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Beyond Caste

Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present

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Sumit Guha

'Caste' is today almost universally perceived as an ancient and unchanging Hindu institution preserved solely by a deep-seated religious ideology. Yet the word itself is an importation from sixteenth-century Europe. This book tracks the long history of the practices amalgamated under this label and shows their connection to changing patterns of social and political power down to the present. It frames caste as an involuted and complex form of ethnicity and explains why it persisted under non-Hindu rulers and in non-Hindu communities across South Asia.

Commodities and Colonialism

The Story of Big Sugar in Indonesia, 1880-1942

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G. Roger Knight

Sugar yesterday was what oil is today: a commodity of immense global importance whose tentacles reached deep into politics, society and economy. Indonesia’s colonial-era sugar industry is largely forgotten today, except by a small number of regional specialists writing for a specialist audience. During the period 1880-1942 covered by this book, however, the then Netherlands Indies was one of the world’s very greatest producer-exporters of the commodity. How it contrived to do so is the story presented in this book.
Author G. Roger Knight, associate professor of history in the University of Adelaide, has researched the history
of Indonesia’s sugar industry for more than twenty-five years, using unpublished archival sources in both the Netherlands and Indonesia. His search has taken him into government records, family histories and – above all – the
extensive surviving papers of the Dutch sugar companies who operated in Indonesia during the late colonial era. The result is a picture of the industry that offers important new insights into its history and its place in the framework of global commodity production over a period extending over three quarters of a century.

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Edited by Paolo Sartori

Post-Cold War historiography of modern Central Asia has been characterized by a focus on cultural history. Most of this scholarship rests on a set of assumptions about traditional institutions and social practices which merely reflect the bias of Soviet or even Tsarist-era historiography. 'Explorations in the Social History of Modern Central Asia addresses the need for a remedy to this state of affairs and thus offers new insights on a number of subjects relating to the social history of the region. It includes essays dealing with property relations, resource management, forms of local administration, the constitution of new social groups, the construction of identity categories, and an enquiry into the landscape of Islamic practices among the nomads.

Faith and the State

A History of Islamic Philanthropy in Indonesia

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Amelia Fauzia

Faith and the State offers a comprehensive historical development of Islamic philanthropy-- zakat (almsgiving), sedekah (donation) and waqf (religious endowment)-- from the time of the Islamic monarchs, through the period of Dutch colonialism and up to contemporary Indonesia. It shows a rivalry between faith and the state: between efforts to involve the state in managing philanthropic activities and efforts to keep them under control of Muslim civil society.
Philanthropy is an indication of the strength of civil society. When the state was weak, philanthropy developed powerfully and was used to challenge the state. When the state was strong, Muslim civil society tended to weaken but still found ways to use philanthropic practices in the public sphere to promote social change.

Nature, Environment and Culture in East Asia

The Challenge of Climate Change

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Edited by Carmen Meinert

Since in the current global environmental and climate crisis East Asia will play a major role in negotiating solutions, it is vital to understand East Asian cultural variations in approaching and solving environmental challenges in the past, present, and future. The interdisciplinary volume Nature, Environment and Culture in East Asia. The Challenge of Climate Change, edited by Carmen Meinert, explores how cultural patterns and ideas have shaped a specific understanding of nature, how local and regional cultures develop(ed) coping strategies to adapt to environmental and climatic changes in the past and in the present and how various institutions and representatives might introduce their ideas and agendas in future environmental and climate policies on national levels and in international negotiating systems.

New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities

Emerging Social, Legal and Governance Orders

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Edited by Billy K.L. So and Madeleine Zelin

The nine empirical studies in New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities, organized under the general framework of urban space, examine three critical dimensions of the great urban transformation in Republican China—social, legal and governance orders. Together these narratives suggest a new perception of this historical urbanism.
While modern economic development was a major drive for Chinese urban transformation, this volume highlights the dimension of the multilayered forces that shape urban space by looking into that less quantifiable, but equally important cultural realm and by exposing the ways in which these forces created new urban narratives, which became themselves shapers of urban space and of our perception of the Republican urbanity.

Renunciation and Empowerment of Buddhist Nuns in Myanmar-Burma

Building A Community of Female Faithful

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Hiroko Kawanami

Myanmar-Burma has one of the largest concentrations of Buddhist nuns and monks in the world today. In Renunciation and Empowerment of Buddhist Nuns in Myanmar-Burma, Kawanami traces the nun's scholarly lineage in modern Myanmar history and examines their contemporary religious position in Myanmar’s social and political contexts. Although their religious status may appear ambiguous from a textual viewpoint, it is argued that their large presence is a clear indication as to the important functions Buddhist nuns perform in the monastic community. Sagaing Hill where the main research was conducted, occupies an important educational centre for Myanmar nuns in consolidating their scholarly lineage and spreading the network of dhamma teachers. The book examines transactions that take place in their everyday lives and reveals the essence of their religious lives that make Buddhist nuns an essential bridge between sangha and society.

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Mingyuan Gu

Cultural Foundations of Chinese Education describes the evolution of Chinese education for more than 5,000 years, and analyzes in depth its interaction with Chinese culture. From the Imperial Civil Examinations to the Western Learning; from the transplant of Western systems of education to the New Democratic Education Movement; from the copying of the Soviet experience in education to the explorations for approaches to establish new education in China since the Economic Reforms in the late 1970s, this book provides unique analyses on conflicting elements in Chinese education, and leads to the understanding of the issues in modernizing education in China.

With condensed and concentrated analyses on the process of historical evolution and the interactions between Chinese education and Chinese cultural traditions, this book can be used as a major reference for international readers to understand education in China from the perspective of cultural evolution.

A Virtual Chinatown

The Diasporic Mediasphere of Chinese Migrants in New Zealand

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Phoebe H. Li

What role does diasporic Chinese media play in the process of Chinese migrants' adaptation to their new home country? With China's rise, to what extent has the expansion of its "soft power" swayed the changing identities of the Chinese overseas? A Virtual Chinatown provides a timely and original analysis to answer such questions.

Using a media and communication studies approach to investigate the reciprocal relationship between Chinese-language media and the Chinese migrant community in New Zealand, Phoebe Li goes beyond conventional scholarship on the Chinese Diaspora as practised by social historians, anthropologists and demographers. Written in an accessible and reader-friendly manner, this book will also appeal to academics and students with interests in other transnational communities, alternative media, and minority politics.

Workers, Unions and Politics

Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s

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John Ingleson

In Workers, Unions and Politics. Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s, John Ingleson revises received understandings of the decade and a half between the failed communist uprisings of 1926/1927 and the Japanese occupation in 1942. They were important years for the labour movement. It had to recover from the crackdown by the colonial state and then cope with the impact of the 1930s depression. Labour unions were voices for greater social justice, for stronger legal protection and for improved opportunities for workers. They created a discourse of social rights and wage justice. They were major contributors to the growth of a stronger civil society.
The experiences and remembered histories of these years helped shape the agendas of post-independence labour unions.