Monday, August 30, 2010

Books on Asian Culture

This is a selection of titles on Asian culture from Selections 102:
  • Transnationalizing Culture of Japan in Asia Dramas, Musics, Arts and Agencies edited by Tito Genova Valiente and Hiroko Nagai. Along with the "globalization" phenomenon came the effect of "transnatialization of culture". In particular, aspects of Japanese popular culture have been emerging in other Asian culture, and have a significant impact on youth culture in the region. The eight individually referenced papers in this volume examine transnationalization of culture of Japan in Asia in the domain of drama, music, and arts. The contributors generate questions as they develop the themes of the hybrid and the reactionary, and the localizing and accommodating in the film and the arts. Indexed.
  • Spirits of the Place: Buddhism and Lao Religious Culture by John Clifford Holt. Spirits of the Place is a rare and timely contribution to our understanding of religious culture in Laos and Southeast Asia. Most often studied as a part of Thai, Vietnamese, or Khmer history, Laos remains a terra incognita to many. John Holt's new book brings this fascinating nation into focus. With its overview of Lao Buddhism and analysis of how shifting political power - from royalty to democracy to communism - has impacted Lao religious culture, the book offers an integrated account of the entwined political and religious history of Laos from the 14th century to the contemporary era.
  • South Koreans in the Debt Crisis: The Creation of a Neoliberal Welfare Society by Jesook Song. South Koreans in the Debt Crisis is a detailed examination of the logic underlying the neoliberal welfare state that South Korea created in response to the devastating Asian Debt Crisis (1997-2001). Jesook Song argues that while the government proclaimed that it would guarantee all South Koreans a minimum standard of living, it prioritised assisting those citizens perceived as embodying the neoliberal ideals of employability, flexibility, and self-sufficiency. Song demonstrates that the government was not alone in drawing distinctions between the "deserving" and the "undeserving" poor. Progressive intellectuals, activists, and organisations also participated in the neoliberal reform project. Song traces the circulation of neoliberal concepts throughout South Korean society, among government officials, the media, intellectuals, NGO members, and educated underemployed people working in public works programs. She analyses the embrace of partnerships between NGOs and the government, the frequent invocation of a pervasive decline in family values, the resurrection of conservative gender norms and practices, and the promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to survival. Drawing on her experience during the crisis as an employee in a public works programme in Seoul, Song provides an ethnographic assessment of the efforts of the state and civilians to regulate social insecurity, instability, and inequality through assistance programs. She focuses specifically on efforts to help two populations deemed worthy of state subsidies: the "IMF homeless," people temporarily homeless but considered employable, and the "new intellectuals," young adults who had become professionally redundant during the crisis but had the high-tech skills necessary to lead a transformed post-crisis South Korea.
  • Reorienting Global Communication: Indian and Chinese Media Beyond Borders edited by Michael Curtin and Hemant Shah. Emphasising the global nature of Indian and Chinese films, television and digital media, this book provides a diverse mix of alternative perspectives that collectively shift the discussion of media globalisation away from Hollywood and New York. Fourteen individually referenced essays cover topics such as the influence of Bollywood productions, the rise of made-in-China blockbusters, the development of pan-Asian cinema, and migrants' use of the Internet to maintain connections with their homelands. Indexed.
  • Ethnic Relations And Nation Building: The Way Forward edited by Maya Khemlani David and James Mclellan et al.. Most of these 13 papers by social scientists of different disciplines were given at the 2008 conference at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Based on research or experience in Malaysia, and also in Thailand and Myanmar, many problems of nation-building are addressed and also related to everyday situations and forward planning. The papers are grouped as dealing with: the search for National Identity, using work done in Malaysia; Ethnic Identity of Minorities, using work done in: Burma with Rohingya, Karen and Shan-related minorities; with Hill Tribes in North Thailand; with children of Bidayuh-Indian marriages in Sarawak; and with Malaysian Indians. The third section on National Integration explores several of Malaysia's areas of ethnic sensitivity and perceptions of otherness - including politeness (and or its opposite) in the Malaysian Parliament. Index.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Asian Art Titles from Selections 102

