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2017, Vol.9, No.2

  • 1.

    The decentralized Austronesian polity: Of Mandalas, Negaras, Galactics, and the South Sulawesi Kingdoms

    Stephen C. Druce | 2017, 9(2) | pp.7~34 | number of Cited : 1
    Abstract PDF
    Various models have been presented to describe early Southeast Asian political formations that draw on both indigenous and imported Indic ideas. The most influential of these are the “Mandala” (Wolters 1968, 1982, 1999), “Galactic” (Tambiah 1976), “Negara” (Geertz 1980), and Anderson’s 1972 “The idea of power in Javanese culture.” This paper represents an initial attempt to compare the salient features of these models with historical and archaeological data from South Sulawesi where, exceptionally and importantly, societies developed independently of Indic ideas. South Sulawesi is unique in being the only region of maritime Southeast Asia where there are sufficient written and oral sources, often substantiated by archaeological data, to document the social evolution of its society from scattered, economically self-sufficient communities with ranked lineages practicing swidden agriculture to large political units (kingdoms) constructed around indigenous cultural and political concepts with economies based on wet-rice agriculture. This wealth of data provides us with a much more detailed picture of the emergence, development and support structures of early kingdoms than found in the models, which makes South Sulawesi of fundamental importance in understanding the social and economic evolution of pre-Indic influenced Austronesian societies in Maritime Southeast Asia.
  • 2.

    Adaptability and Fatalism as Southeast Asian Cultural Traits

    Frank Dhont | 2017, 9(2) | pp.35~49 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    This paper will concentrate on how various particular Southeast Asian conditions created a distinct Southeast Asian cultural identity despite a very challenging geographical and historical diversity in the region. The paper will argue that Southeast Asians demonstrate an ability to adapt to changes and new values but also exhibit fatalism through a very high degree of passive acceptance to political and other changes that affect their society. The paper identifies a degree of environmental and geographical uniqueness in Southeast Asia that shapes context and gives rise to very distinct cultural traits. The historical transformation in the region brought about by colonialism and nationalism, combined with this geographical and political make-up of the region, had an immense impact on Southeast Asian society as it fostered adaptability. Finally, the political transitions brought about by various conflicts and wars that continued to affect the area in rapid succession all throughout the 20th century likewise contributed immensely to a local Southeast Asian fatalistic response towards change. Historically, Southeast Asia demonstrated these socio-cultural responses to such an extent that these are argued to permeate the region forming a distinct aspect of Southeast Asian culture.
  • 3.

    Eclectic Sociocultural Traditions of the Baba Nyonya of George Town, Penang, Malaysia

    OOI Keat Gin | 2017, 9(2) | pp.51~89 | number of Cited : 2
    Abstract PDF
    Strategically situated between the East-West maritime crossroads, the peoples of Southeast Asia over the centuries witnessed the comings and goings of traders from territories from East Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Europe. There were also those from North America that crossed the Pacific for commercial profits in this region. Foreign traders undoubtedly in the course of their visits and sojourns had liaisons with local women, some engaged in marriages. Offspring of these interracial miscegenation possessed rather unique characteristics. As a community, they were identified with the Malay term, peranakan, from the root word, “anak” meaning “child,” hence “offspring” or “descendent”. Specific terms – Baba Nyonya, Tionghoa-Selat, Chitty, Jawi Pekan, Pashu, Kristang – referred to particular groups. Although socially they appeared ‘neither here nor there’, members of mixed parentage were able to carve an especial niche in the local environment throughout Southeast Asia, conspicuously in urban, port-cities where trade and commerce predominated. Following in the footsteps of their progenitor, the Peranakan acted as intermediaries, comprador between foreign and indigenous enterprises, profiting financially and socially from trade and commerce. Tapping on the author’s personal experiences and first-hand observations, complementing with oral sources, and support from secondary materials, this present essay explores, discusses, and analyzes the eclectic sociocultural practices and traditions of the Baba Nyonya of George Town, Penang. Purposeful intention is to further enlighten our understanding, and in turn, our appreciation, of these ever increasingly diminishing communities and their cultures across Southeast Asia.
  • 4.

    Change and Continuity in Traditional Timugon Rice Cultivation Beliefs and Practices

    Low Kok On | Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan | Ismail Ibrahim | 2017, 9(2) | pp.91~122 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    Before the start of the North Borneo Company administration in North Borneo (now Sabah, Malaysia) in 1882, the Timugon Murut of today’s interior Tenom District lived in longhouses, and practiced head-hunting during wars with other Murutic ethnic groups. Their economy revolved around swidden agriculture of hill rice, sago, and cassava. Wet rice cultivation and water buffaloes were introduced just before 1885. Wet rice was planted on the alluvial plains around the Pegalan and Padas Rivers, while dry rice was planted on hillside swiddens that had been cleared by slash-and-burn methods. Today, wet rice cultivation and cash-cropping on the plains are the main Timugon socioeconomic activities, while some families also plant dry rice on the hills as a back-up. The Timugon believe that the physical world is surrounded by the spiritual world, and everything was made by the creator Aki Kapuuno’. The focus of this field research paper is on the beliefs and ritual practices of the Timugon connected to their traditional rice agriculture. This study found that for generations, the Timugon believed that since animals were created by Aki Kapuuno’ for the wellbeing of humans, various types of animals and birds convey omens to guide people. Thus, the older Timugon rice cultivation is strongly influenced by good and bad omens and taboos, and also involves symbolic practices and ritual offerings to guardian spirits of the rice. After the 1930s and especially since the 1960s, most Timugon became Roman Catholic Christians. Hence, this paper also examines changes in the traditional Timugon rice cultivation related beliefs and practices due to religious conversion and other factors.
  • 5.

    Diverse yet Distinct: Philippine Men’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century, 1850s-1890s

    Stephanie Marie R. Coo | 2017, 9(2) | pp.123~144 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    The changing of clothes in Balagtas’ 1860 fictional comedy La filipina elegante y negrito amante (The Elegant Filipina and the Amorous Negrito) is used to explore the ethnic, cultural, and sartorial diversity in 19th century colonial Philippines. But, how does plurality in men’s clothing reflect the socio-economic conditions of the late Spanish colonial period? This paper focuses on the diversity in Philippine men’s clothing around 1850 to 1896, taking into account the limited range of colonial archetypes in iconographic and documentary sources. Underscoring the colonial culture that shaped mentalities and tendencies, this study offers insights on how clothing was used and how it was perceived in relation to the wearer. In discussing clothing diversity, distinctiveness was articulated using the work of J.A.B. Wiselius (1875), a Dutch colonial administrator in neighboring Indonesia, who in comparing Spanish and Dutch systems of colonial governance, underscored the Filipino penchant for imitation.
  • 6.

    Indonesian Diplomacy in the Digital World

    Ganewati Wuryandari | 2017, 9(2) | pp.145~164 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    In the 21st century, the growing use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social media platforms has influenced our way of life, including international diplomacy. With the use of new interactive communication technologies such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, video sharing website, blogs, and other social media networks, digital diplomacy has become an active diplomatic mode in modern society and plays an increasing important role in international relations. Although Indonesia has gradually realized the pivotal role of internet diplomacy and recently put it into practice, it is still lagging far behind. This paper will examine how Indonesia conducts its diplomacy in the new era of digital world. How far and in what ways does the Indonesian government make use of digital technology to conduct its diplomacy? What opportunities and challenges are confronted to develop digital diplomacy? How does it navigate diplomacy in the digital age? Unless Indonesia embraces new channels and methods of diplomacy, its foreign policy implementation may not run optimally to support its aim of attaining its objectives in the international stage.
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