front cover of Abolitions as a Global Experience
Abolitions as a Global Experience
Edited by Hideaki Suzuki
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
The abolition of slavery and similar institutions of servitude was an important global experience of the nineteenth century. Considering how tightly bonded into each local society and economy were these institutions, why and how did people decide to abolish them? This collection of essays examines the ways this globally shared experience appeared and developed. Chapters cover a variety of different settings, from West Africa to East Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, with close consideration of the British, French and Dutch colonial contexts, as well as internal developments in Russia and Japan. What elements of the abolition decision were due to international pressure, and which to local factors? Furthermore, this collection does not solely focus on the moment of formal abolition, but looks hard at the aftermath of abolition, and also at the ways abolition was commemorated and remembered in later years.

This book complicates the conventional story that global abilition was essentially a British moralizing effort, “among the three or four perfectly virtuous pages comprised in the history of nations”. Using comparison and connection, this book tells a story of dynamic encounters between local and global contexts, of which the local efforts of British abolition campaigns were a part.

Looking at abolitions as a globally shared experience provides an important perspective, not only to the field of slavery and abolition studies, but also the field of global or world history.

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Art and Trousers
Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Asian Art
David Elliott
National University of Singapore Press, 2021
An illustrated collection of essays on modern and contemporary Asian art by a key figure of the international contemporary art world.

An illustrated collection of more than thirty essays and 640 color images, Art and Trousers moves deftly between regional analysis, portraits of individual artists, and a metaphorical history of trousers. This book presents a panoramic view of modern and contemporary Asian art, varying its focus on the impacts of invention, tradition, exchange, colonization, politics, social development, and gender. David Elliott spotlights the practice of many leading global artists of the early twenty-first century, including Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, Rashid Rana, Bharti Kher, Makoto Aida, Chatchai Puipia, and Yeesookyung, among many others. Art and Trousers offers insight into the development of a key curatorial practice for our times, and it will be an essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary art and the way it operates across borders.

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Artists and the People
Ideologies of Art in Indonesia
Elly Kent
National University of Singapore Press, 2022
Gets to the heart of what is unique about Indonesian art. 

Exploring the work of established and emerging artists in Indonesia’s vibrant art world, this book examines why so many artists in the world’s largest archipelagic nation choose to work directly with people in their art practices. While the social dimension of Indonesian art makes it distinctive in the globalized world of contemporary art, Elly Kent is the first to explore this engagement in Indonesian terms. What are the historical, political, and social conditions that lie beneath these polyvalent practices? How do formal and informal institutions, communities, and artist-run initiatives contribute to the practices and discourses behind socially engaged art in Indonesia? Drawing on interviews with artists, translations of archival material, visual analyses, and participation in artists’ projects, this book presents a unique, interdisciplinary examination of ideologies of art in Indonesia. 

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The ASEAN Miracle
A Catalyst for Peace
Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a miracle. In an era of growing cultural pessimism, there is a pervasive belief that different civilizations cannot function together. Yet the ten countries of ASEAN are a thriving counter-example of coexistence. Here, more than 625 million people live together in peace.

In 1967, leaders from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand struck a landmark agreement, forming ASEAN. They had realized that political and economic cooperation would bring greater stability and prosperity to the region. Fifty years and five additional countries later, the alliance has remained one of the world’s most successful collaborations. Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng explain how this partnership has benefited the ten member countries and why it should serve as a model for other regions of the world, challenging our assumptions about international cooperation. As the world turns to Asia and the United States and China jostle for dominance, the ASEAN region will have an undeniably powerful role in shaping our global systems. Mahbubani and Sng offer an important primer for understanding this immensely successful—and woefully underappreciated—regional organization.

front cover of Asianisms
Regionalist Interactions and Asian Integration
Edited by Marc Frey and Nicola Spakowski
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
At the core of this book is a seemingly simple question: What is Asia? In search of common historical roots, traditions and visions of political-cultural integration, first Japanese, then Chinese, Korean and Indian intellectuals, politicians and writers understood Asianisms as an umbrella for all conceptions, imaginations and processes which emphasized commonalities or common interests among different Asian regions and nations.

This book investigates the multifarious discursive and material constructions of Asia within the region and in the West. It reconstructs regional constellations, intersections and relations in their national, transnational and global contexts. Moving far beyond the more well-known Japanese Pan-Asianism of the first half of the twentieth century, the chapters investigate visions of Asia that have sought to provide common meanings and political projects in efforts to trace, and construct, Asia as a united and common space of interaction. By tracing the imagination of civil society actors throughout Asia, the volume leaves behind state-centered approaches to regional integration and uncovers the richness and depth of complex identities within a large and culturally heterogeneous space.

front cover of The Aware Saga
The Aware Saga
Civil Society and Public Morality in Singapore
Edited by Terence Chong
National University of Singapore Press, 2011
In March 2009, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) was briefly taken over by a Christian faction. Their coup was overturned within a matter of weeks, but the episode highlighted a variety of issues, including the role of religion in civil society, sex education, homosexuality, state intervention and media engagement. Although the immediate issue was control of an activist group concerned with women's rights, it has implications for the agendas and concerns of NGOs, 'culture wars', the processes of citizenry mobilization, mass participation and noisy democracy, and liberal voices in contemporary Singapore.

 In this book, academics and public intellectuals examine the AWARE saga within the context of Singapore's civil society, considering the political and historical background and how the issues it raised relate to contemporary societal trends. In addition to documenting a milestone event for Singapore's civil society, the authors offer provocative interpretations that will interest a broad range of readers.

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The Memoir of a Chinese Indonesian Family in the Twentieth Century
Stuart Pearson
National University of Singapore Press, 2013
Behind the statistics of migration are the life stories of millions of migrants and their descendants. The movement of people out of China is one of the largest movements of humanity in modern times and large numbers of Chinese emigrated to the colony of

front cover of The Blood of the People
The Blood of the People
Revolution and the End of Traditional Rule in Northern Sumatra
Anthony Reid
National University of Singapore Press, 2014
In northern Sumatra, as in Malaya, colonial rule embraced an extravagant array of sultans, rajas, datuks and ulèëbalangs. In Malaya the traditional Malay elite served as a barrier to revolutionary change and survived the transition to independence, but in Sumatra a wave of violence and killing wiped out the traditional elite in 1945‒46. Anthony Reid’s The Blood of the People, now available in a new edition, explores the circumstances of Sumatra’s sharp break with the past during what has been labelled its “social revolution”.

        The events in northern Sumatra were among the most dramatic episodes of Indonesia’s national revolution, and brought about more profound changes even than in Java, from where the revolution is normally viewed. Some ethnic groups saw the revolution as a popular, peasant-supported movement that liberated them from foreign rule. Others, though, felt victimised by a radical, levelling agenda imposed by outsiders. Java, with a relatively homogeneous population, passed through the revolution without significant social change. The ethnic complexity of Sumatra, in contrast, meant that the revolution demanded an altogether new “Indonesian” identity to override the competing ethnic categories of the past.

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Building a New Legal Order for the Oceans
Tommy Koh
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, has been called a constitution for the oceans. It keeps order in the world’s oceans and regulates nations’ use of their natural resources. Tommy Koh served as president of the third convention, a multi-year meeting that resulted in this important treaty for the government of the global commons. In Building a New Legal Order for the Oceans, Koh brings a unique, insider’s perspective on the UNCLOS negotiation process, and the concepts, tensions, and intentions that underlie today’s Law of the Sea.

In this book, Koh fully explains the many new concepts of international law that arose from UNCLOS III, such as the Exclusive Economic Zone, Archipelagic State, Straits Used for International Navigation, Transit Passage, Archipelagic Sealane Passage, and the Common Heritage of Mankind. He also discusses current threats to maritime security and explains the intricacies of the disputes in the South China Sea. Koh asks What can be learned from the success of UNCLOS? How can we build on that success and manage the new tensions that arise in the Law of the Sea? There is no better guide to this aspect of international law than Koh.

front cover of China as a Sea Power, 1127–1368
China as a Sea Power, 1127–1368
A Preliminary Survey of the Maritime Expansion and Naval Exploits of the Chinese People During the Southern Song and Yuan Periods
Lo Jung-pang
National University of Singapore Press, 2012
Lo Jung-pang argues that during each of the three periods when imperial China embarked on maritime enterprises (the Qin and Han dynasties, the Sui and early Tang dynasties, and Song, Yuan, and early Ming dynasties), coastal states took the initiative at a time when China was divided, maritime trade and exploration subsequently peaked when China was strong and unified, and declined as Chinese power weakened. At such times, China's people became absorbed by internal affairs, and state policy focused on threats from the north and the west. These cycles of maritime activity, each lasting roughly five hundred years, corresponded with cycles of cohesion and division, strength and weakness, prosperity and impoverishment, expansion and contraction.

In the early 21st century, a strong and outward looking China is again building up its navy and seeking maritime dominance, with important implications for trade, diplomacy and naval affairs. Events will not necessarily follow the same course as in the past, but Lo Jung-pang's analysis suggests useful questions for the study of events as they unfold and decades to come.

front cover of China's Footprints in Southeast Asia
China's Footprints in Southeast Asia
Edited by Maria Serena I. Diokno, Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, and Alan H. Yang
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
The countries that make up Southeast Asia are seeing an incredible resurgence in their economic power. Over the past fifty years, their combined wealth has reached the same level as the United Kingdom and, taken together, they are on track to become the fifth-largest world economy. But that stability and success has drawn the attention of the second largest world economy—China. The emerging superpower is increasingly involved in Southeast Asia as part of the ongoing global realignment. As China deepens its influence across the region, the countries of Southeast Asia are negotiating spaces for themselves in order to respond to—or even challenge—China’s power.
                This is the first book to survey China’s growing role in Southeast Asia along multiple dimensions. It looks closely and skeptically at the multitude of ways that China has built connections in the region, including through trade, foreign aid, and cultural diplomacy. It incorporates examples such as the operation of Confucius Institutes in Indonesia or the promotion of the concept of guangxi.China’s Footprints in Southeast Asia raises the question of whether the Chinese efforts are helpful or disruptive and explores who it is that really stands to benefit from these relationships. The answers differ from country to country, but, as this volume suggests, the footprint of hard and soft power always leaves a lasting mark on other countries’ institutions.

front cover of Cold War and Decolonisation
Cold War and Decolonisation
Australia's Policy towards Britain's End of Empire in Southeast Asia
Andrea Benvenuti
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
In this book, Andrea Benvenuti discusses the development of Australia’s foreign and defense policies toward Malaya and Singapore in light of the redefinition of Britain’s imperial role in Southeast Asia and the formation of new postcolonial states. Benvenuti sheds light on the impact of Britain on Australia’s political and strategic interests in Southeast Asia during the Cold War. It will be of interest to historians of Australia’s foreign relations, Southeast Asia, and the British Empire and decolonization.

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Colonial Law Making
Cambodia under the French
Sally Frances Low
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
An important case study in the history of law under colonialism. 

Covering a previously neglected area of Cambodian history, Colonial Law Making explores the structural forces and contingent exchanges that shaped colonial law in Cambodia and examines its post-independence colonial legacy.

The court of King Norodom and the temples of Angkor Wat became orientalist icons in the French colonial imagination, perpetuating an image of the Protectorate (1863–1953) as special and worthy of preservation. This contributed to exceptionalism in the way the Kingdom was colonized, including through law. Drawing on previously unexamined archival material, Sally Low presents a comparative case study of French approaches to colonial law, jurisdiction, and protection. Although the voices of non-elite Cambodians are largely absent from the archives, their influence on colonial law is evident as they resisted efforts to regulate their lives and their land. Low argues that the result was a set of state legal institutions and an indigenous jurisdiction that blended Cambodian and French notions of patronage and royal power as the source and authority for law.

