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STUDENT ACTIVISM IN ASIA: Between Protest and Powerlessness. Meredith L. Weiss and Edward Aspinall, editors. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. xii, 318 pp. (Tables.) US$75.00, cloth, ISBN 978-0- 8166-9768-3; US$25.00, paper, ISBN 978-0-8166-7969-0.
Meredith Weiss and Edward Aspinall, political scientists, have compiled a volume on “student activism” in Northeast (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong) and Southeast (Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines) Asia. In the introduction, the editors, along with Mark Thompson, define student activism as “collective action by university students directed toward…the ruling regime”(2). They argue the ten Asian case studies are held together due to mutual economic dependencies based on production cycles and capital flows. To capture the variations and patterns of this activism, they provide four analytical frameworks (the development of the higher education system, the development of student collective identities and organizations, the development of political regimes, and the diffusion of transnational ideas and practices). Their social science collaborators, then, deploy these frameworks, along with social movement theories and concepts, spanning the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Throughout the case studies, the authors develop Thompson’s “vanguard in a vacuum” thesis, tracing student activism from elite nationalist organizations under colonialism to mass-based leftist and rightist organizations under developmental regimes (authoritarian to liberal), especially in periods when social and political actors (organized labour, peasants, middle-class professionals, political parties, religious organizations) vacated the public sphere. Recognizing student mobilizations as social movements, the authors borrow a variety of concepts (political opportunity structures, collective frames, repertoires of contention, social networks) from social movement theories (resource mobilization, political process, contentious dynamics, framing and social construction), providing an uneven integration of structural and cultural analysis.
Some authors (Steinhoff on Japan, Kongkirati on Thailand, Park on South Korea, Abinales on the Philippines) highlight the zenith of contentious dynamics in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, leaving the reader searching for student practices in the globalization era. Other authors (Aspinall on Indonesia, Min on Burma) focus on constructed identities and discourse analysis during activist periods, leaving the reader searching for institutional and organizational relations that bridge the crests. Not surprisingly, authors who provide a diachronic structural and cultural analysis make for more persuasive cases (Wright on China and Taiwan, Ortmann on Hong Kong, Weiss on Malaysia).
In a concluding review of the case studies, Aspinall and Weiss discover a paradox, namely mass higher education and democratization result in the decline of student activism. With rare exception, they argue that powerful forces (the transformation of the education system, the spread of democracy, and the fading of international models) work against large-scale student mobilizations. While this may reflect current student political practices, it may also stem from the volume’s analytical assumptions.
The “student activism” definition and “vanguard in a vacuum” thesis centre the authors’ and reader’s attention on student mobilizations against state regimes. While this state-centred approach might prove fruitful under colonial and developmental regimes when civil societies were weak, it largely ignores contemporary forms of institutional domination, as civil societies and corporations strengthen under globalization. Here, student activism can shift into cyberactivism or transnational activism, collective practices that transform discourses and identities within Asian societies, beyond the historical repertoires and social spaces under review in this volume.
Despite this drawback, the volume provides a welcomed introduction to Asian student movements and a comparative perspective on European and American student movements. The analytic frameworks alone should enable social science and Asian studies students to develop a comparative agenda, promising new research on student organizations, transnational ideas and practices, and cross-societal alliances that amplify student activism. In the end, the undergraduate will discover a reference-filled resource revealing historical and contemporary facets of Asian student movements.
William A. Hayes, Gonzaga University, Spokane, USA
CHINESE AND INDIAN STRATEGIC BEHAVIOR: Growing Power and Alarm. By George J. Gilboy, Eric Heginbotham. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. xxx, 346 pp. (Tables, figures, maps.) C$35.95, paper. ISBN 978-1-107-66169-1.
In 1958, at the height of the Cold War, the noted American anthropologist, Harold Isaacs, published a book entitled Scratches on Our Minds: American Images of China and India. His work was based on a detailed analysis of popular literature cartoons and films. Not surprisingly, he showed that the images were not especially flattering and certainly lacked much nuance or sophistication.
Both at popular and academic levels, American understanding of the workings of these two complex civilizational states is much improved today. The literature in American political science, ranging from China’s domestic politics to foreign policy, is both burgeoning and sophisticated. Indeed, thanks to the works of such scholars as Thomas Christiansen, Alastair Johnson and Kenneth Lieberthal, among others, the study of China’s foreign relations as well as its domestic politics has been integrated into mainstream American political science. The study of Indian foreign policy and internal politics, for complex reasons, was long outside the principal currents of political science scholarship. They are, however, now being steadily incorporated into the discipline, as a younger generation of scholars seeks to utilize evidence drawn from the country to test key propositions or even to develop theory.
