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.

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