This work is a case study of colonial law as an instrument of control and administration in an indirectly ruled colony. It adds depth to our understanding of the impact of European colonial law and the significance of different forms of colonial rule—direct, indirect, and unofficial. It is easily accessible for non-lawyers and is a must-read for those interested in the recent past of Southeast Asia and the countries that were previously colonized as French Indochina.

front cover of The Comfort Women of Singapore in History and Memory
The Comfort Women of Singapore in History and Memory
Kevin Blackburn
National University of Singapore Press, 2022

A balanced, sensitive study of the history of comfort women in Singapore during World War II.
“Comfort women” or ianfu is the euphemism used by the Japanese military for the women they compelled to do sex work in the Second World War, and has become the term generally used in English to discuss the subject. The role of comfort women in the Japanese empire during World War II remains an important and emotional topic around the world. Most scholarship concentrates on Korean comfort women, with less on their counterparts in Japan, China, and Taiwan, and even less on Southeast Asia. That gap persists despite widespread knowledge of the elaborate series of comfort stations, or comfort houses, that were organized by the Japanese administration across Singapore during the Occupation from 1942 to 1945. So why, the author asks, did no former comfort women from Singapore come forward and tell their stories when others across Asia began to do publicly in the 1990s? 

To understand this silence, this book offers a detailed examination of the sex industry serving the Japanese military during the wartime occupation of Singapore: the comfort stations, managers, procuresses, girls, and women who either volunteered or were forced into service and in many cases sexual slavery. Kevin Blackburn then turns from history to the public presence of the comfort women in Singapore’s memory, including newspapers, novels, plays, television, and touristic heritage sites, showing how comfort women became known in Singapore during the 1990s and 2000s. Bringing great care, balance, and sensitivity to a difficult subject, Blackburn helps to fill an important gap in our understanding of this period.


front cover of Contesting Malayness
Contesting Malayness
Malay Identity Across Boundaries
Edited by Timothy P. Barnard
National University of Singapore Press, 2014
People who call themselves Malay - Melayu - are found in many countries, united by a notional shared identity but divided by political boundaries, divergent histories, variant dialects and peculiarities of local experience. While the term 'Malay' is widely used and readily understood in Southeast Asia, it remains elusive and open to varying interpretations. "Malay" as an identity, or nationality, is one of the most challenging and perplexing concepts in the multi-ethnic world of Southeast Asia. This book assembles research on the theme of how Malays have identified themselves in time and place, developed by a wide range of scholars. The authors include Malaysian anthropologist Shamsul A.B., Indonesian poet Tenas Effendy, and linguists and historians based in Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore and the U.S.A. While the authors describe some of the historical and cultural patterns that make up the Malay world, taken as a whole their work demonstrates the impossibility of offering a definition or even a description of 'Melayu' that is not rife with omissions and contradictions.

front cover of Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore
Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore
Power Relations and the Urban Built Environment
Brenda S.A. Yeoh
National University of Singapore Press, 2003
In the British colonial city of Singapore, municipal authorities and Asian communities faced off over numerous issue. As the city expanded, disputes arose in connection with sanitation, housing, street names, control over pedestrian 'five-foot-ways', and sacred spaces such as burial grounds. Brenda Yeoh's Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore details these conflicts and how they shaped the city. The British administration structured the private and public environments of the city with an eye toward shaping human behaviour, following scientific principles and the lessons of urban planning in other parts of the world. For the Asian communities, Singapore was the place where they lived according to their own values, priorities and resources. The two perceptions of the city frequently clashed, and the author reads the cityscape of Singapore as the result of this contest between discipline and resistance. Drawing on meticulous research and a theoretically sophisticated use of cultural and social geography, post-colonial historical discourse, and social theory, the author offers a compelling picture of a critical stage in Singapore's past. It is an important contribution to the study of colonial cities and an indispensable resource for understanding the shape of modern Singapore.

front cover of Cosmopolitan Intimacies
Cosmopolitan Intimacies
Malay Film Music of the Independence Era
Adil Johan
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
The 1950s and ’60s are now thought to be the Golden Age of Malay film. A big part of what made films of this era so popular was their beguiling music. In this absorbing study, the scholar and musician Adil Johan examines the social and cultural impact of the film music of the period, and its role in nation-making.
Drawing on analyses of lyrics and music, interviews with musicians, and the content of Malay entertainment magazines, in an approach that spans ethnomusicology and cultural studies, he reveals this body of work to be a product of a musical and cultural cosmopolitanism in the service of a nation-making process based on ideas of Malay ethnonationalism, initially fluid but increasingly homogenized over time. Malay film music of the period covertly expressed radical sentiments despite being produced within a commercialized film industry.
Written in a lively style and illustrated with musical examples, the book will satisfy ethnomusicologists, composers, and film studies scholars interested in Southeast Asia and the Malay world. It will equally be of interest to scholars interested in the role of culture in nation-making more broadly.

front cover of Cross-Cultural Exchange and the Colonial Imaginary
Cross-Cultural Exchange and the Colonial Imaginary
Global Encounters via Southeast Asia
Edited by H. Hazel Hahn
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
For years, the study of how culture operates in colonial contexts was dominated by the ideas of transmission and influence. Yet the more we learn, the less useful those concepts seem to be. This collection deliberately complicates the binary of colonizer and colonized in order to establish a more effective framework for understanding. The contributors address a wide range of questions, rooted in specific colonial experiences: How can a controversy about forms of deference in Java reveal tensions around colonial policies and the rise of nationalism? What was Vietnamese about the French colonial governor’s palace in Hanoi? What can the circulation of jazz in Asia tell us about its evolution, circuits of exchange, colonial culture, and its appropriation? Through such inquiries, the volume traces the multilinear trajectories of the flow of decorative objects, architectural styles, photographs, sartorial practices, music, deference rituals, and ethnographic knowledge, in a transimperial framework within and beyond Southeast Asia and Europe. Highlighting a wide range of actors along with their motivations and interactions, this volume treats cultural heritage as dynamic processes.

front cover of Discovering Vietnam’s Ancient Capital
Discovering Vietnam’s Ancient Capital
The Archaeology and History of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi
Edited by Andrew Hardy and Tien Ðông Nguyen
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
The first book in English on this important archaeological excavation in the heart of Vietnam's capital, now a World Heritage site.

As Vietnam entered the twenty-first century it began to prepare for the 1000th anniversary of the founding of its capital Thang Long, now Hanoi. In the heart of the city, a rescue excavation was launched on land earmarked for the construction of a new National Assembly building. Archaeologists unearthed thirteen centuries of vestiges of the ancient city of Thang Long, yielding a richer record than anyone had dared to hope for. Construction plans were shelved, excavations widened, and at the city's millennial celebrations in 2010, UNESCO announced its inscription of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long on its World Heritage List.

This archaeological discovery has two histories. The first, told here by the archaeologists involved, is the story of the dig, which brought to light the bricks, tiles, pillars, sculptures, and ceramics of countless ancient temples and palaces. The second is the history of the citadel itself, in its early years as an outpost of the Chinese empire, in its heyday as the Forbidden City of Vietnam’s emperors, and in its downgrading and eventual destruction at the hands of the Nguyen dynasty and French colonial rulers. Bringing together history, urban history, and a fascinating story of the interplay of influences from China and Southeast Asia, this is also a fascinating case of an Asian capital city coming to understand its history and deciding how to preserve its archaeological remains.

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Electoral Dynamics in Indonesia
Money Politics, Patronage and Clientelism at the Grassroots
Edited by Edward Aspinall and Mada Sukmajati
National University of Singapore Press, 2016
How do politicians win elected office in Indonesia? To find out, research teams fanned out across the country prior to Indonesia’s 2014 legislative election to record campaign events, interview candidates and canvassers, and observe their interactions with voters. They found that at the grassroots political parties are less important than personal campaign teams and vote brokers who reach out to voters through a wide range of networks associated with religion, ethnicity, kinship, micro enterprises, sports clubs and voluntary groups of all sorts. Above all, candidates distribute patronage—cash, goods and other material benefits—to individual voters and to communities. Electoral Dynamics in Indonesia brings to light the scale and complexity of vote buying and the many uncertainties involved in this style of politics, providing an unusually intimate portrait of politics in a patronage-based system.

front cover of Electoral Dynamics in the Philippines
Electoral Dynamics in the Philippines
Money Politics, Patronage and Clientelism at the Grassroots
Edited by Allen Hicken, Edward Aspinall, and Meredith Weiss
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
The role of clientism, political machines, and money in grassroots electioneering in the Philippines has been much analyzed by those who study the subject, but never as extensively as Allen Hicken, Edward Aspinall, and Meredith Weiss do in Electoral Dynamics in the Philippines. Combining in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in localities across the Philippines during the 2016 elections with polling data and national comparative data, this study sheds light on the organization of elections and electioneering across the Philippines. How do candidates choose to appeal to voters, and how do they get out the vote? How do voters respond to different kinds of appeals?  How important are patronage and clientism? What are the networks within which patronage is delivered? What do the political machines look like in elections influenced by social media? The book identifies commonalities and differences across the Philippines while speaking to current debates in political science about elections in developing democracies, the structure and organization of clientelism, and the role of money in elections.

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The End of Innocence?
Indonesian Islam and the Temptations of Radicalism
Andrée Feillard, Rémy Madinier
National University of Singapore Press, 2013
Long cited as a model of harmonious cohabitation between different religions, the most populous Muslim country in the world until recently occupied a special place in the Western imagination. Indonesia, home to a peaceful version of Islam, offered a reass

front cover of Fields of Desire
Fields of Desire
Poverty and Policy in Laos
Holly High
National University of Singapore Press, 2014
In this important new book, High argues that poverty reduction policies are formulated and implemented in fields of desire. Drawing on psychoanalytic understandings of desire, she shows that such programs circulate around the question of what is lacking. Far from rational responses to measures of need, then, the politics of poverty are unconscious, culturally expressed, mutually contradictory, and sometimes contrary to self-interest.

Based on long-term fieldwork in a Lao village that has been the subject of multiple poverty reduction and development programs, High’s account looks at implementation on the ground. While these efforts were laudable in their aims of reducing poverty, they often failed to achieve their objectives. Local people received them with suspicion and disillusionment. Nevertheless, poverty reduction policies continued to be renewed by planners and even desired locally. High relates this to the force of aspirations among rural Lao, ambivalent understandings of power and the “post-rebellious” moment in contemporary Laos.

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Fighting for Health
Medicine in Cold War Southeast Asia
Edited by C. Michele Thompson, Kathryn Sweet, and Michitake Aso
National University of Singapore Press, 2024
An overlooked history of Southeast Asia’s varied healthcare regimes during the Cold War.

For far too long, Southeast Asia has been treated as a static backdrop for the exploits and discoveries of Western biomedical doctors. Yet, Southeast Asians have been vital to the significant developments in the prevention and treatment of diseases that have taken place in the region and beyond. Many of the institutions and people that shaped subsequent responses to outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics first began their work in Southeast Asia during the Cold War. The diversity of approaches to health and medicine during that era also reminds us of the possibilities, and limits, of human intervention in the face of political, social, economic, and microbial realities. The people and places of Southeast Asia have provided clinical trials for different health regimes. Fighting for Health highlights new perspectives and methods that have evolved from research presented at regional conferences, including the History of Medicine in Southeast Asia (HOMSEA) series. These insights serve to challenge dominant models of the medical humanities.