More recently, thanks to rapid economic growth first in China and then in India, a number of scholars of comparative politics have sought to examine the evolution and prospects of their economic prowess. The policy world, simultaneously, pays a great deal of attention to their significance in global politics. This can be seen from the attention that has been devoted to the role of both states in the emergent international order in the US National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends reports. Comparisons of the foreign policies of these two titanic states, however, have been few and far between. The failure to juxtapose and analyze their foreign and security policies stems in considerable part from the relative insularity of most foreign policy scholars. Barring marked exceptions, the vast majority of scholars of Chinese foreign policy have paid scant attention to questions of Indian foreign policy. Similarly, few scholars of Indian foreign policy have made any rigorous comparisons of the foreign policies of these two states.
Given the state of the literature when it comes to viable comparisons of the sources and prospects of their foreign policies, the work under review constitutes a useful departure. It seeks to carefully examine their strategic cultures, their views about the use of force, military modernization and their foreign economic policies. Despite the attempt at judicious comparison there are some important shortcomings to this analysis. At the outset, it is more than apparent that both authors have a far more supple grasp of the Chinese case than the Indian one.
Their understanding of Indian politics and strategy is mostly derivative. Indeed, reliance on such secondary sources exacts certain costs. For example, since studies of India’s strategic culture are few and far between, their reliance on the extant literature leads them to make a very superficial assertion about its putative similarities with Chinese strategic culture. For the authors to argue, with substantial accompanying evidence, that the Arthashastra, a treatise on statecraft and espionage that was written in the fourth century BC in India, has exerted any significant influence on the conduct of India’s foreign policy borders on the chimerical. They also reveal the limits of their grasp of Prime Minister Nehru’s signal contributions to India’s global role in their discussion of the early years of India’s foreign policy. Instead they trot out the jejune and tired example of India’s incorporation of the Portuguese colonial enclave of Goa as evidence of its willingness to use force despite a professed hostility to the use of force in international affairs.
In this connection it is useful to highlight that in a recent work, the American scholar, Andrew Kennedy, provides a far superior and more skilled comparison of the foreign policies of Mao and Nehru. Kennedy’s work, based upon both field and archival research, shows a far more subtle understanding of the belief systems of both leaders and how they shaped the foreign policies of their respective states.
Apart from these limitations the authors tend to conflate the relative significance of the two states in global politics. China’s per capita GDP is already over US$5,000 while India’s is barely near $1,500. China’s defense budget, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, is over $140 billion whereas India’s hovers under $50 billion. These gaps, especially if India’s economic growth falters, are likely to widen in the future. Consequently, despite some occasional convergence of interests, the two states, which have markedly different political systems, are unlikely to act in concert in a range of international forums. Accordingly, the discussion about how the implications of Chinese and Indian foreign policy choices for key US interests is mostly misplaced. India may be at odds with the US on a number of issues ranging from trade liberalization to global climate change. It may also be a contentious and fractious strategic partner. However, it lacks both the capabilities, and more importantly, the proclivity, to fundamentally challenge core American interests. Fortunately, US policy makers seem to grasp these differences, as amply evinced in the Obama administration’s “rebalancing” strategy toward Asia.
Gilboy and Heginbotham, while having produced an intriguing comparison, have also constructed an argument that simply ignores far too many obvious dissimilarities in the foreign policy interests, goals and capabilities of China and India. Their failure to adequately account for these divergent features undermines the utility of their analysis.
Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University, Bloomington & USA Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, USA
JAPAN AND CHINA AS CHARM RIVALS: Soft Power in Regional Diplomacy. By Jing Sun. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2012. xii, 231 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$70.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-472-11833-5.
Charm Rivals expertly addresses the difficulties that China and Japan face in diplomacy with their East Asian and South East Asian neighbours. How does the PRC “charm” South East Asian nations, for example, when China’s populace offends by so clearly expressing feelings of superiority (60-61)? Is it possible for Japan to reinvent its image after the atrocities committed during the Pacific War (65)? Are Beijing’s efforts to win the hearts and minds of people in Taiwan credible when it is also issuing military threats at regular intervals (126)?
In the introduction, Jing Sun sets the stage by outlining his goal of exploring the history of soft power in China and Japan. Chapter 1 presents the attempts by China and Japan to win each other over. Chapter 2 shifts the focus to the ways that China and Japan have tried to ingratiate themselves with their South East Asian neighbours. Sun then investigates the two countries’ efforts to gain the trust of South Korea (chapter 3) and Taiwan (chapter 4).
Considering the title, there are several issues that one might have expected Sun to touch on that are not addressed in the book. In his introduction, Sun demonstrates that Japanese leaders are far more enthusiastic about popular culture’s potential for soft power than their Chinese counterparts (2-3). Yet why? This would seem to connect to a willingness to erase markers of Japan’s identity in its popular culture with an eye to the foreign market (Koichi Iwabuchi, Recentering Globalization: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism, Duke University Press, 2002). In turn, it is arguably born of a desire to erase the negative images that its military earned during its colonial and imperialist periods. China, on the other hand, sees itself less as a rising power than as a returning power, which has profound implications on the nation’s psyche (Wu Xu, Chinese Cyber Nationalism: Evolution, Characteristics, and Implications, Lexington Books, 2007, page 1). As such, for the most part the PRC seems less interested in adjusting its popular culture for outside consumption than trying to persuade the world that it should come to appreciate what China has to offer on its own terms. PRC officials also seem to perceive of popular culture as far more threatening to their own legitimacy than in Japan. Sun ignores these issues, and others, because he is more interested in the allure of economics and politics than the underlying effects of popular culture or soft power on international relations.
