Thursday, June 3, 2010

Books on Colonialism and Colonial Society in Asia

Here is a selection of titles on colonialism and colonial society in South and Southeast Asia:
  • Penang Under The East India Company 1786-1858 by Andrew Barber. Many photographs and archival maps and illustrations enrich this accessibly written account of Penang 1786-1858, the period when the island was ruled by the East India Company. After a background account of the EIC's developments in "Eastern Waters" 1601-1786, the chapters are on: Francis Light (1740-1794) and the acquisition of Prince of Wales Island, Penang; the administration and impact of the Company's "light touch" governance; trade and commence; migration trends and the varied peoples and religions in Penang; commercial and political relationships with the Malay sultanates; the collapse of EIC in India, Calcutta-based rule and the subsequent 1858 establishment of London-based Colonial Rule of Penang as a constituent member of the Straits Settlements.
  • The Ambiguous Allure of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand edited by Rachel V. Harrison and Peter A. Jackson. Much collaborative post-colonial scholarship including the 2004 Cornell International Workshop has gone into the making of this symposium of eight specialists essays which explore Western involvement in Thailand's recent history and Thai perceptions of this history. Contemporary theories and analyses are applied to Thailand's power structures, film and media identities, intellectual struggles, political development, and quasi-colonial influences. Bibliography and index.
  • Other Landscapes: Colonialism and the Predicament of Authority in Nineteenth-Century South India by Deborah Sutton. Due to the inhospitable climate and vastness of the native population, European settlement of India was never seriously considered apart from in selected upland areas with cooler climates and sparse native populations. One such area was the Nilgiri Hills of South India which, from the early 19th century, saw concerted efforts at European colonisation and displacement of the local population as well as an attempt to visualize and recreate an English landscape in the area. Other Landscapes investigates the interfaces between indigenes, European settlers and the colonial state on the Nilgiri Hills, focusing on land disputes, regulation of land sales, regimes of forest management and ethnographic projects of cultural 'preservation'. It examines the landscape as it was configured in the Imperial imagination, explores the corruption and manipulation of local administration and argues that rarely, if ever, did official intent correspond to the systems of reform, regulation and invigilation imposed over the local agrarian landscape.
  • The Social World of Batavia: Europeans and Eurasians in Colonial Indonesia by Jean Gelman Taylor. This book describes the colonial society that was formed in the Dutch settlements on the coasts of Asia and that evolved for a brief period into a ruling caste in the Indonesian archipelago. Jean Galman Taylor analyses the colonisers' interactions with the Asian and Eurasian societies and the distinctive Indo-Dutch, Mestizo culture that resulted. Chapter topics include: Origins of the City of Batavia; Growth of the Settlement Society; The Assault on Indies Culture; and The Inner Life of Late Colonial Society. With bibliography and index.
  • How to Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia 1860-1930 by Anne Ruth Hansen. This ambitious cross-disciplinary study of Buddhist modernism in colonial Cambodia breaks new ground in understanding the history and development of religion and colonialism in Southeast Asia. Author Anne Ruth Hansen examines the intertwined ethical and historical questions of what Khmer writers articulated as the Buddhist values most important and relevant to their times, how these interpretations were produced, and how they represent Southeast Asian events, people, ideas and anxieties. Index.

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