Review Essays

PHOTO ESSAY: The Rohingya in Aceh

In May 2015, thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were rescued by Acehnese fishermen after being left on the sea for weeks. Commanded by Panglima Laot, a local customary leader who has the right to decide what can (and cannot) be done in Aceh’s sea territory, Acehnese fishermen and their society in general have agreed to help and host the migrants. Currently, there are four Rohingya [...]

Tar Tei Sa Nay Thar (A child born on Saturday)

Tar Tei Sa Nay Thar (A child born on Saturday)Nga Doe Sar Pay (Yangon, Myanmar), 2012. The book is the autobiography of U Nu, a leading nationalist and political figure in 20th century Myanmar, and was originally written in 1969. It was first published in English in USA and India during 1969-1980, and in 1975, it was published in Burmese in India by Irrawaddy Publishing. It finally made print in [...]

Daily Life in Mindanao: Photo Essay

Daily Life in MindanaoPhoto Essay by Bobby Timonera Mindanao in southern Philippines is populated mainly by three groups of people – the Lumads, the tribal people who first inhabited the place but who are now a minority; the Muslim groups; and the Christians who came mostly from the northern part of the country who now comprise the majority. The mixture of these three peoples has somehow [...]

Djinah 1965, Years of Silence, bagian I, and, Sepenggal Catatan Merah, Sebuah Komik tentang Tragedi Mei 1998

Djinah 1965, Years of Silence, bagian I (first part) By Evans Poton.(Jakarta: Menara Warungku, IKJ-TIM, Interrographic, 2011, 101 pages), and: Sepenggal Catatan Merah, Sebuah Komik tentang Tragedi Mei 1998(A red note’s fragment, a comic book on the Tragedy of May 1998)By Hendra Bhakti(Jakarta: Grafiti Sosial, Gema INTI, Aikon, 2013, 102 pages) In recent years we have seen a number of important [...]

REVIEW: Myanma no Kuni to Tami, Nichimen Hikaku Sonraku Syakairon no Kokoromi

 Myanma no Kuni to Tami: Nichimen Hikaku Sonraku Syakairon no Kokoromi  (『ミャンマーの国と民―日緬比較村落社会論の試み―』)(State and People in Myanmar: A Comparative Study of Rural Societies in Japan and Myanmar)By Akio Takahashi. Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2012 This book focuses on rural society in Myanmar. While the new government of Myanmar has attracted public [...]

REVIEW: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective

Nicholas Grossman and Dominic Faulder (eds.). 2011.King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective.Singapore: Editions Didier Millet. 383 pages. In 2008, when it had become impossible for any credible journalist to ignore the entanglement of the palace in Thailand’s unfolding tragedy, I wrote an analysis on Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej for Reuters. A [...]

REVIEW: Lungsod iskwater. Evolution of Informality as a Pattern in Philippine Cities

Alcazaren, Paulo, Luis Ferrer, and Benvenuto Icamina. 2011.Lungsod iskwater: The Evolution of Informality  as  a  Dominant  Pattern  in  Philippine Cities.Pasig City: Anvil. Lungsod iskwater (Squatter City) is a book that seems to be full of self-contradictions. Its readers are likely to be confounded by the apparent incongruities in and between its form and content. However, far from [...]

REVIEW: Detours to Paradise (Movie)

Detours to Paradise (Sincerely Yours)Produced and directed by Rich Lee. Written by Shu-Wen Hu, Mr. Lee and Shou-Qian Ho.Production year: 2009.Running time: 118 minutes.  This film is directed by Rich Lee, a cram-school teacher whose dream was to make a film, it is his first work. Focusing on Setia, a female Indonesian migrant worker (starring Indonesian actress Lola Amaria), and Yong, a male [...]

REVIEW: Zombadings 1. Patayin Sa Shokot si Remington

 Zombadings 1 :Patayin Sa Shokot si Remington [Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings] Directed by Jade Castro (2011)  Zombadings (or Patayin sa Shokot si Remington) is a spoof on comics culture. It is also a fairy tale romance set in the town of Lucban. Essentially it is a coming of age comedy about a little boy, Remington (he begins very young indeed) yelling out loud whenever he notices [...]

Review: An Uncommon Hero. M.K. Rajakumarin Politics and Medicine

 An Uncommon Hero: M.K. Rajakumarin Politics and Medicine Tan Pek Leng (editor). Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2011, pp. 451. The use of repressive laws to suppress contenders for power in Malaya/Malaysia and Singapore is well documented. Such work contradicts official histories rationalising abuses of state power as timely interventions to pre-empt [...]

REVIEW: The Fate of Rural Hell. Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand.

The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand. Benedict Anderson.  Calcutta: Seagull books. 2012. 99 pp. Classical studies of Thai rural society often begin at a wat. From an anthropological perspective, the wat, or Buddhist temple, has been—and still is—not only a fundamental institution of rural people’s spiritual and material life, but also a reflexive space [...]

G30S 1965, Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban Orba

Tan Swie Ling . 2010.G30S 1965, Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban Orba[30 September 1965, the Cold War and the destruction of Nationalism: Thoughts of an ordinary Chinese as a victim of the New Order]. Depok: Komunitas Bambu bekerja sama dengan Lembaga Kajian Sinergi Indonesia, 2010   Reading Tan Swie Ling’s book is a challenge. From its title, readers [...]