It should be noted, then, that this is not really a book on pop culture, as might be inferred from the title. Sun very occasionally nods to popular culture such as film and music (52-53, 107-109), sports (110, 152-153), or the internet (117). Yet, for the most part, the book is less concerned with popular culture than overt governmental attempts to court other nations. He argues that unless a government is using pop culture intentionally as “political leverage,” it cannot really be categorized as soft power (8, 15). He emphasizes that soft power has not been able to overcome larger tensions between nations (see 87, 104, 132-135, and much of the introduction). Indeed, the overarching conclusion of the book is that soft power is hindered by so many obstacles that it is ineffective and virtually irrelevant to international politics (166-167, 170-172).
As an anthropologist I have to disagree. Clearly there are nationally bound emotional and intellectual ambivalences that continue in spite of popular culture. Few would claim that soft power is omnipotent. Yet this does not discount the importance, or impact, of pop culture on social mores and politics. One might argue that the most forceful influences of soft power are often embedded in seemingly apolitical formats. James Watson’s edited volume on McDonald’s, Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, demonstrates the remarkable range of underlying cultural values that the fast food chain introduces to East Asia (James L Watson, Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia. Stanford University Press, 1997).
This includes egalitarianism, new conceptions of hygiene, and Taylorist economic models, to name a few. Supposedly apolitical pop music can be far more influential than government-sponsored events that, more often than not, are weighed down by the heavy-handedness of national agendas. Taiwan’s pop culture has dramatically transformed the PRC in areas ranging from gender, to consumerism, to individualism. Though PRC/Taiwan relations continue to be fraught with tension, politically and culturally they are closer now than they have ever been. In examining popular culture or soft power it is precisely the unquantifiable and the unintentional that is more powerful, and more theoretically engaging.
To the degree that I have taken issue with some of Sun’s claims it should be seen as a dialogue between our disciplines. To that end, it is not important that we agree. The book is at its best in examining China and Japan’s failures in trying to reach out to their neighbors. He eloquently presents the long-standing antipathies between East Asian nations, and the ways that this historical baggage hinders contemporary attempts to work together for economic and political gain. Little of this will be surprising to those familiar with East Asia but few have outlined these issues in such a concise, well-organized and readable fashion. For those who are unfamiliar with the politics of this region, Charm Rivals could serve as an exceptionally compelling introduction. It is written with engaging prose and it is full of insights and, at times, a welcome sense of humour. In short, Charm Rivals was a pleasure to read and it is an important addition to a growing body of scholarship on political relations in East Asia.
Marc L. Moskowitz, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA
China and Inner Asia
OVERSEAS CHINESE IN THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA. Chinese Worlds, no. 29. By Glen Peterson. London; New York: Routledge, 2011. xi, 229 pp. (Figures, B&W photos.) US$130.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-61670-6.
Although several articles and books written in Chinese on the returned Overseas Chinese (guiguo huaqiao) are now available, this important book is a very substantial one to examine China’s policies towards returned Overseas Chinese and the links between ethnic Chinese overseas and their homeland (qiaoxiang). Exactly forty years ago, Stephen Fitzgerald published his excellent study on China’s changing policies towards Overseas Chinese from 1949 to 1970, and Glen Peterson’s book could thus be seen as an updated and comprehensive study on the returned Overseas Chinese with a novel perspective “to create a narrative that attempts to understand the past on its own terms, through the eyes of the historical actors themselves” (25).
Consisting of seven chapters, this book provides readers with an in-depth analysis of the role played by the returned Overseas Chinese in the economic development of PRC with a focus on the 1950s and early 1960s, and the ties between Chinese emigrants and their ancestral homeland. Chapter 1, “Introduction,” briefly explains how the author was attracted by this topic three decades ago when he visited China for the first time. A number of issues are raised for discussion, such as the relationship between socialist China and the Overseas Chinese, Chinese emigration in historical perspective, the emergence of qiaoxiang society in south China, how “Overseas Chinese affairs” gradually became an arena for Chinese state activity, and the links between the Chinese Communist Party and Overseas Chinese before 1949 and in the early days of the PRC. The author points out that the focus of his book is on how Overseas Chinese were envisioned to fit into China’s domestic development. He argues that the PRC’s approach to the “Overseas Chinese question” since 1949 has centred above all on an economic calculus, and the Beijing authorities believed that Overseas Chinese have an important, strategic role to play in China’s modernization (7). Indeed, his observations and comments are insightful and distinctive.
