion—have served as an expression or vehicle of modernity. In his introduction, Gottowik briefly makes this point with regard to the adoption of the veil by middle-class Indonesian women, for whom veiling is “a symbol of an informed … or modern Islam” (14). A more elaborate demonstration is found in Klenke’s article on Protestant Christianity among the Karo of north Sumatra. Also focusing on women, Protestantism, it is shown, offers a way to mediate modern pressures for women to become both public and attractive figures, while at the same time maintaining a necessary modesty.
Despite several qualifications indicated above, this is on the whole an excellent collection of ethnographically and historically well-informed and well-written essays. As indicated by the bibliography, many authors have previously published mostly in languages other than English; hence for many the book will serve as a welcome introduction to non-Anglophone research into Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, however, two other criticisms must be registered. Unaccountably, the chapters are not numbered and the book contains no index, an omission which seriously reduces its value.
Gregory Forth, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
HISTORIES OF HEALTH IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century. Edited by Tim Harper and Sunil S. Amrith. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. viii, 250 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$25.00, paper. ISBN 978-0-253-01491-7.
Histories of Health in Southeast Asia is a welcome addition to the field of the history of medicine and health in Southeast Asia. The essays it contains will also, individually, be of value to historians of medicine and health in the non-western world in general and to scholars who study Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and/or Thailand in particular. This volume also contains interesting and quite detailed chapter insets on subjects such as the eradication of smallpox in Indonesia (Vivek Neelakantan), a survey of traditional medicine in Cambodia (Sokhieng Au), and an examination of what author Alberto G. Gomes terms the “Forest Peoples of Southeast Asia” and the destructive impact of environmental changes on them. The last mentioned of these also exemplifies the main strength of this book, namely that it attempts to address region-wide commonalities that affect medicine and health in particular ways in specific places or among specific groups and the socio-political implications of these patterns.
Indeed, the gracefully written essays by Rachel Leow (“Healing the Nation: Politics, Medicine, and Analogies of Health in Southeast Asia”) and Eric Tagliacozzo (“Pilgrim Ships and the Frontiers of Contagion: Quarantine Regimes from Southeast Asia to the Red Sea”) should be required reading for scholars who study nineteenth- and twentieth-century Southeast Asia, whether or not they themselves work on the history of medicine. Likewise Atsuko Naono’s excellent piece (“‘Rural’ Health in Modern Southeast Asia”), in which she examines the various definitions of what constitutes “rural,” has implications far beyond the field of the history of medicine, and beyond Southeast Asia for that matter, while Mary Wilson’s article (“Epidemic Disease in Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asia”) does a fine job of explaining the ecological, economic, and demographic factors that contribute to Southeast Asia’s vulnerability to communicable diseases.
Histories of Health in Southeast Asia is a centennial offering of sorts for the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the China Medical Board (CMB) and its authors were recruited from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in order to examine “the social, cultural, demographic, and political dimensions of health in the widest possible sense” (2). With this as an editorial objective, this volume should have been not only of interest, but also of real use, to scholars of Southeast Asia who are not specialists in the history of medicine. Conversely, this book could also have been a gateway for medical historians into the study of Southeast Asia if it had been made more user friendly. A map indicating many of the places mentioned would certainly have helped. Even those of us who are Southeast Asianists do not necessarily know, without looking at a map, the different provinces of the Philippines and it is unreasonable to expect non-Southeast Asianists to have any idea about the location of ancient, but not internationally well-known, cities such as Ayutthaya and Hoi An.
Specific editorial interventions could also have made this book much more user friendly even for those of us who are scholars of both Southeast Asia and the history of medicine. Following conventions such as having birth and death dates for individuals discussed in the text noted on first mention of the individual would have helped, so would the translation of Southeast Asian terms on first use, brief explanations of rather specialized medical terms such as “chaulmoogra therapy” (191), and a list of acronyms for an article that uses at least thirty of them (Tadem, “The Role of Non-governmental Organizations in the Field of Health in Modern Southeast Asia”).
At its best academia is a gathering of communities of scholars who exchange information and ideas among themselves and who are in conversation with many others beyond their own group. This volume does not go as far as it should in aiming for scholars in the large number of fields it could attract. For example, reading the brief discussion (vii and 2) of the CMB, many scholars of Southeast Asia will have probably never heard of it, and many historians of medicine who do not study Asia may also never have heard of it. Yet one comes away from this volume’s discussion of the CMB only with the knowledge that it was founded in 1914, the inference (it is never explicitly stated) that it is part of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a list of places where the Rockefeller Foundation took “its experiments in public health” (Amrith and Harper, “Introduction,” 1). That’s all.
This volume was not intended to be a history of the CMB and thus one should not expect a full history of that institution here. However, the small amount of information presented appears to have been written for an audience that already knows a good bit about the CMB. But the many scholars of both Southeast Asia and the history of medicine do not have such information, and they are not going to get more here.
This is just one example, though others from this volume could be discussed, of the point that in an editorial sense this book aims at a rather narrow audience when many of its essays should actually be of interest, and use, to a much larger audience. Several of its essays would have had much broader resonance if they had received more guidance. The field of the history of medicine in Southeast Asia is fairly small and despite the problems that may exist with this volume, it is still a valuable addition to the literature on the subject and belongs on the bookshelf of any scholar with a serious interest in the subjects of health and medicine in Southeast Asia.
C. Michele Thompson, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, USA
HYBRID JUSTICE: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Law, Meaning, and Violence. By John D. Ciorciari, Anne Heindel. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2014. xi, 433 pp. (Illustrations.) US$85.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-472-11930-1.
This book offers the most comprehensive treatment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)—a hybrid criminal court established to try former Khmer Rouge government officials who committed mass atrocities during their reign of terror that lasted from 1975 to the end of 1978.
The co-authors examine the ECCC from their institutionalist perspective, which I find somewhat stimulating because of their in-depth analysis of the Court’s institutional development, its public legitimacy, and its legacy. This major study is important to the extent that some legal institutionalists regard hybrid tribunals as having the potential to help transform world and national politics.
The reader will learn much about the institutional development of the Court (chapters 1 and 2), its structure, and its distinct features. Although the ECCC is based in Cambodia, it has been managed by the Cambodian Government and the United Nations. As an internationalized hybrid court, the two-headed ECCC (“serving two masters” in chapter 3) is not only different from ad hoc tribunals and the permanent International Criminal Court, but also from other hybrid courts, such as the ones in East Timor and Sierra Leone. The book sheds light on the ECCC’s unique features, such as its majority-domestic system, its civil law-based approach to mass atrocity crime, the historic recognition of victims as case parties (chapter 8), and the Court’s potential for success in transforming Cambodian politics because of its in-country location and access to relatively robust local media and civil society organizations.
It has often been assumed that hybrid criminal tribunals like the ECCC are superior to ad hoc and permanent ones for various reasons, but they are also viewed as having their own challenges and carrying different risks. According to the authors, the ECCC has been successful in terms of both bringing top Khmer Rouge leaders to justice and meeting international judicial standards. Chapter 4 focuses on Case 001, where the former and infamous Khmer Rouge torture chief named Guek Eav alias “Duch” was convicted and sentenced. Chapter 5 focuses on “Case 002—The Centrepiece Case against Senior Leaders: ‘Cutting the Head to Fit the Hat’,” in which the authors discuss how two top Khmer Rouge defendants were tried and convicted of some offences. Chapter 6 draws attention to unsuccessful cases: namely, Cases 003 and 004, involving attempts by the international ECCC officials to bring five or six additional Khmer Rouge suspects to justice. In their view, the Cambodian ECCC counterparts and their Government stood in the way. The Court is, thus, regarded as being both inefficient and subject to political interference known to observers as the most powerful cause of judicial paralysis.