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Freedom from the Press
Journalism and State Power in Singapore
Cherian George
National University of Singapore Press, 2011
For several decades, the city-state of Singapore has been an international anomaly, combining an advanced, open economy with restrictions on civil liberties and press freedom. Freedom from the Press analyses the republic’s media system, showing how it has been structured ”like the rest of the political framework” to provide maximum freedom of manœuvre for the People's Action Party (PAP) government.

front cover of From the Blue Windows
From the Blue Windows
Recollections of Life in Queenstown, Singapore, in the 1960s and 1970s
Tan Kok Yang
National University of Singapore Press, 2013
Imagine a Singapore in which flat rental was S$50 a month, a plate of noodles cost as little as 20 cents, and television broadcasts ended at 10pm every night.
 From the Blue Windows is a collection of Tan Kok Yang's memories of growing up in Queenstown back when the tallest residential building there was fourteen storeys, the Alexandra Canal flooded regularly, and wayang shows were a regular feature on Mei Ling Street. He stayed in Princess Estate, an area that was colloquially known as "the Blue Windows" because of its unique blue glass louvred windows.

With nostalgia and a sense of loss, this memoir is a personal tribute to and celebration of Queenstown and a simple but fulfilling way of life that has all but vanished from modern Singapore.

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Guns of February
Ordinary Japanese Soldiers' Views of the Malayan Campaign and the Fall of Singapore, 1941-42
Henry Frei
National University of Singapore Press, 1990
Guns of February shows the Fall of Singapore and Japan's 1941 military campaign in Malaya through the eyes of Japanese soldiers who took part, based on interviews, memoirs, war diaries, and other Japanese-language sources. Although an enormous number of books have been published on Japan's wartime advance into Southeast Asia, few books in English make much use of Japanese sources, and they reveal little of what happened on the Japanese side. In the words of the author, the Japanese"'advance by brigade groups', 'outflank the defence', 'sustain many casualties', and remain altogether a largely faceless mass bicycling their way down to Singapore." In Guns of February some of the voices of these soldiers are finally heard, and they tell a fascinating story. A few of them were professional soldiers who served their country with commitment and dedication, but many were conscripts hoping to stay alive, curious and apprehensive about the countries they entered, and moved by the plight of the people whose cities and towns they sometimes destroyed. Many were young men, interested in girls and in the sights and sounds of Southeast Asia, but also missing their families and the familiar world of Japan. It is a picture far removed from the staple view of the remorseless and fanatic Japanese soldier totally devoted to his Emperor and determined to die for his country. In writing this account of the Japanese advance on Singapore, the author attempted to show the universal humanity of the actors concerned.

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Hard at Work
Life in Singapore
Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
For most of us, work is a basic daily fact of life. But that simple fact encompasses an incredibly wide range of experiences. Hard at Work takes readers into the day-to-day work experiences of more than fifty working people in Singapore who hold jobs that run from the ordinary to the unusual: from ice cream vendors, baristas, police officers and funeral directors to academic ghostwriters, temple flower sellers, and Thai disco girl agents.

Through first-person narratives based on detailed interviews, vividly augmented with color photographs, Hard at Work reminds us of the everyday labor that continually goes on around us, and that every job can reveal something interesting if we just look closely enough. It shows us too the ways inequalities of status and income are felt and internalized in this highly globalized society.

front cover of Hard Choices
Hard Choices
Challenging the Singapore Consensus
Edited by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh and Donald Low
National University of Singapore Press, 2014
Singapore is changing. The consensus that the PAP government has constructed and maintained over five decades is fraying. The assumptions that underpin Singaporean exceptionalism are no longer accepted as easily and readily as before. Among these are the ideas that the country is uniquely vulnerable, that this vulnerability limits its policy and political options, that good governance demands a degree of political consensus that ordinary democratic arrangements cannot produce, and that the country’s success requires a competitive meritocracy accompanied by relatively little income or wealth redistribution.

But the policy and political conundrums that Singapore faces today are complex and defy easy answers. Confronted with a political landscape that is likely to become more contested, how should the government respond? What reforms should it pursue? This collection of essays suggests that a far-reaching and radical rethinking of the country's policies and institutions is necessary, even if it weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to succeed in its first fifty years.

front cover of A History of the People’s Action Party, 1985-2021
A History of the People’s Action Party, 1985-2021
Shashi Jayakumar
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
The People's Action Party (PAP) of Singapore is among the longest-ruling democratically-elected political parties in the world, in power continuously since Singapore gained self-rule in 1959. Such longevity is the product of an institution that is itself dynamic and responsive. But remarkably, the story of the party as institution has not received the sustained study it deserves from either historians or political scientists.
This narrative history of the PAP follows the story through decisions made by party leaders as they sought to respond to the changing demands and expectations of the Singapore electorate over a thirty-year period that saw Singapore enter the ranks of developed nations. The focus is on change in four dimensions: in the communications methods and styles the party adopted, the mechanisms it developed for managing institutional change, the sometimes vexed question of party renewal, and the evolution of economic and social policy. Drawing on internal party documents and multiple interviews with key leaders over the course of a decade, this book provides a detailed portrait of a robust political institution and establishes a distinctive new narrative of Singapore politics.

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Home is Not Here
Wang Gungwu
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
As someone who has studied history for much of my life, I have found the past fascinating. But it has always been some grand and even intimidating universe that I wanted to unpick and explain to myself.
Wang Gungwu is one of Asia’s most important public intellectuals. He is best-known for his explorations of Chinese history in the long view, and for his writings on the Chinese diaspora.  With Home is Not Here, the historian of grand themes turns to a single life history: his own.
Wang writes about his multicultural upbringing and life under British rule. He was born in Surabaya, Java, but his parents’ orientation was always to China. Wang grew up in the plural, multi-ethnic town of Ipoh, Malaya (now Malaysia). He learned English in colonial schools and was taught the Confucian classics at home. After the end of WWII and Japanese occupation, he left for the National Central University in Nanjing to study alongside some of the finest of his generation of Chinese undergraduates. The victory of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party interrupted his education, and he ends this volume with his return to Malaya.
Wise and moving, this is a fascinating reflection on family, identity, and belonging, and on the ability of the individual to find a place amid the historical currents that have shaped Asia and the world.

front cover of Home Is Where We Are
Home Is Where We Are
Wang Gungwu and Margaret Wang
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
Does home have to be a country or a city?... Or is home this house or that? We have been fortunate.... We seemed always to have been home.
Wang Gungwu’s account of his university education in Singapore and the UK,  and the early years of his career as an academic in Malaysia captures the excitement, the ambition, and the choices of a generation that saw it their responsibility to build the new nations of Southeast Asia.
The exploration of the emotional and intellectual journey towards the formation of an identity, treasured by readers of Wang's Home Is Not Here, extends in this volume into an appreciation of love, family life, and the life of the mind. We also see these years from Margaret’s perspective, her own fascinating family story, and her early impressions of this young bearded poet. Wise and moving, this is a fascinating reflection on identity and belonging, and on the ability of the individual to find a place amidst the historical currents that have shaped Asia.

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Imperial Creatures
Humans and Other Animals in Colonial Singapore, 1819-1942
Timothy P. Barnard
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
One of the areas of fastest-growing interest in the humanities and social sciences in recent years has been the history of animals. Imperial Creatures fills a gap in that field by looking across species at animals in a urban colonial setting. If imperialism is a series of power relationships, Timothy P. Barnard argues, then it necessarily involves not only the subjugation of human communities, but also of animals. What was the relationship between those two processes in colonial Singapore? How did interactions with animals enable changes in interactions between people?

Through a multidisciplinary consideration of fauna, Imperial Creatures weaves together a series of tales to document how animals were cherished, monitored, employed, and slaughtered in a colonial society. All animals, including humans, Barnard shows, have been creatures of imperialism in Singapore. Their stories teach us lessons about the structures that upheld such a society and how it developed over time, lessons of relevance to animal historians, to historians of Singapore, and to urban historians and imperial historians with an interest in environmental themes.

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Indonesian Women and Local Politics
Islam, Gender and Networks in Post-Suharto Indonesia
Kurniawati Hastuti Dewi
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
In an important social change, female Muslim political leaders in Java have enjoyed considerable success in direct local elections following the fall of Suharto in Indonesia. Indonesian Women and Local Politics shows that Islam, gender, and social networks have been decisive in their political victories. Islamic ideas concerning female leadership provide a strong religious foundation for their political campaigns. However, their approach to women's issues shows that female leaders do not necessarily adopt a woman's perspectives when formulating policies. This new trend of Muslim women in politics will continue to shape the growth and direction of democratization in local politics in post-Suharto Indonesia and will color future discourse on gender, politics, and Islam in contemporary Southeast Asia.

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Industrialization in Late-Developing ASEAN Countries
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam
Naoko Amakawa
National University of Singapore Press, 2010
Late industrializing countries are able to pick strategies for economic development based on the experiences of countries that preceded them. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (the CLMV countries) were closed off from the international community for many years, and they began to embrace a market economy at around the same time. Each bypassed the import-substitution strategy adopted by other Southeast Asian countries and began industrialization efforts with export growth funded by Foreign Direct Investment.

The outcomes differed significantly owing to geographical location, government policies, and internal economic conditions. Industrialization in Late-Developing ASEAN Countries explores these differences through case studies based on an extended research program conducted by the Institute of Developing Economies in Tokyo, which offered insights into models of economic growth, and into the trajectories followed by the four countries examined.

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Innovation, Style and Spectacle in Wayang
Purbo Asmoro and the Evolution of an Indonesian Performing Art
Kathryn Emerson
National University of Singapore Press, 2022
A richly illustrated study of wayang, the traditional puppet theater form of Java, based on unprecedented decades-long participatory research.
Wayang, the traditional puppet theater form of Java, fascinates and endures thanks to the many ways it works as a medium—bearing the weight of Javanese culture and tradition as a key component of rites of passage, as a medium of ritual and spiritual practice, as public spectacle, and as entertainment of the broadest sort, performed live, broadcast, or streamed. Over the past forty years, the form has been subject to a great deal of experimentation and innovation, pulled in many directions within an ever-changing media landscape. In this book, Kathryn Anne Emerson outlines both significant contributions by a number of key figures and the social and political influences propelling such innovations. She also describes deeper and more lasting changes in wayang, based on what the art form's most accomplished practitioners have to say about it. At the core of the book is one pivotal figure, Purbo Asmoro of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Surakarta, who, Emerson argues, has taken the individual and singular innovations of the era and integrated them into a new system of performance practice, one that has shaped the key Surakarta school of performance. Grounded in an unprecedented, decades-long participatory research project involving hundreds of interlocutors, the book is beautifully illustrated and will be of considerable interest in Indonesian studies.

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City of a Thousand Dimensions
Abidin Kusno
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
A study of the forces that shaped Jakarta into the city it is today.

Indonesian writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma has called Jakarta a city of a thousand dimensions. A megacity of 30 million under threat from rising sea levels and temperatures, Jakarta and its resilient residents improvise and thrive. This book teases out some of the dimensions that have given shape to contemporary Jakarta, including the city’s expanded flexibility in accommodating capital and labor, and the consistent lack of planning that can be understood as a result of both politics and the poetics of governing in the region. Jakarta is essential reading for those seeking to understand one of Asia's most dynamic cities.

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The Dialogic Construction of Balinese Identity
Michel Picard
National University of Singapore Press, 2024
An investigation into the complex forces that shape Balinese identity.

Over the past one hundred years, the Balinese have been challenged by colonial occupation, political turbulence, and, most recently, tourism. In response, they have come to rely on the idea of “Kebalian,” or Balinese-ness. Kebalian is likened to a tree whose roots are religion (agama), the trunk is tradition (adat), and the fruits, Balinese culture (budaya). To understand how this sense of Balinese-ness came to be, Michel Picard examines the dialogues that the Balinese have engaged in both among themselves and with outsiders by conducting over a hundred interviews with Balinese opinion leaders, officials, and religious reformers. A key throughline in the construction of Kebalian is what Picard identifies as a twofold process of “religionization” and “Hinduization.” This process began with the first years of the incorporation of Bali into the Dutch East Indies and became more urgent with Indonesia’s independence. Kebalian today encompasses the tension between those Balinese eager to defend their customary ritual practices and advocates of Hinduism who deny that such local traditions qualify as agama. Kebalian presents a fascinating picture of religious change, identities in motion, and culture. Scholars of religion, cultural change, and Southeast Asian area studies will find this to be a fascinating and important book.