Chapter 2, “Transnational Families under Siege,” probes into three tiers of state intervention into the lives of Overseas Chinese families, including written communications among family members, marriage and divorce, and the acquisition and maintenance of family property, in particular ownership of land and houses. Unlike other studies, this book for the first time examines the so-called “Letter-writing Campaign” in the early 1950s. Confronted with a hostile international environment and aware of the extensive links enjoyed by the former Nationalist government, the new PRC government launched a massive state-supervised letter-writing campaign in the hopes of reuniting families torn apart by World War II, as well as using this campaign as a vehicle to promote friendly relations with and a positive image of the PRC amongst both Chinese overseas and their host countries. By 1957, 500,000 letters had been sent to overseas relatives from families in Guangdong alone (31).
In order to attract and garner the support from Chinese overseas in different countries, the new PRC government worked out and adopted a series of special policies towards returned Overseas Chinese and their family members, or qiaojuan. Chapter 3, “Youdai : The Making of a Special Category,” discusses these policies, such as allowing Overseas Chinese to change their class status from landlords and rich peasants to ordinary peasants, restoring the ownership of their houses, and providing them with access to rare consumer commodities. Chapter 4, “Open for Business: The Quest for Investment and Remittances,” further explores how the new PRC government tried to attract investment and remittances from Chinese overseas. What is particularly interesting here is a case study on the unique role played by the returned Overseas Chinese from Southeast Asia in helping China to establish its rubber plantation economy on the Hainan Island in the 1950s when the US was imposing a trade embargo on China.
Chapter 5, “Patriots, Refugees, Tycoons and Students ‘Returning’ to China in the 1950s,” examines the return migration wave of Chinese migrants. It is estimated that perhaps as many as 600,000 ethnic Chinese migrated to the PRC between 1949 and 1961. They came to China from all over the world but most of them came from Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. A large number of Overseas Chinese state farms came into being to settle them, and by 1966 there were a total of 51 state farms spread across six southern provinces (116). Chapter 6, “Socialist Transformation and the End of Youdai,” illustrates how the state policies towards returned Overseas Chinese and their family dependants suddenly changed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. And when the Great Leap Forward Movement began in 1958, almost all the returned Overseas Chinese found the situation they faced was more precarious and they became the focus of political attacks overnight. Chapter 7, “Cultural Revolution and Beyond,” describes the tragic experiences of these returned Overseas Chinese in China from 1966 to 1976, persecuted simply because they had “foreign connections.” Many were denounced as “enemies of the people” and as “foreign spies,” or even as a “Fifth Column” for the spread of capitalism in China (167). The book ends with a brief account of the new era and changes that have taken place since 1978, and how the Chinese authorities again glorified the enduring ties of Overseas Chinese to their homeland.
Unlike previous studies in English, the author made extensive use of a huge number of Chinese sources, such as official publications, internal CCP documents, major newspaper reports and local periodicals, academic investigation reports, as well as Chinese-language press reports overseas, enabling him to produce a well-written book with many new sources and novel perspectives. It would be good, however, if the manuscript could have been double checked by a native Chinese scholar before typesetting as more than 40 mistakes in the Chinese pinyin spelling and Chinese characters could be spotted in the book, particularly in the bibliography.
James K. Chin, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
NEVER FORGET NATIONAL HUMILIATION: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations. Contemporary Asia in the World. By Zheng Wang. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. xiii, 293 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$32.50, cloth. ISBN 978-0-231-14890-0.
In the eye of many observers, China’s ongoing tense standoffs with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines over a few disputed isles have shattered Beijing’s facade of “Peaceful Rise,” whereas waves of anti-foreign demonstrations as recent as the anti-Japanese riots in 2012 have exposed its nationalist impulses to the fullest. Against this backdrop it is no surprise that Never Forget National Humiliation has quickly garnered a great deal of attention and positive reviews since its publication.
In his book Zheng Wang seeks to investigate two crucial questions: how has the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used history and memory to reshape national identity and bolster its legitimacy at home, and how has this reconstruction of identity influenced China’s domestic politics and international behaviour. Born and raised in China, Zheng Wang worked for a top government research institute for many years before completing his graduate studies in the United States. Drawing upon an expanding literature on social identity and the role of ideas, Wang begins by developing two frameworks. Claiming that collective identity generates constitutive norms, relational content, cognitive models and social purpose, the first framework is supposed to aid the research of historical memory in the formation of group identity. A second framework contends that memory and identity influence behaviour by serving as road maps to process information, morally motivate for action and guide behaviour, as focal points that facilitate cooperation and group cohesion, and as rules and norms that are embedded into political institutions.
The ensuing two chapters set the stage for the bulk of the book: grievous events through the “century of humiliation”—from the Opium War of 1839 to the Anti-Japanese War that ended in 1945—that not only still loom large in the Chinese psyche and give rise to its Chosenness-Myth-Trauma Complex, but which were also integral to the discourse of national destiny and construction of national identity until the Maoist era. The next three chapters delve into the party-state’s political use, since 1991, of historical memory that is still pertinent today. The shift is strident, as the CCP leadership led by Jiang Zemin adroitly phased out Mao’s victorious account in favour of an unambiguous victim narrative, and launched a rigorous Patriotic Education Campaign across the country. The goal, according to Wang, is to shore up its political legitimacy in the face of the Party’s dissipated appeal of communism, and the decidedly nationalist narrative, which was put to good use in 2008 when Beijing had to juggle the twin crises of the Olympic Games and the megaquake in Sichuan. In the last two chapters, Wang further explores the impact of China’s institutionalized historical consciousness on its foreign relations, and detailed case studies are applied to a series of diplomatic crises with the United States as well as the joint writing of textbooks with Japan over their shared wartime history.