For the authors, who are institutionalists at heart, design and agency matter significantly. They give analytical attention to the ECCC’s design flaws, weak oversight mechanisms, problematic negotiations, the United Nations’ half-hearted ownership and limited authority, weak international responses, and so on. Structural imperfections are inevitable, but they can be overcome. Numerous recommendations for future policy action are offered, based on a normative commitment to justice and expectations of what effective tribunals should look like and be able to accomplish. Criminal tribunals can be more successful, for instance, if run by experienced, principled, independent, and proactive appointees.
Whether the ECCC could be more successful is a matter of debate. One thing is clear though: even proponents of criminal justice, such as human rights advocates or activists, are harshly critical of the Court and some of them even said the Court should never have been established. Their criticism is deeply rooted in the huge gap between their idealism and the type of realism they found associated with problematic trial processes and poor results. After almost ten years of work and having spent more than $200 million, the ECCC convicted only three Khmer Rouge officials (two of whom were frail and elderly). The Court is hardly a model for the world—an honest observation the authors share.
Less satisfying is the fact that the book does not really assess the ECCC’s actual effects on war and peace, political stability, national reconciliation, democratic politics, and the rule of law. Critics like myself who have observed Cambodian politics since the early 1970s and studied world politics since the mid-1980s have made the case that internationalized criminal tribunals operating in war-torn, institutionally fragile states are almost always politicized institutions that hardly help terminate war or bring about peace, promote national reconciliation, enhance democratic politics, or strengthen the rule of law. Interestingly, the authors also acknowledge that, “The ECCC’s broader effect on the Cambodian judiciary or rule of law is much less apparent. Major change in the domestic legal system in the near term is unlikely…” (274). In fact, the Court did not help end the war that lasted until 1998 and may have encouraged the government to consolidate power and keep the judicial and legal system highly politicized. Interestingly, the comparatively more anemic international pursuit of criminal justice in East Timor and Indonesia has not made them less democratic or more lawless than Cambodia.
Whether future hybrid tribunals will overcome many of the challenges countries like Cambodia will face remains to be seen. Legal institutionalists remain steadfast in the type of idealism bound by their stubborn optimism that unfortunately tends to overlook certain harsh realities in places where survival is almost always the political elites’ ultimate concern. Instead of paying some attention to arguments that are not music to their ears, they consistently fail to notice that tribunals work more effectively when they are institutionally stronger and when alleged criminals are politically weaker or less well-armed. They ignore, and often demonize, those who think that political compromise and other remedies may be more effective than retributive justice in terms of helping to end war or deter atrocity crime.
Sorpong Peou, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
THE IMMORTALS: Faces of the Incredible in Buddhist Burma. Topics in Contemporary Buddhism. By Guillaume Rozenberg; translated by Ward Keeler. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015. xxix, 316 pp. (Figures.) US$35.00, paper. ISBN 978-0-8248-4096-9.
What does it mean to believe? How do we, as scholars, understand forms of believing? These questions run throughout Rozenberg’s intriguing account of the cult of the four weikza, extraordinary humans with supernatural powers and potential immortality, in contemporary Burma. As Rozenberg examines the founding and workings of the cult and its intersections with Burmese Buddhism, he simultaneously explores the forms the weikza’s disciples’ beliefs take and the ways in which he, as an anthropologist, unpacks them. The book is both an ethnographic accounting of numerous practices surrounding the weikza and a critical reflection on the process of conducting ethnographic research. Rozenberg brings the reader along on his journey as he learns about the cult and its practices, ranging from possession, manifestations of invisible beings, alchemy, and martial arts to an elaborate ceremony, a trial by fire as a life-prolonging rite for the weikza. People’s beliefs and understandings and even doubts about the weikza are presented as accurately as possible, and the anthropologist’s own methods and musings are made transparent. The voices of his interlocutors speak for themselves as he describes their actions and explanations without judgment.
Rozenberg makes no attempt to explain apparent contradictions within indigenous beliefs and practices. He uses the weikza cult as a means to examine the complexities of Burmese Buddhism. Rather than trying to label aspects of their practices as Buddhism, animism, or anything else, he reveals how disciples of the weikza understand religion. Their actions and the ways they discuss them reflect the fluid interplay between diverse forms of belief and interpretations of religion. For the disciples, the weikza are equated with the Buddha in numerous ways, even as some skeptics (scholars and Burmese) argue otherwise. One is left questioning whether the apparitions are real, but at the same time one recognizes that the veracity of the possessions and appearances of these usually invisible, long-lived (the oldest of the four weikza is 1,035 years old) humans does not matter. What counts is that the disciples believe what they experience, and these experiences address Rozenberg’s questions about belief: in society, in people’s lives, and in the anthropologist’s imagination.
Through detailed consideration of language, rituals, and other practices, Rozenberg gains insight into indigenous conceptions of Buddhist concepts. A good example is the concept of fate. Fate is a complex idea within Buddhism. People’s situations in a given life are the result of past actions and intentions (karma), yet their futures are not predetermined. Rozenberg asks what fate is for Burmese Buddhists as reflected in the intersections of Buddhism and weikza. What are the mechanisms, actions, and interventions used to influence one’s fate? He unpacks interpretations and uses of critical words and concepts to get at the nuances of meaning. How disciples understand these concepts are integrated with Pali language analyses and the gleanings of the anthropologist. Rozenberg’s approach enables the reader to grasp the complexities of the Buddhist concept of fate in people’s lives. Here Buddhism is a lived religion in which abstract concepts such as karma become both guides and tools for practitioners.
Storytelling brings these concepts and seeming contractions to life. Rozenberg does not employ common conventions for his presentation of the weikza cult. His articulations shift from first person to third person, from present to past to future tense. One story begins, is interrupted with explanatory or inquisitory—and often lengthy—asides that raise new issues before he returns again to the initial tale. The reader becomes invested in the lives of the players, especially the main disciples and the medium for the weikza. The stories offer rich details drawn from diverse sources and perspectives. At times, Rozenberg relates his and his fellow researcher, Victorious’s, direct experiences. Other times he writes in the present tense from first-hand accounts of past events.
Rozenberg’s approach is not intended to compare this cult with other Buddhist cults. Nor does he attempt to debate how different scholars have interpreted Burmese ideas of weikza or possession. He uses his stories of the four weikza and their disciples as a way of illuminating aspects of Burmese society. The characters’ lives, choices, and beliefs are played out on a larger historical, social, and political stage. Insights into crucial moments in Burmese history and their impacts on people’s lives are woven into the stories throughout the book, such as Britain’s occupation of Burma, military rule since 1962, and the crackdown of 1988. The stories shed light on Burmese identity formations, Buddhist practice, and social hierarchy, among other aspects of Burmese society.
That said, this book would be challenging for those looking for an overview who are unfamiliar with Burmese history, society, or Buddhism. The manner in which Rozenberg plays with time and space addresses more the process of anthropological research and the complexities of indigenous belief than it introduces a reader to Burma.
