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Historians rely on Singapore’s strategic position to explain its great success as a royal trading port in the 14th century, and as a British colony after 1819. What, then, accounts for the many centuries when it seemed not to thrive, and was seen in the words of John Crawfurd as “only the occasional resort of pirates”? This seeming paradox sits uneasily at the heart of Singapore historiography, and over time historians have suggested a variety of ways to resolve it. This volume collects studies about Singapore before 1800, bringing together different efforts across the 20th century at reconstructing Singapore’s “missing years”. Some authors have found additional details by scouring ancient and early modern texts for references to Singapore, and by reading well-known classics such as the Sejarah Melayu against the grain. Others have built narratives that bridge preand post-1800 perspectives by positioning Singapore within long-term global history. These efforts have yielded a much richer understanding of Singapore’s changing fortunes before 1800. The articles collected in this volume represent key milestones in this effort. Many are hard to locate, and two pieces are translated from Dutch to English for the first time. They are presented here with an introduction from historian Kwa Chong Guan.
B. J. Habibie may have served the shortest term of any of Indonesia’s presidents, but his push for decentralization would affect the country for decades. Habibie came to power in 1998 and immediately set to work restructuring the government. He gave local districts more power, allowing them to elect their own leaders and create their own bylaws. After years of authoritarian rule, these reforms were meant to return power to the people. But that led to local governments engaging in bureaucratic and political conflict with the central government over control of valuable natural resources and the distribution of the revenue they generated. Decentralization became the most important political economic development in Indonesia of the past thirty years. Networked Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia evaluates three cases of deep-seated political conflict and intrigue including central government, local governments, and multinational companies. It looks at how the structure of the national political economy has changed as the result of local politicians becoming involved in disputes with the national government over control of natural resources. It also analyzes how these changes will affect the distribution of wealth in the country as well as Indonesia’s evolving democratic politics and modes of governance.
The 1950s and ’60s are now thought to be the Golden Age of Malay film. A big part of what made films of this era so popular was their beguiling music. In this absorbing study, the scholar and musician Adil Johan examines the social and cultural impact of the film music of the period, and its role in nation-making.
Drawing on analyses of lyrics and music, interviews with musicians, and the content of Malay entertainment magazines, in an approach that spans ethnomusicology and cultural studies, he reveals this body of work to be a product of a musical and cultural cosmopolitanism in the service of a nation-making process based on ideas of Malay ethnonationalism, initially fluid but increasingly homogenized over time. Malay film music of the period covertly expressed radical sentiments despite being produced within a commercialized film industry.
Written in a lively style and illustrated with musical examples, the book will satisfy ethnomusicologists, composers, and film studies scholars interested in Southeast Asia and the Malay world. It will equally be of interest to scholars interested in the role of culture in nation-making more broadly.
T.K. Sabapathy has been writing on the art of Southeast Asia for over four decades (1973–2015), as a critic, curator and art historian. This collection of his work, representing the scope and depth of Sabapathy’s output, and highlighting his most important and influential writings, is also a survey of the vast changes in the landscape of art in the region over the period.
A historian and educator, penetrating critic and ardent advocate, Sabapathy’s early scholarly engagements were marked by clear commitments to the art historiography of the Hindu-Buddhist traditions of Southeast Asia. He later emerged as an eloquent proponent of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art. His art historical methods, critical documentation, deep dialogue with artists and detailed explication of their works have helped define Singapore and Malaysian art. His extensive studies of Southeast Asian art and artists
have helped set the course of art discourse in the region.
This publication provides an opportunity for more focused (re)reading, review and renewed consideration of T.K. Sabapathy’s rich body of work, to further fuel modern and contemporary art writing, research
T.K. Sabapathy is currently an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, where he teaches the history of art.
Indonesian art entered the global contemporary art world of independent curators, art fairs, and biennales in the 1990s. By the mid-2000s, Indonesian works were well-established on the Asian secondary art market, achieving record-breaking prices at auction houses in Singapore and Hong Kong. This comprehensive overview introduces Indonesian contemporary art in a fresh and stimulating manner, demonstrating how contemporary art breaks from colonial and post-colonial power structures, and grapples with issues of identity and nation-building in Indonesia. Across different media, in performance and installation, it amalgamates ethnic, cultural, and religious references in its visuals, and confidently brings together the traditional (batik, woodcut, dance, Javanese shadow puppet theater) with the contemporary (comics and manga, graffiti, advertising, pop culture).Spielmann’s Contemporary Indonesian Art surveys the key artists, curators, institutions, and collectors in the local art scene and looks at the significance of Indonesian art in the Asian context. Through this book, originally published in German, Spielmann stakes a claim for the global relevance of Indonesian art.
About the Author
Yvonne Spielmann is a visiting research fellow at NTU Center for Contemporary Art, Singapore. She was Dean of Faculty of Fine Arts at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. Previously she was Research Professor of New Media at the University of the West of Scotland, and Professor of Visual Media at Braunschweig University of Art. She holds the 2009 Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Technics and the 2011 Swedish Prize for Swedish-German Scientific Cooperation.
Extricating liberalism from the haze of anti-modernist and anti-European caricature, this book traces the role of liberal philosophy in the building of a new nation. It examines the role of toleration, rights, and mediation in the postcolony. Through the biographies of four Filipino scholar-bureaucrats-Camilo Osias, Salvador Araneta, Carlos P. Romulo, and Salvador P. Lopez-Lisandro E. Claudio argues that liberal thought served as the grammar of Filipino democracy in the 20th century. By looking at various articulations of liberalism in pedagogy, international affairs, economics, and literature, Claudio not only narrates an obscured history of the Philippine state, he also argues for a new liberalism rooted in the postcolonial experience, a timely intervention considering current developments in politics in Southeast Asia.