Much of the book’s empirical content is a familiar tale for those of us who grew up in China, but Wang does an admirable job of presenting to a non- Chinese audience an overview of China’s tortured past with foreign powers, and its struggle in coming to terms with it while remaining an authoritarian party-state. Traversing a broad tapestry of history, domestic and international politics, this is an ambitious project that deserves credit. Cleverly contrasting the tone and tenor of the post-Tian’anmen era with that of the preceding era, the chapters on Beijing’s arduous efforts to propagate its preferred version of history through education and mass propaganda are as systematic as they are illuminating. The now time-honoured trick of blaming foreigners for troubles old and new continues to serve the CCP well, giving the book a great deal of contemporary flair and some policy relevance.
On the other hand, the book is not free of flaws. In spite of its innovative application of identity literature, it relies overwhelmingly on secondary sources and loose anecdotes (phrases like “according to” are dotted throughout), and there is no rigorous evidence like survey data to pinpoint or measure identity that is by definition nebulous. As a result, readers are more likely to come away impressed with the broad, intuitively plausible assertions that historical memory matters greatly in both domestic and international relations, and that the CCP will not cease manipulating it for its own political gains. Moreover, despite references to comparable examples of historical memory in countries such as Russia, the book curiously suffers from a dearth of comparative perspectives. In attributing the CCP’s new tactic to its pursuit of new legitimacy, for instance, Wang seems to imply that history and memory are above politics in a democracy. Yet when stating Japanese officials’ objections to China’s anti-Japan history education (116, 208), he spills little ink on the fact that Japan, a democracy, suffers from a parallel nationalist tide and history amnesia that is frequently a source of contention with not just China, but also South Korea.
A closer look at Wang’s case studies raises further questions. In examining the conditions for activation of historical memory in the conduct of US-China relations, he compares three diplomatic crises—the Taiwan Strait Crisis (1995-1996), the Belgrade Embassy bombing (1999) and the EP-3 spy plane incident (2001) with three nonconflict incidents, notably, negotiations over China’s WTO entry and arms control. Yet the two groups of incidents cannot be more different, with the latter being more of an obvious non-zero-sum nature and more subject to socialization effects. As for Beijing’s combativeness in the conflicts, Wang claims that it was because leaders’ policy options were restricted vis-à-vis memories of past grievances (199) when, in fact, they themselves were actively involved in escalating the disputes and could have easily clamped down on media coverage of US offenses.
All in all, this is a timely addition to the fast-expanding literature on Chinese nationalism. Readers cannot avoid being disappointed that because today’s Chinese youths—for all their familiarity with the evils of foreigners— have little inkling of the Great Famine and Tian’anmen protest in 1989, China’s democratic future is stunted.
Xiangfeng Yang, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
Poverty Amid Plenty brings together Atul Kohli’s significant contribution to the political economy of India’s growth and redistribution within a single crisp volume. It will interest specialist and non-specialist readers alike, and sharpen debate on India’s economic reforms. It is the finest class-based argument on the politics of industrialization, growth and redistribution in India.
The government’s pro-business turn in the late 1970s and consequent economic growth occurred due to the government’s perceived failure of earlier policies. The dismal “Hindu rate of growth” in the 1970s worried policy makers at a time when many Asian economies had taken off. Industrial deregulation was to be the panacea during the 1980s. This process was further accelerated after the financial crisis of 1991. Indian industry favoured domestic deregulation but opposed foreign investment and import liberalization. Consequently India’s growth is driven more by the domestic economy than China’s.
Technocrats such as the current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Montek Singh Ahluwalia coordinated growth engendering government business interactions. They formed a narrow growth-oriented coalition that prioritized growth over human development. India thus emerged as a rapidly growing economy with dismal standards of human development.
Why is economic growth bereft of meaningful human development in a democratic political setting? Kohli does not dispute that India is a vibrant democracy but points to four important reasons for this apparent contradiction. First, decentralization of power helps to shift the blame for government accountability to lower levels of government and insulates the narrow growth-oriented coalition at the centre from democratic pressures. Second, Hindu nationalism was deployed to distract citizens from their miserable condition. Third, elite-oriented economic policy change by stealth which amounts to altering economic regimes in the garb of continuity is adopted to confuse the electorate.
