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Session 4: Communicating across Cultures: Southeast Asian Language, Art, and Music in a Global Context (Sponsored by COTSEAL)

Organizer and Chair: Prawet Jantharat, Foreign Service Institute

Discussant: Carol J. Compton, University of Wisconsin, Madison

This panel is to explore and report aspects of language and cultural developments in Southeast Asian communities, both overseas and in the U.S.A. Although language constitutes less than fifty percent of total communication, it seems to be an integral part of daily life communication and interaction. Technology and global interaction always influence normal speech. One panelist is exploring a computerized language (chatroom language) with an impact on normal speech. This speech pattern can also influence immigrants and refugees away from home. In the meantime, immigrants overseas are trying to preserve their heritage through community centers and organization. In addition, personal memories and identities also influence ways of preserving one’s own heritage. One panelist is exploring how the Thai community preserves and enhances its language and culture, while one panelist is reporting on groups of Khmer artists (music and dance) getting together to inherit the rich tradition to young Khmer immigrants. A Lao independent painter will share his successful story of blending contemporary painting techniques in a successful Lao traditional painting.

Dance Discourse in the Philippines Context

Basilio E. S. Villaruz, University of the Philippines

Dancing has been major entertainment globally. Dancers communicate to their audience using various forms of expressions such as costumes, facial expressions, and body movements. Non-verbal communication through various movements during the dance is another language. It is equivalent to discourse in verbal language. The presenter, who is a professor of dance and a professional dancer-choreographer, will present to participants the meaning of such movements with examples.

Performing Community, Performing Culture: Khmer Music and Dance in a Washington Diaspora

Joanna Pecore, University of Maryland

Since the 1980s many important projects have been carried out worldwide to strengthen Khmer performing arts. The overarching impetus for this work is the preservation of traditions that were nearly destroyed after Pol Pot took control of Cambodia in 1975. This work has focused especially on "reconstruction" and documentation. In contrast, less attention has been paid to the processes of contemporary Khmer performing arts projects that, in true faith to their traditions, are in constant motion. This paper takes conference participants on a visit to a community of artists who live and breathe Khmer music and dance today, in the United States—well beyond Cambodia’s borders. The members of this community possess diverse backgrounds: they have come from different classes, are equipped with a broad spectrum of educational experiences, and embrace a mixture of values and beliefs. They also have individual stories to tell about their journeys to the United States. "Performing Community, Performing Culture" introduces this diversity of journeys and highlights some of the ways in which the future of Khmer performing arts is bound to contemporary community dynamics. It shows how the direction of cultural development depends not only upon interactions within the local community, but also upon a vast network of musicians, dancers, students, families, audiences, educational institutions, and funding agencies that are located throughout the United States, Cambodia, and the Cambodian diaspora.

Thai Language in the New Age and Technology

Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong, University of Hawaii, Manoa

In this new millennium, computers and the Internet have become a new medium of communication, being the "virtual" spaces and "virtual" communities where people meet and interact. This new way of communication is anticipated to have effects on the evolution of language. I will examine such electronic communication and interaction in the Thai context and discuss the effects that this new mode of communication and interaction has on Thai language.

Preserving Old Memories through Painting with Contemporary Techniques: The Case of Lao Painting in the U.S.

Kingsavanh Pathammavong, Independent Scholar

Painting, murals, and artifacts reflect culture and belief in the society. In addition, they also allow artists to express their personal life and dreams with a personal touch. The presenter grew up in military surroundings and later found ways to reenact his homeland memories through painting. He left his homeland and resettled in the U.S., where he found ways to preserve his heritage and to regain his personal and cultural identity through painting. By applying contemporary painting techniques to Lao traditional scenes, he found success in expanding Lao memories through this widened acceptance of painting. With training in art history and art education, the presenter explored ways to blend contemporary painting techniq-ues with Lao traditional life scenes with success.


Session 5: Women, Gender, and Islamization in Muslim Southeast Asia

Organizer and Chair: Nancy Smith-Hefner, Boston University

Discussant: Robert William Hefner, Boston University

Keywords: gender, Southeast Asia, Islam, syari’ah.

Since the late 1970s Muslim Southeast Asia has been swept by an Islamic resurgence of historically unprecedented proportions. Since the 1990s the resurgence has included the growth of hard-line Islamist groups advocating the imposition of syari’ah law. A key target of these latter campaigns has been the effort to reposition women in restrictive social roles. At the same time, however, moderate resurgents have sought to enhance women’s participation in public life even while encouraging conformity to Islamic ethical codes. This panel examines the contest between these rival visions of Islam and gender, focusing in particular on women’s roles in Indonesia and Malaysia. In courtship and marriage, in religious courts and schools, the contest involves alternative visions of public and private and contrasting constructions of male and female roles.

Women and Islamization: Combating the Forces of Globalization

Nelly Van Doorn-Harder, Valparaiso University

Increasing numbers of Indonesian Muslims consider globalization as the greatest threat to the stability of their religion. This attitude has only intensified in the wake of the rapid social changes which have taken place with the fall of the Suharto regime. TV, Internet, movies and journals from the West import pictures and ideas that directly assault the moral and ethical standards of Indonesian youth. This can lead to zina—sin and adultery—eroding the strength of Indonesia’s youth and eventually causing the destruction of the entire society. Globalization comes in two forms: the West brings its undesirable culture while from the Middle East ideas of Islamism appear.

Women activists of various backgrounds have started the offensive. The Jakarta-based group for advocacy for Muslim women, Rahima, for example, is analyzing the repercussions of Islamist trends for women. Conservative, yet advocacy-oriented women of Muhammadiyah are strengthening their family projects in order to protect this core unit of Muslim society and especially the role of women. In their opinion, this would not only benefit the nuclear family, but also create a protective shell for the entire Indonesian society and eventually function as the basis for its true Islamization.

This paper will look at some of the initiatives undertaken by activists for women’s rights to combat trends of globalization that are perceived as detri-mental to Indonesian Islam.

Islamic Fundamentalism and Its Impact on Women: A Case Study from Indonesia’s Regions

Lily Zakiyah Munir, Independent Scholar

The issue of fundamentalism in contemporary Islamic discourse has paralleled the rise of the phenomenon of extremist groups operating in the Middle East and North Africa. There is evidence of similar groups in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, a growing movement is proposing the institution of syari’ah law within the revised constitution and in regional judiciaries, indicating a resurgence of fundamentalism. In Aceh, for example, syari’ah was formally enforced starting with the adoption of an Islamic dress code including veiling for women and limits on women’s mobility at night. Other regions, although not legally adopting syari’ah, have in fact imposed it on the grounds of general morality, with women appearing to be the main targets.

Based on field study in Indonesia’s various regions, this paper explores factors that may have triggered regional policymakers to impose syari’ah and considers how it has impacted on women’s rights and freedoms. There are several issues I wish to explore. First, is the lack of understanding among regional policymakers of the history and dynamics of syari’ah and how it was practiced during the time of the Prophet and afterwards. Second, is the argument that the failure of Indonesia’s socio-political development is to be blamed on Western modernization and that religion is a panacea. Third, is that religious issues have been used as political commodities to gain support and popularity for Indonesian political groups. Fourth, is the notion that the influence of fundamentalism in other countries has penetrated into Indonesia’s regions with parallel historical backgrounds.

The New Romance: Courtship and Marriage among Muslim Javanese

Nancy Smith-Hefner, Boston University

Studies indicate that age of first marriage for both women and men has been increasing among Javanese, with the most significant increases occurring among Javanese Muslims, particularly among Muslim women. Gavin Jones (1994) and others cite the rapid expansion of educational opportunities for women during the period of Soeharto’s New Order government as the most critical variable in this trend. Related are also new employment opportunities for women which have acted as a further incentive for Javanese parents to allow their daughters to put off marriage and remain in school. New freedoms and opportunities for women, however, have been tempered by an increasing awareness of the religious requirements of Islam. During the same New Order period, Indonesia has experienced an unprecedented Muslim resurgence fueled by, among other things, compulsory religious courses conducted in all Indonesian schools. For Muslim students, these classes have focused on teaching not just basic Islamic dogma and practice, but also "proper" roles and behaviors for Muslim men and women. Particular emphasis is placed on the primary role of husbands as providers and wives as helpmates and mothers. Young people are reminded that dating can easily lead to sinful acts (dosa/zina).

This paper examines attitudes towards courtship and marriage among young, educated Javanese in the context of the Muslim resurgence and new forms of Islamic education. It looks at recent trends among some Muslim university students to limit their courtship to only one person prior to marriage and considers the tensions inherent in new freedoms for women and their desire to be more Muslim.

Islamic Courts, Modernity, and Civil Society in Malaysia

Michael Peletz, Colgate College

At the most general level this paper addresses competing visions of Islam and modernity in contemporary Malaysia, a nation that has enjoyed one of the highest rates of sustained economic growth in the entire Muslim world and is viewed by its leaders (and many others) as a model both for non-Western development generally and for Islamic modernity specifically. The paper includes material on some of the key players and organizations involved in the propagation of these competing visions (different groups of political and religious elites; Muslim feminist organizations; human rights groups; and other NGOs), and devotes special attention to the contested notions of gender, pluralism, and civil society that are implicated in these visions and the variously defined Islamic and modernizing projects associated with them.

The paper examines many of the substantive issues noted above by analyzing selected dynamics in Malaysia’s Islamic courts. Especially relevant here are dynamics bearing on: the domains, jurisdictions, and operations of the courts; the cultural logic and "downside" of judicial process; gendered differences in litigant strategies and patterns of resistance; and, more generally, the paradoxical, contradictory, and ironic ways the courts are involved in projects of modernity and civil society. Last but not least the paper highlights recent changes in Islamic laws as well as secular laws bearing on Islam and its administration, many of which shed important light not only on highly politicized debates concerning women, gender, and sexuality, but also on the deeply contested relationship between syari’ah and secular law in modern Malaysia.


Session 6: INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Spirits, Charisma, and Exchange in Southeast Asia

Chair: Donald J. Baxter, College of William and Mary

Spiritual Parents of the Viet

Hien Thi Nguyen, American Museum of Natural History

The gods and goddesses of the Tu Phu (Four Palaces) religion—as "mothers" and "fathers" of the Viet people, are highly adaptive foci of popular veneration. This is possible because Tu Phu is a syncretic religion, which has developed from imported institutional religions and indigenous, localized spirit and ancestor veneration into a coherent religious system of the Viet people. My paper argues that most Viet reject an exclusive allegiance to any one religion; rather, the Viet have compromised, adapting new religious ways to the purposes of their own popular religion.

The Tu Phu pantheon consists primarily of Mother Goddesses, Saint Father Tran Hung Dao, Mandarins, Princes, Dames, Damsels, and Boy-Attendant spirits, among which the Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh and the Saint Father become spiritual parents of a large population, especially in the alluvial plain in the north. The Viet venerate these two gods as they do with their ancestors, following a proverb, "anniversaries of the father god in the eighth month and the mother goddess in the third month." My paper suggests that "mothers" and "fathers" are broad categories permitting the Viet people to adopt new gods over time and as relevant to local histories. Despite the atheistic ideology of a communist country, the people have never stopped believing in the existence of gods. The newest god that has come into the Tu Phu pantheon is the "Nation Father," Ho Chi Minh, whose statue is present in a number of temples today.

Giving and Keeping: Commodity, Value, and Power in Burmese Society

Naoko Kumada, Cambridge University

The aim of this paper is to propose a new perspective on the cultural context of the practice of giving and keeping. Based on fieldwork conducted in Burma (Myanmar) and inspired by works of Appadurai (1986) and Godelier (1999), I focus on the link between commodity, value, and power, rather than on the forms of giving and exchange. In particular, I pay attention to how certain commodities are kept, whereas others are renounced; what giving and keeping symbolizes in indigenous terms; how giving and keeping creates power and how they constitute a politics of value. Sacred objects, such as relics, must be kept, for they concentrate power. On the other hand, secular objects, such as jewelry, must be renounced if the donor is to acquire power, prestige, and merit. In comparing objects that are kept and that are renounced, I pay attention to the social life of objects and the career of objects in their social lives. This approach allows us to see the various phases of commodity in its life history; how objects are commoditized, decommoditized, sacralized, and desacralized; how relics, once human beings, become objects; and how jewelry and gold, which represent secular wealth and attachment, are sacralized when renounced. In so doing, I illustrate how the giving and keeping of commodities is actually an act of circulating and concentrating intangible qualities, such as power, prestige, and merit in Burmese society.

Spirit Mediumship and the Symbolic Construction of Self and Society in Modern Vietnam

Kirsten W. Endres, Hanoi University of Technology

Since the "spirit of capitalism" has taken possession of Vietnamese post-revolutionary society, spirit mediumship has considerably gained in popularity, and thus in cultural significance. The Party state’s recent permissiveness towards mediumship seems to have unintentionally opened up an important arena for ritually acting out the upheavals of the modernization process. Starting from the assumption that spirit possession serves as a creative strategy and transformative power in the shaping of life-worlds, this paper focuses on Vietnamese spirit mediumship as a means of (re)integrating conflicting experiences of self and society in the context of the new market-oriented economy.

Vietnamese spirit possession rituals (len dong) are a vital part of a complex belief system that incorporates a pantheon of divinities known as tam phu (the three domains or palaces: Sky, Water, Mounts and Forests). Indicators for being chosen as their "servant" (dong) can range from an illness that cannot be cured by traditional or Western health systems, a continuous streak of bad luck in business or personal affairs, or a metaphysical experience that runs counter to the ideologically dominant "scientific" conception of the world. By examining individual life-stories of spirit mediums, this paper will show how becoming part of a group-network of regular spirit possession practitioners enables mediums to ritually come to terms with their "fates" in a rapidly changing modern society.

Globalizing Prosperity: The El Shaddai Movement of the Philippines

Katharine L. Wiegele, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This paper explores the extent to which theories of globalization can be used to understand the appeal and persistence of the El Shaddai movement in the Philippines. The movement began in the early 1980s as a non-denominational Christian radio program in Manila, and has become a Catholic charismatic lay movement with 10–15 million adherents worldwide. It is led by "Brother Mike" Velarde, a charismatic Filipino businessman-turned-preacher, whose pros-perity ideology, inspired by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and other American prosperity preachers, emphasizes faith, financial miracles, upward mobility, and healing. Up to one million gather weekly in Manila for rallies that are broadcast nationally and transported to El Shaddai communities abroad. While based in Manila, El Shaddai has dozens of chapters around the world.

El Shaddai constructs an ideology of globalization partly by mobilizing discourses of Filipino migration and overseas work. Consistent with one image of Filipino overseas workers as mga bagong bayani (the new heroes), El Shaddai ascribes positive values to working abroad by publicly blessing passports and visa applications, and by interpreting new jobs overseas as miracles secured through dedicated tithing and unwavering faith. Such positive ascriptions, however, are constructed alongside and through other local discourses of transnational work such as those of exploitation, moral compromise, neo-colonialism, and global inequality. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper looks at the relationships between El Shaddai’s prosperity ideology, which has mass appeal to Manila’s urban poor and aspiring middle classes, theories of globalization, and locally contested conceptions of the "foreign" and the transnational.


Session 25: Female Desires in Movement: Longings, Acts, and Policies in Contemporary Vietnam

Organizer: Helle Rydstrom, Linkoping University

Chair and Discussant: Mandy Thomas, Australian National University

Keywords: gender, sexuality, globalization, war, diaspora, space.

Vietnam is undergoing temporal and spatial reconfigurations by rapidly moving from a past of wars and socialist regimentation into a present of inclusion in the global market economy. This panel explores the ways in which these movements encourage new constellations of female desires, as those desires are tied to females’ crossing of boundaries when moving from the past into the present, from rural into urban spaces, across national borders into diasporic locations, and when entering new social classes. The panel addresses desires as differentiated and fluctuating verbal and/or bodily manifestations of longings and actions in resistance to or accordance with transformations of the state, market, or history that, when linked together, craft female and male identities. One paper looks at female memories in state-promoted models of virtue, public service, and self-sacrifice in juxtaposition to "desire" in the state-sponsored market-driven rationale of doi moi. Another elucidates the complexities of desire to forget the past, while reproducing remembrance of the wars, as gendered, memories of violence are transferred from one female generation to another. The third paper examines fiction to shed light on working class femininity, sexuality, and desire in movement, as women traverse the distance between rural and urban, national and diasporic locations. The last considers state policies of public spaces and circulation of ideas of "the new woman" as females incorporate these ideas as desires of changed womanhood and femininity. From the perspectives of political science, anthropology, literary studies, and geography rich ethnographic data highlight females’ complex productions of desires for becoming and living.

Between Memory and Desire: Gender, State, and Market in Doi Moi Viet Nam

Jayne Werner, Columbia University

Memory constructions in Vietnamese state cultural production are linked to gendered models of virtue, public service, and self-sacrifice, while "desire" has concurrently become the modus operandi of state-sponsored economic reforms launched under doi moi. How does the Vietnamese state manage seemingly contradictory state-sponsored messages in the form of war-time memory production and the commodification of desire in the expanding market economy? This paper investigates how state power in Viet Nam is being reconstituted and regenerated in the shifts and pressures generated by the forces of globalization, in relation to the remembering of the years spanning the French and American wars. Political subjectivity is examined in terms of subjects as "desired objects of power" in terms of approaches which view the state as an "idea" capable of generating and reconstituting itself in subjects’ consciousness. However, state-linked and state-generated longings, yearnings, memories, and desires are treated as gendered cultural constructions. Ethnographic material from the northern Vietnamese countryside is used to explore these questions.

