Back to PaulvanderVelde.nlNew Developments in Asian Studies




The eighteen contributions to this book concern the world of Asia albeit in a highly diverse sense. The articles range from Gujarat to the mountains of western Japan and from Tibet to Madagascar. They cover a time-scale from tenth century China to the present situation in the Pacific Rim and they deal with such political issues as minority rights and legal reforms, and analyses of the academic discourse in Asia. All the articles were written by scholars affiliated with the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS).


No major Asian nation-state is without its minority groups, which have fought to maintain their identities and often succeeded. This section contains a review of one such successful strategy and a more general, theoretical consideration of the problem of minorities. Barend ter Haar, in 'A New Interpretation of the Yao Charters', discusses these charters, which are often in the form of beautifully illustrated scrolls, preserved by the people of the Yao culture of southern China. These scrolls contain at least one or two narratives, which tell of the northern origins of the first Yao groups and legitimate their exemption from taxes and corvée labour. Chinese scholars (both Hah and Yao) take quite literally the claims that these documents were donated by past emperors. They even use them as straightforward historical sources of the early history of the Yao. In his article, Ter Haar argues that these documents were actually composed by the Yao themselves on the basis of orally transmitted mythology in order to create a positive identity vis-a-vis the Han Chinese. The charters use the format of historiography because this was (and perhaps still is) the dominant mode of self-legitimation in the Chinese sphere of influence. In his article 'Can Kymlicka's Liberal Theory of Minority Rights be Applied in East Asia', Baogang He examines and questions this theory in the context of the East Asian experience· Kymlicka's theory of minority rights justifies and defends the institutionalization of internal boundaries between communities in a nation-state, and, consequently the right of national minorities to refuse assimilation into a larger society· Baogang He reviews the main ideas of Kymlicka's theory and, in testing it, describes minority policies in East Asia as a basis for discussion. The question of whether this conceptualization of minority rights is appropriate in the East Asian context is examined. Another aim is to explore whether the inherent notion of justice in Kymlicka's theory is comparable to the Confucian notion of justice. Finally the topic is used to test the strengths and limits as well as the applicability and implications of Kymlicka's theory.


The next three contributions on China-proper all deal with history, the latter of the three being concerned with the question of sinology and sinologists. In his contribution, 'Historical Consciousness in China: Some Notes on Six Theses on Chinese Historiography and Historical Thought', Achim Mittag takes a fresh look at six theses inspired by Chinese historiography and the Chinese sense of the past. These include: the often repeated view that the Chinese have valued a backward-looking attitude; the notion of compartmental- ized time, which has been considered a hindrance to the development of · historical consciousness; the time-honoured idea of history as a 'mirror'; the assertion that Chinese historiography was confined to chronography; the view that Chinese historiography functioned as 'a guide to bureaucratic practices'; and the notion of 'tyranny' of history. In his concluding remarks, Mittag introduces and briefly discusses a new theoretical approach to writing history and historical thought in a comparative perspective. Angela Schottenhammer, whose contribution on 'Politics and Morality in Song China: Sima Guang as a Typical Example', explains the functioning of the ideological transition from the field of politics to morality within a political dispute and argumentation. She begins by describing the historical, political, and ideological background of Song China which was characterized by the emergence of new political and ideological concepts. The particular battle which captures her attention was that of the factions of the reformer Wang Anshi and those of Sima Guang, who clashed on the question of what the best and most appropriate way was to guarantee political and economic stability, and the unity of the empire. To prove themselves right, Song officials used a very specific argumentation originally put forward by Sima Guang. This example could just as well be applied to modem China and in fact has been one of the uses of Chinese history as Mittag has shown in his article. This leads to
the intriguing question of who the present-day Wang Anshi is and who is accorded the role of Sima Guang. Hans Hagerdal contributes an article entitled 'Why Sinologists Look East: An Essay on the Prosopography of Sinology'. He applies a prosopographical approach to the study of Western sinologists as a group of individuals pursuing a profession. Hagerdal draws inspiration from a wide range of sources: state-of- the-art studies, obituaries, autobiographies, and interviews. A number of themes, which are essential for the development of the profession, are exam- ined. This is then placed in the wider perspective of academic traditions and the temporal aspect of change. The first which springs to mind is the meaning of China and Chinese culture in the environment in which the sinologists work. This highlights the difficulties in gaining physical and mental access to the object of study. The scene having been set, the spotlight turns to patterns dis- cernible in the initiation phase of the scholars: why China? Though purely academic interest has become an increasingly decisive factor among sinologists in their choice of the field, other factors should not be overlooked. The next step is to survey the personal characteristics of the sinologists. Hagerdal inves- tigates issues relating to their educational and inspirational background and foregrounds the problem of an intellectual genealogy and the pros and cons of a strong scholarly tradition. Hagerdal hypothesizes that the relation between the profession of sinology and Western political interest in general is less clear-cut than is often presumed. Strong national intellectual traditions in the field of sinology have prevailed thus far, but now these seem to have reached a stage of modification, submitting themselves to the influence of the internationalization of research.