Ward Keeler has done an excellent job translating the book from French into English. The beauty of the language, the complexities of the ideas and theories involved, and the storytelling come across without any distractions from the translation. While at times the book can be challenging to follow, as some stories twist and turn in unexpected and dense ways, I suspect this results from Rozenberg’s original approach rather than Keeler’s translation.
In sum, The Immortals is invaluable on many levels. It left me thinking deeply about both how and why people believe in the incredible, and how anthropologists can negotiate the delicate balance between respecting people’s beliefs and practices and drawing conclusions that enable those from other places and societies at least to begin to make sense of, if not fully comprehend, those beliefs.
Susan M. Darlington, Hampshire College, Amherst, USA
Indonesia consists of over 17,500 islands, around 6000 of which are inhabited by a population in excess of 250 million people forming the world’s largest archipelago stretching nearly 5000 kilometres from the Indian Ocean in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east.
Indonesia’s sheer size, together with the proximity of a wide range of neighbouring coastal states, has resulted in a multiplicity of potentially overlapping maritime boundaries, the delimitation of which is crucial to everything from good governance of living and nonliving marine resources to protection of the environment, to freedom of navigation.
This newly revised version of a previous work thoughtfully and accurately updates important developments that have occurred over the past while in the area of conflict resolution and maritime boundary delimitation, including: revisions to Indonesia’s archipelagic baseline system; a dispute over the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) boundary between Indonesia and Australia; maritime boundary issues associated with the independence of East Timor; and the resolution of a dispute before the International Court of Justice between Indonesia and Malaysia over sovereignty over two islands, Pulau and Sipadan.
Indonesia’s Delimited Maritime Boundaries consists of an introduction, three main chapters, and a conclusion. The three main chapters focus on: explaining and critically reviewing the legal foundation for Indonesia’s maritime jurisdictional zones; providing a chronology of how Indonesia has so far determined maritime boundaries; and contemplating the future, including disputes Indonesia may have in the future, including with China. Also touched on are the crucial leadership role played by Indonesia in the negotiation and implementation of the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and the background and history to the over 17 maritime boundary disputes that Indonesia has successfully resolved with Malaysia, Australia, India, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. These materials are all exceedingly well supported with a wide range of figures, maps, diagrams, and appendices.
This volume is an important contribution to the scholarly academic literature regarding maritime boundary delimitation. It also affirms the timely and indispensible role the rule of law could, and should, play in conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy throughout the world in general and in the South China Sea in particular.
The current risk of conflict in the South China Sea is particularly significant. China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines
are among the sovereign states that have competing territorial and jurisdictional claims, particularly over rights to exploit the region’s possibly extensive reserves of oil and gas. Marine environmental quality, conservation of living marine resources, and freedom of navigation in the region are also contentious issues, especially between the United States and China, including over the right of US military vessels to operate in China’s two-hundred-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). According to Bonnie S. Glaser, senior advisor for Asia, Center for Strategic and International Studies, these tensions are shaping, and being shaped by, rising apprehensions about the growth of China’s military power and regional intentions. China has embarked on a substantial modernization of maritime paramilitary forces as well as naval capabilities to enforce sovereignty and jurisdiction claims by force if necessary. In this context there is much to be learned from Indonesia’s thoughtful application of the rule of law to resolve both real and potential maritime boundary disputes. There is also a compelling case to be made for Indonesian leadership on these issues throughout the region.
This volume should be of particular interest to those with an interest in maritime boundaries, conflict resolution, and ASEAN countries.
Richard Kyle Paisley, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
It has happened with such frequency that by now it hardly comes as a surprise. A colonial power turns over the reins of government to a newly created nation. But the nation is not in any real sense of the term a nation at all. It is a haphazardly cobbled together jumble of ethnic groups, religious factions, and cultures. Or a civil war or other upheaval or insurgency causes the boundaries of and membership in a state to be re-determined. But the new determination does little more than reconfigure the rifts that led to strife in the first place. The result, in too many cases, has been a failed state, with the resulting criminality, war, poverty, and displacement that come in the wake of governments unable to govern.
Scholars, lawyers, politicians, and journalists have all tried their hands at proposing solutions to this problem. Lawyers, of course, have looked to the law for answers, recommending the adoption of constitutions that enshrine democratic rule, or support human rights—or the opposite. But states with every sort of constitution have failed. Wallis joins a cluster of scholars who have looked for solutions not in the constitutions themselves but in the processes by which those constitutions are created.
Her thesis is that a more inclusive constitutional drafting process will increase the legitimacy of the constitution and, thus, of the government chosen under its aegis and the laws passed according to its rules. She suggests that a fragmented polity can be unified into one nation by a constitution-making process that educates people broadly on the goals and responsibilities of the constitution makers, seeks out popular input in depth, and includes it in the final product.
This is not a new theory. Wallis follows in the footsteps of quite a number. But one of the signal successes of her book is her thorough and wide-ranging survey of the literature on the topic. Moreover, she draws from the survey an extensive and detailed menu for constitutional planning committees on how best to go about creating a process that includes broad representation and that shows due respect for all segments of the new state. (One pesky irritant in her writing needs to be mentioned: she refers, over and over, to this canon of theoretical work as “the literature,” as in “the literature generally concludes that an appointed body is preferable”  or “the literature argues that the manner in which the drafting body makes decisions is influential” .)
The central focus of Wallis’ study is her application of the theory to two relatively recent instances of constitution making. Timor Leste and Bougainville each came to their respective constitution-making moments from a recent past that involved an insurgency against, in Timor Leste’s case, the former colonial power, and, in the case of Bougainville, the larger state of which it had been forced to be a part as the colonial power withdrew. Both had also suffered internal clashes, when citizens disagreed, sometimes violently, about the insurgency. Any knowledgeable observer would have ranked both in the states-unlikely-to-succeed category, which made them prime candidates for Wallis’ observation, especially when it turned out that one – Bougainville – has succeeded as a unified nation-state, and the other – Timor Leste – has not. And the icing on Wallis’ theoretical cake: Bougainville followed the recommended participatory process in planning and drafting its constitution; Timor Leste did not.
The “literature” posits a number of rules that constitution makers should follow in order to be as participatory as possible, including: settling on a time frame that is long enough to permit education of and participation by the public; creating a constitutional planning and drafting body that is broadly representational and that doesn’t unduly favour one class or political party or ethnic group; operating as much as possible by consensus rather than by votes, since voting can lead a large but dissatisfied minority never to accept the constitution or, by extension, the new state; being as transparent about processes and goals as possible, while maintaining the secrecy needed to achieve compromises; staging frequent meetings, at the beginning, middle, and near the end of the planning process, all around the country, and letting the meetings go as long as needed; limiting the influence and perceived roles of international bodies and advisors; and, finally, choosing a manner of adoption of the constitution that appears fair and representative.
Needless to say, the constitutional planning process in Bougainville satisfied each and every one of these criteria; that of Timor Leste failed them all. While Bougainvilleans initially hoped to draft the constitution in a matter of months, they permitted the time frame to lengthen when it became evident that committee members were finding rich sources of information in their lengthy, unstructured meetings with local leaders, women’s groups, union representatives, and other members of Bougainville’s diverse communities. The process in Timor Leste, however, was heavily regulated by the United Nations’ Transitional Administration in East Timor, which set a very short time frame that allocated very little time for public education or public meetings. The two countries differed radically, also, in the composition of the constitutional bodies: Bougainville’s was appointed, and the different groups that had to agree on the appointments created a broadly representative committee made up of all the different factions; Time Leste’s was elected and therefore was overwhelmingly captured by the majority political party. I needn’t continue—although Wallis does, and in interesting and provocative detail.