The latest issue of our catalogue of new titles, Selections, has been released. This is a selection of titles from Selections 102 on Asian art:
  • Ramayana in Focus: Visual and Performing Arts in Asia by Gauri Parimoo Krishnan. This, the first volume from the Asian Civilisations Museum new research and publications unit, is a substantial account of the Ramayana as presented in the visual and performing arts of Asia. Twenty-one specialists reflect on the purpose and presence of Ramayana in the literary, visual, and performing traditions. The final four essays look at its place and presentation in contemporary culture and media. With illustrations from many sources, bibliographies and index.
  • Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas: Tibetan Manuscripts, Paintings and Sculptures of Dolpo by Amy Heller, Amy. In 1999, a hidden library was found in the Nesar Temple at a remote village of Bicher, in Dolpo, Nepal. It contains more than six hundred volumes of Tibetan manuscripts, ranging in date from the late 11th to the early 16th century. This library in many ways constitutes a cultural history of Dolpo in this period thanks to some sixty volumes with historical prefaces explaining the commission of the manuscripts for the Nesar Temple, while more than one hundred other volumes have illuminations of the scenes of the life of the Buddha and episodes from the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) texts. These illuminations inform us about the donors, their costumes, their Buddhist rituals while the dedications tell us about the systems of patronage and donation. Some illuminations reflect the ancient manuscripts of Tabo and Tholing, others reflect the sophisticated Newar aesthetic of Kathmandu and all these diverse tendencies reached Dolpo where they were appreciated. By studying these texts within and examining the styles of the manuscript illuminations, Amy Heller was able to shed light on the history of this remote Tibetan enclave, the spread of Buddhism in the Himalayas and its artistic legacy. The manuscripts, sculptures and mural paintings discovered in Dolpo are the concrete expression of the complex economic, political, artistic and religious interactions between the people of Dolpo and their neighbours in India, Nepal, and Tibet.
  • Modern Chinese Art: The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection - Revised and Expanded. Khoan and Michael Sullivan began collecting modern Chinese painting in Sichuan in western China in the 1940s, and their collection has developed over the course of more than half a century to include paintings by the principle artists of late 20th-century China, as well as works by a new generation. Many of the works presented in this complete catalogue were given to the Sullivans by the artists themselves, so that this is at once a work of scholarship and a record of many friendships. This edition has been revised and extended to incorporate new works collected since this book was first published in 2001, and an updated further reading section.
  • Islamic Art: The Past and Modern by Nuzhat Kazmi. Islamic Art is a product of certain forceful factors that created a cultural milieu which was centred on the religious ethos and intellectual affinities inspired by Islam and its followers. This lavishly illustrated book looks at the artistic output of the Islamic civilization through the centuries, from the time of its inception to its interpretations in the contemporary world. The material is organised into: Art of Painting; Art of Calligraphy; Art of Carpet and Textile Weaving; Decorative Islamic Arts; Art of Architecture; Islamic Arts and the Modern World; and Major Dynasties.
  • Gao Xingjian by Gao Xingjian. The 2000 Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Beijing-born Gao Xingjian (b. 1940) is also a notable playwright and painter in Chinese ink. An essay introduces his oeuvre and career which since 1983 has largely been in Europe. Fifty of his ink paintings on canvas or paper are reproduced. Many feature the solitary man theme for which his earlier paintings were noted. With chronology of exhibitions.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Distribution Partner: Kechara Media & Publications

Select Books is pleased to announce that we have been appointed the exclusive distributor in Singapore for Kechara Media & Publications.

Kechara Media & Publications (KMP) is a Malaysian publishing house. Established in 2005 under the spiritual guidance of His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, KMP’s vision is to bring the ancient wisdom of Buddhist teachings into the context of modern contemporary living thereby appealing to a very wide spectrum of readers. KMP’s imprints in both English and Chinese cover broad genres ranging from serious Dharma to lifestyle to biography, with the common thread of personal development which inspires, transforms and benefits others.