Desiring to Forget the Past and Move into the Future: Females and Wars in Rural Vietnam

Helle Rydstrom, Linkoping University

Although Vietnam is currently undergoing rapid socio-economic and political transformations, the country continues to be marked by its turbulent past of warfare, especially the prolonged and severe wars with France and the U.S. Decades of involvement in conflicts of wars have left a firm imprint on the Vietnamese population as incorporated and gendered memories of violence, pain, and sorrow. This paper draws on two periods of long-term in-depth anthrop-ological fieldwork (1993–94 and 2000–2001) in a northern Vietnamese rural commune and addresses directly the ways in which the lives of three generations of females have been deeply affected by the local community’s inclusion in wars. The paper examines how females’ experiences of warfare are closely intertwined with strong desires to dismiss the past of brutality and tremendous human losses by moving into a peaceful future. The generation of grandmothers was confronted with the French occupational forces and the bombings of American planes, while the mothers of today’s children and adolescents were born and/or grew up during the war between Vietnam and the U.S. Even though contemporary female adolescents have not been directly involved in Vietnamese warfare, the collective past of wars perpetually is revitalized through women’s narrations. This paper elucidates the motions of females’ warfare memories, as they are transferred from the generations of grandmothers and mothers through narrations to their adolescent granddaughters or daughters, and the complex ways in which these narrations are contradictory to and supportive of female desires and longings to move beyond the past of wars.

Longing for Elsewhere: Workers and Class Femin-inities in Vietnam and the Diaspora

Thu-huong Nguyen-vo, University of California, Los Angeles

This paper examines fiction and ethnographic data to shed light on working class desire as it is connected to femininity and sexuality as women traverse the distance between rural and urban, national and diasporic locations. Among other things, it will deal with how working women negotiate sexualization and its discipline for production in very different spaces. For the Vietnamese workers in Vietnam, the embodiment of sexualized longing for an urban middle-class femininity dismembers their subject position in the working class and thus their voice as workers. For the Vietnamese workers abroad, longing for a national subject position vis-à-vis the old country, coupled with perhaps promises of the American dream as another national subject position, is channeled into racialized and gendered labor in the sweatshops of the First World. This longing draws the women out of their class subject position, and thus fragments their collective class voice. The data suggest that workers’ acts, including their speech acts, operate within this field of disembodiment, and thus workers seek to re-embody their language in their efforts to represent their interests. The paper uses Vietnamese and diasporic fiction as well as ethnographic interviews of garment workers in Vietnam.

Spatializing Desire: Womanhood between Policy and Practice in Public Space

Lisa B. W. Drummond, York University

The notion of public space in Vietnam differs in a number of significant respects from the way this term is understood in Western society. A Western "public" is often taken to be the embodiment of civil society, and "public space" its spatial manifestation, though increasingly this notion is complicated both in practice and in theorizing. In contemporary Vietnam, public space is heavily regulated and policed, and while incursions upon it are frequent, they are generally of an individual rather than a mass nature, though some mass occupations of public space do occur and are perceived by the state as particularly threatening. At the same time, propaganda about the proper ways of being in society, particularly with regard to the proper form of feminine being, are prominently featured in public spaces, such that public spaces can be said to be saturated with the state’s desire to inculcate specific social norms. But while the state uses public space to promote certain social identities, public space is also where social identities are practiced. This paper will consider the intersection of state policies of public space and female social behavior in public space. The paper is concerned with how women translate their desires for specific feminine identities—in accordance with or contrary to the state’s notions of acceptable femininity—into their practices and performances of identity in public space, and uses recent research on public space in Hanoi to discuss these issues.


Session 26: INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Refiguring Indonesian History and Society

Organizer and Chair: Kenneth M. George, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Happy Birthday Bung Karno: A Musical Gift

Jennifer H. Munger, University of Wisconsin, Madison

On the sixth of June, 2001, the Indonesian government hosted a celebration of Sukarno’s 100th birthday in the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta. Although there were few spectators, dancers and musicians representing all parts of the archipelago performed for the rare and esteemed ensemble of Abdurrahman-Wahid, Akbar Tanjung, Amien-Rais, and Megawati Sukarnoputri. Whereas a number of the performing groups were composed of transmigrants living in Jakarta, all 1,500 members of the largest group traveled five days by boat from Minahasa, North Sulawesi, to play at the event. Unknown to the assembled dignitaries was how so many farmers and laborers from scattered villages thousands of miles from Jakarta were chosen and prepared for the trip of a lifetime. A central committee in Jakarta coordinated the finances and some directives for the monumental task, but the bulk of the preparations, from selecting the musicians who would participate to the distribution of boat tickets, were accomplished by locals. Thus, three main groups of persons were involved: central administrators wishing for a successful political event, local teachers and educated civil servants who sought to gain status in both a local and national sphere, and the musicians themselves who wanted to see Jakarta. The event ensued as a great gift exchange, where money, status and valued commodities were given, shared, and hoarded. I will contrast local exchange practices to the more impersonal "globalized" behavior of the central committee, to elucidate the otherwise incomprehensible social interactions between these groups, leading up to Sukarno’s centennial celebration.

Toward Re-inventing Indonesian Nationalist Historiography: A Critical Reflection on the Ongoing "Silent Revolution" in Indonesian Historiography

Rommel A. Curaming, Australian National University

Immediately after Suharto’s downfall, there was a frenetic explosion of interest in re-writing Indonesian history. Acrimonious attacks were launched in the media on the corpus of "tainted" historical works on post–World War II Indonesia. Despite such an upsurge of interest, however, it is almost palpable that some important things are being missed. Having attended the 7th National History Conference, held in Jakarta in Oct. 2001—a conference held once in every 5 years of which this was the first in the post-Suharto period—I was struck by the fact that only two of the papers presented managed to offer critical views on the dominant historiography, often called the Indonesiasentris, that developed during the Sukarno and Suharto years. The rest of more than a hundred papers, while most of them were critical of certain historical information or interpretations, nonetheless operated within the same historiographical tradition and seemed quite comfortable with it. However, I will show in this paper that even though they were greatly outnumbered, these two young Indonesian historians and the small group they represent are well placed to start a sort of "silent revolution" which, in the foreseeable future, could re-define the contours of Indonesian historiography. While the trauma of the Order Baru tends to discredit nationalist historiography in the eyes of this group, this paper will show that the nationalist framework will most likely be redefined or re-invented, rather than being rejected. It will also attempt to draw some preliminary sketches as to the shape such re-invention would take based on my readings and interviews with Indonesian historians.

*This paper is one of the products of my 9-month research in Indonesia as a grantee of the Ford Foundation’s ASIA Fellows Program (2001–2002).

Released Pages and Rupiah Bills: Sisingamangaradja XII in Indonesian History

Julia Byl, University of Michigan

Writing Indonesia’s local histories requires a careful balancing of national and area specific perspectives, especially in regions not normally recognized as central to the official Indonesian historical narrative. The poles of ethnic or local allegiances on the one hand, and the broader dynamics of Indonesian or colonial politics and intellectual life on the other, are often poised in a delicate balance in these histories, and sometimes are outright conflicting. In the written discourse on the historical, ethnic, national and local figure Sisingamangaradja XII, the issues of who writes history and for whom are vividly illustrated as the Sumatran Toba Batak king undergoes a transformation from a mystical priest-king, to a resistance fighter, to a prominent adat (traditional law) figure to a national Indonesian hero, and back again. This paper analyzes three different histories about the king, who was killed by the Dutch in the early 20th century, and questions how and why this figure has been claimed and represented. Ranging from a Dutch colonial philological article, to Mohammad Said’s Sukarno-era monograph, to Robinson Togap Siagian’s book published in the New Order 90s, these sources also illustrate how Sising-amangaradja’s portrayal differs depending on the broader national situation, and illuminates how these national pressures are exerted upon those who write local histories as well as their subjects. Finally, this paper also foregrounds the ways these authors explicitly and implicitly theorize the place of local histories in a broader national dialogue.

New Patterns of Political Life in Post-Soeharto Indonesia: Money Politics and Political Vigilantism in Yogyakarta

Nankyung Choi, Australian National University

This paper investigates patterns of political life in post-authoritarian Indonesia. More specifically, it explores changes in the local party politics of Yogyakarta, Central Java, since the fall of Soeharto in 1998. It is widely accepted that Indonesia’s political and administrative reforms have empowered local parliaments, enabled local politicians to emerge as new local powers, and tempered the traditional dominance of the central government in local affairs. Through constitutional reforms and administrative decentral-ization, Indonesia’s district-level parliamentarians have gained unprecedented political powers. Local party politicians now vie with each other to determine local legislation, elect—and discharge—a regent or mayor, approve budgets, and supervise the general admin-istration of local government. Yet against a backdrop of studies pitched at the national level and a focus on formal institutions, strikingly little is known about actual patterns of political behavior at local levels. This case study of district-level party politics in Yogyakarta shows that while new local politicians are indeed more responsive and accountable than their predecessors, the introduction of formal democratic institutions has also opened up spaces for institutionalization of money politics and political vigilantism. A local perspective on political change in post-Soeharto Indonesia allows for a deeper understanding of post-transition political processes and explains why Indonesia’s move toward democracy remains stuck in the political gray-zone.

Unwelcome Guests: Tension, Strife, and Ethnic Conflict between Locals and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Christopher R. Duncan, University of London

This paper looks at the deteriorating relations between the population of North Sulawesi, Indonesia, and approximately 35,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from North Maluku. These IDPs first began arriving in large numbers in November of 1999 when communal violence broke out on the islands of Ternate and Tidore in North Maluku. They continued arriving until the violence came to a halt in June of 2000. This paper examines the relationships between these groups, as well as some of the efforts being made by local and international NGOs to address these issues.

The communal violence in the Maluku islands in the past few years has received widespread attention, even internationally, but little has been done to explore the long-term consequences of large numbers of displaced people who have yet to return home from refugee camps in Sulawesi. The extended presence of 35,000 IDPs has created tensions and conflict, and the contributing economic factors for this include a decrease in wages due to the sudden surplus of labor and increase in housing costs. Additionally, locally-held negative perceptions of refugees and jealousy over IDP aid have created further misunderstandings. From the IDP perspective, experiences with locals have led them to distrust the local population. On a few occasions these tensions have broken out into violence, and some fear this is only a foreshadowing of the future should large numbers of IDPs decide to stay in North Sulawesi. The paper will conclude with recommend-ations for better analysis of refugee/local relations in Indonesia in the future.

The Politics of Gender and Democratic Participation in Indonesia

Etin Anwar, Hamilton College

The political constellation in Indonesian society has strongly divided men and women into public and private spheres respectively. Even though women have been admitted into the public realm through the national development program, the labor division is still strongly divided based on sexual differences, even if those women who participate in public life often gain their privileges and opportunities from their male relatives, i.e., their relationship with fathers, brothers, and husbands. This political pattern has remained constant from the eighteenth-century feminist Kartini to the current womanist President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Both have engaged in public life seemingly because of the merits of their fathers’ names.

Such phenomena raise many questions, the most important of which is, "how can women get involved in the process of democratization if their presence is closely tied with familial kinship?" While the answer to this inquiry is problematic, I intend to stretch the possibility of democratic participation beyond the boundary of male authority. In so doing, I will present a brief historical account of the existing democracy in Indonesia. I will also analyze the kind of gender politics involved in such phenomena. I will further inquire whether women are able to be self-agents in initiating democratic participation. In this way, women will have an equal access and opportunity to participate in public life so that the establishment of democratic particip-ation will be possible.


Session 44: Global Temp Work: Overseas Contract Labor in and from Southeast Asia (Sponsored by the Southeast Asia Council)

Organizer, Chair, and Discussant: Vicente L. Rafael, University of California, San Diego

One of the hallmarks of postmodern political economy is the rise of flexible labor regimes. The latter is characterized by the outsourcing of labor requirements to areas of the globe where the costs of production are not only cheaper but the host state is willing to guarantee worker compliance and social peace. Indeed, the very possibility of what today is widely, if problematically, termed globalization depends not only on the coupling of finance capitalism with new technologies of communication and transport-ation. It also hinges on the availability of large pools of skilled and unskilled labor to produce not only goods and services but also the biocultural contexts for their realization. Partly in response to this global need for a kind of spectralized labor force—at once material yet immaterial, simultaneously humanized and dehumanized at the point of their expropriation—there has emerged the growing phenomenon of overseas contract work, especially in Southeast Asia.

This panel is organized around a series of questions which springs from thinking about the relationship among labor, culture, capital and the state in relation to overseas contract workers in and from Southeast Asia. What is the history of overseas contract labor in the region? Among the various Southeast Asian countries, the most prominent exporter of human labor has been the Philippines. Why has this been the case? What role do nation-states play in the incitement and regulation of the desire to seek work abroad among laborers and their families? What are the social costs and cultural transformations wrought on the workers and their families? Is there a poetics of migration and nostalgia, for instance, as much as a rhetoric of rights and responsibilities, of shame and obligation, that infuses national discourses about overseas contract workers? How do overseas contract laborers alter the sites of their employment and exploitation? For example, to what extent does the presence of "foreign" labor impinge on notions of domesticity, citizenship, and human rights? How do we account for the gendered nature of overseas work? How does the gendering of overseas work inflect the making of class identities among laborers and employers? And what are the effects of this global temp work force on the dynamics of state formation, that of both the workers and their employers?

The Migrant Anthropos in Asia

Aihwa Ong, University of California, Berkeley

There is a growing body of research on the exploitation of migrant labor in Asia, but little attention has been paid to the forms of political action emerging from the accumulating pools of foreign workers. Drawing on recent research, this paper proposes a reconceptualization of migrant labor markets and associated political practice in Asia. Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are the recipients of significant numbers of migrant workers, but unlike Singapore, both cities also tolerate NGOs working on labor issues. I will discuss how multi-layered migrant circulations (differentiated by legality, skills, gender, and nationality) intersect with different regimes to configure zones of labor governance. Next, I argue that labor-based NGOs have intervened in discursive and technical ways to define a space of politics that transcends specific migrant labor markets. First, NGOs have led the struggle to disrupt the dominant images of migrant workers based on the 3-D jobs (dirty, demanding, and dangerous) and the 3-D stigmas (associated with disease, depravity, and drugs). Second, contrary to assumptions that technology and politics are opposed, I suggest that there is a complex intersection of political and technological practices. Technical interventions by NGOs—such as shelter provision, legal representation, and regional connections—shape the modes of political contestations against state and market disciplining. In short, technical devices and practices are the forms of political controversy that have opened up a new terrain of transnational labor politics in Asia.

Shifting Gender in the Family: A Look at Changes Engendered by Overseas Contract Labor on Filipino Migrant Families

Rhacel Parennas, University of Wisconsin, Madison

My paper addresses the cultural transformations engendered on the family, particularly the "Filipino family," by the increasing demand for the "global temp work" of Filipino laborers. It is based on 69 interviews I conducted with young adults who had grown up without at least one migrant parent residing in the Philippines through most of their childhood. Historically, structural shifts in the economy have resulted in corresponding shifts in household structures. In contemporary global restructuring, the economic reliance of the Philippines on the temporary labor migration of workers accordingly has increased the number of transnational households in the nation. By transnational households, I refer to households with members residing in two or more nation-states. Following the 1986 Family Code of the Republic of the Philippines as well as media reports on migration and the family, normative views of the "Filipino family" still abide largely by a traditional patriarchal gender script that espouses women’s maternity. How has the emergence of transnational households initiated variegated notions of the Filipino family? How has it questioned notions of women’s maternity? And if so, has the formation of transnational households instigated dramatic shifts in traditional household divisions of labor? Do these shifts similarly occur in transnational households with a migrant mother, as in those with a migrant father? My interviews with children who have grown up in transnational households show that households that economically depend on a migrant father more so than those with a migrant mother are the household types in which men are more likely to nurture their families. In my paper, I explain how and why unexpected extensions of masculinity are more likely to occur in households where men have secured the identity of "ultimate breadwinners."

Bringing into the House a Stranger Far More Foreign: Human Rights and the Global Traffic in Domestic Labor

Pheng Cheah, University of California, Berkeley

This paper explores the relation between globalization, gender and human rights. One of the central problems with the practical discourse of universal human rights is that its validity is compromised by the fact that we live in a world order made up of nation-states that are supposed to possess absolute sovereignty. The idea of cultural or group rights is almost always deployed to corroborate the doctrine of state sovereignty when this is asserted to circumvent the enforcement of existing quasi-legal mechanisms for the protection of universal human rights. Because gender relations or the status of women within a culture is a salient marker of cultural rights, the idea of cultural rights is often contested by feminist human rights groups on the grounds that it legitimizes the victimization of women by "traditional" patriarchal cultures. According to the liberal narrative of globalization, the liberalization of world trade and the globalization of production in the post-Cold War era is conducive to the worldwide institutionalization of universal human rights because (1) the global spread of market mechanisms is necessarily accompanied by the spread of democratic culture, and (2) the introduction of a "modern" mode of production causes the erosion of traditional Gemeinschaft-type social structures in which the rights of the rational individual are sacrificed to habitual collective duty. In the current academic climate where nationalism is automatically dismissed as a right-wing patriarchal ideology, this is a widely-accepted account of globalization: globalization is good and national parochialism is bad for human rights and women’s human rights. We see the same narrative in academic cultural studies in Arjun Appadurai’s argument for a postnational global order as well as in policy in the entrepreneurial or corporatist internat-ionalism that informs large sections of the Beijing Conference’s Platform of Action (1995). This paper offers a less sanguine account of the relationship between globalization, and women’s human rights in the postcolonial South by looking at the human rights of female overseas migrant workers within rapidly industrializing Southeast Asia. It argues that the aporias of development indicate that the migrant domestic worker qua human being in possession of human rights is not, in the primary instance, the victim, alienated originator, and then resistant subject who is opposed to the inhuman forces of neocolonial capital. The human being is the difference inscribed within the inhuman force field that it seeks to transcend.

How to Hire Filipinos: The Philippine State and the Global Production of Filipino Migrant Workers

Robyn M. Rodriguez, University of California, Berkeley

The Philippines proves to be a critical locus for the transnationalization of labor in Asia as one of the region’s top providers of what Rafael has called "global temp labor." Indeed, in official parlance, the Philippines’ migration bureaucracy has come to be celebrated by the state as a model of "migration management." The Philippine state’s "migration management" raises critical empirical and theoretical questions about our understandings of nation-states within the context of the neo-liberal globalized economy.

I examine the institutional and discursive mechanisms by which the Philippine state produces Filipino migrant workers for the global consumption of various kinds of capital and their attendant flexible labor regimes, privatizing states and nascent middle classes. Specifically, this paper focuses on the Philippine state’s transnational "marketing" strategies to promote racialized and gendered Filipino workers in the global labor market. This paper problematizes characterizations of the labor-sending state, particularly in the sociological literature on migration, as merely a source of redundant labor, in other words, a passive player in the global economic order. Rather, I suggest that the labor-sending state, in this case the Philippines, is an emergent agent in transnational processes, one which attempts to opportunistically, however problematically, position itself within the global political economy with migrant labor as its "comparative advantage."

I have taken the title of my paper from a section in a brochure produce by the Philippine Overseas Employ-ment Administration (which processes the deployment of all Filipino migrant workers), specifically its Marketing Branch, entitled "Hiring Filipino Workers: A Guide for Employers."


Session 45: De-mystifying the Woman: Gender in Vietnamese History and Historiography

Organizer: Nhung Tuyet Tran, University of California, Los Angeles

Chair and Discussant: John K. Whitmore, University of Michigan

Keywords: Vietnam, gender, women, Southeast Asia, Vietnamese womanhood, national symbol, Vietnamese identity.

In the scholarship on Viet Nam, women signify the nation’s unique cultural heritage and serve as a marker of tradition or modernity emerging in three reified forms: as signs of Confucian oppression, of Vietnamese uniqueness, or of Southeast Asian permissiveness. Between the two cultural traditions of the Southeast Asian and Sinic world, another model of Vietnamese womanhood emerged. This model emphasized Vietnamese uniqueness, and the woman embodied an ostensibly unified national culture that predates Chinese influence. As markers of tradition, the existing literature relegates women’s experiences to their contribution to the meta-narrative of Vietnamese history. As a result, we still know very little about their lives. What then were women’s lives like?

This panel challenges assertions of Vietnamese women’s uniqueness by examining their lives through their participation in the marketplace, village and urban society, and literature. Two of the papers, Nhung Tuyet Tran’s and Wynn Wilcox’s, examine the ways in which early modern village society and urban colonial society, respectively, constructed gendered roles and set the rules of sexual activity. Liam Kelley’s reading of Doan Thi Diem’s eighteenth-century poetry challenges the mystique of Ho Xuan Huong, whose apparent sexually-charged poetry has captured the imagination of Western audiences. George Dutton’s examination of women’s participation in the market from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries at last gives attention to their actual experience in the marketplace. These papers challenge the existing literature by writing about women’s lives without limiting the discussion to Vietnamese identity, whether Chinese, Southeast Asian, or uniquely national.

Sex in the Village: Local Authority and the Regulation of Women’s Sexuality in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century An Nam

Nhung Tuyet Tran, University of California, Los Angeles

Though scholars often highlight the permissiveness of traditional Vietnamese society towards women’s sexual behavior, there has been no attempt to test such assertions beyond allusion to disconnected Chinese and European observations. This paper seeks to fill this gap by examining how local authority regulated women’s sexuality and constructed gender roles through legal, moral and medical mechanisms. Local authority includes officials, custom, and religious authority. Local medicine, transmitted among the populace in a form of vernacular poetry, constructed and defined the feminine body in a certain way; understanding how everyday people understood women’s bodies allows additional insight into women’s roles and participation in the village.

I will focus on how women’s sexual activity was regulated by code, custom and practice in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This period has a particularly important proliferation of morality texts from state, religious (Buddhist and Catholic), and local sources. How did each level regulate sexuality? Was there any perceivable difference between the way religious teaching, neo-Confucian morality, and local custom constructed gender? The web of regulations during a period of intense economic and religious activity reveals in greater relief an aspect of women’s lives often alluded to but seldom examined. Research for this paper is based on state records, including morality codes, and magistrates’ manuals; religious manuals; and other local records, including village regulations, stele inscriptions, and medical texts written in classical Chinese and the demotic script (chu nôm) and collected from various archives in Viet Nam. Observations from missionaries, located at the Missions Etrangeres Archives (Paris) and the Jesuit Archives (Rome) provide valuable ethnographic data.

That Other Vietnamese Woman: Doan Thi Diem and the Truyen Ky Tan Pha

Liam C. Kelley, University of Hawaii, Manoa

Much of the scholarship on Vietnam that has been produced in the West in recent decades has been carried out under the general auspices of Southeast Asian studies. In keeping with the dictates of this larger field, this research has often sought to illuminate Vietnam’s supposed links with the Southeast Asian region, and has played down the importance of Vietnam’s historical links with the cultural world of East Asia. Discussions of Vietnamese women have played an important role in this enterprise as they have been held up as symbols of Vietnamese cultural difference from the Sinitic/ Confucian world to the north. However, such arguments have often been based on selective evidence. As such, while the free-thinking, 19th-century poetess, Ho Xuan Huong, is now well known to Western readers, the 18th-century writer Doan Thi Diem is not. This paper will attempt to rectify this imbalance by introducing readers to Doan Thi Diem’s life, as well a famous collection of stories attributed to her, the Truyen Ky Tan Pha. In the process this paper will also seek to question the categories that Western scholars continue to employ in thinking about premodern Vietnamese women.

Vietnamese Women in the Marketplace: A Historical Overview

George Dutton, University of California, Los Angeles

Scholars have long commented on the involvement of Vietnamese women in the economy of Viet Nam, noting the contrast between this involvement and the alleged greater circumscription of women’s involvement in other realms of society. There has, however, been no closer examination of this phenomenon and its historical manifestations. This paper is designed as a preliminary examination of the ways in which Vietnamese women have historically involved themselves in economic activity, and more specifically in the commercial venues of the marketplace. In it, I propose to use available sources, most notably reports of visiting Europeans, but also what references are found in Vietnamese materials, to sketch aspects of the roles that women played in this arena.

I will focus on a number of different aspects of women’s involvement in market activities, including the types of goods being sold, the degree of participation in the procurement and distribution of goods, and their involvement in the monetary or goods-exchange economies. I also propose, to the extent that the sources allow, to compare the nature and degree of women’s involvement over time and space, looking at female participation in various larger market settings in different regions of Viet Nam. This paper will focus primarily on the period between about 1700 and 1900, a time-frame guided largely by the availability of sources, but also one that allows a focus on pre-twentieth-century and pre-colonial economic activity, about which there is virtually no existing scholarship. In focusing on this earlier period, the paper will provide the basis for a more concrete understanding of what has often been a convenient generalization about Vietnamese women rather than a more carefully explored phenomenon.

Woman as Wholesome National Culture: Configurations of Desire and Identity in "The Western Vietnamese"

Wynn Wilcox, University of Oregon

This presentation will use Nam Xuang’s 1930 comedy "Ông Tây An-Nam" (The Western Vietnamese) as a starting point for a discussion about the relationship between gender, foreignness, and national identity in twentieth-century Vietnam. The play discusses a young man named Lan who returns home to Vietnam after a long stay in France and is either unwilling or unable to speak in Vietnamese, recognize his parents, or re-adopt Vietnamese social and cultural norms. He is unable to woo his primary love interest, Miss Kim Ninh, because of his excessive "Frenchness," even though she gives him the desire to speak Vietnamese. The presentation will suggest that in the "The Western Vietnamese" the desire for national identity and the heterosexual male desire for a "pure woman" are configured with one another. It will also suggest that the author and the audience are, in a sense, laughing at themselves: since the play is bilingual and contains references to French literature, the author and the audience, by their very comprehension of the motifs in the play, seem to be engaging in the very activities at which they are laughing. Thus, this play provides a template from which to understand how the largely wealthy, cosmopolitan, and Francophone male elite of Hanoi and Saigon produced a nativist Vietnamese nationalism which was configured with the desire for an idealized and pure Vietnamese womanhood when the invention of such a nativist "tradition" tended to negate the very identities that this elite held.


Session 65: Towards a New Understanding of "Chinese" and "Filipino" Identities

Organizer: Richard T. Chu, University of San Francisco

Chair and Discussant: Adam McKeown, Columbia University

Keywords: Philippines, Southeast Asia, Filipino, Chinese mestizo, ethnic identities/ethnicity, diaspora, migration, Chinese, China.

The study of the ethnic identity of the "Chinese" in the Philippines had been influenced by Chinese and Filipino nationalism and assimilationist-integrationist paradigms. Consequently, historical works on the Chinese constructed them as a separate and homogeneous group and their mestizo offspring as being inclined towards the local culture, with little regard for their Chineseness. While such an approach may support Chinese-Filipino ethnic relations in contemporary Philippine society, it fails to accurately depict past ethnic relations.

Using recent approaches in the study of identities, and new archival sources, these three papers argue that identities were often—and continue to be—situational, fluid, ambiguous and self-determined. Andrew Wilson shows that the cohesiveness of the Chinese community during the Spanish colonial period could be attributed not only to the attempts of the Spanish colonial government to localize them but also to the Chinese leaders’ efforts in defining their community. Richard Chu challenges the notion that the Chinese community was historically one homogeneous group and shows that it had wide interaction with other ethnic groups. Furthermore, their mestizo offspring recognized and lived out their "Chineseness" and thus did not automatically become "Filipino." Irene Limpe brings the discussion to contemporary times and asks what it means to be "Chinese" or "mestizo" from the perspective of the people themselves.

All three papers bring back agency to historical actors and challenge the constructions of a Chinese-Filipino binary. Furthermore, they contribute to the wider debates of what it means to be "Chinese," and by extension, to be "Filipino."

Presentations will be kept to 15 minutes each, and the discussant’s response to 20 minutes, giving ample time for questions and answers. The role of the discussant is not so much to summarize the main points of each paper, but rather to relate the papers’ findings to broader historiographical and thematic issues.

Chinese Merchant-Elites and the Making of Chinese Identity in Late Colonial Manila

Andrew R. Wilson, U.S. Naval War College

Traditional discussions of ethnic identity among Chinese overseas have emphasized two forces in explaining community cohesion and shared "Chineseness." These are either those external factors that set the Chinese apart from the other groups in the host environment, i.e., discrimination, prejudice, legal distinctions, and imposed institutions, or the centripetal forces of shared language, native-place ties, and the familial patron-client relations that were so critical to both Chinese migration and their success in business that bind Chinese émigrés together.

With regard to the Chinese community in colonial Manila, these were certainly powerful forces that shaped the structure and consciousness of the Chinese community, but looking exclusively to external "othering" and/or socio-cultural insularity provides an insufficient explanation for the relative cohesion of this Chinese enclave. This paper introduces a third force, that of the Chinese merchant-elite (known locally as cabecillas), who straddled the divide between their community and the local environment, and who manipulated colonial aspirations and prejudices to satisfy their personal ambitions and to further the security and prosperity of those under their leadership. Rather than having institutions and ethnic distinctions thrust upon them by the colonial regime or simply replicating strategies from their native places, the cabecillas demonstrated a subtle hand in creating the institutions and constructing the identities that largely defined what it was to be "Chinese" in colonial Manila.

Ambiguous Selves, Shifting Identities, and Multiple Loyalties: The Case of the Chinese and Mestizos in Late-Nineteenth-Century Manila

Richard T. Chu, University of San Francisco

This paper aims to provide an alternative interpretation of the ethno-genesis of "Chinese" and "Filipino" identities in the Philippines today. Past historians tend to portray the Chinese and Filipinos in binarist terms, showing that well before the creation of the "Filipino" nation in the twentieth century, boundaries among the various ethnic groups in the Philippines were hard and clearly delineated. For instance, the Chinese population during the Spanish colonial period was presented as belonging to an enclave and as comprising a homogeneous group. On the other hand, the Chinese mestizos, whose descendants later on comprised the Filipino elite, were considered as naturally inclined towards the native and local (later on "Filipino") culture, without any regard for their Chinese heritage.

This paper argues instead that the differentiation between ethnic groups in the Philippines was not natural and long-standing. New archival sources reflecting the familial, religious, and business practices of several Chinese and mestizo individuals in fact show that before the advent of the Filipino nation-state, ethnic identities were often negotiated, and are thus better understood as lying in a shifting and problematic continuum. It was only during the height of Filipino and Chinese nationalism in the second decade of the twentieth century that ethnic boundaries became better defined and hardened.

Making Sense of Present-Day Chinese and Chinese Mestizo Identities

Irene C. Limpe, Cornell University

Ethnic identities are often thought of as primordial, based on common cultural and biological origins rooted in the distant past. In recent years, however, social scientists have developed a growing interest in the changing and constructed nature of ethnic identities. Rather than something fixed and permanent, ethnic identities are increasingly being viewed as situational, changing over time and space. This paper examines two ethnic identities that have experienced very different fates, in order to understand how ethnic identities are socially constructed.

Today, in the Philippines, the Chinese form a very visible ethnic group, and are generally known for their success in business. In contrast, the Chinese mestizos, once a distinct ethnic group with its own legal status, have now all but disappeared from public consciousness, even as Chinese mestizos remain politically and economically successful.

Using data gathered through face-to-face interviews with sixty contemporary Chinese and Chinese mestizos, I examine how ethnic identities are understood by Chinese and Chinese mestizos of today. I find that there are different kinds of Chinese and different understandings of what it means to be Chinese mestizo. Defining identities can be a difficult process, even for the people themselves, as they often hold multiple affiliations. By exploring the complexities of identities today among these two groups, it is hoped that we will not only learn how people actually understand their identities and what meanings they give to their identities, but also gain insight into the process of ethnic identity construction.


Session 66: Ways of Dying, Ways of Living: Life, Death, and Morality in Mainland Southeast Asia

Organizer and Chair: Nicola Tannenbaum, Lehigh University

Discussants: Robin Rinehart, Lafayette College; Richard A. O’Connor, University of the South

Keywords: death, morality, society, mainland Southeast Asia.

In this panel we explore the ways in which life, death, and morality are interrelated, focusing specifically on bad deaths and the ways in which different societies interpret and react to bad deaths. How people die reflects their relationships with the living and affects the souls of the dead, the souls’ possibilities of rebirth, and the relationships among the living and the dead. An ideal death is one in old age, surrounded by family, at home, and this death is a statement of a well-lived life with proper relationships with kin, the dead, and society. A bad death, the result of violence, accident, or childbirth gone wrong, indicates a failure in these relationships.

Ethnic groups in mainland Southeast Asia are divided into uplanders and lowlanders and the two are seen as having little in common. Nonetheless, both upland and lowland groups share ideas about good and bad deaths. Our three case studies include Hmong, an upland group (Symonds), Shan, a lowland group (Tannenbaum), and Mien (upland) in interaction with lowland Thai (Jonsson). The different meanings of good and bad deaths reflect the local social and political-religious landscapes. Morality is not simply how one lives but entails how one dies and ways of death have long-term enduring consequences for the living.

Our discussants provide wider contextualization of our case studies: Rinehart, drawing on her experience in India, compares the Southeast Asian ideas about death and morality with those in India, while O’Connor places the studies within broader anthropological and sociological analyses of society, religion, and morality.

Consequences of "Good" and "Bad" Deaths among the Hmong: Showing the Way Back to the Ancestors

Patricia V. Symonds, Brown University

For the mountain dwelling Hmong, death is described as going from the Land of Light to the Land of Darkness. The body decays but the souls travel with guidance along the difficult highway to the Land of Darkness. Here one soul dwells with the ancestors to be fed by the descendants, one stays with the bones deposited in a propitious place chosen by geomancy, and the final soul is judged, and when it is time to receive one’s "mandate for life" it is reincarnated into a new-born body. For those who die a good death, in one’s own home with one’s family and friends around, it is the normal way to deal with the sadness of loss in Hmong society.

Throughout Southeast Asia many different ethnic groups make a distinction between natural and unnatural, or "good" or "bad" deaths, and the Hmong are no exception to this rule. In this paper I discuss the ideas that deaths by suicide, drowning, and violent accidents, among others, are seen as a result of "supernatural displeasure" (Mills, quoted in Kirsch). I will use examples of death in childbirth and two cases of suicide by young women I worked with in a Hmong community in the north of Thailand. The funerals for these three people were short and private, unlike the noisy rituals conducted at a "good" death. There is little relief from the sadness of loss in a "bad" death. All of this is to avoid the negative effects of the spirit of the dead on the living.

"Bathed in Blood": Karma, Power-Protection, and Death

Nicola Tannenbaum, Lehigh University

For Shan in Northwestern Thailand, to die "bathed in blood" is to die a bad death. Bad deaths have negative consequences for both the living and the soul of the person who died. These deaths automatically create malevolent spirits that cannot be sent away and harm everyone they come in contact with. Unlike those who die good deaths, the spirits of those who die bad deaths cannot go up into the Buddhist temple to receive merit that the living make and transfer to the dead. Bad deaths also require different funeral arrangements than those for people who die good deaths.

In this essay I present the kinds of possible deaths, how people interpret these deaths, and the consequences they have for the living and the dead. While I ground my explanation in local Buddhist terms, I take into account the Shan worldview and its place in the broader regional context of beliefs, practices, and social formations.

The Prostitute Whose Fate Expired: Media, Morality, and Society in Thailand

Hjorleifur R. Jonsson, Arizona State University

A young ethnic minority woman "prostitute" committed suicide at a police station, where she had gone for help. Many reporters were present at the station for a press conference on the successful fight against crime. The media blamed the police for the woman’s death and criticized the government for the presence of prostitution. In a combination of news and commentary, they aired an ongoing debate regarding the shape of Thai society. The woman’s gruesome death by cyanide was a potent signifier. Through the media, the "child prostitute’s" fate occasioned responses that suggested a crisis in Thai society.

The cause of the perceived modern crisis is "money power," but articulations vary between materialism, a disconnection from (Buddhist) morality, and corruption, the abuse of power. In separate ways, both critiques call for a separation of the individual from the inequalities of a capitalist state. Some responses to the suicide evoked Buddhist morality. Lowly peasants and powerful people should act mindfully. Others focused on social responsibility and transparent authority. The proposed alignments of morality, self, and society draw on Thai discourses regarding personal autonomy that have roots in the abolition of slavery and have been central to processes of nation building for a century. Like vote buying, prostitution entangles the self with political economy and challenges the idea of autonomous subjects. The significance of "the prostitute whose fate expired" lay in the ability to define Thai society through the relations of individuals to morality, economy, and the structures of power.


Session 85: Literature, Political Ideology, and State Power in Twentieth-Century Vietnam

Organizer: Judith A. N. Henchy, University of Washington

Chair and Discussant: John C. Schafer, Humboldt State University

Keywords: Vietnam, literature, censorship, politics, national identity, socialist realism, Freud, Nietzsche, spy fiction.

This panel explores interrelated aspects of the relationship between literature and politics in 20th-century Vietnam. Firstly, the papers examine the localization of global political ideas within Vietnamese literature during different parts of the century. Examples of this process are seen in the preoccupation of late-colonial era writers with Marx, Freud, Nietzsche and Soviet socialist realism (the papers of Zinoman and Henchy), in the impact of Maoism and the Chinese hundred flowers movement on writers in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the 1950s (Shutte’s paper) and in the vogue for Anglo-American-style spy fiction in the Republic of Vietnam between 1954 and 1975 (Nguyen’s paper). Rather than simply surveying traces of foreign influence within Vietnamese writing, the papers attempt to illuminate how elements of global political discourse were selected, modified, recontextual-ized and mobilized to serve local political projects. The presentation of case studies from the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s will provide a sense of the significant changes and continuities in literary localization of political ideas in Vietnam over time. Secondly, the papers illuminate the enduringly antagonistic relationship between literature and state power in Vietnam. Although the colonial admin-istration, the capitalist-authoritarian southern regime and the communist state were radically different political entities, each adopted repressive polices towards literature, policies to which writers responded with resistance, or efforts at accommodation and collaboration. Hence, the panel’s juxtaposition of case studies from successive eras will bring contrasts and similarities between the literary cultures and cultural policies of the different regimes into sharper relief.

Hai Van, The Storm and Vietnamese Communism in the Interwar Imagination

Peter Zinoman, University of California, Berkeley

Among the many reasons that Vu Trong Phung’s novel The Storm (Giong To), first serialized in Hanoi Bao during 1936, should be of more than passing interest to scholars of modern Vietnam is the depiction that it provides of the mysterious communist Hai Van. While characters with vaguely radical politics appear occasionally in colonial-era Vietnamese fiction, Vu Trong Phung’s unambiguous portrayal of Hai Van as a leading member of the Communist Party is unique. My paper examines what the characterization of Hai Van indicates about popular attitudes of the day towards Vietnamese communism and local communist activists. It also reassesses an enduring (and remarkably high-stakes) debate among Vietnamese literary critics and cultural officials about what the portrayal of Hai Van found in The Storm reveals about Vu Trong Phung’s famously enigmatic political orientation.

Revolutionary Deconstructions of Colonial Cultural Narratives in Early Twentieth-Century Viet Nam

Judith A. N. Henchy, University of Washington

This paper examines some Vietnamese understandings of literature and its relationship to ideological formulations of culture. It focuses on the writings of two early 20th-century Southern intellectuals: Nguyen An Ninh and Phan Van Hum. These French-educated polemicists were amongst the most influential intellectuals in the South in the 1920s and 1930s. Ninh was perhaps the first to recognize "culture" as a pliable category in the service of colonial power and bourgeois capitalism, with his critiques of French cultural policy, and "orientalist" French literary genres. After his early attraction to Nietzsche and anarchism, Ninh came to embrace Marxism, but never relinquished his artistic will to the constraints of economic determinism. His human-ism and individualism drew on the models of Tolstoy and Gandhi in his formulations of political praxis. Hum, who can be seen as revolutionizing Vietnamese language prose in his writings from the Saigon prison in 1928, established the genre of realist reportage. As an influential poet and literary critic, he became one of the primary architects of a Marxist cultural policy that critiqued the distortion of the peasant and proletarian condition in popular literary representations. Drawn to theories of linguistics that emphasized the indeterminate nature of language, but with an unfailing faith in the scientific "truth" of dialectical materialism, he examined the role of popular literature as a vehicle of pedagogy and praxis, engaging in polemics with the proponents of Art for Art’s sake and romanticism, and theorizing the role of Freudian analysis in bourgeois literary and cultural constructions.

Spy Fiction and Southern Vietnamese Identity: The Case of Z–28

Cam N. Nguyen, University of California, Berkeley

Between 1954 and 1975, Nguyen Thu Tam’s sixty-odd novels featuring the dashing secret agent known as Z–28 were arguably the most popular works of fiction in South Vietnam. Serialized initially in daily newspapers, the novels were published and republished in paperback editions throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and reissued in the United States following the fall of Saigon in 1975. My paper introduces Nguyen Thu Tam, charts a history of the Z–28 series and examines its dominant formal features, plot devices and thematic preoccup-ations. It seeks to understand the process whereby spy fiction was imported into Vietnam (by way of Nguyen Thu Tam’s translations of Ian Fleming) and domesticated for local consumption. It also examines what the Z–28 series reveals about the emergence of a complex and problematic southern Vietnamese sub-national identity during the cold war era. Finally, it attempts to explain the enormous and enduring appeal of the series for readers in pre-1975 South Vietnam and within post-1975 overseas Vietnamese communities.

Hundred Flowers in North Vietnam, 1955–1957

Heinz Schutte, University of Bremen

Early in 1955, a group of writers and artists in the cultural section of the North Vietnamese army demanded free artistic expression and civil liberties and questioned the Communist Party’s cultural policy. In 1956 they published a collection of writings, "Giai Phâm" (Literary Works) and, later that year, a journal programmatically entitled "Nhân Van" (Humanism), viciously attacked by the official censors. After a few months of widespread creativity, between Khrushchev’s speech on Stalin in February and the USSR’s intervention in November, the movement was crushed in the wake of the land reform, party purges and the emerging "Revisionism" affair. The questions posed in those days which contributed to a severe inner political crisis of the DRV regime, still remain unanswered in contemporary Vietnam.


Session 86: The Role of Media in the Construction and Contestation of an Indonesian Islamic Public Sphere

Organizer and Chair: Ronald Lukens-Bull, University of North Florida

This panel examines the role of media, broadly defined, in the construction and the contestation of an Islamic public sphere in Indonesia. This panel examines multiple forms of media including books and magazines, as well as radio, television, the Internet, and even bumper stickers. This panel seeks to place Indonesia Islamic media, and the discourses of which they are a part, in larger, even global, processes. The first paper takes an insider perspective on the world of Islamic book publishing and traces the link between the rise of new publishing houses and the Islamic student movements of the 1970s and 1980s. Further, it examines how certain trends and themes established during the height of these movements have continued through the present. The second paper turns our attention from book publishing in general to a specific book to examine how greater freedom of the press has significantly changed the nature of printed discourse. The third paper continues that theme to examine the use of media in the debates between Islamist and Islamic liberals over proposed societal reforms. The final paper leaves behind more traditional forms of media and examines how bumper stickers are used to encourage specific religious attitudes and behaviors and at the same time define an Indonesian Islamic identity in particular ways. Taken as a whole, the panel offers a significant update to the previous approaches to the place of Islamic media in the Indonesian public sphere.

Ushering in a New Generation: Islamic Book Publishing and the Islamic Public Sphere in Indonesia

Putut Widjanarko, Ohio University

In the late seventies and early eighties we witnessed a new wave of vibrant Indonesian Muslim activity among the youth, especially Indonesian Muslim university students. Mosques on and near campuses were filled with Muslim students who were actively engaged in various activities, including the expected religious activities such as praying and reciting the Koran, as well as many social and intellectual activities. They were the new generation of Muslim to which the latter Islamic phenomenon in Indonesia can be referred.

These students needed a different approach to Islam. They sought this new approach in new kinds of books. At the same time there were new publishing institutions established, which offered alternative Islamic discourses. The discourses were relatively discontinuous with offerings previously made by Islamic publishers. Further, these new publishers responded to this student movement and their books became the reference material for the students’ activities.

This paper will discuss the role of Islamic book publishing since the eighties in the shaping of what may be called the Islamic public sphere. It will trace the discourse introduced by several leading publishers from the early eighties to the present.

Fifteen Quranic Proofs That Soeharto Will Go to Hell

Mark R. Woodward, Arizona State University

The collapse of the New Order regime of Indonesia’s president Soeharto was the result of a massive economic crisis. Many Indonesians attributed this crisis to the sinful behavior of President Soeharto. During most of the New Order era Indonesians tolerated corruption and nepotism so long as their own economic circumstances improved. This paper examines Islamic responses to the collapse of the New Order and the emergence of intellectual and journalistic freedom.

When the Indonesian economy collapsed in the late 1990s, many found themselves without funds to send their children to school or even to provide for their daily needs, and they came to understand the sins of the President as the cause of the crisis.

This paper examines one of the texts that emerged as a reaction to the economic collapse of the Soeharto regime, the economic crisis and the emergence of intellectual and press freedom resulting from the demise of authoritarian rule.

The text is entitled 15 Dalil Mengapag Soeharto Masuk Neraka (Fifteen Quranic Proofs that Soeharto Will Go to Hell). The publication of such a text during the Soeharto regime would not have been possible. The author, Khairril Ghazali Al-Husni, argues that Soeharto’s sins were the cause of the crisis and moral regeneration will bring economic recovery. In this paper I will explore relationships between the Islamic ethical theory on which the author’s text is based and contemporary Indonesian political, economic and religious discourse.

Islamic Media and Contention over Indonesia’s Islamic Public Sphere

Rick Kraince, Ohio University

The easing of media controls in Indonesia since Soeharto’s ouster and the general expansion of telecommunications technologies in recent years have enhanced the ability of small organizations to impact Indonesian public opinion and promote movements for societal reform. Numerous Islamic groups have initiated media efforts recently in order to promote their preferred interpretations of Islam and affect the development of what may be called Indonesia’s Islamic public sphere. Liberal Islamic intellectuals, for example, have argued that the humanistic principles inherent in Islam should be employed as a value system upon which a democratic political system and tolerant civil society may effectively be based. Conversely, proponents of Islamism, the movement promoting Islam as a political ideology, tend to view their religion as a legalistic set of directives intended to regulate all aspects of Muslims’ lives. Many Islamists have vigorously called for the establishment of a highly ordered state based on Islamic law (shari’ah) as an alternative to Western models of liberal democracy.

This paper is concerned with the efforts of various Islamic groups endeavoring to shape Indonesia’s Islamic public sphere through print, radio, and Internet media programming. It is an exploration of some of the points of contention apparent between Islamists and Islamic liberals over proposed societal reforms. Concentrating on the debate over shari’ah, this research is focused on how Islamist media organizations have promoted a sense of victimization among Muslims, employed sensationalistic news coverage, and at times threatened those holding liberal views in order to build support for their cause.

The Place of Bumper Stickers in the (Attempted) Creation and Maintenance of an Indonesian Islamic Public Sphere

Ronald Lukens-Bull, University of North Florida

In Indonesia, religious bumper stickers and window/door decals have become a hot commodity. This paper examines stickers collected from 1994 to 2002 to explore how religious commodities and their distribution become an institutionalized Islamic practice, specifically as a way to encourage Muslims in their endeavors to live according to the Shari’a. Of particular interest are the kinds of religious identities that are created through the commerce of these items. First is the issue of the central messages of the stickers. Some of the stickers call for people to engage in particular practices, like the adoption of the Islamic greeting instead of local greetings when entering a home. Others call for greater piety in general as well as Muslim pride, brotherhood, and solidarity. Second are the sub-textual dimensions of the stickers. Visually and linguistically they tie Islamic practice and a preferred Islamic subjectivity to the Middle East and to the English-speaking world, thereby endorsing a particular vision for how Muslims should negotiate imagined modernities and traditions. To understand how such commodities shape identities, this paper will explore how Indonesians of various backgrounds read the texts and sub-texts found within. Finally, there is the question of how the public Islam being advocated by the producers and consumers of these items has changed in the light of changing national and international environments.


Session 87: ROUNDTABLE: Malaysia in Transition: Reviewing the Mahathir Years

Organizer: Bridget Welsh, Johns Hopkins University

Discussants: K. S. Jomo, Independent Scholar; Khoo Boo Teik, University Sains Malaysia; Patricia Martinez, University of Malaya; Andrew Aeria, UNIMAS

In June 2002, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad surprised the world by resigning from office after over twenty-one years as the country’s Prime Minister. His resignation will take effect in October, 2003, after a sixteen-month transition. As the longest serving current leader in Southeast Asia, Mahathir’s departure will have profound effects on the country’s future. In this roundtable five academics from different disciplines will review some of the consequences of Mahathir’s tenure and highlight key issues that will shape the country’s future during this political transition. K. S. Jomo will draw attention to economic hurdles facing Malaysia in the era of globalization as it recovers from the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis. Khoo Boo Teik will describe the political landscape in Malaysia, shedding light on the defining aspects of Mahathir’s rule and the implications of his resignation on democracy. Drawing from extensive fieldwork, Patricia Martinez will assess the effect of Mahathir on Islam in Malaysia and its increasing politicization. In his description of political and economic conditions in East Malaysia, Andrew Aeria will identify how regional differences evolved during the Mahathir years and the implications of the transition for Sabah and Sarawak. Finally, Bridget Welsh will outline changing political realignments that have occurred in electoral patterns since Mahathir took office in 1981. The roundtable aims to provoke a broad discussion of the Mahathir years and lay out the challenges facing Malaysia in the future.


Session 105: New Questions in Philippine Economic History

Organizer: Daniel F. Doeppers, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Chair: Yoshiko Nagano, Kanagawa University

Discussant: Norman G. Owen, University of Hong Kong

A decade ago the Philippines stood near the forefront of the study of Southeast Asian economic history, emphasizing the pioneering role of American and British commercial houses in funding and organizing the 19th-century export trade in sugar, abaca, and tobacco and the consequences of export production for the provinces involved. But as the economic history of the rest of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, surged in the 1990s, that of the Philippines lagged. This internationally diverse panel features the emerging research themes of four relatively new contributors to the field; although they do not ignore the well-documented export trade, they focus to a greater extent on the evolving internal economy of the colony in the 20th century. Wigan Salazar offers a comparative analysis of the behavior of German, British, and Spanish firms in the context of hostile American policy. Daniel Doeppers is the first to look at the long-term implications of the provisioning of the growing metropolis of Manila (ca. 1 million by 1941). Yoshiko Nagano investigates the critical role of the Philippine National Bank—a notably politicized government corporation—in providing agricultural credit and implementing the transition from the crop advance system to the modern land collateral system. Willem Wolters takes an analytical look back at the impact of the problematic government corporation that has long been a notable player in providing credit and marketing to rice growers and supply to urbanites. Norman Owen, a major contributor to Philippine economic history in the 1970s and 1980s, is the critic-discussant.

Refocusing Business: European Entrepreneurs and American Colonialism in the Philippines, 1898–1918

Wigan Salazar, Independent Scholar

Contrary to the assumption—widespread in the literature on Philippine history and politics—that the American colonizers encountered an economy already closely connected to the United States through trade and entrepreneurial ties, Philippine-American econ-omic interaction was by and large confined to the exportation of Philippine cash crops to North America. Trade and production were largely in the hands not of Americans, but of Europeans and Chinese. Focusing on European business, especially the leading groups of British, German, and Spanish entrepreneurs who handled the bulk of foreign trade in the Philippines, this paper—based on research in European, Philippine and American state and company archives—outlines the American colonial state’s attempts to divert trade from Europe to America and simultaneously foster American entrepreneurship in the new colony. Questions explored include how far the American state attempted to push American business interests at the expense of European competition and how the Europeans responded to preferential tariffs.

Provisioning Metropolitan Manila as a Set of Issues in Economic History

Daniel F. Doeppers, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Philippine economic history has been focused on the production systems and export record of major commodities, and on the foreign commercial houses and state monopoly that organized the export markets. But these and other activities ignited an important process of urbanization that led to a growing domestic market for foodstuffs of all kinds in Manila. Much was for local consumption, but as the trade in provisions became concentrated, Manila took on a new role as the supplier of food-deficit regions where export crops were grown. Considerable economic (and environ-mental) change ensued in localities and provinces as they sorted out the changing opportunities and comparative advantages in urban provisionment. In one example, fishponds replaced nipa palm products in a broad swath along Manila Bay. Zambales was heavily deforested in the 1850s to provide fuel wood to the city only to be replaced by Masbate and the Sibuyan littoral in the 1870s. In both places cattle raising for the urban beef supply followed. Demand for an adequate beef supply for Spaniards and affluent Filipinos led to imports of live animals. This in turn led to epizootics that killed most of the water buffalo and seriously reduced rice production. This led not to a gentle long-term rise in rice imports, but to disastrous periods when veritable mountains of rice had to be imported. While the vicissitudes of commodity exports were often closely tied to overseas industrial business cycles, the drastic oscillations of rice imports were most closely tied to epizootics and El Niño droughts.

Crop Loans: The Role of the Philippine National Bank during the American Colonial Period

Yoshiko Nagano, Kanagawa University

The role of crop loans in the practices and policies of the Philippine National Bank during the American colonial period is important for understanding the peculiar relations between a modern banking system and the colonial export economy. In Southeast Asia, modern banking as well as moneylending on a small scale had a growing importance in sustaining cash crop production from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. As seen also in the Banque de 1’Indochine in French Indochina, the Philippine National Bank, a quasi-governmental banking institution established in 1916, provided crop loans to larger landowners throughout the 1920s. But crop loans were pioneered by commercial agency houses in the 19th century when private landownership was not yet legally established. Cash advances were provided to growers using future crops as collateral rather than real estate. How could this premodern loan system be reconciled by the Philippine National Bank? What were the contradictions and dichotomies in banking operations? Based on extensive archival research, this paper will attempt to answer these questions.

Government Intervention in Philippine Rice Production: Credit Schemes, Price Controls, and Imports, 1900–1980s

Willem Wolters, University of Nijmegan

Supplying rice to the Philippine population has been a problem since the last decades of the 19th century. Until the 1930s private rice traders, mainly Chinese middlemen, financed rice farmers, purchased the harvest and imported supplies for urban consumers and controlled the market. In the 1920s these middlemen were accused of price manipulation, both by farmers and urban consumers. Critics clamored for state intervention. During the crisis years of the 1930s rice harvests were occasionally reduced by El Niño droughts, rice prices fluctuated, and the government was confronted with a chronic food crisis. The political leaders tried to solve these problems by creating a public body for the purchase of rice, the financing of trade, and the importation of supplies. This policy was continued after the Pacific War, with a variety of credit, purchasing, and guarantee schemes. These schemes were often riddled by fraud and corruption, while their impact on the rice market has been relatively small. In the 1980s the emerging market philosophy put an end to these schemes, or more precisely, reduced them in scope. The paper intends to evaluate the impact of this long-term policy of government intervention in the rice market.


Session 106: Navigators, Mercenaries, Witnesses: New Histories of Indonesia

Organizer, Chair, and Discussant: Laurie J. Sears, University of Washington

This international panel is inspired by Jean Gelman Taylor’s forthcoming book Indonesian Histories (Yale, 2003). The book forges a new approach to the writing of Indonesian social histories, moving from a broad focus on place, traveling theories, mobile men, and female freelancers to a particular focus on innovators, technologies, and economies of bird’s nests, smallpox, or slavery. In this spirit, we have put together historians, an anthropologist, and a political scientist, all with new approaches to the construction of Indonesian histories. Jean Taylor starts off by asking who owns national histories. How should national histories be told by outsiders, colonials, and partisans? Eric Tagliacozzo offers one answer by focusing on the longue durée and intersections of geography, community, and navigation in the archipelago over several centuries. Loren Ryter is interested in the boundaries between criminality and authority and how various thugs and mercenaries have been incorporated into the Indonesian nation-state. Fadjar Thufail looks at questions of storytelling and witnessing arising from traumatic experiences and how these narratives are rendered into ethnographies and histories. Taken together these papers suggest new strategies for telling stories and histories of Indonesia by focusing on the relations of peoples to their environment, to the outsiders they encounter, to the authorities who control them, and to their own memories of violence. We intend to have panel members offer short summaries of each other’s papers followed by the comments of the discussant and then responses from each individual paper-giver, leaving time for audience comments as well.

Suing for History in Indonesia

Jean Gelman Taylor, University of New South Wales

Aswi Warman Adam, historian with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, recently asked in the Jakarta Post, "Can Indonesia sue the Netherlands for history?" His question appeared on the occasion of celebrations in the Netherlands to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the United East Indies Company (the VOC). In his article, Adam challenges the right of nations to write their own histories without a moral accounting for their past relations with other societies. Since J. C. van Leur’s famous observation that colonial history foregrounded Europeans and assigned Asians to the background as an "undifferentiated mass," European, American, and Australian historians of Indonesia have attempted to embed the Dutch within the longer, larger histories of Indonesian communities and to focus on, or give agency to, Indonesian actors in Indonesian histories. Adam’s call returns the spotlight to the Dutch as actors, while the forerunners of today’s Indonesians are cast solely in the role of victims. His approach links Indonesia’s national history to the discourse of apology and compensation. My paper will seek to explore issues Adam raises. Can a country lose its history? Can history be stolen by the compositions of outsiders? How should historians and other scholars write histories of colonial and post-colonial relationships?

Navigating Communities: Distance, Place, and Travel in the Indonesian Archipelago

Eric Tagliacozzo, Cornell University

This paper examines intersecting notions of distance, place, and community across the Indonesian archipelago for the last several hundred years. It is an effort at rethinking how different peoples have moved in Indonesian history, with whom and why. First, I look at some meanings of place over the last few centuries, as place has pertained to communities in "centers" and maritime "peripheries." I focus on people, and how different communities in the Indonesian archipelago have envisioned the terms and conditions of movement in divergent ways. I then concentrate on period, or how conceptions of community, distance and travel have changed over time. I show how all three of these variables—people, place, and periodization—have intersected in specific, complicated ways in shaping local notions of "community." Populations indigenous to Indonesia have forged multi-faceted relationships with each other and with the marine environment that connects them, and these relationships can be approached through several avenues of vision. I argue that Indonesian conceptions of "self’ and "other," as well as notions of "home" and "travel," have evolved out of the highly mobile interactions evident in local maritime history. These discourses can be mapped in broad patterns, which shed light on how Indonesian peoples express fealty to space, and to each other, historically and today. I analyze these intersections across the breadth of the Indonesian island world, spinning disparate geographies, eras, and peoples into a single, inter-connected web.

Fissures of Reformasi: Riot Narratives and the Writing of Indonesian History

Fadjar Thufail, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Four years after President Soeharto was forced to step down, furious contestation over the public sphere keeps unfolding in Indonesia. The end of the Soeharto regime has hardly led to the strengthening of civil society. Instead it has facilitated the displacement of state power into the hands of vigilantes, militiamen, deserting soldiers, and, worst of all, political premans (thugs). The Indonesian public sphere has been saturated with accounts of violent events told as gossip, story, rumor, and personal account. These stories hover on the margins of hegemonic nationalist plots and are allowed to enter the spaces of national history only through its cracks and fissures. My paper seeks to open up critical readings of such nationalist narratives. It addresses history through the experience of encount-ering and recounting the May 1998 riots as one of the most horrible, and politically significant, events in the history of the New Order regime. In this sense, ethnographic rendering of the practices of storytelling and witnessing can shed light on the shapes and fissures of national narratives. I suggest that the writing of post-Soeharto Indonesian history must be situated in the ambiguity and uncertainty of witnessing and story-telling practices. In resituating historical narratives in the immediacy of social practice, my ethnographic project on violence seeks to interrogate the narratives of national history on which the resolution and fate of the post-New Order Indonesian nation is supposed to rest.

Freemen, Mercenaries, and Nationalists in Indonesia

Loren S. Ryter, Cornell University

The appearance of national unification in Indonesia has to a large part depended on the relative success of incorporating a disparate panoply of gangsters and strongmen into national institutions and transforming them into "nationalists." Since the colonial era, these sorts of figures have been both potential challengers to local authority and effective resources for the consolidation of local authority. Capable of mobilizing masses and untroubled by violence, these "champions" (jago, jawara) have been solicited or retained by political parties, regional army commanders, and entrepreneurs. These have acted as local agents, and yet during and since the revolution they became ever more national subjects. During the New Order many were sanctioned and given uniforms, thus apparently sealing allegiances. This earned them a reputation as political thugs, or preman as they are called in Indonesia. Preman, a term from the Dutch vrijman meaning freeman, are mercenaries—though mercenaries with ready arsenals of national vocabularies. They themselves stress their own sense of freedom, often from the state and its laws, while tending to simultaneously assert their fierce sense of nationalism. I argue that these figures and the contradictions they embody are crucial to an understanding of the Indonesian postcolonial state, occupying as they do the spaces between the local and the national, between state and society, and between criminality and authority.


Session 123: Rural Collectives and Cooperatives in Vietnam during the 1960s–1980s (Sponsored by the Vietnam Studies Group)

Organizer: Ben Kerkvliet, Australian National University

Chair: Brantly Womack, University of Virginia

Discussant: Mark Selden, State University of New York, Binghamton

Keywords: Vietnam, agrarian studies, collectivization, 1960s–1980s.

While mobilizing citizens and resources in the 1960s–1970s to defeat the United States and reunify the nation, Vietnam’s Communist Party government was also building a socialist political economy in the north. Given the country’s predominately agrarian features, key institutions for this project were rural cooperatives and agricultural collectives. Most research on these institutions, published mainly in Vietnamese, has relied heavily on official accounts. Only recently have Vietnamese and foreign scholars been able to look deeper and wider into how collectives and cooperatives were built, what they did, their problems and successes, and their political, economic, and social significance.

This panel reports results from some of that new work. During extensive research in Vietnam, each of the four presenters gathered material through interviews with villagers and officials, in archives and libraries, and from provincial newspapers and other Vietnamese publications. All presenters seek to understand village life, rural cooperatives, and agricultural collectives during the 1960s–1980s, the period of socialist construction. Each, though, has a different emphasis. Drew Smith links persistent poverty in the collectives to problems with large hydraulic projects. Regina Abrami analyzes authorities’ efforts to organize middle peasants, artisans, and small traders into cooperatives. Truong Huyen Chi examines conflicts that arose as enlarged collectives encompassed more aspects of village life. Ben Kerkvliet studies how those enlarged collectives were eventually dismantled as villagers struggled to escape poverty by farming on their own.

The discussant, Mark Selden, will consider the papers’ findings in light of his research on China’s rural collectives and cooperatives.

Undercurrents of Resistance: Hydraulics and Collectivization in the Red River Delta, 1960–1980

S. Andrew Smith, Canadian International Development Agency

In conjunction with the collectivization of agriculture in northern Vietnam, the ruling Communist Party led efforts to construct large-scale irrigation and drainage systems. Both a modern hydraulic infrastructure and collectivized production were key components of the party’s strategy in 1960–1980 to increase agricultural productivity and industrialize northern Vietnam’s economy. In this paper, I examine the role that hydraulic construction played within the collectivized economy. I show how the large-scale hydraulic systems and collectivization were closely linked at the policy level. Despite this apparent compatibility, however, three trends began in the early 1960s that eventually had adverse implications for collectivized agriculture. They were: a gradual decline in state subsidies for hydraulic infrastructure construction; poor coordination among government agencies; and a dichotomy between "production" and "construction" within the collectives.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as large-scale hydraulic systems proved to be inefficient, collectives turned to traditional irrigation and drainage techniques while at the same time pilfering water from the large systems. In many cases, canal networks were abandoned when the state proved incapable of ensuring that the systems’ pumps would provide water on time. This paper concludes that the political economy of hydraulic modernization helped to perpetuate the vicious cycle of declining productivity and increasing rural poverty that characterized the collectivized rural economy in northern Vietnam during this period.

My analysis is based on recent interviews I did in Hanoi and Hai Duong province, documents from Vietnam’s national archives, accounts from provincial newspapers, and numerous Vietnamese books and journal articles.

We Mustn’t Be Too Afraid: Coming to Terms with the Private Sector in Northern Vietnam, 1954–1986

Regina Abrami, Harvard University

Drawing on previously unavailable archival materials, field research and Vietnamese published sources, this paper examines the politics of socialist transition in the commercial sector of northern Vietnam during 1954–1986. It focuses especially on the political task of shifting small traders and artisans into craft cooperatives and trading groups. It does so in order to show how problems of socialist transform-ation and economic management in Vietnam were not only the result of "aggravated shortages" or everyday forms of resistance. The paper argues instead that these issues are best understood as the result of debates at the highest level of government over how to identify and treat different categories of citizen in the early years of transition.

Nowhere were these debates more apparent than with respect to middle peasants, artisans and small traders. On the one hand, they were sources of "spontaneous capitalism." On the other hand, they had proven themselves to be true patriots during the years of resistance against the French. So, were they friends or enemies of the regime? In this paper, I show that the answer, as well as indecision regarding this question, had an important influence on the evolution of central-local and local state-society relations that we can see not only through state commercial organization and policies, but also by examination of illegal commercial activities in pre-reform rural Vietnam. The paper concludes with a discussion of how these practices have shaped the pattern and problems of private sector development in contemporary Vietnam.

The "Team" (doi) and Us: Social Conflicts during the High Time of Collectivization (1975–1981) in the Red River Delta

Chi Huyen Truong, Vietnam National University

Drawing on archival and ethnographic data from research conducted in 1998–1999 in Hoang Long commune (Phu Xuyen district, Ha Tay province), this paper examines social conflicts that arose while Vietnam’s rural political economy was being restructured during the collective era (1960–1986). The paper emphasizes the period of large-scale socialist production (1975–1981), during which two major conflicts intensified: between the collective and the household and between the collective that embraced an entire commune (xa) and the villages within it.

I show how conflict between collective and household was reflected in confrontations between collective cadres and women villagers, who were struggling to continue their non-agricultural activities on an individual basis. This confrontation, moreover, was cast in moral terms of contrasting ideologies and deeply rooted in the historical gender constructs specific to that locale. Next my paper examines inter-village tensions within the commune-wide collective. I show how these tensions, rooted in the historically uneven distribution of local leadership, were brought to the fore during the high time of collectivization. I suggest that precisely in this confrontation, villagers came together in collective actions, sharing a feeling of being marginalized and/or oppressed. In other words, the sense of belonging or "community" developed during confrontations between one’s village and "others," be they other villages or the authorities in the collective and commune.

The paper concludes that a historical and ethnographical understanding of local cultures is crucial for understanding the transformation of and conflicts between political, economic, and social systems.

Dismantling the Collectives while Expanding the Family Farms: Agrarian Politics in Vietnam’s Red River Delta, 1979–1988

Ben Kerkvliet, Australian National University

Facing widespread discontent among villagers and an alarming decline in farm production, Vietnam’s leaders in 1979–1981 authorized adjustments in the agricultural collectives. The modifications allowed households to do some farming tasks that previously were supposed to be done collectively. Leaders hoped this concession to family farming would preserve the collectives in the long run.

It did not. This paper explains why. The main argument is that villagers’ low-key methods of coping with harsh rural conditions continued to undermine the collectives. At first, villagers seemed to accept the new arrangement. But within a year or two, out of desperation to make a living, disgust against the collectivized system and often against local and higher officials, and desire to have their own family farms, most villagers were turning against it. They did not do so openly. Instead, they essentially did more and more farming tasks individually rather than collectively. This de facto dismantling of collectives initially occurred in only a few places. By the mid 1980s, the process was widespread despite provincial and national authorities’ efforts to stop it. Gradually authorities gave up trying. By 1987–88, official pronouncements quietly shelved collectivization and loudly endorsed family farming.

This analysis sheds light on how policy is made in Vietnam and how everyday politics can significantly affect authoritarian regimes.

Evidence for the paper comes chiefly from government archives in Hanoi; interviews with villagers in three Red River delta provinces, local officials, and policymakers; and several provincial and national Vietnamese newspapers.


Session 124: In and Out of Southeast Asia: Local Narratives and the Movement of Precious Goods

Organizer: B. Lynne Milgram, Ontario College of Art and Design

Chair: Sandra Cate, San Jose State University

Discussant: Ann Marie Leshkowich, College of the Holy Cross

Keywords: Southeast Asia, narratives, material culture, exchange.

Scholars have long recognized that storytelling accompanies the flow of goods across transcultural boundaries—filling in gaps in information, defining difference, creating auras of authenticity and constructing rhetorics of ecofriendliness or fair trade—to claim value in disparate worlds. In considering the storytelling that accompanies the movement of objects in and out of Southeast Asia, this panel shifts focus from distant consumers to local worlds where trade itself generates new types of narratives. With global economic integration and political and social turmoil, new local discourses arise. Stories emerge that reconfigure the power relations of trade, reshape moralities, build biographies, celebrate access to global consumer goods, or mourn the loss of sacred belongings.

Panel members explore local narratives in various Southeast Asian contexts: refashioning Western secondhand clothing in the Philippines, narrating heroes and heroines of Thai/Lao silk weaving, lamenting the loss of lulik (sacred objects) in Timor, and verbally constructing spatial and temporal relationships with wood in Sumatra. By shifting emphasis from the social life of things to the narrative processes in which these things are embedded, we highlight ongoing strategies by which people expand, redirect, resist, or reconcile the movement of diverse valuables. We also consider how such stories transform experience and notions of selfhood and community in new contexts of production, consumption and exchange.

Heroes and Heroines of Southeast Asian Silk

Sandra Cate, San Jose State University

Inevitably, the mention of Southeast Asian silk to dealers, collectors, curators, or scholars stimulates new versions of old narratives about legendary figures that have "revitalized" silk production in Thailand and Laos, in particular. Circulating in an international elite market for hand-woven Lao or Thai cloth, such stories celebrate the entrepreneurial daring, promotional skill, and design acumen of these individuals who may or may not actually weave themselves. Narratives about silk are set against a background of tourism, gendered development issues, and the growth of a market economy. As they privilege aid project organizers and workshop owners over the weavers of silk, the stories confound sources of knowledge and production. In these stories about the business of culture, issues of maintaining "tradition" collide with efforts to protect a market niche. Discussions of the ritual use of cloth, the meanings of motifs, and the integrity of household productive efforts meld with those of copyright, product registration, and export licenses.

This paper foregrounds several of these legends—those concerning the historical role of an American man in reviving the Thai silk industry, and others describing an American woman and two T’ai Daeng sisters running competing workshops weaving silk in Laos. It analyzes how such stories work to expand a market for Thai and Lao silk at the same time that they obscure issues of production, rework contemporary histories, and raise contentious questions of intellectual and cultural property.

Tracing Back a Lost Lulik Figure from East Timor

Jill Forshee, University of California, Berkeley

Sacred (lulik) objects from East Timor might map out an especially troubled trade—stolen from hallowed sites on the landscape or from homes or ceremonial structures that for the most part no longer exist. Many such objects have moved helter-skelter through a confusion of Indonesian nationalist and East Timor independence struggles, revolution, holocaust, and transnational politics and trade. In recent years of tumult, objects from this small, new nation have been burnt, sold out of necessity, or stolen, and many are among the art shop inventories of Indonesian urban centers. As "collectibles" in an international arts market, such objects criss-cross geographical, political, and conceptual borders. This paper will tell of my acquisition and "tracing back" of a carved wooden angel from East Timor.

Purchasing the angel with trepidation in 1999 in Kupang, West Timor, I traveled to East Timor on three occasions to seek its place of provenance. I will examine stories people told me about this lulik object and conditions leading to its movement away from its original village site, into the marketplace, and then back again. I will suggest that local narratives about this figure (and of other lost objects) might "re-enchant" sites of loss and shape moral conclusions that reconcile something of past violence and disempowerment. This paper thus considers narratives as woven strains of memories and histories that serve as emotional, ontological, and social "reconstructions" of a region devastated by war.

Tales of Fashion and Trade: Recontextualizing Secondhand Clothing in the Upland Philippines

B. Lynne Milgram, Ontario College of Art and Design

The growing export of used clothing from North America and Europe to "developing" countries may initially appear to continue the West’s exploitative agenda. The passivity of this argument, however, roots recipients at the end of the commodity chain and fails to acknowledge people’s agency to craft social and economic as well as use value from such transglobal goods. This paper argues that in the northern Philippines the stories people construct about their trade and purchase of secondhand clothing, or ukay-ukay, asserts local agency over the flow of this commodity across cultural borders. As markers of knowledge, these tales enable traders and consumers to engage modernity on their own terms.

Consumers relate their prowess in bargaining and in recognizing designer ("signature") garments attesting to their shopping skills and international fashion savvy. Traders boast about the best quality shipments they have received or about clever negotiations with wholesalers. These narratives of the hunt accompanying secondhand clothing’s global journey from production to consumption contribute to its life history while enabling storytellers to claim ownership over its cultural biography. Such personal tales thus indigenize objects, reconstituting them in accordance with local cultural schemas and practice while empowering people’s control over how their experience is represented. Analyzing Philippine narratives about the West’s used clothing demonstrates that agents, not systems, act to attain a measure of autonomy even in potentially oppressive conditions.

Plotting and Scheming: Toba Batak Carvers and Their Narratives of Wood

Andrew Causey, Columbia College

As Toba Batak carvers tell it, when Western tourists started to come to Samosir Island (Sumatra, Indonesia) in the late 1960s, it was easy to get wood to make replicas of antique carvings. Some wood came from species growing near their homes on the shores of Lake Toba, while other kinds grew in nearby foothills. Even the most prized material, wood from the umbang tree that grows only in forests at the top of the island, could be located with the help of mountain-dwelling relatives.

In the early 1980s, however, things changed. Nearby stands of trees whose wood was suitable for carving were depleted; and the national government claimed authority over all mountain forests, both natural and farmed, abruptly cutting off access to the various hardwoods. Now, there are only three ways carvers can obtain woods they need to sustain their livelihoods: finding it fallen from a logging truck, paying exorbitant bribes to forestry workers, or stealing it.

This paper examines how Toba Batak carvers construct spatial and temporal relationships with wood by means of interlocking narratives. By investigating how carvers create verbal mappings or plottings of trees in local territories as well as the development of future schemes to access logs through purchase or theft, I argue that narratives about wood serve as foundations for social bonding, as opportunities to display prowess in knowledge of the local environment, and as outlets for oral invention.


Session 144: Communities, Institutions, and the Politics of Resource Use in the Philippines

Organizer and Chair: Susan D. Russell, Northern Illinois University

Discussant: James A. H. Hafner, University of California, Berkeley

Keywords: environment, conservation, Philippines, geography, anthropology.

For decades, social scientists have debated the role of indigenous communities or communal forms of tenure in the Philippines and their influence on resource use and conservation. Rapid population growth, commercial development, and a variety of state policies now require a reexamination of the ways in which policymakers have devolved authority over resource management to local communities. Recent development literature has argued a positive role for communities in resource management, but even more recent critiques challenge universalist claims in that regard. The papers in this session present case studies from the Philippines that focus on the multiple interests and actors within communities, the unequal power of such actors to influence positive or negative outcomes of planned development, and the way in which local social institutions are manipulated to achieve goals that at times may thwart state efforts to implement locally controlled resource conservation or the more efficient use of resources. Drawing on empirical research in coastal fishing communities, the sugar industry, and upland forests, the papers in this session show how inter-community conflict (Russell), intra-community social differences (Eder), ambiguous allocations of property rights (Billig), and competing environmental discourses (Bensel) produce conflicting local perceptions of what constitutes environmentally or socially desirable development. Collectively, by illustrating the wide variety of practices and institutions whereby access to, use of, and distribution of resources are negotiated, the papers challenge conventional environmentalist thinking and the paradigm of community-based resource management in critical resource settings.

Coastal Resource Management for Whom? Social Differences and the Burdens of Conservation in the Rural Philippines

James F. Eder, Jr., Arizona State University

With continuing devolution of central government powers and responsibilities onto local government units in the Philippines, greater attention is needed to how local governments are implementing a variety of development initiatives originating at the national and international level. This paper examines how a coastal resource management project in Palawan is unfolding in the context of municipal governance, mayoral politics, and the characteristic economic and social diversity of frontier Philippine communities. Illegal and destructive fishing practices and growing local populations have seriously depleted fish stocks in municipal waters, and local residents agree that marine resource depletion needs government action. But they disagree regarding what, precisely, most needs to be done, in ways that track the social divisions of lowland Philippine society and vary with the degree and kind of household dependence on coastal resources. This paper shows how ethnicity, class, and gender each influence local understandings of coastal resource issues, and it considers how the burdens of resource-conserving measures as called for by this particular project are in turn distributed across class, ethnic, and gender lines. My findings suggest that in the real world of coastal fishing communities, greater attention is needed to the intermediate and sometimes conflicting notions of societal good that may lie between the polar notions of individual good and common good.

State and Local Conflicts in Philippine Maritime Conservation

Susan D. Russell, Northern Illinois University

Community systems of resource allocation have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years because they are tied so closely to debates over the relative merits of different systems of resource management. This topic has broad theoretical significance, since it examines the interplay of individual choice and collective social institutions. Many anthropological studies have downplayed the way in which national legal codes and the municipal legal system have interacted with the informal regulations of local or ethnic groups in coastal community conflicts over resource use. This paper is based on research among coastal communities in the southern Tagalog region of Batangas Province, and examines the impact of two new maritime policies enacted by the Philippine state as part of its effort to decentralize and devolve authority to local governments. Recent evidence of increasing conflicts between communities illustrates the significant role that dominant fishing enterprises play in determining the viability and direction through which such policies are enacted. This paper highlights the ambiguities of new conservation policies and the new conflicts that have emerged in six coastal communities of Batangas. Special attention is paid to how the new authority of the Bantay Dagat, or civilian Sea Guards, have exacerbated conflicts between fishermen from neighboring communities.

Environmental Politics and Wood Fuel Production in the Uplands of Cebu Province, Philippines

Terence Bensel, Allegheny College

The island province of Cebu, in the central Philippines, is regularly cited as one of the most environmentally degraded regions in Southeast Asia. One reason given for Cebu’s environmental condition is the cutting of trees and shrubs for commercial firewood and charcoal markets in the Cebu City area. Recent policy changes and the establishment of protected watershed areas have effectively made commercial wood fuel production an illegal activity in a large portion of central Cebu. This paper argues that wood fuel production is not necessarily incompatible with watershed protection given current tree and shrub management practices of Cebu’s upland farmers. Punitive measures against commercial wood fuel production stem from a failure to consider the advantages of these practices and are rooted in an environmental discourse against deforestation and tree cutting in the Philippines. Wood fuel production bans deny upland residents a critical source of income and may actually lead to an expansion of more environmentally destructive land use practices.

Institutions, Cultures, and Incentives: Some Examples from Philippine Sugar

Michael Billig, Franklin and Marshall College

Resource exploitation is largely determined by the confluence of institutions and cultures. Both formal and informal institutions provide incentives for individuals and groups to perceive things in the environment as resources, to regulate the manner in which resources are utilized, and to apportion costs and benefits among conflicting claimants. These institutions exist in a complex dialectical relationship with values and symbols, which are themselves the subject of conflict.

This paper analyzes property rights allocation in the Philippine sugar industry as an example of how institutions and cultures interact. One prominent example is the share-quedan system in which planters own milled sugar rather than selling their sugarcane outright. Although such a method of allocation seems like a viable alternative, the ramifications of it are low investment in mill improvement, rampant transaction costs, and acrimony among different sectors. And yet, the system evinces little sign of changing, in part because ownership of sugar embodies deep-seated values among larger planters. To sell sugarcane is to be a farmer (feminine). To own actual sugar is to be a businessman (masculine).

An illustration of how uncertain property rights affect resource exploitation is the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). That enforcement of this program has been impending but not accomplished has hindered diversification, and has caused many planters who would otherwise have stopped growing sugarcane to continue to do so. Some of these planters take their own inability to diversify as evidence that sugar is the most "sustainable" crop in sugar-producing provinces, such as Negros Occidental.


Session 145: Media and History-Making in Indonesian Reformasi

Organizer: Karen Strassler, University of Michigan

Chair: Leena Avonius, Leiden University

Discussant: Patricia Spyer, Leiden University

Keywords: history-making, media, Indonesia, social changes, representations.

Amidst the social upheavals and transformations of Indonesia’s "Reformasi" era ushered in by the fall of the New Order in 1998, the role of the media as image-makers has become ever more important in shaping the social imagination. Images and narratives created and disseminated by the media offer scripts by which people imagine their own lives and those of others. Thus media and various agencies using media take an active part in history-making and the formation of memory. Increasingly, events are remembered through the media images that came to symbolize or emblematize them, even for those who "eyewitnessed" the actual occurrences. Such mediated images always come accompanied by suggested interpretations and, in social situations of extreme flux, these interpretations can powerfully open up or constrain the spaces available for new social actors and forms of social action to engage historical process. Focusing on the media and on mediated representations, the papers of this panel will explore how memories of the past have been and are being created via Indonesian mediascapes. Examining such varied media as television and print news media, subcultural magazines, and community radio, the papers examine how the past is reinterpreted in light of "Reformasi" and what kinds of images serve to commemorate the uneven process of democratization and the outburst of violence that has characterized the previous five years. The papers explore how institutional structures and representational conventions affect the ways in which history is being made by and through the Indonesian media.

Massa Amok: Representation of Fanatic Muslims and Collective Violence in Indonesian Media

Leena Avonius, Leiden University

January 2000 brought the Indonesian island Lombok on the world map also for those who had never spent a vacation in its holiday resorts. Both Indonesian and international news reported on groups of fanatic Muslims raging through the streets of Lombok’s capital Mataram and its surrounding villages, burning down churches as well as Christian-owned houses and business premises. This paper examines the media representation of the Mataram riots. There are two images of the riots that came up repeatedly in the media: the masses of Muslims in religious frenzy that cannot be controlled and—often in the same articles—the groups of people cleverly maneuvered by mysterious provocateurs. This paper examines how the rioters were seen in relation to the other actors of riot reporting and more widely in society. It asks whether the image of easily provoked masses of people is not a continuation of the idea of "floating masses" that the New Order claimed to protect from political agitation. On the other hand, the religious labels of the riots suggest that Indonesia has followed a global shift from vertical class struggle towards horizontal cultural conflicts. How has the media role of "ordinary Indonesians" changed since the launching of Reformasi? The rare comments by the man on the street reveal how Indonesian mainstream media picture the society. Through the close reading of the news on the Mataram riots the paper discusses the position of news media in post-Suharto Indonesia, their assumed audiences and their possible alternatives.

Zines and Zones of Desire: Gay Indonesians and the Romance of National Belonging

Tom Boellstorff, University of California, Irvine

Since 1982, gay Indonesians have been producing privately circulated magazines (similar to publications that are called "zines" in English). These gay Indonesian zines are published by small groups of gay men, but usually include short stories and autobiographical narratives sent in by other gay men from across the archipelago. In these zines, gay men grapple with the dilemmas of desiring other men in contemporary Indonesia. This paper is based on a textual analysis of over 7,000 pages of zine material, alongside extensive ethnographic work with the producers of zines. It focuses on two "zones" of desire that predominate in gay zines: a desire for men, and a desire to be accepted by general society (masyarakat umum). By studying the interface between these zones of desire, I examine the place of gay Indonesians in a postcolonial context. Gay zines are "outsider" commentaries on national belonging that are still "inside" the dominant frameworks of contemporary Indonesian culture. As such, they highlight how national belonging has become predicated on membership in a "modern" nuclear family based upon heterosexual love. From the late colonial period to the present, nationalist consciousness has often been portrayed in terms of the shift from arranged to "chosen" marriage. What gay zines reveal is that when marriage is arranged, sexual orientation is secondary. However, when marriage is predicated on a modern self who freely chooses love, that love—and that modern, properly national self—fail if they are not heterosexual.

Radio Journalism and the Making of History in the Era of Reform

Edwin Jurriens, Leiden University

This paper will focus on how Indonesian nongovernment radio stations since Reformasi have contributed to the location or relocation of Indonesian society in time and space. I will discuss several factors from which these stations derive their ability to create reality or history, such as organization structures, journalism concepts, program contents, broadcast styles, broadcast languages, advertising strategies, and off-the-air activities. During the New Order, state radio and television (RRI and TVRI, respectively) still had a monopoly on Indonesian news broadcasting, which they used to put their own interpretation of development journalism into operation. This type of journalism, as developed during UNESCO meetings and other international discussions on communications since the 1960s, is supposed to function as a "watchdog of the government and champion of the public good." In RRI and TVRI’s interpretation it was close to government propaganda, however, as it was used to support Pembangunan, the state development project. Only since Reformasi have commercial media and community radio and television been able to highlight other, government-critical, aspects of development journalism or develop completely different journalism concepts. In order to enhance the democratic quality of Indonesian society, they have been trying not to provide mere objective information, but information that involves and mobilizes their audiences in a representative and non-coercive manner.

"Reformasi through Our Eyes": Children as Witnesses of History in Post-Suharto Indonesia

Karen Strassler, University of Michigan

This paper explores a recurring trope of children as witnesses of Indonesian history. In the immediate post-Suharto period, children frequently figured in the news, anti-violence public service announcements and political campaign ads as witnesses of violence and inheritors of history. In the public culture of Indonesian media, children serve as potent signs of innocence and the future. But the idea of children as witnesses of history not only operates at a symbolic level, it also extends to the ways children are taught to "see" history-in-the-making. The paper focuses on a children’s drawing contest called "Reform through Our Eyes" that took place in Yogyakarta in February 1999. Children’s representations of Reformasi were formed, for the most part, not from their direct vision but from dramatic media images of students protesting and banks burning. Further mediating the images in this contest was the New Order "tradition" of state-sponsored drawing contests on the historical theme of perjuangan; children were being taught to assimilate Reformasi to an already familiar narrative of national "struggle." Many images were also mediated by the conventions taught in children’s drawing schools—a growing industry in Yogyakarta. I examine closely how the children’s images worked to package the violence seen on television within highly constrained and convention-alized imagery. The contest stands as an exemplar of a larger formation in which children are hailed as history’s most authentic witnesses even as their vision is shaped by, and read through, the anxieties and desires of adults.


Session 161: Islam in Southeast Asia: The Next Generation

Organizer: Elizabeth F. Collins, Ohio University

Chair and Discussant: Zakaria Ahmad, Ohio University

Keywords: Islam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma.

In the 1970s and 1980s every major world religion witnessed the emergence of new movements emphasizing communalism and the moral authority of religious traditions. This phenomenon has been associated with the spread of secular education, the migration of rural populations to urban environments, the failure of economic development programs to end poverty, the destabilizing effects of a global information system, and corruption among political elites of modern nation-states. This religious resurgence has two faces. It has been described as a "fundamentalist" revolt against modernity for its demand that religion play a central role in political life, and it has produced "civic" movements aimed at political and social reform. Some of the new Islamic movements are militant and claim to wage jihad against the West and their own secular governments. Others have been described as civic pro-democracy movements.

In these papers we explore how the generation of Islamic resurgence in Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, and Singapore is reshaping Islam in Southeast Asia. We look at Islamic educational institutions, Islamic NGOs, and new forms of Islamic media to assess their impact on the next generation. We examine how economic factors, class dynamics, and politics affect the ways in which young Muslims respond to the ongoing contestation over Islam. These papers also discuss how Muslim students in Southeast Asia interpret the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., the war in Afghanistan and ongoing violence in Palestine.

Autonomous Islamic (Madrasah) Education in Singapore: Sites of Resistance or the Protection of Islamic Tradition

Suzaina Kadir, National University of Singapore

This paper looks at the recent controversy over the government decision to introduce compulsory secular/public education in Singapore. The government announcement came a year after they made public a report on madrasah (Islamic educational institution) education in Singapore. The reaction from the Muslim community was one of deep concern. In particular, the madrasahs (or independent Islamic schools) expressed worries that compulsory education would lead to their eventual demise, thereby ending a tradition of autonomous Islamic education in Singapore.

In addressing the "madrasah/compulsory educat-ion" controversy, observers have postulated several explanations, including the argument that the marginalization of Malay/Muslims in Singapore has resulted in Islamic schools becoming the last bastion of resistance against the state. Yet others have suggested that the madrasah issue reflects the Muslim community’s search for a balance between secularism and religion in a modernizing and globalizing world.

The paper analyzes the nature and impact of madrasah education in a secular, non-Muslim majority state. It seeks answers to several key questions—What is the history and nature of madrasah education in Singapore? What has been the impact of madrasah education on Muslim Singaporeans? Does the impact have a gender dimension? Perhaps most importantly, it addresses the impact of Islamic education on the future generation of Malay/Muslim Singaporeans. In the final analysis the paper looks at the extent to which madrasah education is a justifiable public space in a secular, non-Muslim majority state like Singapore. Have madrasahs become a site of resistance/ contestation vis-à-vis the state in Singapore?

The Changing Shape of Islamic Politics in Malaysia

Meredith Weiss, DePaul University

Islamic resurgence in Malaysia since the 1970s has had an effect on the relative position of Islamic political parties and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), relations between Muslim and non-Muslim citizens, perceptions of Western and non-Western Muslim majority states, and understandings of the compatibility between Islamic and secular reformist discourses. The pace and direction of these changes have been particularly volatile in recent years. After a decade and a half of gradual Islamization, in the late 1990s, Deputy Prime Minister (and former dakwah activist) Anwar Ibrahim was sacked, Islamic NGOs took umbrage and action, and Parti Islam seMalaysia (PAS) became the dominant opposition party within a broad-based Reformasi movement. As of the 1999 elections, Malaysian Islam seemed to have adopted an inclusive, pro-democracy, gradualist timbre. Whether premised upon Quranic justifications or presumptions of universal human rights, Muslim and non-Muslim activists from both political parties and civil society called for a program of enhancements to good governance and civil liberties. Since then, however, the much-touted cooperation between PAS and its secular partners has crumbled, NGOs have resumed a lower-profile position than parties in the polity, PAS has boldly pursued controversial Islamist enactments, and the attention of Muslim activists has been diverted from general domestic political reforms to the U.S.-declared "war on terrorism" and a crackdown on purported Islamic militants in Malaysia. This paper will explore post-Anwar, post-9/11 Islamic politics as Malaysia moves toward new elections in 2004, and particularly what to expect as a new generation of post-NEP, well-educated, increasingly critical Malay leaders comes to the fore.

A Plural Society Revisited: Why Muslims Are Misunderstood by Buddhist and Christian Burmese

Kyaw Yin Hlaing, National University of Singapore

This paper compares the attitudes of Burmese Buddhists towards the minority communities of Muslims and Christians in Burma. A recent survey of 300 Burmese Buddhists conducted by young Burmese scholars indicated that 95 percent of the sample held negative attitudes towards Muslims and about 60 percent of them believed that Muslims were trying to convert Buddhists to Islam. Of 150 Buddhist singles, 50 percent said they would not marry non-Buddhists and 20 percent said they would marry Christians if they were deeply in love with them, but all said they would never marry a Muslim. In contrast to what most Burmese Buddhists believe, Islamic organizations in Burma rarely engage in missionary activities, and most of their activities focus on promoting Islam within the Muslim community. Another paradoxical situation is that although Christian organizations regularly engage in missionary activities, most Burmese Buddhists do not hold negative attitudes towards Christians. At the same time, many Christians (65 percent of 100 survey participants) share the Buddhist views toward Muslims. This paper explores the reasons for the anti-Muslim sentiments of Buddhists and Christians toward Muslim communities in Burma and the impact of this negative stereotype on young Burmese Muslims.

Dakwah and Democracy: The Significance of KAMMI and Partai Keadilan

Elizabeth F. Collins, Ohio University

Growing rapidly since its establishment in March 1998, the Action Committee of Indonesian Muslim Students (KAMMI) has displaced HMI, the long established Islamic student organization, as the strongest Muslim student organization on campuses throughout Indonesia. The campus-based mosque groups (LDK) from which KAMMI recruits, KAMMI, and the political party, Partai Keadilan, represent a new generation of activists who are disillusioned with the promise of the secular nation-state to bring prosperity and greater social and economic justice. Members say KAMMI is a moral rather than a political movement. The reform of society is to be accomplished through individual commitment to Islamic values. For KAMMI, the struggle for democracy is a struggle for Islam, for democracy means majority rule, which should lead to an Islamic-oriented government based on Islamic moral principles. KAMMI sees its centralized power structure and disciplined solidarity as a source of strength, citing the concept of wala’, "rendering one’s loyalty and willingness to be led." KAMMI does not use the word demonstrasi for its protests, but rather aksi. However, KAMMI aksi were frequent during the campaign demanding that President Abdurrahman Wahid step down or be impeached for his alleged involvement in corruption and mismanagement of crises confronting Indonesia. This paper explores the structural and ideological foundations of KAMMI and Partai Keadilan to see where this new Islamic consciousness may lead. I predict that the greater frustration becomes over continued corruption and the failure of political reform, the more likely that these new Islamic organizations will grow in strength.


Session 162: The Social Lives of Vietnam’s Iconic Practices: The Spiritual and Symbolic

Organizer: Van Pham, Xavier University

Chair: Quang Phu Van, Yale University

Discussant: Neil L. Jamieson, Kyoto University

Keywords: Vietnam, cultural history, spiritual practices, art and literature, twentieth century.

This panel will explore. "cultural biographies" and social histories of Vietnam’s celebrated iconic practices. The production, mediation and reception of symbolic practices, such as worship of goddesses and village patron saints, the creation of artistic works, or readings of the national epic poem, provide an ideal way of investigating the transformation of social life in modern Vietnam.

After years of suppression under socialism, the recent resurgence of rituals, festivals and other artistic events has given rise to a wave of "traditionalism" in modern cultural life seeking to recapture these spiritual and symbolic practices as vestiges of a "remembered past." Nevertheless, in reality this past is widely refracted in multiple ways depending on audience and position. This panel presents the diverse ethnographic contexts in which cultural icons have been created, sustained, and contested, and attests to the continued saliency of iconic practice in establishing, supporting, and transforming social and political identities.

Philip Taylor’s paper looks at goddess worship as emblematic of debates over social history and gender relations writ large. DiGregorio’s paper explores how the nationally encouraged reclamation of village patron saints has led to confirmation of more "localized" identities and lineages. Nora Taylor’s paper delves into the internationalization of the Vietnamese art market, which has created new incentives for artists to disavow the conservative and "iconic" art that proliferated under socialism. Pham’s paper analyzes The Tale of Kieu from the perspective of the Vietnamese diaspora, where themes of memory and parable become distilled anew in the reception of the poem abroad.

The Rise of Female Spirits in Vietnam and the Burdens of Collectivity, History, and Occult Sociality

Philip Kenneth Taylor, Australian National University

Shrines to goddesses are important focal points for a diverse range of symbolic, ritual and social projects in Vietnam. They draw together large numbers of people who visit them on pilgrimages and at festivals, symbolically "front" a variety of collective identities and excite commentary from a host of different interpreters. This paper will address the rise in stature of these feminine icons, exploring their cultural, religious and social implications in three lines of inquiry.

As symbols of collectivity these female spirits are critical to the articulation, reproduction and transcendence of a range of political, ethnic, cultural and gendered identities. An intriguing quality of such icons is their ability to symbolize significantly different projects, divisions and collective realignments without precipitating conflicts. For spirits sometimes rendered as survivals of an ancient or "animist" substratum, equally remarkable are the powers and effects attributed to them by social actors at the forefront of Vietnam’s integration into global capitalist markets. Are these spirits expressions of "millennial capitalism" in post-revolutionary Vietnam? Or can one see in their authoritative powers the encoding and negotiation of local histories through salient cultural frameworks? Finally, as protector spirits (than bao ho) with whom many people negotiate for assistance, these spirits are hidden agents in major social and economic transformations. As consociates of the socially marginalized, and partners in the acquittal of onerous burdens, can they be seen as empowering allies or do they thrive on vulnerabilities or in some cases reproduce abjection?

Remembering the Source: Affirming Identities in the Icon of a Patron Saint

Michael DiGregorio, Ford Foundation

Through a decade-long dialogic process, the desire of an aging generation to recover rituals and festivals associated with lineage and village identity were matched by a cautious rescinding of state mandated prohibitions on their practice and a progressive reformulation of guidelines for their reinstitution. By accepting these guidelines, village committees could affirm the state’s ideological mission while carrying out their own particular interests in reaffirming identities through the reconstruction of landscapes and rituals of remembrance. As a result, policies that were intended to affirm a national consciousness of common traditions have also reaffirmed localized identities of lineage and village. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Red River delta’s craft villages. In those craft villages that worship an ancestor or saint regarded as the founder of the craft, communal and lineage icons, rites and ritual space provide physically and ceremonially constructed supports for identities rooted in blood and soil that intermingle with common commercial interests and identities.

This paper presents the story of the elder branch of the Tran lineage in Da Hoi, a village of steel producers, to instate their ancestor, a founder of the village and its craft, as guardian spirit of the village. This process, carried out over three generations, has reached its conclusion, supported by the cultural policies of a socialist state, not only in the formal re-affirmation of a common village identity but also in the de facto leadership of the elder branch of the village’s majority lineage.

The Vietnamese Artist in the Age of Globalization

Nora A. Taylor, Arizona State University

Over the past decade, artists in Vietnam have seen their works multiply tenfold in cash value in the art galleries that have sprung up all over Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Whereas in the past, when artists were encouraged to display "national character" in their paintings, artworks were considered "symbols" of Vietnamese national pride and means of displaying the beauty of the Vietnamese landscape and Vietnamese life. Today, artworks are means of making money by selling pictures of Vietnam to tourists eager for exotica and "authentic" Asian art. The aim of this paper is to discuss the transformation of the role of Vietnamese art and artists in the era of globalization. What has happened to the work of art in Vietnam in an era of the market economy and commodification? What is the role of the artist in a society increasingly outward looking and internationalized? Is the burden on artists still to portray the essence of iconic "Vietnam" or are they influenced by international art trends? While some artists are trapped in fulfilling the demands of tourists for "quaint pictures of traditional Vietnam," others are responding to the global art market by creating new identities for themselves as "international Vietnamese artists" and denying their work any means of becoming "icons" of Vietnamese-ness. This paper will attempt to problematize these examples and situate them in an art historical context.

Revisiting the Tale of Kieu (Truyen Kieu) in the Vietnamese Diaspora: On the Hermeneutics of Reclaiming the Past in the Present

Van Pham, Xavier University

The Vietnamese narrative poem Truyen Kieu is widely regarded as Vietnam’s national poem, the epitome of Vietnamese culture and the greatest accomplishment of Vietnamese literary heritage. The elegant simplicity of this masterpiece belies its subsequent complicated history of hermeneutical interpretation, rooted in its ability to be relevant to and to continue to nourish the Vietnamese people’s ethos and self-identity amidst their daily struggles. One runs the risk of a reductionistic essentialism as well as decontextualization if one were to insist that past interpretations of Truyen Kieu could be transported unchanged into the life experiences of Viet-kieu (overseas Vietnamese) communities merely on the basis of the need to preserve Vietnamese traditions, self-identity and socio-cultural cohesion. This essay explores possibilities for approaching this poem in the contemporary worlds of Viet-kieu communities using a threefold heuristic framework of: (1) the context of Viet-kieu life experiences as the starting point and foundation for interpreting Truyen Kieu; (2) a memory-imagination epistemological matrix as a hermeneutical framework for raising new questions; and (3) understanding Truyen Kieu as a parable. There is a need for contextualizing the time-honored ideals, values and insights in Truyen Kieu amidst the vibrancy of the life experiences of these Viet-kieu communities and using the diverse and pluralistic resources of their multiracial, multilingual and pluricultural worlds. In such a quest, there is also a need to pay attention to temporality, i.e., the here and now, which is characterized by uncertainty, diversity and pluriformity.


Session 182: Tradition and Change in Cambodia

Organizer and Chair: Caroline Hughes, University of Nottingham

Discussant: William A. Collins, University of California, Berkeley

Over the past twelve years, Cambodia has undergone rapid political, economic and social change, in response to both the internal breakdown of wartime ideologies and practices, and the rapidly changing external environment of post-Cold War South East Asia. These circumstances provided an opportunity for far-reaching intervention into Cambodia politics, economics and society by international agencies, donor governments and institutions and a variety of other global and transnational actors.

Cambodian conservativism in the face of international policies of modernization has frequently been assumed in contemporary studies of Cambodian society and politics. A reassertion of supposedly traditional attitudes, such as hierarchy and deference, intolerance and conformity, has been viewed as explaining an apparent inability of Cambodia to meet the expectations of donors in implementing political, economic and social reform. Yet, equally, the assertion of an essential "Khmer culture" itself reflects an imagining of Cambodia that represents a response to the changing regional and global context.

This panel challenges this approach, suggesting that cultural change occurs precisely through a reinvention of tradition, by means of which icons and memories of past practices are rearticulated to present conditions, in order to negotiate, manipulate or legitimize change. The assertion of sameness is thus harnessed to the management of change, but in a context which offers new opportunities to appropriate and contest memories viewed as the common property of the people. The papers offered examine a range of practices and icons that have been powerful in the representation of an idealized Cambodia, and consider their reinterpretation in the context of contemporary imaginings of the Cambodian community, both at home and abroad.

Patron-Clientism and Reform in Contemporary Cambodia

Caroline Hughes, University of Nottingham

James Scott’s account of the erosion of patron-clientism in South East Asia suggests that capitalist penetration threatens this symbolic order. In Cambodia in the 1990s, however, patron-clientism has emerged as a specifically ideological substitute for socialism as the moral basis for economic distribution. The current government has energetically promoted patron-clientism as a time-honored tradition in Asia, for three reasons: to strengthen the state apparatus and limit the impact of democratization policies; to legitimate the transition to a rapacious free market; and to deflect international pressure over "good governance" issues as culturally inappropriate.

The idea of patron-clientism promoted is designed to evoke legitimating memories of earlier practices, but differs in form and effect from these, not least in the self-conscious production of it as a cultural artifact. However, the move to restore patron-clientism as a political practice has empowered strategies of resistance which Scott seminally viewed as "weapons of the weak." New urban protest movements in Cambodia now employ the language of patron-clientism and mobilize contending memories in order to critique contemporary government practice. In this transforming political and economic context, the struggle over the remaking of patron-clientism represents less a maintenance of a symbolic order under challenge than a struggle over the co-optation of that order in the contemporary interests of power, in the context of expanding political opportunities which have offered, for the first time in Cambodia’s recent history, an onstage role for the urban poor.

Angkor and the Politics of Culture

Penny Edwards, Australian National University

This paper will explore the political subtext of Angkor’s translations into key colonial, national and transnational cultural sites and media through an examination of the diverse architectural forms, temporal dimensions and geographic locations of representations of Angkor from 1889 to 2000.

Spanning five colonial exhibitions staged in Paris and Marseille, and four postcolonial films, Lord Jim, Apocalypse Now, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and In The Mood for Love, the paper will examine Angkor as a stage for statements about Cambodia, France, "the West," colonialism, nationalism, and globalization between 1889 and 2000.

In Tomb Raider, Angkor holds the key to time itself, but Western knowledge—as embodied in protagonist Lara Croft—is needed to extract and use that key. Croft’s effortless switching between languages, cultures and time zones reinforces the notion of a global community where time is literally money and all cultures can be commodified and purchased by the collector.

Like the "Cambodia" pavilions of colonial exhibitions, Tomb Raider fuses Angkorean stupas with European-style vaults and subterranean passages which emphasize European notions of time and space as hierarchical, linear, and layered. Such continuity underscores the longevity of colonial motifs and approaches to colonized space and time.

However, by the making of Tomb Raider, Angkor’s representation reflected a changing, global consciousness about "world heritage" whereby Angkor loses its moorings to both the specifically French and Khmer matrices of the colonial representations, or the "Southeast Asian" coordinates of films from the 1960s and 1980s, and instead becomes incorporated into a "global village" of culture.

Death, Memory, and Building: The Non-Cremation of a Cambodian Monk

John Marston, El Colegio de Mexico

The practice of delaying for extended periods the cremation of a distinguished Theravada monk has been documented for Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia, although it is still a relatively unexplored topic. This paper will examine the preservation of the body of the abbot of a rural wat in Kampong Cham province, Cambodia, and the similar function of shrines, paintings and photographs in constructing the deceased monk’s continued presence in the consciousness of the wat. The paper asks the question of the meaning these practices have for the community of the wat. It proposes that these practices represent, first of all, a personal devotion to the deceased abbot. At the same time, an important part of his role was as a link between the village’s practice of Buddhism before and after the Pol Pot period, and thus, in this village, the practice of preserving his body has served to construct a sense of cultural continuity.

The Foreign "Other" and "Khmerness": Violence, Legitimacy, and Power in Cambodian Political Discourse

Alex Hinton, Rutgers University

In recent years, the foreign "other" has played a prominent role in Cambodian political discourse. Examples include: the Khmer Republic’s attack on the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge "infidels"; the Khmer Rouge demonization of the U.S. and the Vietnamese; SOC/PRK’s depiction of the West and the UN; and contemporary political factions’ invocation of anti-Vietnamese rhetoric. Besides illustrating how political groups legitimate their power and the changes they seek to impose, the icon of the foreign other is also revealing about how notions of "Khmerness" are constructed and asserted over time. Such "us/them" discourse, this paper argues, has been one of the central themes in Cambodian political rhetoric and has often provided an ideological legitimation for mass violence.


Session 183: Conflict and Unity in Southeast Asian Islam

Organizer: Michael Laffan, International Institute for Asian Studies

Chair: Merle C. Ricklefs, University of Melbourne

Discussant: Barbara Daly Metcalf, University of California, Davis

Keywords: Islam, history, Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian Islam has often been described as a gentler variant of the faith. However, this generalization disguises the sometimes violent conflicts that have often accompanied the spread of new teachings, or the revival of indigenous interpretations that distance local Muslims from a "foreign" imposition on their way of life. But whilst such conflicts have left their marks on Southeast Asian societies—as with the Padri movement in West Sumatra or the later rise of the "modernists" more generally—the fact remains that there is generally a spirit of openness in Islamic Southeast Asia. Erstwhile enemies have often been seen rallying together in the face of forces hostile to their mutual understandings of religion, whether in the forms of colonialism, socialism or, more recently, the specter of national disintegration. Still, in many cases, boundaries have been crossed. Reformers and traditionalists have imbibed the trappings of modernity, national leaders have dabbled with "Islamic" forms of socialism or politics, and members from both camps have expressed either sympathies with, or contempt for, groupings inimical to the nation-state, tracing in the process new frontlines of division within their religious community.

This panel will examine what has divided Muslims in several Southeast Asian contexts—whether in terms of ideology, aims or methodology—and how, at other levels, they remain united. It will also address the question of the formulation of social boundaries in Southeast Asian Islam, and how these have had, and will continue to have, a lasting impact in the region.

Abangan and Putihan: The Emergence of Contending Religious Identities in Java

Merle C. Ricklefs, University of Melbourne

The distinction between abangan (nominal Muslims) and putihan (pious Muslims, called santri by Geertz) in Javanese society is sometimes assumed to be "primordial" with roots in the early conversion of Javanese to Islam beginning in the fourteenth century. This paper will show that there is in fact no evidence of the distinction until the mid to late nineteenth century. The process by which these categories evolved and became conflictual and then embedded in politicized conflict is now becoming clearer. As a result of Islamic revivalism, by the middle years of the nineteenth century, reformed Muslims began to call themselves putihan and to use abangan as a label for their less-enlightened (as they saw it) neighbors and the abangan themselves began to abandon Islamic rituals. The aristocratic elite meanwhile embraced a form of modernity which combined European senses of progress with a pre-reformist Javanese Islamic synthesis which had little room for new Islamic ideas. By the early years of the twentieth century, these categories had become institutionalized in political structures and social identities which endured until the 1970s.

Sufis and Anti-Sufis in the Jawi Public Sphere

Michael Laffan, International Institute for Asian Studies

Histories of the reformist-traditionalist divide in Southeast Asia have often implied that the issue of Sufism was central to debates separating them. This has been due to the retrospective casting of modern debates about Islam onto earlier contexts, and the assumption that mysticism was irrevocably connected to the old order of things, and therefore destined to pass with the rise of the telegraph, newspapers, and modern education. However, the emergence of this view needs to be requestioned for the Malay case, much as Sirriyeh (1999) has recently reminded us of Muhammad Abduh’s ambiguous relationship with Sufism, and of the critiques of Sufi practices voiced by Sufis themselves. Evidence of such ambiguity may also be charted in the Jawi (Arabic-script) papers of the Malay world in the early decades of the twentieth century. For example, the supposedly anti-Sufi editors of the first reformist newspaper in Southeast Asia, al-Imam (1906–08), enjoyed a close relationship with an exiled Sufi shaykh, Abdullah Zawawi.

In this paper I wish to discern more clearly how a critique of Sufis or Sufi practice was voiced in the Jawi press. In the process I wish to ask whether we need to rethink our understandings of the relationship between Sufis and anti-Sufis at that time, and how that was embedded in the longer-term struggle for leadership of an Islamic community that would later devolve into two nation-states.

"The Munafikin Are More Dangerous than Kafirs . . .": The Discursive Shift Toward Takfir in PAS Politics from the 1980s to the Present

Farish A. Noor, Zentrum Moderner Orient

This paper will examine shifts within the discursive practices of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) from the 1980s. In the wake of the Iranian revolution and an internal party coup that toppled the fourth president of PAS, Asri Muda, in 1982, its leadership fell into the hands of Ustaz Yusof Rawa and the "Ulama Faction" who introduced a number of organizational and discursive changes to PAS politics. One of the major changes that took place was the shift towards a more radicalist register which manifested itself in use of takfir (accusing other Muslims of being unbelievers [kafirs] or hypocrites [munafikin]).

My intention is to analyze and explain how and why such a shift took place; what were the internal and external variable factors involved; and what the party hoped to gain from such a shift. As a result of this shift to a more radical and confrontational posture, the relationship between PAS and the UMNO-led government deteriorated accordingly. This led to instances of violent clashes and one of the most serious electoral defeats suffered by PAS in its history. But the party made an important comeback in 1990 when it won control of the state of Kelantan and in 1999 when it gained Trengganu as well. Nonetheless, I would argue that despite the shifts towards a more confrontational form of politics, PAS’s gains among the electorate were due more to the internal weaknesses and divisions within UMNO than the shift towards a more radical political vocabulary and tactics.


Session 184: ROUNDTABLE: Performing the State: Images of State Power and National Identity in Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Pacific

Organizer and Discussant: William Peterson, California State University, San Bernardino

Chair: Craig Latrell, Hamilton College

Discussants: Khiam Keong Seet, National University of Singapore; Katherine Mezur, University of California, Santa Barbara; Margaret Werry, Pennsylvania State University; Kaja M. McGowan, Cornell University

This cross-disciplinary and interarea roundtable will examine how icons of state power and authority are created and maintained, and in particular the ways in which a range of cultural and performance traditions have been marshaled to serve as symbols of national identity and state authority. The geographic range of the panel includes Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, East Timor, Japan and Maori culture in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Examples drawn from historical encounters, theatre, dance, contemporary popular culture, and foreign interventions will be briefly described by each panelist, followed by a discussion between participants and an open discussion on the larger topic. Some of the examples to be considered include the performative acts of Indonesian soldiers as they retreated from East Timor; the ways in which Maori men and women were offered as a cultural trademark designed to distinguish New Zealand from its colonial peers; foreign interventions and tourist performance in Cambodia and Thailand; theatre in Malaysia; and Muslim-influenced dance in the Philippines. The larger issue raised by each specific site and provocation is how the artifacts of culture and performance are manipulated, reconstituted, altered and re-presented as icons of national culture and state power, reflecting the complexities and contradictions involved in attempts to build a nation and create a stable national identity.


Session 200: Dynamics and Dimensions of Inter-Religious Contacts in Southeast Asia: Examining Buddhist-Muslim Relations in Thailand

Organizer: Omar Farouk Bajunid, Hiroshima City University

Chair: Chaiwat Satha-Anand, Thammasat University

Discussant: Imtiyaz Yusuf, Assumption University

Keywords: Inter-religious, Islam, Buddhism, Thailand, Southeast Asia.

The idea of the uniqueness of Southeast Asian Islam has been gaining currency in recent years. However, what probably has not been sufficiently recognized is that Southeast Asian Islam is as much about Muslim diversity as it is about the remarkable heterogeneity of the world of Southeast Asia itself. The broader context of the Muslim presence in Southeast Asia is invariably pluralistic. While Islam may feature as an important ingredient of Muslim collective identity, it is by no means the sole demarcator of that identity as other factors too, which may have nothing to do with the religion itself, also play a role in shaping that identity. The chronic outbreak of political violence in the Malay-Muslim dominated region of southernmost Thailand tends to reinforce the prevailing negative assumption that Islam and Buddhism are fundamentally different and even incompatible with each other. This claim, however, has yet to be systematically investigated. This panel, with publication in mind, hopes to do just that by examining the dynamics and dimensions of Buddhist-Muslim identity and relationships in Thailand. The central issue that it seeks to address is how Buddhist-Muslim contacts in Thailand are actually negotiated and their implications for our understanding of Islam in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Reflecting on the negotiation of Buddhist-Muslim relationships at the local as well as national level, this panel will focus on issues of identity, dialogue, accommodation, coexistence and conflict in Thailand.

Religious Identity and the Body at Death: Dynamics of Muslim-Buddhist Relations in a Southern Thai Village

Ryoko Nishii, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

In a Southern Thai village where Muslims and Buddhists co-exist, converts often explain their religious identity/affiliation by referring to their own death or their parents’ death. Death requires separations between Buddhists and Muslims that ordinarily do not occur in daily life. They are most concerned about whether a child can touch (torng) a deceased parent’s body. At death, Buddhists cannot touch a Muslim’s body after the religious washing of the body. Those who converted from Islam to Buddhism, or vice versa, repeatedly show their concerns on this point. In analysis of field data, the body of the dead person seems to illuminate the sharp severance of the relationship between different religious subjects. In these ideas, we can easily find the same kind of Western notion of a person as an individual who has a body surfaced with skin. But in ordinary life in Southern Thailand the notion of personhood is permeable and is not divisible from communal interactions. The purpose of my paper is to illuminate the dynamics of Muslim-Buddhist relationships in daily life by reconsidering their rigidity in death.

Chinese Fish, Thai Fish, Malay Fish: Inter-Ethnic Relations in Fish Markets in Southern Thailand

Saroja Dorairajoo, National University of Singapore

This paper examines the nature of inter-religious contact between Muslim women traders and Buddhist buyers in the Thai marketplace. The focus will be on the petty fish traders who accentuate their Islamic identity through veiling in order to sell fish at higher prices to Buddhist traders. While there is extensive literature on the practice of veiling for the purposes of displaying religiosity (Zainah, 1987; Ong, 1990), exhibiting class status and modernity (Hefner, 1993; Brenner, 1996), or as a protection from male molestation (Papanek, 1973; El-Guindi, 1981), there is hardly any published work on veiling for commercial reasons. In this paper, the author shows how Thai-Muslim women strategically emphasize their Islamic identity through veiling in order to be able to sell fresh fish untainted by formaldehyde to willing Buddhist buyers at higher prices. The commercialization of the fishing industry in Thailand has led to the extensive use of formaldehyde as a preservative agent. Petty Muslim women fish traders who sell the fish and seafood caught by their small-scale fishermen husbands, sons, or fellow villagers are sought for their fresh formaldehyde-free fish because of the stereotypical belief held by the wealthier and more health-conscious Buddhist buyers that Muslims are too poor and too unsophisticated to purchase and use formaldehyde as a preservative. The fish traders then accentuate their identity as poor, unsophisticated Muslims through dress to attract Buddhist buyers who are willing to pay higher prices for "Muslim fish," i.e., fresh, formaldehyde-free fish.

Debating Morality and the Nation in Southern Thailand

Alexander Horstmann, University of Münster

Considering how much Asian leaders are occupied by questions of morality, it is surprising how little attention has been given to the questions of morality. This paper is concerned with the negotiation of morality in Muslim-Buddhist relationships in Southern Thailand. It provides an ethnography of morality and moral practices. The key to the negotiation and definition of moral behavior lies in its religious legitimization. The paper argues that Muslim and Buddhist actors use moral dimensions of everyday life to construct ethnic identities and symbolic spaces. The paper concentrates on the negotiation of Muslim and Buddhist actors with the nation and on their creative interpretation of official idioms and official ideologies. Paradoxically, Muslim and Buddhist actors are firmly located in the nation and embedded in global networks and ideas. The paper thus explores the tension between personal and national definitions of moralities. I hope to come up with an ethnography of morality and highlight its importance in the co-existence of Muslims and Buddhists in Thailand.

Muslim Identity and Nationalism in Thailand

Raymond Scupin, Lindenwood University

As acknowledged by most social scientists, we are in the grip of what philosopher Charles Taylor refers to as the "politics of recognition." Global theorists such as Appadurai, Friedman, and Wallerstein tie these new trends of cultural politics to the emergence of postmodern or "late" capitalism, or globalization, and the subsequent transformation of local identities. Postmodern globalization or "late capitalism" with its economic, political, and media-based transnational linkages has created new processes of identity formation. National identities are being eroded as a result of the growth of cultural homogenization and "the global post-modern." Simultaneously, national and other "local" or particularistic identities are being strengthened by the resistance to globalization. National identities are declining but new ethnic identities of hybridity are taking their place. This essay addresses these issues by examining the relationship between the development of postmodern forms of identity among the Muslims in their position as a religious minority in Buddhist Thailand and the consequences for Buddhist-Muslim interrelationships with the emergence of civil society.


Session 201: Confucianism in Twentieth-Century Vietnam

Organizer: Edward Miller, Harvard University

Chair: Shawn F. McHale, George Washington University

Discussant: Wei-Ming Tu, Harvard University

Keywords: modern Vietnamese history, Confucianism.

This panel highlights new research and new approaches to the study of Confucianism in Vietnam during the twentieth century. The scholarship on Vietnamese Confucianism is dwarfed by the literature on Confucianism in China, Korea and Japan. However, Vietnam scholars have shown new interest in this subject recently. The historian Keith Taylor has famously questioned whether Confucianism had any more than a superficial importance in Vietnam prior to the twentieth century. Whatever the validity of Taylor’s arguments with respect to the premodern period, they only serve to underscore the importance of Confucianism in the twentieth century. Even if Vietnam’s premodern Confucian history is largely a product of colonial and postcolonial imaginings, such an observation implicitly recognizes the ubiquity of Confucian language and ideas in modern Vietnamese political and intellectual life.

But if Confucianism has been ubiquitous in Vietnam in the twentieth century, it has also been varied and contested. The lively discourse after 1900 about the meaning and utility of Confucianism in modern Vietnam gives the lie to representations of Confucianism as a monolithic and totalizing force which somehow compels a "traditional" cast of mind. This panel aims to illuminate the vitality and contested nature of this discourse. Shawn McHale’s examination of late colonial Confucian polemics on Buddhism and decadence, Sarah Womack’s study of the Confucianism of the critic Ph?m Qu?nh, and Edward Miller’s exploration of the Confucian ideas and policies of Ngô Đ́nh Di?m will serve to illustrate the diversity and complexity of this important subject.

Confucianism and Its Discontents in Late Colonial Vietnam

Shawn F. McHale, George Washington University

At the level of popular culture, it would be reasonable to argue that Buddhism shaped Vietnam far more profoundly than Confucianism. Interestingly enough, few scholars have made such an argument. The well-known historian Nguyen Khac Vien, for example, argued over twenty-five years ago that "for ten centuries Confucianism was the intellectual and ideological backbone of Vietnam." As Vietnam is modernizing, some Vietnamese scholars are re-accentuating the value of Confucianism in constructing a modern culture. Many of today’s arguments on this topic have their roots in debates from the late colonial period.

This paper has two parts. First, it will put forth a series of arguments on why Confucianism’s historical impact has been widely exaggerated. Then it will explore the intellectual fashions of late colonial Vietnam and show how these fashions led some individuals to reassert Confucianism’s importance to Vietnam. I will examine two topics in particular: Confucian arguments against Buddhism and against a literature of decadence. Twentieth-century champions of Confucianism tended to see Buddhism as decadent or in decline. These same Confucians also expressed horror over a literature of decadence in which sexual promiscuity was discussed (See, e.g., Vu Trong Phung’s To Be a Whore). Faced with a perceived decay in "traditional" teachings like Buddhism, and faced with modern challenges from a Westernized and decadent literature, advocates of Confucianism reasserted the centrality of Confucianism to Vietnamese morality.

Creating a Confucian Vietnam: Cultural Nationalism, Social Conservatism, and Pseudo-Neo-Neo-Confucianism in the Colonial Period

Sarah Womack, University of Michigan

This paper explores the debates on Confucianism, modernity, and the nature of Vietnamese culture during the "high" colonial period. Through an examination of printed dialogues on tradition, gender, and social reform, it emphasizes the content and strategy of the arguments that linked together social conservatism, cultural nationalism, and a peculiar form of loose Confucianism, and that were deployed most notably by the editor and journalist Ph?m Qu?nh.

The manufacture of the debate that raged by the mid-1930s over whether Confucianism should be the ruling doctrine in a modern Vietnamese nation preparing itself for eventual independence was, if nothing else, a feat of manipulation of Vietnamese writers and their audiences. In his writings on Vietnamese morality and society, Ph?m Qu?nh sidestepped questions of content and structure by proceeding from the assumption that the guiding principle was conservative Confucianism of a peculiarly hybrid kind. He thus moved Confucianism from an object to a subject position in the debate over the form of the Vietnamese future. Just as Ph?m Qu?nh’s allies reacted to the conflict between "tradition" and "modernity" by embracing the traditional in its most extreme form without questioning the terms of the dichotomy, many of his opponents reacted to the attempt to reassert "tradition" by embracing "modernity," without questioning the truth of neo-traditionalist claims. This study explores the roots and evolution of these assumptions and seeks to place this manipulation of tradition and debate within the context of a continuing dialogue on the nature of Vietnamese culture.

Confucianism and "Confucian Learning" in South Vietnam during the Điem Years, 1954–1963

Edward Miller, Harvard University

Ngo Dinh Điem, leader of South Vietnam from 1954 until 1963, was a self-proclaimed Confucianist who frequently invoked Confucian ideas and Confucian language in his public speeches and his private conversations. Historians and other observers have often commented on Điem’s enthusiasm for Confucianism, but have made little effort to understand his ideas or to discover how he came to acquire them. Instead, they have tended to assume that Điem’s embrace of Confucianism was conditioned by an inherently backwards and reactionary worldview, and by an affinity for outdated notions of government, power and rulership.

This paper offers an alternative interpretation of Điem’s Confucianism by placing it in the context of modern Vietnamese political and intellectual history. It will show how the Confucian ideas which Đi?m espoused during the 1950s and 1960s were appropriated from Vietnamese writings about Confucianism produced earlier in the twentieth century. In particular, Điem was profoundly influenced by the notion of "Confucian Learning" (Không Hoc) as presented by the anticolonial activist Phan B?i Châu in his commentary on the Confucian canon. This paper will also show how Điem’s Confucianism was shaped by contemporary political imperatives, especially by his efforts to mobilize public support for his regime’s nation-building programs. By drawing on Điem’s writings and speeches and on South Vietnamese newspapers and journals, this paper will reveal how Điem sought to incorporate Confucian ideas into the "Personalist Revolution" (Cách Mang Nhân Vi) that he hoped to carry out.