I am not sure she is correct. Two examples do not prove a theory. She might just be lucky in the two she chose. But her choices are instructive, and regardless of whether it is always true that a more participatory process will lead to a stronger state, the arguments she makes for participation are compelling in and of themselves.
Jean G. Zorn, The City University of New York, New York, USA
DON’T SPOIL MY BEAUTIFUL FACE: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific. By David Robie; foreword by Kalafi Moala. Auckland (New Zealand): Little Island Press, 2014. xv, 361 pp. (B&W photos., maps, tables.) NZ$40.00, paper. ISBN 978-1-877484-25-4.
This book is a sequel to two earlier published books by David Robie and draws on his journalism and educational viewpoints since embarking on a Pacific media education career at the University of Papua New Guinea in 1993. As such, the book is a personal account of Robie’s career in relation to the various political issues, tensions, human rights violations, and conflicts that have affected the Pacific (and the Philippines and Canada), such as
the Kanak struggle in New Caledonia, the 1987 military coup in Fiji, and the Bougainville conflict. The title of the book refers to yet another struggle and protest in the Pacific. It is based on a photograph of a young ni-Vanuatu girl with a “no nukes” placard stating “Please don’t spoil my beautiful face,” which was taken by Robie at the third Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The twenty-four chapters of the book are divided into six parts, dealing with: Robie’s own career and journey into the Pacific; colonial legacies conflicts; indigenous struggles; forgotten wars; environmental struggles; and media education. The broad geographical area, themes, and timeframe covered (from before 1974 to 2013), means Robie presents us with a series of snapshots detailing elements of troubling events that have happened and are happening in the Pacific and beyond.
Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face starts with a foreword (xiii-xv) by Kalafi Moala, deputy chair of Pasifika Media Association, who was jailed in Tonga in 1996 for contempt of Parliament. He acknowledges Robie’s journalistic work in the Pacific and, in particular, Robie’s efforts to set him and his fellow prisoners free. Robie’s subsequent introduction, titled “Trust and transparency,” discusses the interplay between journalism and political power in relation to, in particular, Murdoch. He also highlights his own position as an independent journalist, providing testimonies by third parties to indicate that he is an “impassioned chronicler of Pacific currents” (8) and events.
The first part of the book (Out of Africa), details Robie’s career, the various topics he covered and agencies he worked for across the world, and how he ended up setting his own Pacific News Agency in New Zealand (chapters 2–4). Part 2 covers an array of events and topics that are grouped together as “Colonial legacy conflicts.” It contains Robie’s work in New Caledonia on the Kanak revolt and massacre of Hienghène in New Caledonia in 1984, and the 1987 “nomadization” policy and the aftermath of the siege of Ouvèa (chapters 5, 6, and 8); the “Rise of the Flosse dynasty in Tahiti, 1986 (chapter 7); the 1987 Fiji coup (chapter 9); anti-Chinese riots in Tonga in 1991 (chapter 10); Human rights abuses in the Pacific (chapter 11); and the jailing of the “Tongan three” in 1996, which involved the imprisonment of the earlier mentioned Kalafi Moala (chapter 12). Part 3 of the book is titled “Indigenous Struggles” and covers First Nation Rights in Canada (chapter 13); indigenous people’s struggles in the Philippines (chapter 14); and the Hagahai “biopiracy” affair, whereby the US government issued a patent on the human cell line of a Hahagai (Papua New Guinea) tribesman in 1995 (chapter 15). In part 4, titled “Forgotten wars, elusive peace,” Robie covers the Bougainville conflict (chapter 16); the political instability and violence caused by rogue military leaders in the Philippines (chapter 17); and the victims of this violence and the role of the Philippine Independent Church (chapter 18). The final chapter in this part contains Robie’s reflections on the horror of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Timor-Leste (chapter 19). The fifth part of the book (“Moruroa, mon amour”) focuses on climate change and nuclear refugees in the Pacific (Chapter 20); and the politics surrounding the Rainbow Warrior, which was bombed by French secret agents in Auckland in 1985 (chapter 21). The sixth and final part of the book focuses on media education in the Pacific. The first chapter discusses the issue of freedom of speech, which is centred around Robie’s Pacific Journalism Review article on the topic published in 2002 and an article published in the same year with the subtitle “Don’t shoot the messenger” (chapter 22). The subsequent chapter deals with conflict reporting in the Pacific (chapter 23). In the final chapter (chapter 24), Robie engages with changing paradigms in Pacific journalism, exploring models of news media and news values in the Pacific, journalism’s rights and responsibilities, and that journalists covering issues such as the abuse of power and violations of human rights in the Pacific need to become more critical and deliberative, thereby “becoming part of the solution rather than being part of the problem” (340). Robie’s epilogue consists of a series of snapshots on journalists, the media, and media education in the Pacific, and the responsibilities a new generation of educated journalists have in encouraging positive change in the region.
With the exception of chapter 24, the chapters in Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face are based upon Robie’s earlier work that was disseminated in the media or elsewhere. Most of the chapters consist of earlier published media articles that are briefly introduced and updated. Although Robie’s engaged and critical journalism is very informative and illustrative, the way the book is organized also implies a lack of depth and engagement with, for example, academic work on these topics. This could have been partially addressed by adding a short bibliography to each chapter with key academic works on the issue, instead of providing a short selected biography at the end. What Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face does offer is a great overview of troubling politics and violence in the region and Robie’s reporting of these events. As such, it is of interest to anyone who is interested in Pacific media and politics, and Robie’s work and coverage of these issues in particular.
Anna-Karina Hermkens, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
ENGAGING WITH CAPITALISM: Cases from Oceania. Research in Economic Anthropology, v. 33. Edited by Fiona McCormack, Kate Barclay. Bingley, UK: Emerald, 2013. x, 357 pp. (Illustrations.) £72.95, cloth. ISBN 978-1-78190-541-8.
This edited volume brings together attempts by anthropologists to understand the consequences of capitalism in Oceanic communities. In the preface McCormack and Barclay indicate that they were guided by the question of “how people may get what they want from capitalism without losing the vibrancy and importance of other ways of being in society” (ix). Anthropologically most interesting are the contributions by Ploeg, Mosko, Dalsgaard, and Boyd, as they see capitalism as relations. Ploeg’s article is exceptional in that it defines capitalism from the outset—“a form of socioeconomic organization in which capital: land, knowledge, and skills, and movable assets, especially money, is employed for financial profit” (258)—and finds elements of it among the Me of West Papua at a time when capitalism was not brought to them from the outside. We discover that the precolonial life of the Me included a number of capitalist elements, such as currency, accumulation, and unequal division of labour. Ploeg highlights the misleading characterization of the present as a period marked by an increasing and ever more threatening penetration of capitalism into the domains of indigenous communities.