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Las Vegas in Singapore
Violence, Progress and the Crisis of Nationalist Modernity
Lee Kah-Wee
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
Las Vegas in Singapore looks at the collision of the histories of Singapore and Las Vegas in the form of Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s two integrated resorts.

The first history begins in colonial Singapore in the 1880s, when British administrators revised gambling laws in response to the political threat posed by Chinese-run gambling syndicates. Following the tracks of these punitive laws and practices, the book moves into the 1960s when the newly independent city-state created a national lottery while criminalizing both organized and petty gambling in the name of nation-building. The second history shifts the focus to corporate Las Vegas in the 1950s when digital technology and corporate management practices found each other on the casino floor. Tracing the emergence of the specialist casino designer, the book reveals how casino development evolved into a highly rationalized spatial template designed to maximize profits. Today an iconic landmark of Singapore, Marina Bay Sands is also an artifact of these two histories, an attempt by Singapore to normalize what was once criminalized in its nationalist history.

Lee Kah-Wee argues that the historical project of the control of vice is also about the control of space and capital. The result is an uneven landscape where the legal and moral status of gambling is contingent on where it is located. As the current wave of casino expansion spreads across Asia, he warns that these developments should not be seen as liberalization but instead as a continuation of the project of concentrating power by modern states and corporations.

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Liberalism Disavowed
Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore
Beng Huat Chua
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
In Liberalism Disavowed, Chua Beng Huat examines the rejection of Western-style liberalism in Singapore and the way the People's Action Party has forged an independent non-Western ideology. This book explains the evolution of this communitarian ideology,

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Life Is Not Complete Without Shopping
Consumption Culture in Singapore
Beng Huat Chua
National University of Singapore Press, 2013
One of the cliches that Singaporeans hold most dear is that their lives are a pursuit of the five c's: cash, cars, condominiums, credit cards, and club memberships. Over the last thirty years, Singaporeans have become accustomed to ever-increasing levels

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Life Under the Palms
The Sublime World of the Anti-colonialist Jacob Haafner
Paul van der Velde
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
Jacob Gotfried Haafner (1754–1809) was one of the most popular European travel writers of the early nineteenth century, writing in the Romantic mode. A Dutch citizen, Haafner spent more than twenty years of his early life living outside of Europe, in India, Ceylon, Mauritius, Java, and South Africa. Books like his popular Travels in a Palanquin were translated into the major European languages, and his essays against the work of Christian missionaries in Asia stirred up great controversy. Haafner worked to spread understanding of the cultures he’d come to know in his journeys, promoting European understanding of Indian literature, myth, and religion, translating the Ramayana into Dutch.
With the help of generous excerpts from Haafner's own writings, including material newly translated into English, Paul van der Velde tells an affecting story of a young man who made a world for himself along the Coromandel Coast, in Ceylon and Calcutta, but who returned to Europe to live the last years of his life in Amsterdam, suffering an acute nostalgia for Asia. This will be compelling reading for anyone interested in European response to the cultures of Asia.

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the lives & times of hrh
Herman Hochstadt
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
Herman Hochstadt, or hrh, as he is better known, joined Singapore’s civil service in 1960, rising quickly to the position of principal secretary for Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and later serving as Permanent Secretary in key ministries like Finance and Defense. hrh had an unusual ability to inspire those working for him, and his signature wit and charm are on display in this winning memoir, which deftly weaves together stories of his career and some of the key moments of Singapore’s development. He begins with his Eurasian family’s history in Singapore, including that of his grandfather, John Hochstadt, who founded the Singapore Casket Company. He continues through his childhood, detailing an education that was interrupted by the Japanese occupation, before moving on to his working life, which included influential positions throughout the public and private sectors. Full of warmth and humor, the lives and times of hrh traces a life dedicated to public service in Singapore, from its time as a crown colony through its evolution to the Republic of Singapore.

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The Loss of Java
The Final Battles for the Possession of Java Fought by Allied Air, Naval and Land Forces in the Period of 18 February - 7 March 1942
P.C. Boer
National University of Singapore Press, 2011
The Loss of Java explains in detail the air, sea and land battles between the Allied and Japanese armed forces during the battle for Java that followed the evacuation of southern Sumatra in February 1942. Little has been written about the allied air campaign, or about why Dutch forces fought just one major land battle with the Japanese, the Battle of the Tjiater Pass, in the later stages of the struggle.
 P.C. Boer considers whether the assessment of Major General Van Oyen that deploying the Allied air forces might prevent Japanese invasion of Java was realistic, and whether reliance on air power limited the capacity of land and naval forces to repel Japan's advances. The generally accepted idea is that the Allies were ineffective in their fight against the Japanese invaders but in fact the Japanese suffered serious losses. Boer's study shows that Dutch strategy grew out of a carefully-devised plan of defense, and that the battle for Java comprised not one (the Battle of the Java Sea) but four major engagements. However, Japanese commanders at various levels consciously took steps that exposed their forces to great risk but succeeded in putting the Allies under great pressure. In the end the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) and the allied forces capitulated on 8 March 1942.
 This book is a translation of Het Verlies Van Java: Een kwestie van Air Power. De eindstrijd om Nederlands-Indie van de geallieerde lucht-, zee- en landstrijdkrschten in de periode van 18 februari t/m 7 maart 1942 (Amsterdam: Bataafsche Leeuw BV for the Koninklijke Militaire Academie, 2006).

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Love, Money and Obligation
Transnational Marriage in a Northeastern Thai Village
Patcharin Lapanun
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
Globalization has opened up a flow of economic and cultural exchanges. While we often think about these concepts in terms of trade policies or international treaties, they also play out in more intimate spheres, such as transnational marriages.

Northeast Thailand has seen an increase in marriages between Thai women and farang (Western) men. Often the women are less well off and from rural areas in the country, while the men largely come from the United States and Europe and settle permanently in Thailand. These unions have created a new social class, with distinctive consumption patterns and lifestyles. And they are challenging gender relations and local perceptions of sexuality, marriage, and family.

In Love, Money and Obligation, Patcharin Lapanun offers an exploration of these marriages and their larger effect on Thai communities. Her interviews with women and men engaging in these transnational relationships highlight the complexities of the associations, as they are shaped by love, money, and gender obligations on the one hand and the dynamics of socio-cultural and historical contexts on the other. Her in-depth and even-handed examination highlights the importance of women’s agency and the strength and creativity of people seeking to forge meaningful lives in the processes of social transition and in the face of local and global encounters.

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Malaysiakini and the Power of Independent Media in Malaysia
Janet Steele
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
Chronicles the success of Malaysia’s only truly independent media outlet. 

Founded in 1999 by Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, Malaysiakini was one of many online portals that sprung up in the wake of Reformasi, a period of public protests sparked by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s 1998 firing of his deputy Anwar Ibrahim. At first, there was no reason to think that Malaysiakini would be anything momentous. However, Malaysiakini wanted to do something much more important than just reporting on Reformasi—its founders intended to bring independent journalism to Malaysia in hopes of changing the country for the better.

Based on more than fifteen years of observation of Malaysiakini's newsroom practices, Malaysiakini and the Power of Independent Media in Malaysia is an intimate portrait of the people and issues behind Malaysia’s only truly independent media outlet. The author illustrates Malaysiakini’s unique mix of idealism in action, studying how sensitive issues such as race, religion, politics, and citizenship are discussed in the newsroom. This attention to the inner workings of one of the most important media institutions in the region yields not only a deep newsroom ethnography but a nuanced, rich history of modern Malaysia.

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Malaysian "Bail Outs"?
Capital Controls, Restructuring and Recovery
Translated by Wong Sook, K.S. Jomo, and Chin Kok Fay
National University of Singapore Press, 2005
The financial crisis of 1997 and 1998 shook the rising economies of Asia. Different nations responded in different ways to the crisis, and Malaysia’s response in particular was criticized by the global financial community as a bail-out of politically influential corporate interests. Yet the Malaysian economy recovered strongly in the next few years, leading Malaysian leaders to argue that their policies were responsible. This book sets the record straight, refuting both positions and presenting a fresh perspective on the crisis and its aftermath. Offering clear and concise arguments, it sheds new light on the Asian crisis and policy responses, with an emphasis on capital controls and corporate, bank, and debt restructuring exercises.

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Malaysia's Original People
Past, Present and Future of the Orang Asli
Edited by Kirk Endicott
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
The Malay-language term used for indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, “Orang Asli”, covers at least 19 culturally and linguistically distinct subgroups. Until about 1960 most Orang Asli lived in small camps and villages in the coastal and interior forests, or in isolated rural areas, and made their living by various combinations of hunting, gathering, fishing, agriculture, and trading forest products. By the end of the century, logging, economic development projects such as oil palm plantations, and resettlement programmes have displaced many Orang Asli communities and disrupted long-established social and cultural practices.

The chapters in the present volume provide a comprehensive survey of current understandings of Malaysia’s Orang Asli communities, covering their origins and history, cultural similarities and differences, and they ways they are responding to the challenges posed by a rapidly changing world. The authors, a distinguished group of Malaysian (including Orang Asli) and international scholars with expertise in anthropology, archaeology, biology, education, therapy, geography and law, also show the importance of Orang Asli studies for the anthropological understanding of small-scale indigenous societies in general.

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A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy
Tong Dow Ngiam
National University of Singapore Press, 2001
Singapore's success story has increasingly been recognised but few have told it from the perspective of an insider. As a senior civil servant and "mandarin" from 1959 to 1999, Ngiam Tong Dow served with the founding generation of political leaders and contributed to the country's economic growth. In this book, he reflects on these experiences, sharing personal anecdotes and perceptive insights of Singapore's early decades. He also boldly questions some of the policies of government and emerging trends in the country to suggest how Singapore must change to survive and thrive in the future.

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Marriage Migration in Asia
Emerging Minorities at the Frontiers of Nation-States
Edited by Sari K. Ishii
National University of Singapore Press, 2016
Migration in Asia is leading to more marriages across nationalities. New patterns of migration are complicating the picture of women from poorer Asian countries migrating to marry men in more wealthy ones. The contributors to this volume explore the agency of marriage migrants, showing how migration is often more than a simple movement from home to destination but can involve return, repeated, or extended migrations, and that these transitions that can alter geographies of power in economics, nationality, or ethnicity. Together, the contributors identify this emerging diaspora and its long-term consequences for families. 

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The Politics, Poetics and Paradoxes of Malayness
Edited by Maznah Mohamad and Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
National University of Singapore Press, 2012
People within the Malay world hold strong but diverse opinions about the meaning of the word Melayu, which can be loosely translated as Malayness. Questions of whether the Filipinos are properly called "Malay", or the Mon-Khmer speaking Orang Asli in Malaysia, can generate heated debates. So too can the question of whether it is appropriate to speak of a kebangsaan Melayu (Malay as nationality) as the basis of membership within an aspiring postcolonial nation-state, a political rather than a cultural community embracing all residents of the Malay states, including the immigrant Chinese and Indian population.

In Melayu: The Politics, Poetics and Paradoxes of Malayness, the contributors examine the checkered, wavering and changeable understanding of the word Melayu by considering hitherto unexplored case studies dealing with use of the term in connection with origins, nations, minority-majority politics, Filipino Malays, Riau Malays, Orang Asli, Straits Chinese literature, women's veiling, vernacular television, social dissent, literary women, and modern Sufism. Taken as a whole, this volume offers a creative approach to the study of Malayness while providing new perspectives to the studies of identity formation and politics of ethnicity that have wider implications beyond the Southeast Asian region.