Leaving history behind, the next three contributors bring us directly to present- day China, examining such pertinent topics as economic modernization, migration, and law reform. In her article 'Qiaoxiang Ties and China's Economic Modernization', Cen Huang gives a review of the current studies on overseas Chinese, with a specific focus on the relationships between qiaoxiang (home town) and China's fast growing transnational economy. Qiaoxiang ties, in a broad sense, represent complex social, political, cultural, and economic relationships between overseas Chinese and their ancestral homeland - China. They derive from 'traditional' modes of organization among Chinese migrants, which have persisted for centuries. During the past two decades, large amounts of foreign capital have flowed into China and there is a widespread belief that the majority of this capital was introduced or invested by overseas Chinese· Qiaoxiang ties have played an important role in the creation of the economic miracle in South China. Nurtured by the qiaoxiang phenomenon, a transnational economy has been emerging in South China since the late 1980s. Huang focuses on three themes: qiaoxiang ties and Chinese societal networks; overseas Chinese remittances and foreign investment; and entrepeneurship and China's economic modernization. The theme of Carinc Guerassimoffs article on 'Legal and Illegal Mainland Chinese Emigration During the 1990s' is the new Chinese migration from the People's Republic of China since the end of the 1980s. She argues that the Chinese government is doing its best to control and organize the new flow of migrants, but the movement is growing so fast that illegal networks remain as important as before. Yong Zhang examines the history and recent development of the Chinese administrative penalty system in comparison with Japanese and Taiwanese laws in his article, 'The Development of the Chinese Administrative Penalty System: A Comparative Perspective with Japanese and Taiwanese Law'. In contrast to the Japanese and Taiwanese administrative penalty systems, which developed under the principle of the separation of state powers and the rule of law, the Chinese administrative system has developed under the principle of concentration of state powers and the Chinese-style of the rule of law, which means that in the past as well as in the present the administrative power occupies a position of substantial supremacy. Against the background of the internationalization of the Chinese economy, the Chinese administrative penalty system faced the problem of matching Western standards. The legislation contained in the Chinese Administrative Penalty Act is an effort to make a rapprochement. Although the new legislation has improved the former situation in the power of creating administrative penalties and the procedure for imposing administrative penalty, these improvements have their own limitations. The most acute of these restrictions affects personal freedom. The Chinese legislators were not in a position to remove the vested power for creating administrative penalties from the hands of the Executive, and administrative penalties affecting personal freedom could not be abolished nor could the newly introduced system of court hearings be applied to administrative penalty regarding personal freedom. The short and simple answer to this conundrum is that the legislation has to be carried out within the framework of current Chinese constitutional principles.


Turning south to Indonesia, the discussions fall into two highly opposing categories for modern Indonesia: Islam and regionalism.
In his contribution on the 'Role of Islam in Contemporary Indonesia: Search for a New Social Paradigm', Dilip Chandra analyses the developments within Islamic movements and organizations themselves and then contrasts this to the government's momentous step in 1985 introducing Pancasila (the Five Principles) as the sole basis for all socio-political organizations. The crux of this argument is that though this historic step led to a formal end of the ideological struggle in Indonesia, which included the struggle for an Islamic state, it simultaneously opened up new possibilities for the Islamic organizations to channel the aspirations of the Islamic community (Ummat). The post-1985 period has been marked by a growing rapport between the government and the new Islamic leadership, whose summit was reached by the creation of the lkatan Cendekiawan Muslim Se-lndonesia (ICMI, the indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association) by the government in December 1990. Chandra analyses the major events which led to the declaration of Pancasila then focuses on its impact on the Islamic struggle. His conclusion is that although there is a favourable climate for greater unity within the Ummat at present, there has also been a major shift in the struggle of the Urnmat concerning its aims. The current Islamic struggle is now more preoccupied with the application of Islamic cultural values and social norms in society, rather than with the creation of an Islamic state. Using the academic debate on globalization as an introductory framework, Jeroen Peeters discusses the lndonesian book trade in 'Islamic Book Publishers in Indonesia: A Social Network Analysis'. Proceeding chronologically, he offers a detailed discussion of Islamic publishers working under the Sukarno regime. Their fortunes initially declined under the New Order rule of Soeharto. The healthy state of the industry which lasted until recently, typified by the publishing house of Mizan of Bandung, contrasts sharply with the struggles endured in the early days of the Republic by those who did their utmost to propagate religious knowledge.