Mosko’s chapter discusses recent intensifications of commoditization among the North Mekeo of Central Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Those familiar with Mosko’s theoretical interest will not be surprised that his framework of analysis revolves around the juxtaposition of the “partible” or “dividual” of personhood associated with Melanesian ontologies and models of “possessive individualism” associated with market societies. Mosko argues that the latter holds less explanatory power than the dividual personhood models and related Maussian gift exchange when it comes to explaining recent social change among the Mekeo. Despite growing degrees of commoditization, Mosko discerns on-going Melanesian dividuality among the Mekeo. Dalsgaard, in his study of the politics of remittances and the role of returning migrants in Manus Province, PNG, highlights how people differentiate between local “traditional” systems and capitalism in the world of villagers who have moved elsewhere for wage labour. Over the years, gaining access to the remittances of these migrants has become crucial in sustaining internal social and economic activities as well in maintaining relationships to the outside world. Dalsgaard highlights the social and moral tensions of the transactions between migrants and villagers. People negotiate different systems in terms of different values and different ways of living. Boyd’s chapter takes us to the highlands of Papua New Guinea in the period following World War II until 1996. It details the Irakia Awa response to capitalism in the form of the creation of an alternative local version of modernity. After decades of participation in labour migration for earning cash, people returned home and set about creating a more modern and inviting village lifestyle.
The chapters by McCormack and van Meijl focus on new models of ownership that have emerged as a result of engaging with capitalism in New Zealand. Van Meijl examines the impact of the settlement of the Waikato-Tainui claim on socio-economic development of the tribe, while McCormack looks at the negative outcomes for Maori of the privatization of fishing rights that prevent Maori from fishing. McCormack compares her New Zealand materials with the situation in Hawai‘i where a less rigid system gives way to the co-existence of a “gift economy” with a “cash economy.” Shedding more detailed light on the strategies created by subaltern groups is the chapter by Horan. Grounded in thorough ethnography, this chapter shows how Cook Islanders in New Zealand create opportunities for the production of tivaivai cloth for a commercial purpose while still pursuing “their own non-capitalist aims of strengthening sociality and accruing prestige within their own worldview and understanding of value and what constitutes valuables” (102). With less ethnographic evidence, the chapter by Barclay and Kinch on sustainability in coastal fisheries raises the point of assumed capitalist work ethic at the level of communities that have become the beneficiaries of donor-funded development projects in Solomon Islands and PNG. But because the participants approached their activities with communal concerns in mind and the project design did not accommodate this, the projects fail.
Analysing landowner business development around large-scale mining in Papua New Guinea, Bainton and Macintyre continue the discussion around the continuity of Melanesian ways of doing things. The conclusion of their careful and well-developed discussion is that even though mining has produced significant economic opportunities for local communities, many of the evolving local businesses have divided people and entrenched inequalities. Yang’s chapter aims to understand how the Bugkalot (Ilongot) of the Cagayan River in Northern Luzon, Philippines, respond to large-scale logging. Not surprisingly Bugkalot see that envy and desire drive their pursuit of a capitalist economy and Yang also identifies an emerging new notion of the self. Sharp’s chapter brings us back to PNG and documents how local ideas about sociality and exchange shape rivalry and companionship in Mount Hagen betel nut trade. This is the first detailed study of betel nut trade in PNG. In their concluding piece Curry and Koczberksi’s return to the guiding question of the volume in an attempt to draw together its key themes.
These chapters, some more successful than others, remind us that there is of course no one abstract theory of capitalism that is not affected by the cultural and historical contexts within which capitalism as we label it evolves. Hence capitalism can only be researched as contingent, diverse, and embedded in local contexts, not as some vaguely defined entity that is affecting local contexts. The ethnography offered in this book underpins the importance of seeing capitalism as being embedded in a locality in terms of relations. Nevertheless most of the analyses shed light on embedded meanings of capitalism in terms of symbolic or metaphoric discourses that directly address problems related to the ordeal of the everyday life of capitalism. To say that these discourses speak about capitalism is one thing, but to assert that they have capitalism as their object and to imply that they can be read as an apprehension of capitalism is something altogether different. Despite my criticism, this volume is a good source for development work as it teaches lessons about how communities respond to projects premised on simple capitalist notions of market mechanisms.
Jaap Timmer, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
BELONGING IN OCEANIA: Movement, Place-Making and Multiple Identifications. Pacific Perspectives, v. 3. Edited by Elfriede Hermann, Wolfgang Kempf and Toon van Meijl. New York: Berghahn Books, 2014. vi, 221 pp. US$95.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-78238-415-1.
The past encroaching of colonial states drove Pacific peoples from their native lands, and they have been moving ever since: for work, to alleviate overpopulation, or due to a scarcity of resources. Belonging in Oceania adds a multiplicity of layers to the analysis of cultural identification, looking at the roots people have in their homeland, at the web of spatial and social relationships in their new environment, and to the expectations people portray upon their environment from a social, cultural, and spatial perspective. The editors bring together an array of insights under the general headings of “movement,” “place-making,” and “cultural identifications,” resulting in “multiplicities of belonging,” which they see as “the product of dialogical processes operating within the frame of specific power relationships” (16).
The nine case studies show both the perspectives’ wealth of possibilities, but also that it is hard to bring the individual arguments together as a consistent argument. Dürr characterizes the encounter between Maori and Mexican secondary-school students in southern Mexico as a transpacific, cross-cultural encounter, with both groups attempting to communicate their cultural identities. The Maori are almost combatively aware of their culture and the Mexicans, as part of a strongly Americanized urban setting, are more estranged from their “roots.” In Dürr’s words, “identity is formed primarily by comparing and contrasting oneself with the ‘other’” (42). In that respect it is interesting how the Mexican students re-evaluate their own cultural heritage.
Brandt, focusing on cross-cultural friendships in New Zealand, takes Dürr’s perspective further. For many urban Maori their link to ancestral homelands has eroded and their identity rests on a pan-tribal construct. Brandt shows in detail the contrast this creates between any relations a Maori has to his or her Pakeha (non-indigenous New Zealander) friends, rather than Maori ones. Relationships with Pacific islanders further complicate this. The dialogical results show “a relatively high degree of flexibility in the construction of difference and similarity [providing] informal spaces ‘in between’ in which actors can re-imagine themselves and others” (184).
The studies of Garond and Rollason both take us into the historical shaping of cultural identity through colonial settlement. In Garond’s study displacement plays a prominent role as up until the 1970s Aboriginal peoples across Queensland were relocated to reserves like Palm Island. People consequently trace identity not only to their present location, but also to historical places (reserves, missions), and traditional camps. This gives not only a mixed sense of belonging, but also fosters notions of “cultural loss” and the wish to overcome this.
Rollason, working on Panapompom Island (Milne Bay, PNG), traces the present sense of underdevelopment among the islanders to the link between identity and copra production during colonial times. The collapsing copra economy, replaced by harvesting marine resources, left the locals perceiving themselves as failing “to live up to standards they located in a context they shared with white people and in which they had invested a great deal” (88).
Thode-Arora, Pascht, and Fer and Malogne-Fer trace common denominators within the processes by which Pacific islanders create a common identity within urban New Zealand. First, urban migrants experience a loss of culture and language. Additionally, a new pan-Polynesian identity comes into existence. Co-authors Fer and Malogne-Fer specifically explore the role of Protestantism in this respect. While some groups establish distinctive congregations within their community, others must identify themselves within mixed congregations. Thode-Arora points here to the establishment of weaving groups to maintain Niue identity. Pascht focuses explicitly on the land right issues among the Cook islanders and identifies a third common denominator: kinship and genealogy. Even though the present generations are often born in New Zealand, the authors show that relations to one’s place of origin remain important and will be maintained by gifts or—as is shown by Pascht—the establishment of occupation rights.