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The Men Who Lost Singapore, 1938-1942
Ronald McCrum
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
The British military failure against the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942 is a well-documented and closely examined episode. But far less attention has been paid to the role of the colonial governor and his staff during this period, an oversight Ronald McCrum corrects with this insightful history. As McCrum shows, the failure of the civil authorities in conjunction with the military to fully prepare the country for the possibility of war was a key factor in the defeat.
In The Men Who Lost Singapore, McCrum closely examines the role and responsibilities of the colonial authorities before and during the war. He argues that the poor and occasionally hostile relations that developed between the local government and the British military hierarchy prevented the development and implementation of a strategic and unified plan of defense against the growing threat of the Japanese. Consequently, this indecisive and ineffective leadership led to significant losses and civilian casualties that could have been prevented.

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Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar
Edited by Renaud Egreteau and François Robinne
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
With a young population of more than 52 million, an ambitious roadmap for political reform, and on the cusp of rapid economic development, since 2010 the world’s attention has been drawn to Myanmar or Burma.

   But underlying recent political transitions are other wrenching social changes and shocks, a set of transformations less clearly mapped out. Relations between ethnic and religious groups, in the context of Burma’s political model of a state composed of ethnic groups, are a particularly important “unsolved equation”.

         The editors use the notion of metamorphosis to look at Myanmar today and tomorrow—a term that accommodates linear change, stubborn persistence and the possibility of dramatic transformation. Divided into four sections, on politics, identity and ethnic relations, social change in fields like education and medicine, and the evolutions of religious institutions, the volume takes a broad view, combining an anthropological approach with views from political scientists and historians. This volume is an essential guide to the political and social challenges ahead for Myanmar.

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Money, Power, and Ideology
Political Parties in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia
Marcus Mietzner
National University of Singapore Press, 2013
Are political parties the weak link in Indonesia’s young democracy? More pointedly, do they form a giant cartel to suck patronage resources from the state? Indonesian commentators almost invariably brand the country’s parties as corrupt, self-absorbed, an

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Moral Politics in the Philippines
Inequality, Democracy and the Urban Poor
Wataru Kusaka
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
Moral Politics in the Philippines offers an in-depth examination of the political participation and discourse of the urban poor in Manila. After the ousting of Ferdinando Marcos in 1986, society in the Philippines fractured along socioeconomic lines. The educated middle class began to recognize themselves as moral citizens and political participants while condemning the poor as immoral “masses” who earn money illegally and support corrupt leaders. Conversely, the poor believe themselves to be morally upright and criticize the rich as arrogant oppressors. Wataru Kusaka looks at the dangers of this moralization of politics during the last several decades, and he analyzes the damaging effects it has had on democracy by excluding much of society and marginalizing the interests of those most in need of resources.

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The Mystery of A Yellow Sleuth
Detective Sergeant Nor Nalla, Federated Malay States Police
Ronald Allan
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
In 1931 a book full of thrilling adventures set mostly in Malaya appeared in London under the title A Yellow Sleuth: Being the Autobiography of “Nor Nalla” (Detective-Sergeant Federated Malay States Police). Reviewers concluded that the stories were just barely plausible, but agreed that the author knew Malaya intimately.
Nor Nalla is an anagram for Ron Allan, who spent four years working on a rubber plantation in Malaya shortly before World War I. Like Kipling’s famous colonial spy, Kim, the “yellow sleuth” is a master of undercover operations, and this reissued work explores vast locales, from the forests of Malaya to the ports of Java, from London’s underbelly to the camps of Chinese laborers in WWI Flanders.  Throughout, readers are left to differentiate between fiction and fact, and ponder questions of authorship, in this “impossible fantasy of hybridity,” as Phillip Holden calls it in his perceptive introduction.
Contemporary readers will not only savor the book’s tales of adventure and detection, they will also appreciate the ways that the author brings to life— and reveals the contradictions of—late colonial society.

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Nature's Colony
Empire, Nation and Environment in the Singapore Botanic Gardens
Timothy P. Barnard
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
Established in 1859, the Singapore Botanic Gardens are arguably the most important colonial botanic gardens in the world. Not only have the Gardens been important as a park for Singaporeans and visitors, they have had a significant role as a scientific institution and as a testing ground for tropical plantation agriculture implemented around the world. As Timothy P. Barnard shows in Nature’s Colony, underlying each of these uses is a broader story of the Botanic Gardens as an arena where power and the natural world meet and interact.
Initially conceived to exploit nature for the benefit of empire, the Gardens were part of a symbolic struggle by administrators, scientists, and gardeners to assert dominance within Southeast Asia’s tropical landscape, reflecting shifting understandings of power, science, and nature among local administrators and distant mentors in Britain. Consequently, as an outpost of imperial science, the Gardens were instrumental in the development of plantation crops, such as rubber and oil palm, which went on to shape landscapes across the globe. Since the independence of Singapore, the Gardens have played a role in the “greening” of the country and have been named as Singapore’s first World Heritage Site. Setting the Gardens alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and botanic gardens in India, Ceylon, Mauritius, and the West Indies, Nature’s Colony provide the first in-depth look at the history of this influential institution.

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Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004
Wahyu Prasetyawan
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
B. J. Habibie may have served the shortest term of any of Indonesia’s presidents, but his push for decentralization would affect the country for decades. Habibie came to power in 1998 and immediately set to work restructuring the government. He gave local districts more power, allowing them to elect their own leaders and create their own bylaws. After years of authoritarian rule, these reforms were meant to return power to the people. But that led to local governments engaging in bureaucratic and political conflict with the central government over control of valuable natural resources and the distribution of the revenue they generated. Decentralization became the most important political economic development in Indonesia of the past thirty years.
Networked Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia evaluates three cases of deep-seated political conflict and intrigue including central government, local governments, and multinational companies. It looks at how the structure of the national political economy has changed as the result of local politicians becoming involved in disputes with the national government over control of natural resources. It also analyzes how these changes will affect the distribution of wealth in the country as well as Indonesia’s evolving democratic politics and modes of governance.

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A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land
A Novel of Sihanouk’s Cambodia
Suon Sorin
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
This is the story of Sam, a young man who leaves the countryside for the big city to work as a cyclo driver, piloting his three-wheeled bicycle taxi through busy streets. Sam just wants to earn an honest wage, but he is constantly thwarted by those with money: his landlord, factory bosses, politicians, even the woman who rents him his cyclo. The city takes its toll, and Sam’s humanity is denied him at every turn, leading to the devastation of his small family and his surrender to temptation. But a dramatic change to Sam’s fortunes is heralded by the country’s liberation from colonial rule. Sam returns to the countryside to discover that “the life of the peasants that had been filled with suffering and decline, was filled with a fresh joy and happiness, and a new hope.”

First published in 1961, eight years after Cambodia gained independence from French colonial rule, A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land is an iconic work of modern Khmer literature, a singularly illuminating document of the new nation. This is one of the first English translations of a modern Khmer novel, and the text is accompanied by an extended introduction that situates the author in his historical and artistic context and examines the novel’s literary value.

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A New World in the Making
Life and Architecture in Tropical Asia
Tay Kheng Soon
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
A memoir and collection of essays on architecture and urbanism from one of the most interesting figures in Singapore’s cultural landscape.

According to architect Tay Kheng Soon, the time has come to change and build a new world. The feeling has impelled him to write this book, bringing together memoir and writings on identity, landscape and belonging, and on architecture and urbanism. Born in British-ruled Singapore, Soon was deeply engaged in the debates about building a new world that attended the end of colonialism. His focus, but far from his only concern, was Singapore's built environment—and its spiritual one—since the early 1960s. A New World in the Making is a must-read reflection on tropical Asia, on architecture and urbanism, and on looking ahead to the always urgent task of building a new world.

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Not for Circulation
The George E. Bogaars Story
Bertha Henson
National University of Singapore Press, 2022
The story of George Bogaars, a civil servant who played a key role in Singapore’s political history.

Do civil servants make a difference? Can they shape history? In 1985 when John Drysdale published one of the first books on the political history of independent Singapore, George E. Bogaars wrote to his daughter with typical understatement, “I feature in it a bit.” Bogaars headed the special branch at the time of Operation Cold Store. He reported directly to pioneer leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee before they became political icons. He started the Singapore Armed Forces from scratch when he was Permanent Secretary of the Interior and Defence. He was the head of the civil service, involved in a dozen or so government-linked companies attempting to shore up the country’s infrastructure, and expand its business portfolio. He held the country’s purse strings when he moved into the finance ministry before his retirement at the age of fifty-five. His impressive resume belies a colorful, flamboyant character with a wicked sense of humor. Veteran Singaporean journalist Bertha Henson tells his story.

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The Oil Palm Complex
Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia
Edited by Robert Cramb and John F. McCarthy
National University of Singapore Press, 2016
The oil palm industry has transformed rural livelihoods and landscapes across wide swathes of Indonesia and Malaysia, generating wealth along with economic, social, and environmental controversy. Who benefits and who loses from oil palm development? Can oil palm development provide a basis for inclusive and sustainable rural development? 

Based on detailed studies of  specific communities and plantations and an analysis of the regional political economy of oil palm, this book unpicks the dominant policy narratives, business strategies, models of land acquisition, and labour-processes. It presents the oil palm industry in Malaysia and Indonesia as a complex system in which land, labour and capital are closely interconnected. Understanding this complex is a prerequisite to developing better strategies to harness the oil palm boom for a more equitable and sustainable pattern of rural development.

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One or Two Words
Language and Politics in the Toraja Highlands of Indonesia
Aurora Donzelli
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
The Toraja highlanders of Indonesia use the expression “one or two words” to refer euphemistically to their highly elaborate form of political speechmaking. Taking off from this understatement, which signals the meaningfulness of transient acts of speech, One or Two Words offers an analysis of the shifting power relations between centers and peripheries in one of the world’s most linguistically diverse countries. Drawing on long-term fieldwork, Aurora Donzelli explores how people forge forms of collective belonging to a distinctive locality through the exchange of spoken words, WhatsApp messages, ritual gifts of pigs and buffaloes, and the performance of elaborate political speeches and ritual chants. Donzelli describes the complex forms of cosmopolitan indigeneity that have emerged in the Toraja highlands during several decades of encounters with a variety of local and international interlocutors, and by engaging wider debates on the dynamics of cultural and linguistic change in relationship to globalizing influences, the book sheds light on a neglected dimension of post-Suharto Indonesia: the recalibration of power relations between national and local languages. One or Two Words will be of interest to scholars of language, politics, power relationships, identity, social change, and local responses to globalizing influences.

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Pan-Asian Sports and the Emergence of Modern Asia, 1913-1974
Stefan Huebner
National University of Singapore Press, 2016
The history of regional sporting events in 20th century Asia yields insights into Western and Asian perspectives on what defines modern Asia, and can be read as a staging of power relations in Asia and between Asia and the West. The Far Eastern Championship Games began in 1913, and were succeeded after the Pacific War by the Asian Games. Missionary groups and colonial administrations viewed sporting success not only as a triumph of physical strength and endurance but also of moral education and social reform. Sporting competitions were to shape a ‘new Asian man’ and later a ‘new Asian woman’ by promoting internationalism, egalitarianism and economic progress, all serving to direct a “rising” Asia toward modernity. Over time, exactly what constituted a “rising” Asia underwent remarkable changes, ranging from the YMCA’s promotion of muscular Christianity, democratization, and the social gospel in the US-colonized Philippines to Iranian visions of recreating the Great Persian Empire.

Based on a vast range of archival materials and spanning sixty years and three continents, Sports and the Emergence of Modern Asia shows how pan-Asian sporting events helped shape anti-colonial sentiments, Asian nationalisms, and pan-Asian aspirations in places as diverse as Japan and Iran, and across the span of countries lying between them.

