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Several billboard ads in Metro Manila have stirred controversy in the past decade for using images suggesting sexual acts or revealing private body parts. Politicians and church leaders have criticised them as being ‘indecent’ or ‘pornographic’. But in spite of this advertising strategy being abandoned, a fresh wave of billboards in Metro Manila has continued to use sexualised images, arguably in innovative ways. A content analysis of some of these billboards suggests that two representational techniques are emergent: purposive and referential. Public criticisms have then been strategically circumvented.

The discourses that have surrounded billboard sexualisation in Metro Manila unravel the moral conservatism of religious institutions and the state. The purposive and referential techniques on billboards are an attempt to navigate such conservatism. Two possibilities are discernible. As the attention is on viewers’ imagination, the referential technique affords space for the cultural critique of these norms. In contrast, the purposive technique is limited as it focuses on the product’s benefit to the customer. This has led to the reinforcement of sexual stereotypes concerning masculinity and femininity, for example. The article ends by reflecting on the state of sexualisation in Metro Manila.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
In: Mediating Piety

972 Book Reviews / Asian Journal of Social Science 37 (2009) 953–976 Pam Nilan and Carles Feixa (eds.) (2006) Global Youth?: Hybrid Identities, Plural Worlds. London: Routledge. 218 pages. ISBN 0-415037071-X. Gleaning from its title, Global Youth?: Hybrid Identities, Plural Worlds , one cannot be put at fault for having high expectations of what the book has to offer. It has to draw from diverse sources globally, present detailed ethnographic accounts concerning identity con- struction and, ultimately, answer the rather evident question as to whether all these con- structions are indicative of a homogenised global culture. Generally, the book does

In: Asian Journal of Social Science

Felix Wilfred (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, xxi + 657 pp., illus., Hdbk. $ 160.00, ISBN 978-0-1993-2906-9.

The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia is a welcome contribution to the emerging literature on world Christianity. Given that there are already collections focused on specific areas within the continent, the editor of this volume advances that a Handbook on Christianity’s development in Asia as a whole is now warranted.

The volume’s overall goal is to give a “comprehensive mapping of the state of Christianity in Asia”

In: Social Sciences and Missions


In this paper, we analyse two important institutions in the modernising society of the Philippines: the Catholic Church and the educational system. If one is to follow conventional modernisation theories, religion can be seen as a backward institution founded on irrationality, whereas education is a critical institution that ushers in modern thinking. As a developing society, the Philippines and hence its institutions present responses to the contemporary modern condition that run counter to the above. In particular, we focus our attention on seeing certain crises within both the Catholic Church and the school system as indicative of what Blum has called an 'institutional panic'. Taking our cue from what is known about panic responses at the level of the individual, we perceive educational and Catholic religious institutions as exhibiting behaviours of hyper-vigilance as an answer to stress-related situations. At the same time, these entities also have periods during which they let down their institutional guard, and may appear as more passive and demoralised. This perspective allows us to look at the variable nature of panic at an institutional level, and investigate institutional patterns of response to situations of vulnerability.

In: Asian Journal of Social Science

Territorial porosity has fostered religious globalisation in the 21st century. Religious global flows have increased where different religious groups have moved across territorial boundaries with ease and positioned themselves in the various spheres for a myriad of religious activities. These religious flows include a multitude of forms and styles that involve traditional missions, televangelism, as well as increasingly cyber-spatial religious interactions. These flows are accompanied by an explosion in the array of religious services, activities and products for the consumption of both religious and non-religious individuals and the wider public. These activities include the delivery and the consumption of varieties

In: Asian Journal of Social Science

This paper examines how local Filipino volunteers frame their participation and membership in the Tzu Chi Foundation, a worldwide Buddhist philanthropic organisation headquartered in Taiwan. These volunteers were recruited into Tzu Chi after receiving disaster aid in the wake of Typhoon Ketsana in 2009 in the Philippines. They participate not just in philanthropic activities, but also in Buddhist religious instruction and rituals. We suggest, however, that the volunteers, who are mostly non-Chinese, urban poor, and Catholic, frame their participation in terms of personal transformation through self-discipline and self-fulfillment. These are facets that render their philanthropic participation in Tzu Chi not so much as religious as it is aspirational. In other words, participating in Tzu Chi for local Filipino volunteers is not about religion, but rather aspiration, in contrast to earlier studies that have emphasised Buddhist awareness as crucial to members of Tzu Chi. This piece contributes to the emerging literature that documents Tzu Chi as an increasingly inclusive organisation that downplays its traditionally Chinese diasporic character.

In: Asian Journal of Social Science