In the epilogue, Kempf and Hermann provide a perspective on the effects of present global warming. Atoll states in the Pacific are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. The example of Kiribati shows the complex interplay between official discourse on global warming, the search for a new homeland, and the very practical threat of loss of identity. The authors point to the ability of the Pacific islanders to “exercise agency by mobilizing the fact of their belonging to a particular land and its people—or, and increasingly so, to many communities” (208).
The volume covers a lot of ground, perhaps even too much. The authors showcase interesting arguments in their chapters, but often what is said relates only in part to the main perspective of the volume itself. This is even true of the epilogue to the volume, though the authors do refer back to the individual contributions. The problem is that the net is cast very wide. If the number of contributions to the volume had been larger the overall impression of the volume would be more outspoken. Also, while the authors refer to each other’s work in general, there is too little common ground in the various contributions. While most authors refer to the urban setting of New Zealand as a partial or core locality, these different strands remain unattached and that is a missed opportunity.
Sjoerd R. Jaarsma, Papua Heritage Foundation, Hilversum, The Netherlands
THE POLYNESIAN ICONOCLASM: Religious Revolution and the Seasonality of Power. ASAO Studies in Pacific Anthropology, v. 5. By Jeffrey Sissons. New York: Berghahn Books, 2014. viii, 160 pp. (Figures, map.) US$85.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-78238-413-7.
Jeffrey Sissons, who has written widely about historical change in the Pacific, turns his attention in this volume to the chiefly embrace of Jehova in the islands of Tahiti, the Cooks, and Hawai‘i. In all cases, conversion yielded striking results: the populations became Christian, ritual was altered, and the nature of paramount leadership was transformed. Chiefs became leaders of centralized kingdoms. Sissons is correct and justified in calling these events an iconoclasm.
Sissons’ argument is logically presented. He introduces the thesis of the book in the first chapters, detailing both his theoretical orientation and the importance of the seasonality of rituals for the maintenance of Polynesian chieftainships. Such seasonality was important in order to reinforce the nature of chiefly power and to cement loyalty throughout all levels of a stratified society. Seasonal rituals were totalizing and central, directed by chiefs and priests and followed by commoners. Before the coming of Christianity, the year was divided into two ritual seasons: the first, Pleiades Above (designating the place of the constellation in the skies of the Southern hemisphere) in which opposites came together, god images were destroyed, and sacrifices occurred all marking communitas; in the second half of the cycle, Pleiades Below, hierarchy was reasserted, chiefly buildings were (re)constructed, ceremonial spaces were purified, and god images were rewrapped. In short, seasonality demonstrated the tearing down and reconstruction of the cultural order according to the state of the heavens. The cycle was led by priests and chiefs and followed by commoners. While there were variations among the island groups, the pattern revealed by Sissons remained substantially similar throughout the Eastern and Central Pacific.
Sissons, who acknowledges his debt to Sahlins’ analysis of Hawai‘i, suggests the expression “rituopraxis” in place of Sahlins’ “mythopraxis.” This seems superfluous, given the substantial overlap of myth and ritual. It is true that Sissons’ argument builds largely on ritual practices, but these are intricately combined with mythological implications. This is however a minor quibble in a well researched, creative, and insightful study.
Sissons has carefully and scrupulously examined missionary records, reading the diaries and letters of missionaries, who witnessed massive cultural transformations. Conversion was neither uniform nor global. Sissons allows the reader to see the different faces of the London Missionary Society as he carefully describes the political ambitions of chiefs and the determination of missionaries. Sissons’ attention to particular island contexts permits us to see heroic history in action.
In the case of Tahiti, Pomare’s conversion to Christianity, assisted by both his priests as well as the missionaries from the London Missionary Society, worked clearly to his political advantage. Once conversion was complete, chiefly power was consolidated and stratification was institutionalized. By orchestrating the sacrifice of the Tahitian god Oro at the appropriate point in the ritual cycle, Pomare established Jehova as the source of concentrated political and religious power. Centralized political structures headed by Pomare, were now celebrated, as seasonality was abandoned and hierarchy remained the chief’s permanent prerogative. Religious iconoclasm led to political transformation, as political leadership was restructured and reimagined.
The universe had been recreated once again, but the terms were now different. New majestic buildings dedicated to Jehova, the baptism of the royal family, and new laws that were written and enforced by Pomare, all supplanted any previous indicia of communitas, replacing them with indisputable hierarchy. Tahitians now understood Pomare’s power to be bestowed by Jehova; loyalty to the royal personage characterized the centralized, regal kingdom that emerged.
The transition from communitas to hierarchy had its parallel in the unwrapping and rewrapping of god images. Pomare, in concert with his priests and LMS missionaries, abolished attention to the binding of god figures and replaced these wrapped images literally and metaphorically with bound books. Sissons points out, following Adrienne Kaeppler, that it is binding and wrapping that create sacred bundles. Such bound volumes, numerous but containing only one god, contributed to an understanding of hierarchy, as disparate social entities are linked together. Majestic buildings, bound entities signifying simultaneously stratification and connection, and newly codified laws all generated a hierarchical, totalizing, and centralizing social order that transformed chiefly mana into the power of kings.
Sissons has written a carefully organized, very well researched study of religious and political transformation. This book is suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and anyone with an interest in Pacific history. The author leads the reader carefully through the complexities of his argument, an argument that moves through time and space in Polynesia. Sissons commands a great deal of historical and ethnographic knowledge of the Pacific. It is entirely to his credit that he is able to communicate this so lucidly. In putting all the pieces together, Sissons is truly innovative, noticing and detailing relationships that were not previously evident. Tracing the shift from seasonality to hierarchy throughout the Eastern and Central Pacific, Sissons provides us with a unified view of the transformation of chiefs into kings in Polynesia. By concentrating on individuals, Sissons permits us to view, and to understand, heroic history. As chiefdoms become kingdoms, as chiefly establishments yielded to regal edifices, religious changes promoted iconoclastic political shifts. Sissons has documented these processes very well indeed.
Karen Sinclair, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, USA
Hawai‘i’s status as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations requires little explanation given its extraordinarily picturesque landscapes, comfortable climate, and genuine “aloha spirit.” How the islands shifted from a unified sovereign state governed by indigenous Hawaiian monarchs and ruling chiefs to become a strategic part of the United States is a rather complex and tragic story. That story has been told repeatedly from different perspectives, by historians and Hawaiian scholars. In her account of the ascent of the sugar planters in politics and economy in Hawai‘i, Carol MacLennan digs deeply to produce an impressively intricate story of the subterfuge and web of connections that led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the rise of sugar capitalists who reshaped landscapes and land ownership and tenure, undermined community self sufficiency, and introduced new labor ethnicities into the islands after 1850. MacLennan focuses her research on the period of immense social change that began in the 1840s but does not ignore the social and political preconditions that may have facilitated epochal events. She states that her goal is to unravel “the relationships between the industrializing developments of the sugar industry and Hawai‘i’s human and natural landscapes” (7). Her account illuminates the process by which small scale production of sugar by Hawaiians with the help of Chinese immigrants was overtaken in the 1850s largely by American missionary residents and their Hawai‘i-born descendants who were emboldened by the support of local merchants and overseas investors. These new sugar planters/capitalists grew the industry into the most technologically sophisticated and productive, if not always the most profitable, in the world. MacLennan’s meticulous documentation of how and why the planters achieved their immense status, including the monarchs’ mounting financial indebtedness, presents a powerful study of the inner workings of capitalism and the relentless and ruthless path to profits. Thus she argues that while the heritage of Hawai‘i’s sugar industry is obvious in the alteration of indigenous landscape ecologies, because of impacts on society and culture the full extent of the industry’s legacy may yet be revealed.