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The Paradox of Agrarian Change
Food Security and the Politics of Social Protection in Indonesia
Edited by John McCarthy, Andrew McWilliam, and Gerben Nooteboom
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
A detailed study of agrarian change, the persistence of food insecurity, and the most significant policy to address poverty in rural Indonesia.
Economic growth in the middle-income countries of Southeast Asia over the past few decades has been widely praised for reducing poverty in both absolute and relative terms. Indonesia is a prime example. But while poverty has declined in Indonesia, patterns of food poverty persist across Indonesia. What explains this troubling paradox? How does it relate to Indonesia’s enthusiastic embrace of the “entitlements revolution,” the use of direct cash transfers as a tool for reducing poverty and building social inclusion?
This book analyzes the nature and social consequences of economic development and agrarian change processes in rural Indonesia in relation to the scope and effectiveness of Indonesia’s social protection programs. The findings are based on a series of extensive ground-up case studies in Indonesian communities in a variety of eco-agrarian settings that seek to understand the drivers of food insecurity and vulnerability at a household level. The results show that while high-value farming, diversification, and migration may offer a means of economic progress for poor households, opportunities for accumulation are limited. This, the authors show, is due to the way class, gender, and power work in remote local contexts, and the fact that much surplus income is used for enhanced consumption and changing lifestyles. There are few signs of the classical structural transformation of the countryside which has historically been considered the most decisive pathway out of rural poverty. The authors conclude that social assistance is unlikely to counter the persistence of rural poverty, food insecurity, and precarity in the absence of other redistributive strategies that shift the structural drivers of inequality.

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Playing for Malaya
A Eurasian Family in the Pacific War
Rebecca Kenneison
National University of Singapore Press, 2011
Reggie, according to his niece Wendy, 'only told you what Reggie wanted you to know.' Reggie was my father. He had honed the technique of talking with apparent openness and using that talk as a decoy duck: while you were listening to it quack around the pond, you weren't noticing all the others hiding in the reeds. What follows includes tales that Reggie told repeatedly but, on the whole, it's about what Reggie didn't tell me.


So begins a stunning personal account of a Eurasian family living in Malaya. One of the many gaps in Reggie's account of his family was that his mother was Eurasian. When Rebecca Kenneison discovered this omission after his death, she set out to learn more about her extended family on the other side of the world. Her voyage of discovery is compelling in itself, but Playing for Malaya has a much larger purpose. Set in the 1930s and 1940s, it recounts the experiences of an extended Eurasian family during the invasion and occupation of Malaya by the Japanese. Colonial society considered Eurasians insufficiently European to be treated as British, but they seemed all too European to the Japanese, who subjected the Eurasian community to discrimination and considerable violence. Because many Eurasians, including members of the Kenneison family, supported the Allied cause, their wartime experiences are an extraordinary account of tragedy, heroism and endurance, presented here with great consequence and clarity.

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The Politics of the Malayan Communist Party from 1930 to 1948
David Lockwood
National University of Singapore Press, 2024
A new evaluation of the history of the Malayan Communist Party.

By 1946, the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) had become one of the most successful communist parties in Asia. From its foundation in 1930, it had built up a membership in the thousands, mainly among Chinese and Indian workers in Malaya. When the Japanese arrived, the MCP organized the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), the only effective resistance force. After the War, when the British returned, the Party launched a legal campaign for independence, but by 1948, the MCP had surrendered its achievements and taken many members underground to launch a disastrous, failed insurrection against the British. 

To understand these momentous turns of history, a fresh view is required of the Malayan Communist Party as a political actor. The Politics of the Malayan Communist Party from 1930 to 1948 gives a political history of the Party and explains why the MCP self-destructed in 1948. In particular, David Lockwood questions assumptions that post-war politics led inevitably to armed struggle and questions the accepted narrative of Party Chairman Lai Tek's treachery. This is a revisionist history of a period, and political force, that has left a lasting mark on the politics of Malaya and Singapore.

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Promises and Predicaments
Trade and Entrepreneurship in Colonial and Independent Indonesia in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Edited by Alicia Schrikker and Jeroen Touwen
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
Indonesia’s trajectory towards successful economic growth has been long and capricious. Studies of the process often focus either on the Netherlands Indies or independent Indonesia, suggesting the existence of fundamental discontinuities. The authors of the 17 essays in this book adopt a long-term perspective that transcends regimes and bridges dualist economic models in order to examine what did and did not change as the country moved across the colonial-postcolonial divide, and shifted from reliance on exports of primary products to a multi-centred economy. The aim is to analyse how economic development grew out of the interplay of foreign trade, new forms of entrepreneurship and the political economy.

          The authors deal with entrepreneurship and economic specialization within different ethnic groups, the geographical distribution of exports and resource drains from exporting regions, and connections between an export economy and mass poverty. One recurring issue is the way actors from different ethnic groups occupied complementary niches, highlighting the rich variety of roles played by Asian entrepreneurs. A study of the international sugar trade shows how regime change fostered co-operation between different ethnic groups and nationalities involved with trading networks, inter-island shipping, urban public transport, and the construction sector.  A comparison of export earnings and population groups involved in trade before and after 1900 shows that unexpected agricultural and industrial transitions could underpin a fundamental shift in income growth, with improved living standards for broad sectors of the population.


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The Public Subsidy, Private Accumulation
The Political Economy of Singapore's Public Housing
Beng Huat Chua
National University of Singapore Press, 2024
Examines the ways Singapore’s impressive public housing program is central to the political legitimacy of the city-state’s single-party regime, and the growing contradictions of its success.

The achievement of Singapore’s national public housing program is impressive by any standard. Within a year of its first election victory in 1959, the People's Action Party began to deliver on its promises. By the 1980s, 85% of the population had been rehoused in modern flats. Now, decades later, the provision of public housing shapes Singapore's environment. The standard accounts of this remarkable transformation leave many questions unanswered, from the historical to urgent matters of current policy. Why was housing such a priority in the 1960s? How did the provision of social welfare via public housing shape Singapore's industrialization and development over the last 50 years? Looking forward, can the HDB continue to be both a source of affordable housing for young families and a mechanism for retirement savings? What will happen when 99-year leases expire?

Public Subsidy, Private Accumulation is a culmination of Chua Beng Huat's study of Singapore's public housing system, its dynamics, and the ways it functions in Singapore's politics. The book will be of interest to citizens and to scholars of the political economy of Asian development, social welfare provision, and Singapore.

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Racial Science and Human Diversity in Colonial Indonesia
Fenneke Sysling
National University of Singapore Press, 2016
Indonesia is home to diverse peoples who differ from one another in terms of physical appearance as well as social and cultural practices. The way such matters are understood is partly rooted in ideas developed by racial scientists working in the Netherlands Indies beginning in the late nineteenth century, who tried to develop systematic ways to define and identify distinctive races. Their work helped spread the idea that race had a scientific basis in anthropometry and craniology, and was central to people’s identity, but their encounters in the archipelago also challenged their ideas about race.

In this new monograph, Fenneke Sysling draws on published works and private papers to describe the way Dutch racial scientists tried to make sense of the human diversity in the Indonesian archipelago. The making of racial knowledge, it contends, cannot be explained solely in terms of internal European intellectual developments. It was ‘on the ground’ that ideas about race were made and unmade with a set of knowledge strategies that did not always combine well. Sysling describes how skulls were assembled through the colonial infrastructure, how measuring sessions were resisted, what role photography and plaster casting played in racial science and shows how these aspects of science in practice were entangled with the Dutch colonial Empire.

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Reading Bangkok
Ross King
National University of Singapore Press, 2011
Reading Bangkok presents stories and meanings derived from the built fabric and spaces of Thailand's capital city. The narrative shifts from King Taksin's mostly forgotten but wondrous Thonburi to the tourist spectacle of Rattanakosin, Dusit and Ratchadamnoen (King Rama V's superficial emulation of an admired, imperialist Europe), Sukhumvit "Road" (consumer land), and the slums that are an integral part of the modern city.

The author structures the book around external intrusions and local resistance. Geographically, this process is seen in movement from centre to periphery (Thonburi, Rattanakosin, Ratchadamnoen, Sukhumvit, Ratchadapisek, Khlong Toei, the universities). Chronologically, the city underwent various forms of colonization: incorporation of the periphery, which in turn colonized Bangkok; the economic colonization of the 19th and 20th centuries; colonization by consumption brought on in large part by globalized tourism; colonization by the "better" ideas of others (typically from the West); and finally colonization by "better" ways of thinking - notably the intrusions of the universities and of popular democracy.

This exceptionally innovative study draws on urban planning and development, history, anthropology, and political economy, and a rich body of empirical data to provide insights into the maze of power relations, inequalities and global influences that is normally hidden from view. Reading Bangkok is that rare thing, a study that genuinely changes the way its subject is seen and understood.

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Red Star Over Malaya
Resistance and Social Conflict During and After the Japanese Occupation, 1941-1946
Cheah Boon Kheng
National University of Singapore Press, 2012
Red Star Over Malaya is an account of the inter-racial relations between Malays and Chinese during the final stages of the Japanese occupation. In 1947, none of the three major race of Malaya - Malays, Chinese, and Indians - regarded themselves as pan-ethnic "Malayans" with common duties and problems. With the occupation forcibly cut them off from China, Chinese residents began to look inwards towards Malaya and stake political claims, leading inevitably to a political contest with the Malays. As the country advanced towards nationhood and self-government, there was tension between traditional loyalties to the Malay rulers and the states, or to ancestral homelands elsewhere, and the need to cultivate an enduring loyalty to Malaya on the part of those who would make their home there in future. 
 As Japanese forces withdrew from the countryside, the Chinese guerrillas of the communist-led resistance movement, the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), emerged from the jungle and took control of some 70 per cent of the country's smaller towns and villages, seriously alarming the Malay population. When the British Military Administration sought to regain control of these liberated areas, the ensuing conflict set the tone for future political conflicts and marked a crucial stage in the history of Malaya. Based on extensive archival research, Red Star Over Malaya provides a riveting account of the way the Japanese occupation reshaped colonial Malaya, and of the tension-filled months that followed Japan's surrender. This book is fundamental to an understanding of social and political developments in Malaysia during the second half of the 20th century.

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Resilience and the Localisation of Trauma in Aceh, Indonesia
Catherine Smith
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
Aceh is a region that is no stranger to violent conflict and tragedy. This special territory of Indonesia has faced occupation, fallen into civil war, and was brutalized by the deadly 2004 tsunami. While these forces have altered the lives of the Aceh people, their very experiences of suffering and recovery have changed thanks to the globalization of psychiatry.

In this book, Catherine Smith examines the global reach of the contested, yet compelling, concept of trauma. She explores how what is considered “trauma” has expanded well beyond the bounds of therapeutic practice to become a powerful cultural idiom shaping the ways people understand the effects of violence and imagine possible responses to suffering. In Aceh, conflict survivors have incorporated the ideas of trauma into their local languages, healing practices, and political imaginaries. The appearance of this idiom of distress into the Acehnese medical-moral landscape provides an ethnographic perspective on suffering and recovery, and contributes to our contemporary debates about the international reach of psychiatry and the cultural consequences as it spreads beyond the domain of medicine.

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Revolution in the City of Heroes
A Memoir of the Battle that Sparked Indonesia's National Revolution
Suhario Padmodiwiryo
National University of Singapore Press, 2016
The diary of 24-year-old Indonesian medical student Suhario Padmodiwiryo,
alias ‘Hario Kecik,” Revolution in the City of Heroes is an evocative first-hand
account of the popular uprising in Surabaya. It vividly portrays the chaotic swirl
of events and the heady emotion of young people ready to sacrifice their lives
for independence.