Here is a selection of three recent titles from Kechara:


Vajrayogini and other Sacred Power Places in Nepal was inspired by H. E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche when he took 61 people on a whirlwind pilgrimage to Nepal. This book is an account of the amazing spiritual journey with each temple and holy site beautifully captured on camera along with Tsem Rinpoche's powerful explanations and stories. The principle pilgrimage sites which the pilgrims were privileged to visit consisted of ancient caves and temples related to the Tantric deity called Vajrayogini, the Mahasiddha Naropa and his Guru, Tilopa. There are many photographs particularly of the ancient and sacred Vajrayogini statues that have never been seen in print - in fact, most of these sites are not even mentioned in the usual guidebooks. It is hoped that this book will serve to inspire intrepid spiritual seekers who wish to make their own spiritual journey to discover the ancient world of Vajrayogini.

The first book of its kind, Gurus for Hire, Enlightenment for Sale provides an insider’s guide to the precarious Guru-disciple relationship. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche explains with great clarity the meaning of spiritual practice in the context of our contemporary world and how we can apply it in our everyday lives. He also addresses the myths surrounding spiritual practice, Gurus, Dharma centres and the political games that are played behind closed temple doors. Gurus for Hire, Enlightenment for Sale has received international acclaim from renowned personalities.

Tsongkhapa: A Simple Guide to A Powerful Practice contains the concise history, benefits and commentary on the Guru Yoga practice of Lama Tsongkhapa. With his characteristically down-to-earth style, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche explains this extremely powerful practice in a step-by-step guide, which is clear, easy to understand and practice for even the most novice practitioners. This practice is especially suited for lay people with contemporary lifestyles, who are always busy and who have many responsibilities, often juggling between work and family. It helps to clear illness, lighten depression, reduce loneliness and bring harmony, stability and peace to our homes. With the correct motivation, this practice is a wish-fulfilling jewel and will make our aspirations come true.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Books on International Relations in Asia

Here are recent additions to our collection of books on International Relations in Asia:
  • International Relations in Southeast Asia: Between Bilateralism and Multilateralism edited by N. Ganesan and Ramses Amer. These 12 specialists' papers are the fruit of workshops held in 2007 in Hiroshima and 2008 in Kuala Lumpur. They explore the role and relevance of bilateralism and multilateralism in Southeast Asia's ongoing policies and issues. General issues and theories of international relations are discussed in Part 1. Four case studies of mainland Southeast Asian countries' relations are in Part 2 and five of Marine Southeast Asian countries in Part 3. Many barriers which hamper multicultural developments and preferences for traditional bilateral national arrangements are highlighted. With bibliographies and index.
  • Connecting & Distancing: Southeast Asia and China edited by Ho Khai Leong. Connecting" and "distancing" have been two prominent themes permeating the writings on the historical and contemporary developments of the relationship between Southeast Asia and China. As neighbours, the nation-states in Southeast Asia and the giant political entity in the north communicated with each other through a variety of diplomatic overtures, political agitations, and cultural nuances. In the last two decades with the rise of China as an economic powerhouse in the region, Southeast Asia's need to connect with China has become more urgent and necessary as it attempts to reap the benefit from the successful economic modernisation in China. At the same time, however, there were feelings of ambivalence, hesitation and even suspicions on the part of the Southeast Asian states vis-à-vis the rise of a political power which is so less understood or misunderstood. The contributors of this volume are authors of various disciplinary backgrounds: history, political science, economics and sociology. They provide a spectrum of perspectives by which the readers can view Sino-Southeast Asia relations.
  • Asia's New Multilateralism: Cooperation, Competition, and the Search for Community edited by Michael J. Green and Bates Gill. Traditionally, stability in Asia has relied on America's bilateral alliances with Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea. Yet in recent years, emergent and more active multilateral forums - such as the Six-Party Talks on North Korea and the East Asia Summit - have taken precedence, engendering both cooperation and competition while reflecting the local concerns of the region. Some are concerned that this process is moving toward less-inclusive, bloc-based "talking shops" and that the future direction and success of these arrangements, along with their implications for global and regional security and prosperity, remain unclear. The fifteen contributors to this volume provide national perspectives on regional institutional architecture and their functional challenges. They illuminate areas of cooperation that will move the region toward substantive collaboration, convergence of norms, and strengthened domestic institutions. They also highlight the degree to which institution building in Asia has become an arena for competition among major powers and conflicting norms, and assess the future shape of Asian security architecture.
  • Theorizing Southeast Asian Relations: Emerging Debates edited by Amitav Acharya and Richard Stubbs. The recent proliferation of theories of international relations has transformed analyses of Southeast Asia's international affairs. A new generation of scholars has promoted a lively and illuminating debate which has seen the traditional realist/neorealist approach, which continues to hold centre stage, challenged by constructivist analyses. In turn, constructivists have found themselves under fire from an array of competing approaches. This collection engages this emerging debate. It underscores the point that Southeast Asia is now an important site for applying new theories of international relations. It also demonstrates that theoretical frameworks originally developed in North America and Europe have to be adapted to the specific circumstances found in places like Southeast Asia and that this process can enrich theory building. The chapters in this book focus on the realist/neorealist, constructivist, English School and critical approaches. The resulting debate helps to shed light on ways of analysing Southeast Asian relations as well as on the evolution of these key theoretical frameworks.
  • Asean-India-Australia: Towards Closer Engagement in a New Asia edited by William T. Tow and Chin Kin Wah. India's emergence as a great power has sensitised its regional neighbours to its growing role as a key security actor in an increasingly interdependent world. Both Australia and ASEAN now view India as a major player in the formulation and application of their own broad security agendas. This emerging trilateral compendium is particularly evident in such policy areas as maritime security, climate change, energy security, law enforcement, "good governance" and the politics of security institutions or "architectures". This book represents one of the first systematic efforts to consolidate these diverse but important concerns into an overarching framework for ascertaining and cross-comparing how these three entities are approaching these policy challenges, individually and collectively. It argues that the dynamics underlying their intensifying security relations are sufficiently important to conceptualise them as a distinct analytical framework that needs to be understood in the larger context of Asia-Pacific security politics.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Books on China's History, Culture, Art and Society

Here is a list of recent additions to our collection of books on China, covering areas such as China's history, culture, politics, economics, society, art and more:
  • The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard Mcgregor. Based on the author's life and work in China which includes 2000-2008 as Beijing bureau chief of the Financial Times, this discussion of China's power structure offers informed insights into the contemporary functioning of the Communist Party's leadership and structure. The nature of the Party's grip, its secrecy, business involvements, commercial moguls, its policies on corruption, the media and free markets, its tolerance, and intolerance in selected local and international issues, and approach to economic changes are all addressed with respect as well as clear-sighted criticism. With photographs, references and index.
  • The Undaunted Women of Nanking: The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-Fang by Hua-Ling Hu and Zhang Lian-Hong. During the infamous "Rape of Nanking," a brutal military occupation of Nanking, China, that began in December 1937, it is estimated that Japanese soldiers killed between 200,000 and 300,000 Chinese and raped between 20,000 and 80,000 women. In response to the atrocities, a group of westerners organised the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone and attempted to shelter refugees. Among these humanitarian heroes was Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary and acting president of Ginling College. She and Tsen Shui-fang, her Chinese assistant turned the college into a refugee camp. Even though both women were exhausted mentally and physically from caring for so many, they kept detailed diaries during the massacre. The Undaunted Women of Nanking juxtaposes the two women's wartime diaries day-by-day from December 8, 1937, through March 1, 1938. Both diaries provide vital eyewitness accounts of the Rape of Nanking and are unique in their focus on the Ginling refugee camp and the sufferings of women and children. Tsen Shui-fang's diary is the only known daily account by a Chinese national written during the crisis and not retrospectively. It has never before been published in English, and this is its first translation. Editors Hua-ling Hu and Zhang Lian-hong have added many informative annotations to the diary entries from sources including the proceedings of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial of 1946, Vautrin's correspondence, John Rabe's diary, and other historical documents. Also included are biographical sketches of the two women, a note on the diaries, and information about the aftermath of the tragedy, as well as maps and photos - some of which appear in print here for the first time.
  • Interpreting China's Economy by Gregory C. Chow. This book is unique in covering all important topics of the Chinese economy in depth but written in a language understandable to the layman and yet challenging to the expert. Beginning with entrepreneurship that propels the dynamic economic changes in China today, the book is organised into four broad parts to discuss China's economic development, to analyse significant economic issues, to recommend economic policies and to comment on the timely economic issues in the American economy for comparison. Unlike a textbook, the discussion is original and thought provoking. It is written by a most distinguished economist who has studied the Chinese economy for 30 years, after making breathtaking contributions to the fields of econometrics, applied economics and dynamic economics and serving as a major adviser to the government of Taiwan during its period of rapid development in the 1960s and 1970s. In the last 30 years, the author has served as a major adviser to the government of China on economic reform and important economic policies and cooperated with the Ministry of Education to introduce and promote the development of modern economics in China, including training hundreds of economists in China and placing many graduate students to pursue a doctoral degrees in economics in leading universities in the US and Canada. These graduates now play pivotal roles in China and in the US in academics, business or government institutions.
  • Social Cohesion in Greater China: Challenges for Social Policy and Governance edited by Ka Ho Mok and Yeun-Wen Ku. This book critically examines the issues and challenges of social development faced by societies in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, with particular reference to the major strategies these societies adopt to promote social cohesion and civil harmony in the context of globalisation. It focuses on people who have been socially marginalised by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, and examines the measures Greater China has adopted to balance economic growth with social development. The book will be of interest to readers who wish to know more about societies in Mainland China, and the effects of globalisation.
  • Art of the Natural World: Resonances of Wild Nature in Chinese Sculptural Art by Richard Rosenblum and Valerie C. Doran. Prized for over a millennium by Chinese literati, scholars' rocks - stones sculpted by the elements into evocative, richly textured miniature landscapes - have been objects of contemplation and inspiration. This elegantly designed volume offers a meditation by the noted artist and collector Richard Rosenblum on the philosophy and spirit of Chinese natural art, from scholars' rocks to objects in wood, metal, and ceramic - as well as works sculpted to replicate natural art. Rosenblum also engages the wider philosophical issues these works raise - about artistic perception, the context of an art object, and what ultimately constitutes a work of art. Centuries before Duchamp's snow shovel first appeared in a gallery, Chinese natural art was challenging received notions about artistic creation and response. A book for scholars, artists, and thinkers alike, Art of the Natural World is an indispensable commentary on the art of nature and the nature of art.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Published Title: Religious Pluralism in Democratic Societies

We are pleased to announce the publication of our latest book. Religious Pluralism in Democratic Societies: Challenges and Prospects for Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States in the New Millennium is a co-publication with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Malaysian Association for American Studies. It is a re-print of the original volume, which was published in 2007.

The editor of the volume, K.S. Nathan, is Professor and Head of the Centre for American Studies in the Institute of Occidental Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He is also the current president of the Malaysian Association for American Studies. Professor Nathan was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya between 1982-1984, and was also a Visiting Scholar at several leading academic and research institutes, including Harvard University, USSR Academy of Sciences and ISEAS.

The 14 papers in this volume were originally given at the 2002 Kuala Lumpur conference of the Malaysian Association for American Studies. They critically examine the concept of religious pluralism in democratic societies, in the context of globalisation, and the challenges and prospects for Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States.

Part 1 deals with characteristics, problems and challenges of religious diversity and coexistence in Southeast Asia and the United States, and how immigration has played a key role in contributing to multiculturalism and religious coexistence.

Part 2 focuses on the growing problems and challenges of religious diversity in Europe.

Part 3 attempts to link democracy and the separation of religion and state to the problems and prospects for conflict resolution in increasingly pluralistic environments.

The Conclusion offers some perspectives and proposals for multi-religious coexistence under conditions of globalisation in the post-September 11 era.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Distribution Title: Singapore version 2.0

One of the recent addition to our distribution is a book by well-known Singaporean socio-political blogger and political activist Gerald Giam. His blog is here.

Gerald Giam has served as a foreign service officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is currently a senior consultant with a global technology services provider. He is a member of the Workers’ Party of Singapore, and was recently elected into the Workers’ Party’s Central Executive Committee.

Singapore version 2.0 is a comprehensive take on the important public issues of the day. Written with heartfelt honesty and candour, it examines and offers refreshing perspectives on the issues that affect Singaporeans. Author Gerald Giam also relates his personal journey from being a civil servant to a blogger and political party activist.

The foreword is by Sylvia Lim, Chairman of the Workers’ Party.