Finally, caste politics (or discrimination by birth) has trumped class politics (or exploitation of the poor) in many Indian states. The book details the process of development in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP is characterized as a “neo-patrimonial” state where rulers seek private profit from governance. Power alternates between a backward caste party (Samajwadi Party) and a party led by the most backward caste group (“dalit”) leader Kumari Mayawati. When in power both these parties secure benefits for their narrow constituencies rather than investing in genuine public goods for the citizenry. The oppressed class derives symbolic rather than real material gains within a “neo-patrimonial” dispensation.
While one can hardly disagree with the contention of Poverty Amid Plenty, the book is rather quiet about the significant poverty alleviation and development initiatives of the United Progressive Alliance government since 2004. There is a superficial discussion on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (2005) and none at all on the Right to Information (2005) and the Right to Education (2009). Could it be that India’s increasingly mobilized democracy is beginning to make a difference to the old developmental path?
Kohli distinguishes between three types of sub-national states: “neopatrimonial,” “developmental” and “social democratic.” Pro-business economic reform exacerbated inter-state inequalities because private capital flowed largely into states that created opportunities for private investment. “Neopatrimonial” states are losers in this story. The winners are “developmental states” like Gujarat which govern with a narrow growth-oriented coalition resembling the pro-business central government. Economic liberalization has enhanced the role of the sub-national state in development by reducing the regulatory and investment role of the central government. “Developmental states” somewhat resembling those in East Asia are surging ahead of the “neopatrimonial” states in a liberalized federal market Indian economy.
West Bengal and Kerala are ideal typical “social democratic” states with a broad governing coalition attending to the needs of the downtrodden. West Bengal is the author’s favourite state. Welfare and redistribution were driven by a strong cadre-based party with a coherent ideology: the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM) in West Bengal. While this explanation for land redistribution in the early stages of CPIM rule in the late 1970s till the mid- 1980s is quite persuasive, the same argument about the politics of welfare is tougher to sustain in contemporary West Bengal. Even Kohli admits that the state’s achievements in literacy, health-care and poverty alleviation are not so spectacular. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and many other states are ahead of West Bengal in human development.
The view that the government’s turn to a pro-business orientation in the 1980s spurred growth is more convincing than the author’s explication of economic change during the balance of payments crisis of 1991. Few would disagree that India transitioned from stringent industrial regulation and economic autarky in the 1980s to drastic deregulation and globalization after 1991. While India remains a relatively self-contained economy compared with China, its trade to GDP ratio, which was constant between 1980 and 1991, surged significantly thereafter. India quickly discovered significant comparative advantage in services and information technology. But globalization, deregulation and the promotion of competition were opposed by significant segments of Indian industry, accustomed to procuring industrial licenses in return for rents within a largely closed economy. One perhaps needs to go beyond the pro-industry orientation of the government and explain the trajectory of ideational change within the government to account for the tectonic policy shifts of 1991. After all, when technocrats and industrialists did not repose faith in globalization and deregulation in 1966 during another severe financial crisis, the World Bank’s policy goal of coercing India to increase private investment and trade came to naught.
Atul Kohli’s is a powerful scholarly voice that combines theoretical rigour with detailed empirical analysis. This book will reinvigorate the debate on India’s economic transition.
Rahul Mukherji, National University of Singapore, Singapore
NGOS IN INDIA: The Challenges of Women’s Empowerment and Accountability. Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series, 35. By Patrick Kilby. London; New York: Routledge, 2011. xii, 148 pp. (Tables, figures, map.) US$42.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-415-53367-6.
Patrick Kilby notes towards the end of this short book that there are two dimensions of empowerment that have received inadequate attention in development discourse and practice: one is empowerment as personal agency, that is the choices that can be made and the ability to follow through on them, and the second is the connection with the accountability of NGOs to those they serve.
Many Indian NGOs, in common with others across the world, have somewhere in their missions or visions the empowerment of women. There is an almost ubiquitous interest in the betterment of women’s lives, often an instrumentalist view that sees better fed, educated women living healthy lives as the route to improved delivery of development objectives and less commonly from a rights-informed interest that sees women’s control of their own lives as a good in itself.
There is no shortage of words and paper devoted to empowerment. As Kilby notes “empowerment…[has been ] slowly washed and bleached of any meaning” (2), yet he offers his understanding of it as follows: the expansion of choice and autonomous action for women (21). He explores whether and how NGOs can be empowerment intermediaries.
The book begins with an account of the context of NGO work in India including the rise of self-help groups. He then looks more specifically at NGOs in Karnataka and one running a waste-picker programme, covering primarily rural populations though one case study is in an urban area. A survey of 80 self-help groups provides the basis for an assessment of what they considered to be empowering. Finally, Kilby explores the issue of organizational accountability to the women they service and what lessons might be learned from this.
Outlining a 50-year-long tense relationship between the state and NGOs in India, Kilby points to a strong local base among such groups and the parallel dynamic of being constantly buffeted by the demands and expectations of donors. Second, NGOs face a stark choice: between becoming service delivery arms of the state or doing real empowerment work with women, which entails enabling the most poor and marginalized to claim their rights from the state.