Newly liberated from nearly four brutal years under Japanese control, the
people of Indonesia faced great uncertainty in October 1945. As the British
Army attempted to take control of the city of Surabaya, maintain order and
deal with surrendered Japanese personnel, their actions were interpreted by
the young residents of Surabaya as a plan to restore Dutch colonial rule. In
response, the youth of the city seized Japanese arms and repelled the force sent
to occupy the city. They then held off British reinforcements for two weeks,
battling tanks and heavy artillery with little more than light weapons and sheer
audacity. Though eventually defeated, Surabaya’s defenders had set the stage
for Indonesia’s national revolution.

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Signs of Deference, Signs of Demeanour
Interlocutor Reference and Self-Other Relations across Southeast Asian Speech Communities
Edited by Dwi Noverini Djenar and Jack Sidnell
National University of Singapore Press, 2022

A study of interlocutor reference that significantly deepens our understanding of the ways in which self-other relations are linguistically mediated in social interaction, based on the analysis of Southeast Asian languages.
Terms used by speakers to refer to themselves and their interlocutors form one of the ways that language expresses, defines, and creates a field for working out social relations. Because this field of study in sociolinguistics historically has focused on Indo-European languages, it has tended to dwell on references to the addressee—for example, the choice between tu and vous when addressing someone in French. This book uses the study of Southeast Asian languages to theorize interlocutor reference more broadly, significantly deepening our understanding of the ways in which self-other relations are linguistically mediated in social interaction. As the authors explain, Southeast Asian systems exceed in complexity and nuance the well-described cases of Europe in two basic ways. First, in many languages of Southeast Asia, a speaker must select an appropriate reference form not only for other/addressee but also for self/speaker. Second, in these languages, in addition to pronouns, speakers draw upon a range of common and proper nouns including names, kin terms, and titles, in referring to themselves and the addressee. Acts of interlocutor reference, therefore, inevitably do more than simply identify the speaker and addressee; they also convey information about the proposed relation between interlocutors. Bringing together studies from both small-scale and large, urbanized communities across Mainland and Insular Southeast Asia, this is an important contribution to the regional linguistic and anthropological literature.


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The Singapore River
A Social History, 1819-2002
Stephen Dobbs
National University of Singapore Press, 2013
For most of its modern history, to speak of Singapore was to speak of the Singapore River, physical centre of the city and site of the greater part of the colony's entrepôt trade. The river has been transformed over the last 25 years from a polluted indus

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Singaporean Creatures
Histories of Humans and Other Animals in the Garden City
Edited by Timothy Barnard
National University of Singapore Press, 2024
An analysis of the human-animal relationship in post-colonial Singapore.

Modern Singapore is the Garden City, a biophilic urban space that includes a variety of animals, from mosquitoes to humans, even polar bears. Singaporean Creatures brings together historians to contemplate this human-animal relationship and how it has shaped society—socially, economically, politically, and environmentally. It is a work of historical and ecological analysis, in which various institutions, perspectives, and events involving animals provide insight into how the larger society has been formed and developed over the last half-century. The interaction of all Singaporean creatures thus provides a lens through which we can understand the creation of a modern and urban nation-state, shaped by the forces of the Anthropocene.

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Singapore's Grand Strategy
Cheng Guan Ang
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
New insight into the defense history of Singapore.

Even small states can have grand strategies. Singapore, despite its poor natural resource endowment, small population, and size, has often been described as punching above its weight in international affairs. Part of this stems from the way Singapore strategically integrates the different diplomatic, political, and defense-oriented tools at its disposal. To explore this, Singapore’s Grand Strategy offers a fresh and useful diplomatic, defense, and security history of Singapore, from its independence in 1965 through today’s period of strategic realignment. 

Most previous studies of grand strategy have focused on super- or at least middle powers, but this book presents an important contribution to international relations and strategic studies by showing how the concept can help explain the strategic posture and achievements of small states as well. Moreover, he brings a historian's perspective to a subject usually tackled by political scientists. The result will be useful and important for scholars in these fields.

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Sonic City
Making Rock Music and Urban Life in Singapore
Steve Ferzacca
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
The basement of a veteran shopping mall located in the central business district of Singapore affords opportunities to a group of amateur and semi-professional musicians, of different ethnicities, ages, and generations to make a sonic way of life. Based on five years of deep participatory experience, this multi-modal (text, musical composition, social media, performance) sonic ethnography is centered around a community of noisy people who make rock music within the constraints of urban life in Singapore. The heart and soul of this community is English Language rock and roll music pioneered in Singapore by several members of the 1960s legendary “beats and blues” band, The Straydogs, who continue to engage this community in a sonic way of life.
Grounded in debates from sound studies, Ferzacca draws on Bruno Latour’s ideas of the social—continually emergent, constantly in-the-making, “associations of heterogeneous elements” of human and non-human “mediators and intermediaries”—to portray a community entangled in the confounding relations between vernacular and national heritage projects. Music shops, music gear, music genres, sound, urban space, neighborhoods, State presence, performance venues, practice spaces, regional travel, local, national, regional, and sonic histories afford expected and unexpected opportunities for work, play, and meaning, in the contemporary music scene in this Southeast Asian city-state. The emergent quality of this deep sound is fiercely cosmopolitan, yet entirely Singaporean. What emerges is a vernacular heritage drawing upon Singapore’s unique place in Southeast Asian and world history.

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Southeast Asian Anthropologies
National Traditions and Transnational Practices
Edited by Eric C. Thompson and Vineeta Sinha
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
Anthropology is a flourishing discipline in Southeast Asia. Anthropologists in the region spent the second half of the twentieth century establishing the field, and now, as we move further into the twenty-first century, a new generation is working to shift the discipline from European and American narratives to a Southeast Asian locus.  There has been a vigorous debate and a wide range of suggestions on what might be done to break from the Euro-, andro-, hetero-, and other centrisms of the discipline and move to an emerging world anthropologies perspective. But actually transforming anthropology requires going beyond mere critique.

Southeast Asian Anthropologies outlines the practices and paradigms of anthropologists working from and within Southeast Asia. It addresses three overlapping issues: the historical development of unique traditions of research, scholarship, and social engagement across diverse anthropological communities of the region; the opportunities and challenges faced by Southeast Asian anthropologists as they practice their craft in different institutional and political contexts; and the emergence of locally grounded, intraregional, transnational linkages and practices undertaken by Southeast Asian-based anthropologists. It is a much-needed assessment of the state of the discipline that will be an invaluable tool for anthropologists navigating a new era of development and challenges.

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Southeast Asia's Modern Architecture
Questions of Translation, Epistemology and Power
Edited by Jiat-Hwee Chang and Imran bin Tajudeen
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
What is the modern in Southeast Asia’s architecture and how do we approach its study critically? This pathbreaking multidisciplinary volume is the first critical survey of Southeast Asia’s modern architecture. It looks at the challenges of studying this complex history through the conceptual frameworks of translation, epistemology, and power. Challenging Eurocentric ideas and architectural nomenclature, the authors examine the development of modern architecture in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a focus on selective translation and strategic appropriation of imported ideas and practices by local architects and builders. The book transforms our understandings of the region’s modern architecture by moving beyond a consideration of architecture as an aesthetic artifact and instead examining its entanglement with different dynamics of power.

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Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom
The Sultanahs of Aceh, 1641-1699
Sher Banu Khan
National University of Singapore Press, 2018
The Islamic kingdom of Aceh was ruled by queens for half of the 17th century. Was female rule an aberration? Unnatural? A violation of nature, comparable to hens instead of roosters crowing at dawn? Indigenous texts and European sources offer different evaluations. Drawing on both sets of sources, this book shows that female rule was legitimised both by Islam and adat (indigenous customary laws), and provides original insights on the Sultanah’s leadership, their relations with male elites, and their encounters with European envoys who visited their court. The book challenges received views on kingship in the Malay world and the response of indigenous polities to east-west encounters in Southeast Asia’s Age of Commerce.

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Tienshi 'Lara' Chen
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
A captivating auto-ethnography and study of statelessness.

"In the springtime of the year that I was twenty-one, I found myself stuck at the border between two familiar countries, unable to enter either. I had never felt my statelessness so keenly.”

Japan’s 1971 termination of diplomatic ties with the Republic of China left 9,200 Chinese residents stateless. Tienshi “Lara” Chen was one of them, born to Chinese parents in Yokohama’s Chinatown. What does it mean to be stateless? What does it feel like?

To answer, Stateless presents Chen’s engaging autobiographical account of her bi-cultural upbringing and Japanese education. She reflects on her experience of statelessness eventually led her into a career spanning academia and activism, and she analyzes the contradictions inherent in the concepts of nationality, nation-state, and citizenship, in a world where individual nationality, identity, and experience are increasingly complex. She concludes that the current system of regulating individuals with citizenship is unworkable in the long run.

Blending life writing, auto-ethnography, and a study of stateless communities around Asia, this book unpacks the idea of citizenship by showing the hidden everyday narratives and lived experiences of stateless persons who have no legal ties to any nation-state. Originally published in Japanese, this adapted and updated English edition critically engages with questions of borders, mobility, belonging, and identity.


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Stone Masters
Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia
Edited by Holly High
National University of Singapore Press, 2022
A new analytical perspective on stones and stone masters across Southeast Asia that extends and deepens the recent literature on animism. 

Stones and stone masters are an important focus of animist religious practice in Southeast Asia. Recent studies on animism see animist rituals not as a mere metaphor for community or shared values, but as a way of forming and maintaining relationships with occult presences. This book features city pillars, statues, megaliths, termite mounds, mountains, rocks found in forests, and stones that have been moved to shrines, as well as the territorial cults which can form around them. The contributors extend and deepen the recent literature on animism to form a new analytical perspective on these cults across mainland Southeast Asia. Not just a collection of exemplary ethnographies, Stone Masters is also a deeply comparative volume that develops its ideas through a meshwork of regional entanglements, parallels, and differences, before entering into a dialogue with debates on power, mastery, and the social theory of animism globally.

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The Story of Southeast Asia
Edited by Eric Thompson
National University of Singapore Press, 2024
A complete narrative history of Southeast Asia.

The oldest figurative cave paintings in the world are found on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Hand stencils and animals painted some 45,000 years ago attest to a long history of human creativity. The Story of Southeast Asia tells how the peoples of the region have crafted their diverse societies and cultures over thousands of years. Southeast Asia has been a remarkable crossroads of global connections for millennia. Whereas other regions have been defined by centralizing forces, Southeast Asia’s story is one of complex networks of trade, ideas, and social relationships. Southeast Asians have created, localized, and remade their own cultural values by drawing on influences from around the world.

Marshalling the latest literature from anthropology, archaeology, history, and other disciplines, Eric C. Thompson highlights broad themes that cut across history: including the making—and evasion—of states, adoption of diverse religious practices, tolerance and flexibility regarding gender, processes of forging modern identities, struggles over sovereignty, and the making of modern nations in a postcolonial world. This readable, single-volume history reckons with the narrative pull of familiar colonial and national perspectives but maintains a regional and deep-historical focus. It will be a stimulating read for scholars as well as students and newcomers to Southeast Asian history.

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Sundanese Print Culture and Modernity in 19th Century West Java
Mikihiro Moriyama
National University of Singapore Press, 2005
Sundanese Print Culture and Modernity in 19th Century West Java traces the development of modern printed books written in Sundanese, the dominant language in West Java, Indonesia, and the mother tongue of about 30 million people.

Starting with the 'discovery' of Sundanese by Europeans in the early 19th century, Mikihiro Moriyama follows the developments in the ensuing century when a small group of Dutch scholars and colonial officials reshaped the language and its literature over the next one hundred years. Schools taught Sundanese, and printed materials based on western concepts began to influence indigenous writing and oral tradition. The imposition of European standards of literary aesthetics shaped a modernity that rejected traditional knowledge in favour of rational and empirical paradigms. Interest in traditional poetry and its mythologies declined, and new forms of prose, including novels, captured the attention of the reading public. These materials promoted useful knowledge and morality, and encouraged deference and loyalty towards colonial authority.