The book consists of eleven chapters, an introduction, and conclusion plus useful appendices. Chapter 1 discusses three waves of human-nature interaction: the first wave is associated with Polynesian settlement around 1000 CE. By the early 1800s the rapidly growing population had cleared native vegetation and planted the major valleys and fertile leeward slopes of the major islands up to 1500 feet elevation. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Captain Cook and the early European traders set off a more intense second wave of social and environmental changes, including the precipitous decline of the indigenous population from introduced diseases. The third wave of change began in the 1880s, commencing with the peak of industrial sugar production which began a process of intense alteration of the islands’ environments.
Chapter 2, entitled “Sugar’s Ecology,” highlights the natural, scientific, and technological resource demands of sugar production. MacLennan compares Hawai‘i with other cane sugar producing areas in the world highlighting the unique features of Hawai‘i’s sugar industry, such as its heavy reliance on irrigation and scientific farming practices, unified plantation mill-field ownership, and vertical integration to form a sugar industrial complex. But crucial to industrial success was the achievement of economies of scale and the crafting of a corporate lock on the economic and political power of the Hawaiian nation.
The remaining chapters dwell on questions the author says are at the heart of the book: 1. How did sugar production, a precarious endeavor at best before the 1870s, survive and eventually thrive? 2. What were the environmental effects of sugar’s development? 3. What role did the Hawaiian nation play in the industry’s development? 4. What role did sugar planters play in the demise of an independent Hawaiian state? 5. What is the true ecological legacy of one hundred and fifty years of sugar production in Hawai‘i? Ample answers are provided through the explication of the rise of the four families (chapter 4) and five companies (chapter 5) that persisted through years of production and financial uncertainty (primarily 1866–1875) to triumph because they were able to impose private property ideology, eventually convincing the Hawaiian monarchs to abandon a system of communal land use-rights in favor of a private property regime. Sugar planters forged access to private ownership and/or leases of extensive tracks of land to undertake large-scale sugar production. Nevertheless, the five dominating companies (“The Big Five”) might not have grown so big without outside capital from San Francisco, Germany, and Great Britain, or without securing a Reciprocity Treaty with the United States (1875), the manipulation of the body politic (e.g., the Bayonet Constitution of 1887), or the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy (1893) and eventual incorporation into the United States in 1898 through territorial status.
The remaining chapters examine the agricultural landscapes, plantation centers, and plantation community as well as the ethic of strong cooperation and management linkages between sugar planter families and business entities. Workers’ responses to wages and living conditions are discussed. All of this is worthwhile reading not least because the author goes behind the scenes to reveal the bundle of actions and reactions, failures and successes, that changed the life of the land and communities in Hawai‘i.
The conclusion focuses on two decades—the 1970s to 1990s—when all but one of the sugar plantations closed (the last plantation, the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, has announced the shut down of its 36,000 acre plantation by the end of 2016). Sugar is no longer sovereign but its impact over 150 years of growth and decline in Hawai‘i cannot be undone. While the book provides much less discussion of the specific impacts of industrial-scale sugar production on the natural landscape than promised, the book’s closing discussion highlights four environmental issues that have accrued from the study. Overall, the book is a valuable source of information about the political economy, social relationships, and general landscape alteration that characterized sugar’s reign in Hawai‘i.
Sonia P. Juvik, University of Hawai‘i, Hilo, USA
THE VALUE OF HAWAI‘I 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions. A Biography Monograph. Edited by Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua. Honolulu: Published for the Biographical Research Center by the University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014. xiv, 308 pp. (Illustrations.) US$19.99, paper. ISBN 978-0-8248-3975-8.
This book continues the profound conversation initiated in Howes and Osorio’s (2010) first volume responding to political changes and ongoing struggles for Kanaka ‘Ōiwi around quality of life in Hawai‘i. The first volume sought a range of articles from contributors who had intimate knowledge and experience negotiating challenges emerging from economic, government, social services, and ka ‘āina for Kanaka ‘Ōiwi. This was a volume grounded in voices of experience, academic analysis, and long-time activists. As Mari Matsuda of the first volume reflected, there seemed to be an absence of young energy. Yamashiro and Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua understood that absence while also clearly hearing the younger voices as they opened spaces for contemporary voices committed to the mutual obligations of land and people to care for one another. Both volumes were written for general audiences, rather than solely academic ones, and focus on the ideas, challenges, projects, and dreams of the Kanaka ‘Ōiwi and Hawai‘i. The second volume includes the views of scholars, artists, business people, activists, farmers and fishers, teachers, and professionals across a broad range of ages expressing hope for the future and urging a change of perspectives. The diversity of authors is extremely successful in tying together mo‘olelo, kuleana, huaka‘i, pu‘ohonua, and aloha while adding more traditional subject guides (e.g., health, food, relationships with elders, land, education, gender, and the sacred) for those who seek specific topics.
Although one can read for specific topics of interest, I highly recommend reading the work as a whole. Each section structures the discussion and brings to life what Meyer (Manulani Aluli Meyer, Ho‘oulu: Our Time of Becoming: Hawaiian Epistemology and Early Writings, ‘Ai Pohaku Press, 2003) identifies as Kanaka ‘Ōiwi epistemology. Yamashiro and Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua suggest that the Hawaiian name for the archipelago—nā kai ‘ewalu, or the eight seas that connect each island to one another and Hawai‘i to the larger Pacific or Oceanic community—contextualizes the book’s framework. This shift prepares the reader for a key component of Kanaka ‘Ōiwi epistemology: quality and level of relationships are the primary way to share knowledge. Relationality imbues the stories, music, analysis, community strategies, contributors, and very structure of the book. They are all woven together as organic, relational forces energized by history and future possibilities. I felt like I was watching the spirits of the contributors to the first volume flowing through this current volume into the future. Although Kanaka ‘Ōiwi perspectives and values shape the flow and content of the book, the spaces and practices encompass all who come to Hawai‘i and commit to her well-being.
The first section about aloha frames qualities of relationships that can lead to knowing through experience. The chapters describe maternal love, grace, perseverance, fierceness, and sacrifice echoing Pele and Hi‘iakaikapoliopele. The mo‘olelo section sings about the need to listen to new voices such as youth activism through spoken arts, community health, and agriculture. Reading the multiple intersections of mo‘olelo and modern issues of gender, private education, poetry, and “myths made new” invite the reader to experience the full range of ideas, analysis, emotion, and dreams emerging from those who care about Hawai‘i. The third section on kuleana, or responsibilities to care and contribute, focuses on the responsible development of Hawai‘i. It is tempting to pick-and-choose topics of interest, but the section read as a whole overlays community wealth, individual family traditions, energy,
waste, food, urbanism, and poetry among others to provide an experience of how each component is crucial to the other. A sense of richness, vitality, and kuleana radiates from these chapters. The fourth section explores finding a position or way through voyaging, diaspora, decolonization, alternative economics, settler colonialism, social justice, and personal efforts. It is a powerful section knotting together wayfinding practices and metaphors with material contributions and personal knowing. Pu‘uhonua, revolving around creating safe and sacred spaces, insightfully connects the spirit and ethics of the relationality of social compacts (as different from social contract) to larger forces and interconnections, with the last chapter highlighting the power of spiritual connections. The final section returns to aloha and sketches out Island-style activism and the power of ceremony to guide future actions.
