This paper reflects on the relationship between postcolonial criticism (PC) and Southeast Asian Studies. The emphasis is on the apparent premature retreat from PC as well as its unfulfilled promises and persistent pitfalls. I argue that it is premature to abandon PC because it remains relevant, even essential, in the context of the much ballyhooed age of “knowledge economy” or “information society.” There is a need to take another look at its promises and to work towards fulfilling them, but at the same time be conscious of its persistent problems.
How should we conceptualize regions? What is the context in which new approaches to regional study take place? What is the role of historical change in the reconceptualization of regions or areas? This article addresses this issue by using two case studies to shed light on the history of regional study by comparing some of the ways in which the Middle East and Southeast Asia have been conceptualized. Accordingly, the discussion traces the ways in which these areas were understood in the 19th century by highlighting the ideas of a number of influential Victorian thinkers. The Victorians are useful because not only did British thinkers play critical roles in the shaping of modern patterns of knowledge, but their empire was global in scope, encompassing parts of both Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
However, the Victorians regarded these places quite differently: Southeast Asia was frequently described as “Further India” and the Middle East was the home of the Ottoman Empire.
Both of these places were at least partly understood in relation to the needs of British policy-makers, who tended to focus most of their efforts according to the needs of India— which was their most important colonial possession.
The article exhibits the connections between the “Eastern Question” and end of the Ottoman Empire (and the political developments which followed) led to the creation of the concept of “Middle East”. With respect to Southeast Asia, attention will be devoted to the works of Alfred Russell Wallace, Hugh Clifford, and others to see how “further India” was understood in the 19th century. In addition, it is clear that the successful deployment of the term “Southeast Asia” reflected the political needs of policy makers in wake of decolonization and the Cold War.
Finally, by showing the constructive nature of regions, the article suggests one possible new path for students of Southeast Asia. If the characterization of the region is marked by arbitrary factors, it may actually point to a useful avenue of enquiry, a hermeneutic of expedience. Emphasis on the adaptive and integrative features of lived realities in Southeast Asia may well be a step beyond both the agendas of “colonial knowledge” and anti-colonial nationalism.
Southeast Asia has been a showcase for democratic transitions in the past 30 years. This paper proposes a conceptual lens for studying political shifts in the Southeast Asian region. The argumentative storyline follows two fundamental propositions about democratic transitions. My first proposition is that during democratic transitions, human phenomena arise on nested analytical layers namely the global arena, the state, prodemocracy movements, and individuals. Each layer is conventionally studied by international relations, political science, sociology, and psychology respectively. I propose a multidisciplinary lens that transverses all these analytical layers. A second proposition is that during political shifts, social conditions are historically-situated. Historicity is anchored on stages of democratization, namely the authoritarian regime, toppling the regime, power shift, state building, and nation building.
This paper describes a 4 x 5 matrix (analytical layer x historical stage) that may guide a regional agenda on the empirical study of democratic transitions in the Southeast Asian region. It likewise gives examples of research findings in Philippine-based studies that have already begun to provide empirical data about segments of this research matrix.
Just how does one make sense of the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge during its rule in the 70’s and the numerous human rights violations in the Philippines during the Marcos period? Like the conflicts that have marked human history at the close of the 20th century, Southeast Asia is no exception, similar to the many attempts to come to terms with the past and put to account wrongdoers worldwide. The paper is an attempt to historicize these two seemingly unrelated events and analyze them from the synoptic frameworks of transitional justice and reparations.
Similar to the experiences faced by many societies transitioning towards democratic rule, notably in Latin America, the dilemma of whether to pursue justice or preserve the peace and the newfound status quo has characterized the length at which justice had eluded the victims in Cambodia and the Philippines. Yet, no matter what the limits are in pursuing accountability, or these so called historical injustices, closure is still achievable. The paper would like to argue that closure is possible when one, all or a combination of the following, depending on the gravity of the crime, is present—truth-telling, prosecution for the crimes committed, and a grant of compensation.
This article is based on a research conducted from 2009 to 2012, on the political disputes in Thailand. During the data collections periods, it was common to hear the frustration, bitterness and anger, expressed by the Redshirts, especially those who lived in the northeast and northern regions.
Coming from the said research, this paper will examine the relationship between emotions and rights. According to the sociology of emotions, there are connections between macrolevel social processes and the arousal of emotions.
Emotions arising from macrostructural processes may affect individuals at the microlevel, prompting them into actions collectively. In addition, expressions of resentment and articulation for vengeance can be interpreted as the emotions related to the awareness of rights, which may include the rights to one’s needs and the access to resources that fulfill such needs. It will demonstrate how emotions, political demonstrations and the increasing awareness of rights, are related.
The Rakhine (Arakanese) from present-day Rakhine State (Arakan) in Western Myanmar and the Marma from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Southeast Bangladesh originated from the same region, share the same culture and practice the same religion. However, the people from CHT have developed a distinctive identity and are individualized by a different name “Marma”. This development raises a number of historical questions. This paper explores how the Arakanese descendants became “Marma” in Bangladesh.
This paper will reveal the legacy of women in the Bagan Period (10th to 11th century A.D.) traced through the early evidences of female figures that could only found in the stones of KyaukkuUmin and in the terracotta of Shwesandaw and Phetleik temples. There have been some writings on the women of the Bagan Period from different perspectives. The role of women from the Bagan Period mentioned in different records and as empowerment of Myanmar Women in the past will be analyzed. Through these female images and other unearthed artifacts found in Bagan, portrayals of womanhood in Myanmar early sculpture will be studied.
The role of women in the Bagan will be observed by looking closely at what remains of the sculptures, as well as the craftsmanship applied to the works, which are usually in terracotta, wood, or stone.
This study on Mahāsammata Model of Kingship in Mrauk U Period from the 15th to 18th centuries attempts to demonstrate how the kings of Mrauk U or royal officials tried to claim this legitimating model of kingship and how they accepted this model of kingship and under what conditions the legitimate order of this model was lost. Vital to the adaptation of Mahāsammata model of kingship in the Mrauk U period is the claim that Mrauk U’s rulers were direct lineal descendants of the first Buddhist king of the world, Mahāsammata and thence the clan of Gotama Buddha, Sākiya clan. This ideological model of kingship has a recognizable effect on the political stability of Mrauk U kingdom. While the Mahāsammata model of kingship performed as a belief of legitimizing kingship within the arena of royal court, the kings of Mrauk U tried to perform the related models of Mahāsammata, the ideal models of Buddhist kingship as dhammarāja and a cakkavatti. However, the conditions that fail to maintain the Mahāsammata model of kingship saw the weakening of the other related models of kingship, which eventually led to the decline of the kingdom.