Early in the 20th century, the establishment of the Commissie voor de Inlandsche School- en Volkslectuur (Committee for Indigenous Schoolbooks and Popular Reading Books), a government-subsidised institution, provided the growing number of literate people in the Indies with 'good' and 'appropriate' reading materials. Its development marked the end of an era when Sundanese writing competed with Western-style schools and publications, and signalled the triumph of the new colonial modernity.

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Tales of an Eastern Port
The Singapore Novellas of Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
Singapore in the writings of Joseph Conrad: a node in the networks of colonial modernity.

In the 1880s, Joseph Conrad spent three extended stints in the colonial port city of Singapore, while working on ships around the region. Over the next thirty years, he would return to this place many times in his writing. Singapore is the principal, if sometimes obscured, port of call in Conrad’s fiction; it is the center of overlapping networks, colonial and commercial, religious and literary. His characters travel to upriver Borneo and to Bangkok, to Shanghai and to Sydney, and yet they tend to return to Singapore. 

This volume pairs for the first time two Conrad novellas that start in Singapore: The End of the Tether and The Shadow-Line.Together they provide a fleeting portrait of the developing city, through narrators who are uneasy with the trappings and workings of the colonial enterprise. These stories have renewed relevance as part of global modernist and oceanic literatures, and reading them now helps recall one chapter in Singapore’s long history as a vital site of cultural exchange, one that harbors and inspires distinctive storytelling traditions.

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Tales of Southeast Asia’s Jazz Age
Filipinos, Indonesians and Popular Culture, 1920-1936
Peter Keppy
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
Luis Borromeo was the Philippines’s “King of Jazz,” who at the height of his popularity created a Filipino answer to the Ziegfeld Follies. Miss Riboet was a world-famous Javanese opera singer who ruled the theater world. While each represented a unique corner of the entertainment world, the rise and fall of these two superstar figures tell an important story of Southeast Asia’s 1920s Jazz Age.
This artistic era was marked by experimentation and adaption, and this was reflected in both Borromeo’s and Riboet’s styles. They were pioneering cultural brokers who dealt in hybrids. They were adept at combining high art and banal entertainment, tradition and modernity, and the foreign and the local.
Leaning on cultural studies and the work on cosmopolitanism and modernity by Henry Jenkins and Joel Kahn, Peter Keppy examines pop culture at this time as a contradictory social phenomenon. He challenges notions of Southeast Asia’s popular culture as lowbrow entertainment created by elites and commerce to manipulate the masses, arguing instead that audiences seized on this popular culture to channel emancipatory activities, to articulate social critique, and to propagate an inclusive nationalism without being radically anticolonial.

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Thomas Stamford Raffles
Schemer or Reformer?
Syed Hussein Alatas
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
More than two hundred years after Thomas Stamford Raffles established a British factory on the island of Singapore, he continues to be a towering figure in the nation. Not one but two statues of Raffles stand prominently in Singapore’s civic and heritage district, streets and squares are named after him, and important local businesses use his name. But does Raffles deserve this recognition? Should he continue to be celebrated—or like Cecil Rhodes in South Africa, must Raffles fall?
This is not a new question—in fact, it was considered at length as far back as 1971, in Syed Hussein Alatas’s slim but devastating volume Thomas Stamford Raffles: Schemer or Reformer?. While the book failed to spark a wide debate on Raffles’s legacy in 1970s Singapore, nearly 50 years after its original publication this powerful work feels wholly fresh and relevant. This edition features a new introduction by Syed Farid Alatas assessing contemporary Singapore’s take on Raffles, and how far we have, or have not, come in thinking through Singapore’s colonial legacy.

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Those Days in Muramatsu
One Woman's Memoir of Occupied Japan
Yumi Goto
National University of Singapore Press, 2014
In the aftermath of the Pacific War and Japan’s capitulation, Mrs Yumi Goto and her family lived in the small community of Muramatsu, where they had relocated to get away from Tokyo. Yumi Goto was an English-speaking graduate of one of Japan’s top universities for women, and when a contingent of American soldiers was sent to Muramatsu as a garrison force, she became an interpreter. The sudden influx of more than 1,800 Americans into a rural Japanese community was potentially traumatic, and their imminent arrival made the townspeople “depressed and fearful”. To everyone's surprise, they found the soldiers to be “open-hearted and humane”, and the two sides co-existed peacefully. Those Days in Muramatsu is a testimony to the capacity of ordinary people from vastly different backgrounds to co-exist harmoniously, even in the aftermath of war. 

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A Tiger Remembers
The Way We Were in Singapore
Ann Wee
National University of Singapore Press, 2017
Born in the Year of the Fire Tiger, Ann Wee moved to Singapore in 1950 to marry into a Singaporean Chinese family, entering into a new world of cultural expectations and domestic rituals. She went on to become a pioneer in Singapore’s fledging social welfare department and is often described as the founding mother of social work in Singapore. In A Tiger Remembers, she draws on her decades of experience getting to know the many shapes and forms of the Singapore family and witnessing how they transformed since the ’50s.
Wee’s talent is for remembering and paying homage to the things history books often deem insignificant—things that can contain some of the most illuminating details about the day to day inner workings of families from many backgrounds, such as terms of endearment; the emotional nuance in social relations; questions of hygiene; the stories of convicts; tales of ghost wives and changeling babies; anecdotes from rural clan settlements and migrant dormitories; and the migration of families from squatter settlements into public housing. Affectionately observed and wittily narrated, with a deep appreciation of how far Singapore has come, this book brings to life generations of social change through a focus on the institution of the family.

front cover of Towards a New Malaysia?
Towards a New Malaysia?
The 2018 Election and Its Aftermath
Meredith L. Weiss and Faizal S. Hazis
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
Malaysia’s stunning 2018 election brought down a ruling party that had held power since independence in 1957, marking the first regime change in the country’s history. This book tells the full story of this historic election (officially called the 14th Malaysian General Election or GE14), combining a sharp analysis of the voting data with consideration of the key issues, campaign strategies, and mobilization efforts that played out during the election period. This analysis is then used to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the core debates about Malaysian political ideas, identities and behaviors, debates that continue to shape the country’s destiny.

After the election, many Malaysians were optimistic about the possibility of a more representative, accountable, participatory, and equitable polity, but Meredith L. Weiss and Faisal S. Hazis do not see GE14 as a clear harbinger of full-on liberalization. While the political aftermath of the election continues to play out, the authors provide a clarion call for deeper, more critical, more comparative research on Malaysia’s politics. They upend commonly held beliefs about Malaysian politics and bring forward lesser-known theories, and they suggest agendas for empirically interesting, theoretically relevant further research. They also point to the broader insights Malaysia’s experience provides for the study of elections and political change in one-party dominant states around the world.

front cover of Unequal Thailand
Unequal Thailand
Aspects of Income, Wealth and Power
Edited by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker
National University of Singapore Press, 2015
Extreme inequalities in income,wealth and power lie behind Thailand’s political turmoil. What are the sources of this inequality?  Why does it persist, or even increase when the economy grows? How can it be addressed?

         The contributors to this important study—Thai scholars, reformers and civil servants—shed light on the many dimensions of inequality in Thailand, looking beyond simple income measures to consider land ownership, education, finance, business structures and politics. The contributors propose a series of reforms in taxation, spending and institutional reform that can address growing inequality.

        Inequality is among the biggest threats to social stability in Southeast Asia, and this close study of a key Southeast Asian country will be relevant to regional policy-makers, economists and business decision-makers, as well as students of oligarchy and inequality more generally.  

front cover of Unsilent Strangers
Unsilent Strangers
Music, Minorities, Co-existence, Japan
Edited by Hugh de Ferranti, Michiyo Yoneno-Reyes, and Masaya Shishikura
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
An analysis of the role of music in Japanese migrant communities.

This collection of essays on the music of migrant minorities in and from Japan examines the central role music plays in the ongoing adjustment, conciliation, and transformation of newcomers and “hosts” alike. It is the first academic text to address musical activities across a range of migrant groups in Japan––particularly those of Tokyo and its neighboring areas and the first to juxtapose such communities with those of Japanese emigrants as ethnic minorities elsewhere. It presents both archival and fieldwork-based case studies that highlight music in the dynamics of encounter and attempted identity-making, under a unifying framework of migration.

The 2019 introduction of a new “Specified Skilled Worker” visa category marked the beginning of Japan’s “new immigration era,” led by the slogan of tabunka kyosei, or “multicultural coexistence.” The contributors to this volume analyze the concept itself and the many problems around realizing this ideal through ethnographic accounts of current minorities, including South Indians, Brazilians, Nepalis, Filipinos, Iranians, and Ainu domestic migrants. This volume will be of interest to ethnomusicologists, students of the cultures of migrant communities, and those engaged with cultural change and diversity in Japan and East Asia.

front cover of Wanderlust
The Amazing Ida Pfeiffer, the First Female Tourist
John van Wyhe
National University of Singapore Press, 2019
I found no one to accompany me, and was determined to do; so I trusted to fate, and went alone.

In 1797 in Vienna, Ida Pfeiffer was born into a world that should have been too small for her dreams. The daughter of an Austrian merchant, she made clear from an early age that she would not be bound by convention, dressing in boys’ clothing and playing sports. After her tutor introduced her to stories of faraway lands, she became determined to see the world first-hand. This determination led to a lifetime of travel—much of it alone—and made her one of the most famous women of the nineteenth century.
            Pfeiffer faced many obstacles, not least expectations of her gender. She was a typical nineteenth century housewife with a husband and two sons. She was not wealthy nor well connected. Yet after the death of her husband, and once her sons were grown and settled, at the age of forty-one she set off on her first journey, not telling anyone the true extent of her travel plans. Between that trip and her death in 1858, she would barely pause for breath, circling the globe twice—the first woman to do so—and publishing numerous popular books about her travels. Usually traveling solo, Pfeiffer faced storms at sea, trackless deserts, plague, malaria, earthquakes, robbers, murderers, and other risks.
In Wanderlust, John Van Wyhe tells Pfeiffer’s story, with generous excerpts from her published accounts, tell of her involvement with spies, international intrigue, and more. The result is a compelling portrait of the remarkable life of a pioneer unjustly forgotten.

front cover of Wayward Distractions
Wayward Distractions
Ornament, Emotion, Zombies and the Study of Buddhism in Thailand
Justin Thomas McDaniel
National University of Singapore Press, 2021
A collection of essays engaging with Buddhism in Thailand and the virtues of distraction and variety within the materialist turn in studies of religion. 

In Thailand, Buddhism is deeply integrated into national institutions and ideologies, making it tempting to think of Buddhism in Thailand as a textual, institutional, cultural, and conceptual whole. At the same time, religious expression in the country reflects anything but a single order. Often gaudy, cacophonous, variegated, and jumbled, diversity and apparent contradiction abound. A more open engagement with Buddhism in Thailand requires a willingness to be distracted, to step away from received hierarchies and follow the intriguing detail in the ornate design, the odd textual reference, and to prefer "thin description" over a search for meaning. Justin McDaniel's well-known book-length writings in Buddhist and Theravada studies cannot be fully understood without taking into account his shorter writings, what he calls his wayward distractions. Collected together for the first time, these essays cover subjects ranging from ornamental art to marriage and emotion, the role of Hinduism, neglected gender and ethnic diversity, Buddhist inflections in contemporary art practice, and the boundaries between the living, dead, and undead. These writings will be of importance to students of Theravada and Thailand, of religion in Southeast Asia and more generally, of the materialist turn in studies of religion. 

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