The contrast between ethnicity and nationalism has always been a delicate issue in Indonesia. The two following articles offer a historical perspective. One deals with colonial times, the other with a contemporary author. The article by Edwin Wieringa, entitled 'Another Document from the Funeral Pyre: The Suluk Aspiya or Suluk Endracatur by Raden Mas Atmasutirta', is about Pakubuwana IV's quest for the secret wisdom to help him exercise his statecraft. A close reading of the text shows that it has little to do either with mysticism or history. The story is perhaps best characterized as a 'satire' on Pakubuwana IV (r. 1788-1820). In his Babad Pakepung, Yasadipura had sharply critized Pakubuwana IV for not having listened to his court poet. Atmasutira, ill his poem was probably seeking more official court recognition for its poets. In his contribution ' "Because I am a Malay" Taufik Ikram Jamil between Nation and Region', Will Derks discusses some of the main tendencies in modern Indonesian literature by focusing on the work of the Indonesian author Taufik Ikram Jamil. Taufik is a Malay in his early thirties, living and working as a journalist as well as a literary author in Pekanbaru, the capital of the lndonesian province of Riau. Although not yet well known, Taufik seems to be a promising young author of a great many poems, short stories, and essays. Derks shows that Taufik is by any claim a national author in whose work some of the main tendencies in modern Indonesian literature concerning the vicissitudes of the state and the nation are reflected. The clues are in its pasemon character, its inclination to play 'the game with the censor', its penchant for the absurd and its reticence, among others. Having said this, it has to be admitted that Taufik's work also reveals a strong tendency to emphasize regional Malay concerns rather than national Indonesian preoccupations. This expression of a desire to 'turn inward', as well as some reasons for this desire, are discussed at length. Derks shows that Taufik holds an ambivalent position 'between nation and region', and ends by suggesting that such an ambivalence may be characteristic of other young writers in Indonesia today.


The next three contributions are taken from South India, Madagascar, and Tibet, all looking at colonial myths which were once propagated to shore up the interests of colonial governments, and then proceed to deconstruct them. 'Indian Languages in the Modernization Discourse in Colonial India' is the contribution of E. Annamalai. In it he describes the nature and extent of encoding the modern ideology in Indian languages, especially Tamil, lexically and semantically. As one of the sources for language modernization is cultural contact, this article describes the dissemination process of modern ideology identified with the European Enlightenment which began in India in the nineteenth century. The process is a mosaic of varying motivations of the colonial rulers and negotiations of the Indian subjects in disseminating and appropriating modern ideology, each to their own ends. Education, having been imparted through the medium of English to the upper segments of Indian society, did not, the author contends, turn out to be the primary source by which Indian languages were modernized. Publications in Indian languages by the bilingual intelligentsia, who had access to English education, were, however, such a source. Thus language modernization followed societal modernization at the ideological level. In a theoretical framework which distinguishes between linguistic affiliation, assimilation, and differentiation of modem ideas, the article shows general semantic shifts in Tamil, illustrating assimilation and semantic differentiation as a way to create new meanings which are not isomorphic with the modem ideology. These would seem to suggest that a differentiated modernity was created. Both assimilating and differentiating manifestations of modernity as encoded in Indian languages are important for appreciating the issues of inter-translatability and inter-communication between Europe and Asia, even in the domain of modernity. Rafolo Andrianaivoarivony has chosen 'The Construction of the State of Madagascar in the Nineteenth Century: Archaeology of the Religious Legitimacy' as the title of his contribution. In it he addresses the question of how religious values were transformed and then used in the construction and consolidation of the kingdom of Madagascar. As of 1869, the legitimacy of power was no longer based on the values of the traditional religion but on Christianity. Although not denying the enormous impact of Christian values on modern Madagascar, Andrianaivoarivony makes clear that the ancient values of the traditional religion have not been erased completely. 'Tibet: The Myth of Isolation', by Alex McKay, examines the popular image of pre-communist Tibet as a remote and inaccessible land and demonstrates that this image was deliberately cultivated for political purposes by Tibet itself and its Chinese and British patrons. The Tibetan government wished to maintain Tibet's isolation in order to protect its Buddhist system, and the Chinese (and later the British) co-operated with this policy to protect their own influence in Lhasa. In fact, the harsh climatic and physical conditions were the main barrier for Europeans wishing to travel there. Officials of the government of India and wealthy individuals who supported the British imperial government were routinely permitted to enter Tibet. Up to 2,000 Europeans entered Tibet in the first half of this century and even after the Younghusband Mission to Lhasa in 1903-4, more then 80 travelled to Lhasa. Neighbouring states such as Mongolia and Bhutan were far more isolated from European visitors.