REVIEW: Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban Orba

Tan Swie Ling . 2010.G30S 1965, Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban OrbaDepok: Komunitas Bambu bekerja sama dengan Lembaga Kajian Sinergi Indonesia, 2010  Membaca buku karangan Tan Swie Ling ini merupakan sebuah tantangan. Dari judulnya saja, pembaca bisa mengintip topik yang yang selalu kontroversial. Juga, tebalnya yang hampir 600 halaman, bikin pembaca [...]

REVIEW: Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata [Amapola in 65 Chapters]

 Lee, Ricky. 2011. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata[Amapola in 65 Chapters]Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Writers Studio Foundation, Inc. 364+ pp.   Amapola, the protagonist of distinguished playwright and screenwriter Ricky Lee’s novel, is a female impersonator who discovers that s/he is also a manananggal, the fabled viscera-sucker of Philippine myth and lore.  With her pliant tongue, [...]

Book Review: Ukkil: Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago

Ligaya F. Amilbangsa, Ukkil: Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 2006 Ukkil: Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago is a treatise on cultural practices inextricably linked to the political, economic, and social history of the Sulu Archipelago. The author, Ligaya F. Amilbangsa, declares the need for ethnic art forms to be viewed as authentic reflections of [...]

Book Review: Histories of the Borneo Environment: Economic, political and social dimensions of change and continuity

Wadley, Reed L. 2005. Histories of the Borneo Environment: Economic, political and social dimensions of change and continuity. Leiden: KITLV Press. This book is based on collections of papers presented at the international seminar on ‘Environmental change in native and colonial histories of Borneo; Lessons from the past, prospects for the future’, held in Leiden, the Netherlands in August [...]

Review – Tensions of Empire: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Colonial and Postcolonial World

Ken’ichi Goto, Tensions of Empire: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003, xxii + 291pp. Notes, Index. ISBN 0-89680-231-0 No region like Southeast Asia has been so deeply shaped by the external forces of the various big powers in the world. In Asia such forces are China, India, Japan and the Middle East; beyond Asia are Europe and [...]

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Sarawak 1940-1990

The Rise and Fall of Communism in Sarawak 1940-1990V.L. PorrittMelbourne / Monash Asia Institute / 2004 As recent as two years ago, communism was a dirty word in Malaysia’s political vocabulary. All changed with the publication of Ong Boon Hua’s biography, Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History. The biography broke all sales record in both Singapore and Malaysia, with more than 30,000 copies [...]

Book Review: Changing Borders and Identities in the Kelabit Highlands: Anthropological Reflections on Growing up in a Kelabit Village Near the International Border

Changing Borders and Identities in the Kelabit Highlands: Anthropological Reflections on Growing up in a Kelabit Village Near the International BorderPoline BalaSarawak, Malaysia / The Institute for East Asian Studies, University of Malaysia Sarawak (Dayak Studies Contemporary Society Series, No. 1) / 20 Part memoir, part academic treatise, Changing Borders and Identities in the Kelabit Highlands [...]

Book Review: Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma

Making Enemies: War and State Building in BurmaMary P. Callahan Ithaca, NY / Cornell University Press / 2004 Singapore / Singapore University Press / 2004 Why would anyone, in this age of terror and unfettered global trade, take a keen interest in the politics of Burma (or Myanmar, as the junta has renamed the country)? Even among neighbors, Burma is neither here nor there, having one foot in [...]

Review: David Rumsey On-line Historic Maps

URL: davidrumsey.comCreator: David Rumsey, President, Cartography Associates, San Francisco, California The Past as a Foreign Country: Exploring Historical Maps on the Internet It appears that the operational domain of the mapping discourse extends far beyond the knowledge of space and enters our memory as well. In fact, it is through this mediation of historical maps that the domains of space [...]

Book Review— Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World

Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern WorldFatima Mernissi, trans. Mary Jo LakelandNew York / Addison-Wesley / 1992 Can Islam, a religion revealed in 6th century Arabia, be compatible with democracy, a product of the modern “West”? There has been a surge of debate throughout the world on this issue, but no consensus. Indeed, the very concept of democracy is hotly contested, with countries [...]

Book Review— Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics

Malaysia: Islam, Society and PoliticsVirginia Hooker and Norani Othman, editorsSingapore / ISEAS Series on Islam, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies / 2003 This collection of essays has been prepared as a tribute to Clive S. Kessler, Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales and a significant contributor to Malay and Malaysian studies. The book opens with a touching series of [...]

Book Review: The Pondok and the Madrasah in Patani

The Pondok and the Madrasah in PataniHasan MadmarnBangi / Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Press / 1999 The study of traditional Islamic institutions in Southern Thailand has not received much systematic and scholarly attention. Institutions such as the pondok (private Islamic boarding schools) are historically important to the Malay-Muslim community in Thailand. They perform a key role in [...]

Book Review— The Transformation of Chinese Society in Postwar Singapore: Localizing Process, Regional Networking, and Global Perspective

The Transformation of Chinese Society in Postwar Singapore: Localizing Process, Regional Networking, and Global Perspective战后新加坡华人社会的嬗变:本土情怀,区域网络,全球视野刘宏(Liu Hong)Xiamen / 厦门大学出版社(Xiamen Daxue Chubanshe) / 2003 Liu Hong’s recent Chinese-language monograph, published in the Xiamen University Press series on Southeast Asia [...]

After the Fall of Baghdad

Defeatism is an internalized feeling of defeat, a melancholic mournfulness that eventually imprisons one in a dark web. It is like a labyrinth or a path that splits endlessly. Taking a lesson from the bitter defeat of the Arab nations Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six-Day War of June 1967, I am concerned that the fall of Baghdad will open old wounds and foster a defeatist attitude among Arab [...]