As elsewhere, Indian NGOs are under pressure from donors to be accountable to them, to deliver according to their priorities and measure quantifiable outcomes and deliverables. And all this is to be done according to the donors’ (often too-short) timelines. What is missing, or least is less of a priority, Kilby tells us, is downward accountability: that is, to those we call beneficiaries, those who are served by the NGO. The core question then becomes: if the NGO seeks women’s empowerment then are women actually becoming empowered through engagement with the NGO? Rather than using externally established indicators and timelines to answer this question Kilby goes to the women beneficiaries. For the powerful (NGOs, donors) to define empowerment is a contradiction in terms.
There is a problematic chasm between addressing the marginalization of women and not touching the sphere of household relations, argues Kilby. It means that a major structure of gender inequality remains intact. The NGOs, he notes, tend to focus on issues of access, especially to social and community spheres, but these too remain gendered. Nevertheless, the research was intended to explore the nature of changes brought into the lives of women.
In exploring with women in the SHGs what changes they had experienced, that most closely identified with was the notion of personal agency: an increase in self-esteem through having more choices and an increased ability to act on them. The scale of the challenges that women faced has to be acknowledged: one of the choices that women appreciated was that of going outside the house. For those of us who understand engagement in the public sphere as being replete with possibilities, this is a fundamental and enabling choice. Kilby’s research confirms the consequent link to key forms of social and political engagement, such as becoming involved in civil village processes.
Two important characteristics of the nature of the engagement that enabled these changes for poor women are crucial: long-term engagement with the women (in terms of years) and the existence of formal mechanisms that invite input into the shaping of both the programmes being delivered and strategic direction. NGOs with these features are those that also had the strongest empowerment outcomes.
Non-membership NGOs are least likely to be under internal pressure for accountability, so the onus is on them to be committed to the principle Pacific Affairs: Volume 86, No. 3 – September 2013 666 of accountability and not to rely on others to press for this. The most marginalized, who are served by such groups, may not be the most vocal in calling for such mechanisms and processes. This reverses the accountability to which we are accustomed: that of the funder, the donor, who exerts control and sets timelines and outcomes, over those they fund. Instead, Kilby brings attention to the relatively powerless (aid beneficiaries) holding their providers to account. It is through such processes that power is exercised, and where empowerment grows, for poor women. But it is a difficult balance that NGOs must obtain in allowing “outsiders,” so to speak, to exercise control or significant influence over their work, yet still manage somehow to keep the confidence of the donors without whom they may not exist. This is no easy task. Further, it asks us to go beyond the popular development interest in participation to focus on accountability: the divesting of (at least some) power to others, not the funders who keep us going but the poor in whose name we act. It is not unknown to link questions of empowerment to questions of personal agency, as those contesting violence against women have shown and argued. But more can be made of this aspect, in addition to the material dimensions preferred in development. A more holistic understanding of the reality of poor women’s lives, and how the personal and the public remain inextricably entwined, can only be helpful. Kilby invites us to re-focus on this, which is most welcome.
Purna Sen, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom
THE CHINESE DIASPORA IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA: The Overseas Chinese in Indo-China. By Tracy Barrett. London: I.B. Tauris; New York: distributed by Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. xiii, 302 pp. (Maps, illus.) US$95.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-78706-134-3.
This is a very careful study of how the French extended their patchy control over various Chinese groups in the constituent states of what became Indo-China. The author used the archives in France and Vietnam to trace the steps taken to organize the Chinese in congregations, not only to control the numbers of Chinese entering and leaving but also to assist the colonial authorities in monitoring social behaviour and regulating business transactions. She is thus able to trace the origins of each of the congregations and show how effective they were for some purposes and how ineffective for others.
By using several remarkable examples of cases that came up for resolution, the study makes it clear that these congregations were not designed to limit Chinese enterprise but they did enable the French to keep check on a wide range of commercial and political activity in the Chinese communities. The book provides examples of manifold layers of networking that are rooted in well-established practice and shows how difficult it was for authorities to keep track of them even if they wanted to.
The chapters on the leadership of the congregations and how the leaders were “elected” in different parts of Indochina are very interesting. Between French ideas of what the process should have been like, and factors of age and seniority, and the preference among the Chinese for the wealthy to be responsible for their affairs, the congregations provided little assurance to the colonial governments that all was well in their relationship with the complex mix of Chinese communities. The example of the Ly family of Cholon (chapter 4) and the role of its members both inside and outside the congregation is particularly illuminating in this regard.
Other chapters outline the different concerns of each congregation. Among the most important were the mutual aid that each provided to its members, not least in matters of hospitals and health care as well as the rituals and procedures pertaining to the dead. Here it is significant to note how the congregations overlapped with traditional district and kinship organizations that the Chinese also expected to bear such community responsibilities.