About the Author
Lisandro E. Claudio is currently assistant professor at the Development Studies Program, Ateneo de Manila University. By May 2017, he will be associate professor at the Department of History, De La Salle University, Manila.
Until the mid-1950s nearly all of the sea between the far-flung islands of the Indonesian archipelago was open to ships of all nations, but in 1957, the Indonesian government declared that it had absolute sovereignty over all the waters lying within straight baselines drawn between the outermost islands of Indonesia. In this single step, Indonesia made its lands and seas a unified entity for the first time, a claim formally recognized in 1982 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Sovereignty and the Sea explores how Indonesia succeeded in its extraordinary claim despite its low international profile. John G. Butcher and R. E. Elson reveal that at the heart of Indonesia’s archipelagic campaign was a small group of Indonesian diplomats whose dogged persistence, negotiating skills, and willingness to make difficult compromises resulted in Indonesia becoming the greatest archipelagic state in the world.
About the Author
John G. Butcher is adjunct associate professor in the Department of International Business and Asian Studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. R.E. Elson is professor emeritus of Southeast Asian history at the University of Queensland.
The British military failure against the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942 is a well-documented and closely examined episode. But far less attention has been paid to the role of the colonial governor and his staff during this period, an oversight Ronald McCrum corrects with this insightful history. As McCrum shows, the failure of the civil authorities in conjunction with the military to fully prepare the country for the possibility of war was a key factor in the defeat. In The Men Who Lost Singapore, McCrum closely examines the role and responsibilities of the colonial authorities before and during the war. He argues that the poor and occasionally hostile relations that developed between the local government and the British military hierarchy prevented the development and implementation of a strategic and unified plan of defense against the growing threat of the Japanese. Consequently, this indecisive and ineffective leadership led to significant losses and civilian casualties that could have been prevented.
About the Author
Ronald McCrum is a retired British army colonel who served in Malaya and Singapore. He served over two years as the Defence Attache in the High Commission in Singapore and as Defence Attache in Israel at the beginning of the Palestinian intifada.
Moral Politics in the Philippines offers an in-depth examination of the political participation and discourse of the urban poor in Manila. After the ousting of Ferdinando Marcos in 1986, society in the Philippines fractured along socioeconomic lines. The educated middle class began to recognize themselves as moral citizens and political participants while condemning the poor as immoral “masses” who earn money illegally and support corrupt leaders. Conversely, the poor believe themselves to be morally upright and criticize the rich as arrogant oppressors. Wataru Kusaka looks at the dangers of this moralization of politics during the last several decades, and he analyzes the damaging effects it has had on democracy by excluding much of society and marginalizing the interests of those most in need of resources.
About the Author
Wataru Kusaka is associate professor in the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, Tokyo.
During the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, the British government sought to avoid escalation of the war in Vietnam and to help bring about peace, but the British were only able to exert little, if any, influence on the United States. In this in-depth analysis of Britain’s involvement in the Vietnam War, Nicholas Tarling draws on many overlooked papers in the British archives in order to describe the making of Britain’s policy toward the war and its careful negotiations of its connection to America. The result is a revealing account of the Anglo-American relationship that shows that the illusion of Britain’s ability to influence the United States in the conduct of war has had a long history.
About the Author
Nicholas Tarling is a fellow at the New Zealand Asia Institute at the University of Auckland. His books include Studying Singapore’s Past: C.M. Turnbull and the History of Modern Singapore and Britain and Sihanouk’s Cambodia, both also published by the National University of Singapore Press.
Using Thailand as a case study, Ross King examines the role of place in the formation of identity through memory. Employing the idea of French historian Pierre Nora that because we no longer live in environments of memory-places where the past is still vividly alive-we compensate by attaching ourselves to sites of memory, King explores whether Thailand offers an alternative vision, a place where modernity and heritage coexist. He looks closely at the myths of ancient Thai cities, the remaining royal palaces, historical monuments, small towns and villages, and the proliferating slums of Bangkok in order to create a unique and nuanced perspective of contemporary Thailand and its many ideas of Thai identity.
About the Author
Ross King is a professorial fellow in the faculty of architecture building and planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Reading Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya: Negotiating Urban Space in Malaysia, also published by the National University of Singapore Press.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a miracle. Why?In an era of growing cultural pessimism, many thoughtful individuals believe that different civilisations-especially Islam and the West-cannot live together in peace. The ten countries of ASEAN provide a thriving counter-example of civilizational co-existence. Here 625m people live together in peace. This miracle was delivered by ASEAN. In an era of growing economic pessimism, where many young people believe that their lives will get worse in coming decades, Southeast Asia bubbles with optimism. In an era where many thinkers predict rising geopolitical competition and tension, ASEAN regularly brings together all the world’s great powers. Stories of peace are told less frequently than stories of conflict and war. ASEAN’s imperfections make better headlines than its achievements. But in the hands of thinker and writer Kishore Mahbubani, the good news story is also a provocation and a challenge to the rest of the world.
About the Author
Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and author of The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East. Jeffery Sng is a writer and former diplomat based in Bangkok, co-author of A History of the Thai-Chinese.