The last three contributions range from the environment, to music, to the formation of modern supra-state organizations. Hunting, a very sensitive issue in many countries, is the topic of John Knight's 'The Debate on Hunting in Present-day Japan'. He focuses on the various criticisms levelled at hunting and on the way in which Japanese hunters respond to these criticisms. One of the key differences between hunting in the Japanese context and hunting in other urban-industrial societies is the Buddhist emphasis on the wrongful character of lifetaking. Despite the official recognition of contemporary Japanese hunting as a sport, hunters themselves recognize its life taking (and precept-breaking) character by ritually commemorating the souls of the animals hunted. Recreational hunting in Japan, it is argued, is caught in a rhetorical debate, whereby it cannot be straightforwardly defined either as a safe sport or as justifiable killing, but is left as an unstable, morally dubious activity. This discussion of Japanese hunting draws upon ethnographic study of hunting among the mountain villagers on the Kii Peninsula. western Japan. For the wider national debate on hunting, it also draws from the database of the newspaper, Asahi Shinbun. Music is the theme chosen by Francoise Delvoye who writes about 'Music Patronage in the Sultanate of Gujarat: A Survey of Sources'. She presents a survey of sources on some aspects of the cultural policy of the sultans of Gujarat (1407-1573), paying particular attention to their music patronage which should be seen within the wider framework of a project she is conducting on the Social and Literary History of Court-Musicians in Western India. 14th-18th Century. Still today, the artistic heritage of Gujarat reflects the importance of artistic patronage in medieval western India. Delvoye demonstrates the importance of written historiographical, musico- logical, and literary sources drawn from a range of literary genres in various languages in the period of the sultans of the Muzaffarid Dynasty, founded by Zafar Khan in 1407. In a case study of the eminent poet-composer Nilyak Bakhshu, whose compositions where compiled on the orders of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahfin (r. 1627-58) and who has left us with an invaluable corpus of lyrics, Delvoye unravels facets of the socio-cultural court history of medieval India which add a documentary interest to the literary value. Gwyn Campbell, in his contribution on 'The Indian Ocean Rim (IOR): Economic Association: A Giant in the Making?', examines the rise of and prospects for a major new economic grouping: the IOR. The region possesses a long history of trade links, owing to its unique combination of relatively populous and resource-endowed littorals aided and abetted by the interplay of the monsoons and currents which facilitated trans-oceanic transport. This fortuitous conjunction is reflected in the emergence of the Indian and other · trade diasporas. The advent of steam power and European colonialism from circa 1870, followed by the cold war. and the Apartheid in South Africa, destroyed the existing Asia-African trade networks. The abolishment of Apartheid cleared the way for a renewal of economic relations in the region in the early 1990s. First mooted in 1993, the idea of an economic association of Indian Ocean countries quickly gathered momentum and. in March 1997. the IOR association with an initial fourteen members was officially constituted.

Although it faces problems in terms of economic disparity and a potentially large membership, the IOR also has a number of advantages. The diversity of its resource base and of its component economies makes for complimentarities which, given the huge population and fast-developing economies of Southeast Asia. create the potential for large-scale economies and thus for rapid economic growth across the region. This in turn could transform the 1OR into the first intercontinental association of the 'South', in contrast to the ASEAN for example, capable of bargaining with currently existing regional associations and world economic institutions of the 'North' (EU, 1MF) in order to counter North-South economic domination and create a more balanced global economy. These eighteen articles offer a kaleidoscope of issues in Asian Studies reflecting the research interests of the IIAS. Many of the articles have implicit comparative dimensions which clearly exceed the dimensions of mere case- studies.

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