Thursday, August 18, 2011

Books on Civil Society and NGOs in Asia

These are several titles that we stock that examine the roles that civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) play in Asian countries:

The Aware Saga: Civil Society and Public Morality in Singapore edited by Terence Chong. In March 2009, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) was briefly taken over by a Christian faction. Their coup was overturned within a matter of weeks, but the episode highlighted a variety of issues, including the role of religion in civil society, sex education, homosexuality, state intervention and media engagement. Although the immediate issue was control of an activist group concerned with women's rights, it has implications for the agendas and concerns of NGOs, 'culture wars', the processes of citizenry mobilisation, mass participation and noisy democracy, and liberal voices in contemporary Singapore. In this book, academics and public intellectuals examine the AWARE saga within the context of Singapore's civil society, considering the political and historical background and how the issues it raised relate to contemporary societal trends. In addition to documenting a milestone event for Singapore's civil society, the authors offer provocative interpretations that will interest a broad range of readers.

State and Civil Society: The Chinese Perspective edited by Deng Zhenglai. In this volume, the second in a projected series on Developing China, 15 senior Chinese scholars offer their perspectives and analyses on many issues of state and civil society in China. These included aspects of the relevance and applicability of some of the historical and empirical work done using global and Western perspectives. Part One offers theoretical reflections on concepts of Civil Society in China. The papers in Part Two incorporate historical research and those in Part Three look at some modern developments in the country's Civil Society. Index.

Listening to Voices from Inside: Myanmar Civil Society's Response to Cyclone Nargis. This book uses the experience of responding to Cyclone Nargis tragedy as a way to stock take the current state of civil society in Myanmar, and to understand how it has changed as a result of this significant event. It highlights the perspectives of civil society leaders who live and work in Myanmar, and seeks to contribute to the increasing debate on how to address Myanmar's political challenges. It is organised into three parts: Analysing the Impact of Cyclone Nargis on Civil Society in Myanmar; Listening to Local Voices: Narratives; and External Perspectives.

Working for Democracy: Footprints from Civil Society in Malaysia. The work of five Malaysian NGOs active in connection with poverty, education, youth activism, religious freedom and with women's rights is discussed. Light is shed on the ongoing needs of Tamil women in the plantation sector, and on strategies to improve the care and education of poor pre-school Tamil estate children. A youth-based study shows the nature of and need for youth-based political involvement. Two other studies highlight the need for careful strategies in approaching gender/religion issues and for well-prepared dialogue. Many issues for thought and action are raised.

Recolonisation: Foreign Funded NGOs In Sri Lanka by Susantha Soonatilake. Foreign-funded NGOs can have far-reaching effects on the structure and existing life patterns of the receiving countries. This often-outspoken and provocative study of foreign-funded development activities in Sri Lanka looks at their impacts in the areas of social policies and development, human rights, international relations, and academia. Case studies are seen to demonstrate how the sometimes opaque agendas of NGOs have led to the degradation of functioning local efforts and civil society. The result is seen to be imposed recolonisation. Bibliography and index.

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