The interweaving of personal examples, mo‘olelo, ongoing initiatives to nourish a quality of life, and maintaining the vision of wholeness provided a powerful sample of the forces in Hawai‘i and the deep conversations about how to shape the future. The diversity of Hawaiian voices highlights different paths to taking care of each other and intersections of kuleana. While directed toward general audiences, there is much that is relevant to scholarly audiences attuned to Kanaka ‘Ōiwi epistemology, the intersection of disciplines, and the self-determination of Kanaka ‘Ōiwi. Personally, I would love to see a third volume where these intersections of differences and agreements are examined highlighting the power of Kanaka ‘Ōiwi epistemology. This volume adds to the first as it crosses generations and demonstrates how practices of old shaped and continue to shape emerging strategies and solutions that nourish the well-being of all. The Value of Hawai‘i 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions is best savoured for the range of contributions, insights emerging from the people who will act and carry the responsibilities for Hawai‘i’s future. It makes a wonderful companion to the first volume (The Value of Hawai‘i: Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future) and potentially a powerful series.
Karen Fox, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE = HĒI YĂN QUĀN. A film by Tsai Ming-Liang; a FortissimoFilms presentation; Homegreen Films, Soudaine Compagnie present; director, screenplay, Tsai Ming-Liang; producers, Bruno Pesery, Vincent Wang; director of photography, Liao Pen-Jung; editor, Chen, Sheng-Chang. Culver City, CA: Strand Releasing Home Entertainment, 2007. 1 DVD (118 min.) US$175.00, Institutions and Schools; US$18.75, Home use. In Malaysian-Chinese with English subtitles.
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone is a 2006 film by Malaysia-born, Taiwan-based filmmaker, Tsai Ming-liang. The film poignantly captures the ways in which intimate space and life circumstances shape human desire, dreams, and love; it also explores the themes of emotional abuse and interdependency. Architectural space functions as both a stage and a metaphor to convey these human interactions: specifically desire, intimacy, and erotic dreamscapes.
The complex narrative of the film revolves around two invalids and their caretakers. One is the son of a shopkeeper who has been lying in a coma and is cared for by his mother’s maid. Another character is a homeless day laborer who was lured into a scam by a group of local men; when they find out that he has no money, the group beats him up and leaves him lying severely injured on the sidewalk. A group of South Asian migrant construction workers finds a used mattress in an alley which they are carrying home; along the way they discover the brutally beaten homeless laborer, and one of these South Asian characters, named Rawang, nurses him back to health.
The intertwined stories in Tsai’s film focus on the daily social and economic struggles, desires, and sexual intimacies of migrant workers, day laborers, and shop owners. Tsai employs close, cramped settings in specific architectural spaces to magnify human intimacy and expressions of sexual desire on screen. For example, the mother of the comatose character lives in an old Chinese shop house that occupies multiple stories. The maid sleeps in a loft located directly above the invalid; she occasionally peeps at him through the cracks between the wooden floorboards. The daily routine of cleaning his body creates an intimacy and sexual arousal on the patient’s part that only the caretaker knows. The scene involves the maid applying lotion to the mother’s back; the mother grabs her maid’s hand, adds more lubricant to it, and places her maid’s hand on her comatose son’s penis. The mother holds her maid’s hand as they stroke his penis. The act is not directly incestuous because the mother does not touch her son’s erect penis inside his diaper. She uses her maid’s hand to provide sexual relief for her son, and yet the mother’s involvement is questionable. The pair finished the man off with an orgasm. The viewer sees this scene of complicit incest as reflected in the mirror of a vanity table, making it extremely voyeuristic.
The viewer is likewise privy to scenes of homoerotic intimacy that take place between Rawang and the homeless day laborer. We see the two men share the used mattress covered with a mosquito net. Although no explicit sexual scenes take place between these two men on screen, there is clear evidence informing us that they are lovers. As the film unfolds, we see an affectionate scene that involved the two men sleeping, facing each other inside a mosquito net. They each take turns pretending to be asleep while the other ganders at his sleeping object of desire. The filmic magnifications of these intimacies and subtle expressions of physical desire is the tour de force in Tsai’s film.
Tsai uses architecture in unexpected ways to set his theater of desire. Later in the film, Rawang and his male lover move their mattress to a roofless, unfinished and abandoned skyscraper. Rainwater forms a reservoir in the center of the building that becomes a pond where the two men fish. A dreamlike scene shows a butterfly perched on the homeless laborer’s shoulder while he is fishing, and the sound of wildlife can be heard echoing through the edifice. The building is clearly an oasis of love for these two men. In Chinese literature and arts, butterflies usually come in pairs to symbolize a pair of lovers; the single butterfly here might allude to and foreshadow the promiscuity of this character later in the film.
Indeed, we find out that like a butterfly, the laborer flutters from one flower to another. The two men continue their intimate relationship in the abandoned skyscraper, but the homeless day laborer pursues other partners on the street. Rawang discovers that his lover has been sleeping with the shop owner as well as with her maid. Rawang is enraged by jealousy that his lover is sleeping with the maid. One night Rawang goes out in disguise to find his lover and threatens to cut his throat with the lid of a can. He breaks down in tears before he can carry out his act. Rawang’s lover affectionately touches his agonized face and wipes away his tears of pain: these are the most touching moments in the film.
The ending of Tsai’s film is both comical and dreamy. Once again, the architectural space of the city and its cramped spaces lent itself to representing human intimacy and the eroticism of everyday life. The film ends with Rawang, the homeless laborer, and the maid moving the used mattress that they shared to the loft at the shop owner’s house. The used mattress is found at the loft located directly above the shop owner’s invalid son. The film ends with the three of them sleeping together on this mattress. Through digital effect, the mattress appears to float weightlessly on a body of water, evoking the pond found in the unfinished building: the oasis for lovers. The digital effect gives us the impression that the mattress is drifting slowly toward us, the viewers. Lee Xiang Lan’s 1957 Heart Song starts to play. This sweet and haunting song, sung in Mandarin Chinese, evokes the sensuality of spring and sums up the characters’ desire and sentiments for one another:
I want to stay in your arms because you are the only one for me.
Winter has gone and spring is here,
Bridges are filled with flowers again.
Can’t you see the pairs of butterflies?
A close-up shot of the paralyzed son’s face showing him breathing heavily while staring lugubriously at the ceiling, indicating to the viewers that he is excited and aroused by the ménage-à-trois taking place above him. Moreover, it is hinted at that their bedfellows also include the shop owner; after all, they all moved into her home. The pairs of butterflies evoked in the lyrics of the Chinese song reminds viewers of the single butterfly that we saw fluttering in the fishing scene that I discussed earlier. This comical and licentious ending is befitting of the English title of the film, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone—now they sleep together, perhaps not in the same mattress and at the same time, but they sleep with one another and with each other. The viewer walks away from Tsai’s film in a state of slumber, between awakening and dreaming, caught in an erotic dream. Tsai has evoked an out-of-the-ordinary desire that is sexually transgressive: it goes beyond the heteronormative binary. Stability is fleeting for migrant workers; they sleep on makeshift beds, but one thing no one can take away from them is the freedom to dream.
Boreth Ly, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA