By Area: Asia
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Abortion in Asia
Local Dilemmas, Global Politics
Whittaker, A. (ed)
The issue of abortion forces a confrontation with the effects of poverty and economic inequalities, local moral worlds, and the cultural and social perceptions of the female body, gender, and reproduction. Based on extensive original field research, this provocative collection presents case studies from Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India. It includes powerful insight into the conditions and hard choices faced by women and the circumstances surrounding unplanned pregnancies. It explores the connections among poverty, violence, barriers to access, and the politics and strategies involved in abortion law reform. The contributors analyze these issues within the broader conflicts surrounding women's status, gender roles, religion, nationalism and modernity, as well as the global politics of reproductive health.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Medical Anthropology
Aspirations of Young Adults in Urban Asia
Values, Family, and Identity
Westendorp, M., Remmert, D. & Finis, K. (eds)
Comparing first-person ethnographic accounts of young people living, working, and creating relationships in cities across Asia, this volume explores their contemporary lives, pressures, ideals, and aspirations. Delving into topical issues such as education, social inequality, family pressures, changing values, precarious employment, and political discontent, the book explores how young people are pushing boundaries and imagining their future. In this way, they explore and create the identities of their local and global surroundings.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Urban Studies
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City centers on a growing multinational community of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) devotees in Mayapur, West Bengal. While ISKCON’s history is often presented in terms of an Indian guru ‘transplanting’ Indian spirituality to the West, this book focusses on the efforts to bring ISKCON back to India. Paying particular attention to devotees’ failure to consistently live up to ISKCON’s ideals and the ongoing struggle to realize the utopian vision of an ‘ideal Vedic city’, this book argues that the anthropology of ethics must account for how moral systems accommodate the problem of moral failure.
Big Capital in an Unequal World
The Micropolitics of Wealth in Pakistan
Following the hidden lives of the global “1%”, this book examines the networks, social practices, marriages, and machinations of the elite in Pakistan. In doing so, it reveals the daily, even mundane, ways in which elites contribute to and shape the inequality that characterizes the modern world. Operating in a rapidly developing economic environment, the experience of Pakistan’s wealthiest and most powerful members contradicts widely held assumptions that economic growth is leading to increasingly impersonalized and globally standardized economic and political structures.
Neighbourhood Youth and Urban Change in Kyrgyzstan’s Capital
In this pioneering ethnographic study of identity and integration, author Philipp Schröder explores urban change in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek from the vantage point of the male youth living in one neighbourhood. Touching on topics including authority, violence, social and imaginary geographies, interethnic relations, friendship, and competing notions of belonging to the city, Bishkek Boys offers unique insights into how post-Socialist economic liberalization, rural-urban migration and ethnic nationalism have reshaped social relations among young males who come of age in this Central Asian urban environment.
'City of the Future'
Built Space, Modernity and Urban Change in Astana
Astana, the capital city of the post-Soviet Kazakhstan, has often been admired for the design and planning of its futuristic cityscape. This anthropological study of the development of the city focuses on every-day practices, official ideologies and representations alongside the memories and dreams of the city’s longstanding residents and recent migrants. Critically examining a range of approaches to place and space in anthropology, geography and other disciplines, the book argues for an understanding of space as inextricably material-and-imaginary, and unceasingly dynamic – allowing for a plurality of incompatible pasts and futures materialized in spatial form.
Subjects: Urban Studies Anthropology (General)
Infertility and Procreative Technologies in India
Infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in India lie at the confluence of multiple cultural conceptions. These ‘conceptions’ are key to understanding the burgeoning spread of assisted reproductive technologies and the social implications of infertility and childlessness in India. This longitudinal study is situated in a number of diverse locales which, when taken together, unravel the complex nature of infertility and assisted conception in contemporary India.
Subject: Medical Anthropology
A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination
Humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. This book is about the role of cognition in creating cosmologies, and explores this through the ethnography and history of Yijing divination in China. Diviners explain the cosmos in terms of a single substance, qi, unfolding across scales of increasing complexity to create natural phenomena and human experience. Combined with an understanding of human cognition, it shows how this conception of scale offers a new way for anthropologists and other social scientists to think about cosmology, comparison and cultural difference.
Crafting Chinese Memories
The Art and Materiality of Storytelling
Swancutt, K. (ed)
Through an interdisciplinary conversation with contributors from social anthropology, religious studies, film studies, literary studies, cultural studies, and history, Crafting Chinese Memories is a novel book which addresses how works of art shape memories, and offers new ways of conceptualising storytelling, memory-making, art, and materiality. It explores the memories of artists, filmmakers, novelists, storytellers, and persons who come to terms with their own histories even as they reveal the social memories of watershed events in modern China.
Youth Bulges and their Socio-political Implications in Tajikistan
Most of the Muslim societies of the world have entered a demographic transition from high to low fertility, and this process is accompanied by an increase in youth vis-à-vis other age groups. Political scientists and historians have debated whether such a “youth bulge” increases the potential for conflict or whether it represents a chance to accumulate wealth and push forward social and technological developments. This book introduces the discussion about youth bulge into social anthropology using Tajikistan, a post-Soviet country that experienced civil war in the 1990s, which is in the middle of such a demographic transition. Sophie Roche develops a social anthropological approach to analyze demographic and political dynamics, and suggests a new way of thinking about social change in youth bulge societies.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Sociology
Living with Reindeer and Hunting among Spirits in South Siberia
Examining human-animal relations among the reindeer hunting and herding Dukha community in northern Mongolia, this book focuses on concepts such as domestication and wildness from an indigenous perspective. By looking into hunting rituals and herding techniques, the ethnography questions the dynamics between people, domesticated reindeer, and wild animals. It focuses on the role of the spirited landscape which embraces all living creatures and acts as a unifying concept at the center of the human and non-human relations.
The Cultural Ecology of the Dal Lake in Kashmir, India
Casimir, M. J.
In the Himalayas of the Indian part of Kashmir three communities depend on the ecology of the Dal lake: market gardeners, houseboat owners and fishers. Floating Economies describes for the first time the complex intermeshing economy, social structure and ecology of the area against the background of history and the present volatile socio-political situation. Using a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, the author deals with the socioeconomic strategies of the communities whose livelihoods are embedded here and analyses the ecological condition of the Dal, and the reasons for its progressive degradation.
Grace after Genocide
Cambodians in the United States
Mortland, C. A.
Grace after Genocide is the first comprehensive ethnography of Cambodian refugees, charting their struggle to transition from life in agrarian Cambodia to survival in post-industrial America, while maintaining their identities as Cambodians. The ethnography contrasts the lives of refugees who arrived in America after 1975, with their focus on Khmer traditions, values, and relations, with those of their children who, as descendants of the Khmer Rouge catastrophe, have struggled to become Americans in a society that defines them as different. The ethnography explores America’s mid-twentieth-century involvement in Southeast Asia and its enormous consequences on multiple generations of Khmer refugees.
The Hadrami Diaspora
Community-Building on the Indian Ocean Rim
The Hadramis of South Yemen and the emergence of their diasporic communities throughout the Indian Ocean region are an intriguing facet of the history of this region’s migratory patterns. In the early centuries of migration, the Yemeni, or Hadrami, traveler was both a trader and a religious missionary, making the migrant community both a “trade diaspora” and a “religious diaspora.” This tradition has continued as Hadramis around the world have been linked to networks of extremist, Islamic-inspired movements—Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda and descendant of a prominent Hadrami family, as the most infamous example. However, communities of Hadramis living outside Yemen are not homogenous. The author expertly elucidates the complexity of the diasporic process, showing how it contrasts with the conventional understanding of the Hadrami diaspora as an unchanging society with predefined cultural characteristics originating in the homeland. Exploring ethnic, social, and religious aspects, the author offers a deepened understanding of links between Yemen and Indian Ocean regions (including India, Southeast Asia, and the Horn of Africa) and the emerging international community of Muslims.
Heritage Movements in Asia
Cultural Heritage Activism, Politics, and Identity
Mozaffari, A. & Jones, T. (eds)
Heritage processes vary according to cultural, national, geographical, and historical contexts. This volume is unique in that it is dedicated to approaching the analysis of heritage through the concepts of social movements. Adapting the latest developments in the field of social movements, the chapters examine the formation, use and contestation of heritage by various official, non-official and activist players and the spaces where such ongoing negotiations and contestation take place. By bringing social movements into heritage studies, the book advocates a shift of perspective in understanding heritage, one that is no longer bound by (at times arbitrary) divisions such as those assumed between the state and people or between experts and non-experts.
Hindi Is Our Ground, English Is Our Sky
Education, Language, and Social Class in Contemporary India
A sea change has occurred in the Indian economy in the last three decades, spurring the desire to learn English. Most scholars and media venues have focused on English exclusively for its ties to processes of globalization and the rise of new employment opportunities. The pursuit of class mobility, however, involves Hindi as much as English in the vast Hindi-Belt of northern India. Schools are institutions on which class mobility depends, and they are divided by Hindi and English in the rubric of “medium,” the primary language of pedagogy. This book demonstrates that the school division allows for different visions of what it means to belong to the nation and what is central and peripheral in the nation. It also shows how the language-medium division reverberates unevenly and unequally through the nation, and that schools illustrate the tensions brought on by economic liberalization and middle-class status.
Subjects: Educational Studies Anthropology (General)
Towards a Global Ethnography of Afghanistan
Afghan society has been marked in a lasting way by war and the exodus of part of its population. While many have emigrated to countries across the world, they have been matched by the flow of experts who arrive in Afghanistan after having been in other war-torn countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine or East Timor. This book builds on more than two decades of ethnographic travels in some twenty countries, bringing the readers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to Europe, North America and Australia. It describes the everyday life and transnational circulations of Afghan refugees and expatriates.
Honour and Violence
Gender, Power and Law in Southern Pakistan
The practice of karo kari allows family, especially fathers, brothers and sons, to take the lives of their daughters, sisters and mothers if they are accused of adultery. This volume examines the central position of karo kari in the social, political and juridical structures in Upper Sindh, Pakistan. Drawing connections between local contests over marriage and resources, Nafisa Shah unearths deep historical processes and power relations. In particular, she explores how the state justice system and informal mediations inform each other in state responses to karo kari, and how modern law is implicated in this seemingly ancient cultural practice.
Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala
In Kerala, political activists with a background in Communism are now instead asserting political demands on the basis of indigenous identity. Why did a notion of indigenous belonging come to replace the discourse of class in subaltern struggles? Indigenist Mobilization answers this question through a detailed ethnographic study of the dynamics between the Communist party and indigenist activists, and the subtle ways in which global capitalist restructuring leads to a resonance of indigenist visions in the changing everyday working lives of subaltern groups in Kerala.
Berliner, D. & Sarró, R. (eds)
As we enter the 21st century, it becomes increasingly difficult to envisage a world detached from religion or an anthropology blind to its study. Yet, how people become religious is still poorly studied. This volume gathers some of the most distinguished scholars in the field to offer a new perspective for the study of religion, one that examines the works of transmission and innovation through the prism of learning. They argue that religious culture is socially and dynamically constructed by agents who are not mere passive recipients but engaged in active learning processes. Finding a middle way between the social and the cognitive, they see learning religions not as a mechanism of “downloading” but also as a social process with its relational dimension.
A Lover's Quarrel with the Past
Romance, Representation, Reading
Although not a professional historian, the author raises several issues pertinent to the state of history today. Qualifying the ‘non-historian’ as an ‘able’ interventionist in historical studies, the author explores the relationship between history and theory within the current epistemological configurations and refigurations. He asks how history transcends the obsessive ‘linguistic’ turn, which has been hegemonizing literary/discourse analysis, and focuses greater attention on historical experience and where history stands in relation to our understanding of ethics, religion and the current state of global politics that underlines the manipulation and abuse of history.
Subject: History (General)
Get-Rich-Quick Schemes in Siberia
Multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes promote the idea that participants can easily become rich. These popular economies turn ordinary people into advocates of their interests and missionaries of the American Dream. Marketing Hope looks at how different types of get-rich-quick schemes manifest themselves in a Siberian town. By focusing on their social dynamics, Leonie Schiffauer provides insights into how capitalist logic is learned and negotiated, and how it affects local realities in a post-Soviet environment.
Prostituting Children in Thailand
Child prostitution became one of the key concerns of the international community in the 1990s. World congresses were held, international and national laws were changed and concern over "cemmercially sexually exploited children" rose dramatically. Rarely, however, were the children who worked as prostitutes consulted of questioned in this process, and the voices of these children brought into focus. This book is the first to address the children directly, to examine their daily lives, their motivations and their perceptions of what they do. Based on 15 months of fieldwork in a Thai tourist community that survived through child prostitution, this book draws on anthropological theories on childhood and kinship to contextualize the experiences of this group of Thai child prostitutes and to contrast these with the stereotypes held of them by those outside their community.
Subject: Medical Anthropology
News as Culture
Journalistic Practices and the Remaking of Indian Leadership Traditions
At the turn of the millennium, Indian journalism has undergone significant changes. The rapid commercialization of the press, together with an increase in literacy and political consciousness, has led to swift growth in the newspaper market but also changed the way news makers mediate politics. Positioned at a historical junction where India is clearly feeling the effects of market liberalization, this study demonstrates how journalists and informants interactively create new forms of political action and consciousness. The book explores English and Hindi newsmaking and investigates the creation of news relations during the production process and how they affect political images and leadership traditions. It moves beyond the news-room to outline the role of journalists in urban society, the social lives of news texts and the way citizens bring their ideas and desires to bear on the news discourse.
This important volume contributes to an emerging debate about the impact of the media on Indian society. Furthermore, it convincingly demonstrates the inseparable link between media related practices and dynamic cultural repertoires.
Subjects: Media Studies Anthropology (General)
Memories of Migration to and from North Korea
In this unique and insightful book, Markus Bell explores the hidden histories of the men, women, and children who traveled from Japan to the world’s most secretive state—North Korea. Through vivid ethnographic details and interviews with North Korean escapees, Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea reveals the driving forces that propelled thousands of ordinary people to risk it all in Kim Il-Sung’s “Worker’s Paradise”, only to escape back to Japan half a century later.
The Partial Revolution
Labour, Social Movements and the Invisible Hand of Mao in Western Nepal
Located in the far-western Tarai region of Nepal, Kailali has been the site of dynamic social and political change in recent history. The Partial Revolution examines Kailali in the aftermath of Nepal’s Maoist insurgency, critically examining the ways in which revolutionary political mobilization changes social relations—often unexpectedly clashing with the movement’s ideological goals. Focusing primarily on the end of Kailali’s feudal system of bonded labor, Hoffmann explores the connection between politics, labor, and Mao’s legacy, documenting the impact of changing political contexts on labor relations among former debt-bonded laborers.
The Patient Multiple
An Ethnography of Healthcare and Decision-Making in Bhutan
In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, medical patients engage a variety of healing practices to seek cures for their ailments. Patients use the expanding biomedical network and a growing number of traditional healthcare units, while also seeking alternative practices, such as shamanism and other religious healing, or even more provocative practices. The Patient Multiple delves into this healthcare complexity in the context of patients’ daily lives and decision-making processes, showing how these unique mountain cultures are finding new paths to good health among a changing and multifaceted medical topography.
Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces
Religious Pluralism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus
Darieva, T., Mühlfried, F., & Tuite, K. (eds)
Though long-associated with violence, the Caucasus is a region rich with religious conviviality. Based on fresh ethnographies in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation, Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces discusses vanishing and emerging sacred places in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious post-Soviet Caucasus. In exploring the effects of de-secularization, growing institutional control over hybrid sacred sites, and attempts to review social boundaries between the religious and the secular, these essays give way to an emergent Caucasus viewed from the ground up: dynamic, continually remaking itself, within shifting and indefinite frontiers.
Staying at Home
Identities, Memories and Social Networks of Kazakhstani Germans
Despite economic growth in Kazakhstan, more than 80 per cent of Kazakhstan’s ethnic Germans have emigrated to Germany to date. Disappointing experiences of the migrants, along with other aspects of life in Germany, have been transmitted through transnational networks to ethnic Germans still living in Kazakhstan. Consequently, Germans in Kazakhstan today feel more alienated than ever from their ‘historic homeland’. This book explores the interplay of those memories, social networks and state policies, which play a role in the ‘construction’ of a Kazakhstani German identity.
Secular Activism and the Politics of Difference in South India
Exploring lived atheism in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this book offers a unique insight into India’s rapidly transforming multi-religious society. It explores the social, cultural, and aesthetic challenges faced by a movement of secular activists in their endeavors to establish atheism as a practical and comprehensive way of life. On the basis of original ethnographic material and engaged conceptual analysis, Total Atheism develops an alternative to Eurocentric accounts of secularity and critically revisits central themes of South Asian scholarship from the hitherto marginalized vantage point of radically secular and explicitly irreligious atheists in India.
Tourism, Magic and Modernity
Cultivating the Human Garden
Drawing from extended fieldwork in La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, the author suggests an innovative re-reading of different concepts of magic that emerge in the global cultural economics of tourism. Following the making and unmaking of the tropical island tourism destination of La Réunion, he demonstrates how destinations are transformed into magical pleasure gardens in which human life is cultivated for tourist consumption. Like a gardener would cultivate flowers, local development policy, nature conservation, and museum initiatives dramatise local social life so as to evoke modernist paradigms of time, beauty and nature. Islanders who live in this 'human garden' are thus placed in the ambivalent role of 'human flowers', embodying ideas of authenticity and biblical innocence, but also of history and social life in perpetual creolisation.
Subjects: Travel and Tourism Anthropology (General)
Traumatic Pasts in Asia
History, Psychiatry, and Trauma from the 1930s to the Present
Micale, M. S. & Pols, H. (eds)
In the early twenty-first century, trauma is seemingly everywhere, whether as experience, diagnosis, concept, or buzzword. Yet even as many scholars consider trauma to be constitutive of psychological modernity or the post-Enlightenment human condition, historical research on the topic has overwhelmingly focused on cases, such as World War I or the Holocaust, in which Western experiences and actors are foregrounded. There remains an urgent need to incorporate the methods and insights of recent historical trauma research into a truly global perspective. The chapters in Traumatic Pasts in Asia make just such an intervention, extending Euro-American paradigms of traumatic experience to new sites of world-historical suffering and, in the process, exploring how these new domains of research inform and enrich earlier scholarship.
Unearthing the Past to Forge the Future
Colin Mackenzie, the Early Colonial State, and the Comprehensive Survey of India
For much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the British East India Company consolidated its rule over India, evolving from a trading venture to a colonial administrative force. Yet its territorial gains far outpaced its understanding of the region and the people who lived there, and its desperate efforts to gain knowledge of the area led to the 1815 appointment of army officer Colin Mackenzie as the first Surveyor General of India. This volume carefully reconstructs the life and career of Mackenzie, showing how the massive survey of India that he undertook became one of the most spectacular and wide-ranging knowledge production initiatives in British colonial history.
Subjects: Colonial History History: 18th/19th Century
When Things Become Property
Land Reform, Authority and Value in Postsocialist Europe and Asia
Sikor, T., Dorondel, S., Stahl, J. & Xuan To, P.
Governments have conferred ownership titles to many citizens throughout the world in an effort to turn things into property. Almost all elements of nature have become the target of property laws, from the classic preoccupation with land to more ephemeral material, such as air and genetic resources. When Things Become Property interrogates the mixed outcomes of conferring ownership by examining postsocialist land and forest reforms in Albania, Romania and Vietnam, and finds that property reforms are no longer, if they ever were, miracle tools available to governments for refashioning economies, politics or environments.
Where There Is No Midwife
Birth and Loss in Rural India
In the Sitapurdistrict of Uttar Pradesh, an agricultural region with high rates of infant mortality, maternal health services are poor while family planning efforts are intensive. By following the daily lives of women in this setting, the author considers the women’s own experiences of birth and infant death, their ways of making-do, and the hierarchies they create and contend with. This book develops an approach to the care that focuses on emotion, domestic spaces, illicit and extra-institutional biomedicine, and household and neighborly relations that these women are able to access. It shows that, as part of the concatenation of affect and access, globalized moralities about reproduction are dependent on ambiguous ideas about caste. Through the unfolding of birth and death, a new vision of "untouchability" emerges that is integral to visions of progress.
Wind Over Water
Migration in an East Asian Context
Haines, D. W., Yamanaka, K. & Yamashita, S. (eds)
Providing a comprehensive treatment of a full range of migrant destinies in East Asia by scholars from both Asia and North America, this volume captures the way migrants are changing the face of Asia, especially in cities, such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Hamamatsu, Osaka, Tokyo, and Singapore. It investigates how the crossing of geographical boundaries should also be recognized as a crossing of cultural and social categories that reveals the extraordinary variation in the migrants’ origins and trajectories. These migrants span the spectrum: from Korean bar hostesses in Osaka to African entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, from Vietnamese women seeking husbands across the Chinese border to Pakistani Muslim men marrying women in Japan, from short-term business travelers in China to long-term tourists from Japan who ultimately decide to retire overseas. Illuminating the ways in which an Asian-based analysis of migration can yield new data on global migration patterns, the contributors provide important new theoretical insights for a broader understanding of global migration, and innovative methodological approaches to the spatial and temporal complexity of human migration.
World Heritage Craze in China
Universal Discourse, National Culture, and Local Memory
There is a World Heritage Craze in China. China claims to have the longest continuous civilization in the world and is seeking recognition from UNESCO. This book explores three dimensions of the UNESCO World Heritage initiative with particular relevance for China: the universal agenda, the national practices, and the local responses. With a sociological lens, this book offers comprehensive insights into World Heritage, as well as China’s deep social, cultural, and political structures.