Exploring the representation of space and belonging in Javanese literature, I will use Suparto Brata’s novel Donyane wong culika (The World of the Untrustworthy, 2004) as a case study. Firstly, I will focus on how literary, linguistic and epistemological features shape and give meaning to Javanese spatiality and on how the references to Javanese customs, literary and cultural traditions, and the Javanese mind in the twentieth century may address and evoke feelings of belonging. Secondly, as the novel features historical events as a kind of backdrop, I will pay attention to what Le Juez and Richardson (2019) call the perceptions of associated loci and on how these loci articulate individual and collective memories of the 1965–66 events, a traumatic period in postcolonial Indonesian history.
From the Wei-Jin through Tang-Song periods, social structures and customs in China underwent great change. In the case of sitting positions, these periods saw a shift from the “floor-sitting era” prior to the Qin to the “era of raised sitting” following the Tang and Song dynasties. In the interim, there was a period where the seated squat (juzuo踞坐) made an appearance. This position is depicted in the “Man seated on foreign stool” detail of the scroll painting, Bei Qi jiaoshu tu北齊校 書圖. During the Liu Song dynasty, monks at the Qihuan Temple ate in a seated squat and were vehemently lambasted by scholar-officials led by Fan Tai, instigating political debate around the sitting position. From a Confucian point of view, sitting positions are divided into two categories based on whether the calves or the bottoms of one’s feet touch the ground: the first includes kneeling, the sitting kneel, and the lotus positions, while the second includes squatting, sitting with legs outstretched, and the seated squat positions. Shifts in sitting positions reflect not only subtle changes taking place across various aspects of Chinese social customs and daily life, but also structural change on a systemic level. On the ideological front, obscure learning of the Wei and Jin dynasties exposed abuses of Confucian ethics. Compounded with the onslaught of foreign cultural influences such as Buddhism, it is no wonder, in this context of great historical upheaval, that efforts to preserve Confucianism would end in failure.
The concept of li (rites) in ancient China encompasses three levels of meaning, namely: the rituals and ceremonies themselves, moral ethics, and a system of political hierarchy. While these three levels are related to each other, they each carry specific characteristics. When people today discuss issues such as the origins of rites, they rarely analyze the concept of rites according to these different levels, thus causing the topic at hand to be vague, ambiguous, and inchoate. In most research, both “rites” and the “rituals” refer specifically to the level of the ritual per se. “Rites” include both folk rituals and state rituals, the latter of which refers to what is commonly termed the “rituals,” that is, the part of rites with state background and political coercion. The fundamental difference between the rituals and other statutes and institutions lies in rituals’ performative, symbolic, and standardized nature. Their performative and symbolic nature bestowed upon the rites a special significance and publicity function which transcend everyday life. At the same time, their standardized and formulaic nature made these rites highly organized and institutionalized, while allowing them to reinforce the social and political hierarchy. The highly mature rituals in ancient China allowed both characteristics of these rituals to be developed to their fullest, thus giving rise to Chinese culture’s emphasis on performance and form.
In traditional China’s complicated social system, the interaction between custom and ritual laid the foundation for a national political framework and local societal functions, and has continued to play a role in modern Chinese nation-building since the May Fourth Movement. The essence of this interaction is that it draws together national politics with non-governmental micropolitics; by engaging widespread support from across society, it ensures that society’s internal mechanisms function smoothly through a shared cultural identity, thereby eliminating real or potential social crises. Today, in a time of rapid globalization, all nations are faced with issues such as international regulations, national legal rights, and civil governance. Chinese traditional political wisdom and social mechanisms embedded in the interaction between custom and ritual may be useful.
The reconstruction of Confucianism during the Song dynasty is an important issue in the history of Chinese thought. Song scholar-officials not only introduced ideological innovations and founded the new type of Confucianist “School of Universal Principle” known as “Neo-Confucianism,” but also, in their reconstruction of Confucianism, attended to the specific rituals and introduced the concepts and values of the school into people’s daily life and habits. The observance of ritual privately at home – using ritual to “instruct” and “admonish” the family – became the way for scholar-officials to embody Confucian values effectively in daily life. Song family rituals developed differences from previous eras with respect to text, structure, and meaning. However, as rituals that comprehensively arranged the order of Confucian daily life, they were not merely a static Neo-Confucian text and system. Rather, scholar-officials’ ritual activities were always the concrete, dynamic aspect of the Confucian revival movement. Therefore, we must begin the discussion of family rituals from a wider perspective, first by exploring the motivation and goals of scholar-officials’ rituals. We will then discover how frustrated and compromised scholar-officials of the period felt when the pattern of daily life they had created proved difficult to accommodate to the real world. We will finally take note of the value system that this pattern was meant to demonstrate.
Tao Qian is one of the central figures in Chinese literary history and the founding father of the so-called tianyuan (farmstead) poetry. Traditionally, Tao’s writings have been read biographically, which has limited our understanding of their deeper structural and experiential dimensions. In this article, I turn my attention to the place-consciousness of his poetry and analyze how he repeatedly creates experiences of belonging in his verses. As a theoretical frame of reference, I utilize the concepts “space” and “place” as they are defined by Yi-Fu Tuan in his study Space and Place. In Tao’s tianyuan poetry, the surrounding, indefinite space turns constantly into a lived and meaningfully organized place which functions as the epicenter of the agrarian lifestyle and worldview. As I seek to demonstrate, a place is not only a physical location but is a complex and multilayered phenomenon that can appear as a means of knowing, a source of truthful living, and even as an event. In Tao’s writings, the experience of place is predominantly positive and empowering but can also at times cause feelings of loss and grief.
This article addresses how some influential Indian Muslim intellectuals conceptualized and imagined the Urdu language as the linguistic offspring and heir of the Persian language and Persianate textual cultures from the late nineteenth century through the early 1950s. As the symbolic and material value of Persian gradually declined in India, select Persianate idioms, genres, and histories were drafted for Urdu’s modernity. This article considers the significance of Persian as it was variously construed as either a burden or a model by Urdu scholars and as either a worthy or unworthy predecessor for Urdu from the 1890s to the 1950s. It traces the shifting textual processes by which three prominent Indian Muslim intellectuals constructed a parent-offspring relationship between Persian and Urdu in response to colonial education reforms, competing national projects, and pan-Islamic intellectual currents. In summary, this article excavates the many uses that Persian served as it was simultaneously erased from and encoded into Urdu’s anticipated futures.