In the early twentieth century, the Chinese communities became aware of the importance of education in modern schools. This was not only because of the growth of national consciousness in China but also because these schools awakened a fresh commitment to Chinese cultural identity. The development also meant that younger generations became more open to direct influences from revolutionary China. From the French perspective, this involved many Chinese in the politics of China and that was obviously unwelcome to colonial authorities. As this is a topic that had aroused much interest in the region since the 1920s, the book would have benefited from comparisons with similar manifestations in Dutch and British territories and how they were dealt with elsewhere. It would be obvious that British schools in the Straits Settlements and Dutch colonial schools in Java were more successful in drawing away the local-born Chinese from the new Chinese schools. Why that was so would also have illuminated the strategies employed by the Chinese to counter the challenge to their cultural autonomy.
The book also has two chapters to cover problems of gambling, crime and other deviant acts that threatened social order. Here French police actions were relatively effective. The contrast between this and the failure to curb malpractices in the world of commerce is striking.
The author provides evidence from rich and previously untapped sources to show that the French found in the congregation a useful way to keep track of tens of thousands of Chinese who were enterprising and able to operate effectively in the unruly environment on the colonial frontier. The records were often incomplete and it is a measure of the author’s meticulous research that she has been able to use them to illuminate the pros and cons of that system.
Books and reports on the Chinese of Indo-China have appeared over the decades in several languages, mostly in Chinese, French and Vietnamese. The literature in English has been relatively weak and historical interest has only recently been revived. This volume does not claim to be a full account of the Chinese communities in that territory, as suggested by the title. It really only describes some of them from the perspective of a very French institution. That way, the author focuses on the interaction between two sets of nonlocal protagonists, a series of colonial officials posted to the distant tropics trying to keep a lid on communities that consisted largely of sojourners out to make their fortunes. It was a fascinating relationship that was changing and evolving even as the native Vietnamese tried to organize themselves to drive the invading French out.
The data gathered together by the author offers fresh insights into the workings of a volatile situation and makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of overseas Chinese life in Southeast Asia. This is an important study that shows how the French efforts in each of the colonies and protectorates employed similar methods of congregation control and how Chinese communities made use of different local conditions to adapt and react creatively to their efforts.
Wang Gungwu, National University of Singapore, Singapore
KING BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ: A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective. Edited by Nicholas Grossman, Dominic Faulder. Singapore; Bangkok: Editions Didier Millet, 2011. 383 pp. (B&W and coloured photos.) THB1080.00, cloth. ISBN 978-981-4260-56-5.
In this volume King Bhumibol Adulyadej is presented as practical and passionate, a moral leader of the modernizing nation. The king’s aura is also invoked as a symbol of legitimacy and Dhammic sanction, skilfully woven into the cultural fabric and psyche of the nation by an elite military and palace regime (“amaat”/Amatayatippatai) and popularized as mythology. The Chairperson of the Editorial Advisory Board and pro-royalist spokesperson Anand Panyarachun notes in the foreword that the intent of the book is to gain a “better understanding of Thailand and its monarchy” minus any “sugar coating” and to appreciate the contributions of the king to his people (11). The book’s narrative function, in fact not dissimilar to that of mythology, has less to do with what constitutes the reality of the past (which is always historically contested) as with its discursive functions. It is a continuing story, which some would argue was foretold centuries earlier by sages, fortune tellers and court Brahmins, reiterating a here-and-now reassurance which the devoted would like to see institutionally reaffirmed. The account depicts the king as both a gifted pragmatist while also a supra-human, deified individual. This binary function is important to maintain the charisma of regal authority and as a cultural reference point for the nation-state.
The book, minus an individual (Foucauldian) author function, is also a bit of a mystery as to who actually wrote its various parts, other than a list of fifteen like-minded contributors and an elite editorial team. Many of the listed “notable experts” can hardly be assumed to have historical and political objectivity in their contributions at a time of incensed division over issues of monarchism and new political democracy. Indeed, without naming names, the contributors’ standing was well known post 19 September 2006 coup, against emerging grassroots democratic sentiments (including calls for judicial reforms). At the same time, these “notables,” and their continuing patronages, were oft-cited in a hegemonic national media in an attempt to restore the status quo ante as the protests in 2009-2011 gathered momentum. In only a few years after the 2006 coup the Thai world and its imagining for majority peoples started to shake at the foundations. Benjamin’s “angel of history” awoke and glanced back to the recent past, caught in a storm of progress. But will the angel now turn to confront the inevitability of progress among the debris of a recent divisive past? The book alludes not to an uncertain future for a monarchy in Thailand; such a task would be speculative at best, but to reiterate a particular social construction.
Indeed, throughout the book, despite the appearance of impartiality, a political viewpoint emerges, as for instance the discussion on ex-Prime Minister Thaksin’s decentralized educational reforms. These are ridiculed under the comment of the King’s criticism of Thaksin’s student-centred learning (which was in any case never able to be implemented post-2006). This is a problem more generally of Thaksin’s decentralization policy and programs, which posed a direct threat to the Tambiah’n “radial” centre and its sacrosanct complex and pervasive elite network. The book shows the monarch as sincere, learned and always passionate about the wellbeing of his subjects, and knowledgeable on all matters, such as water management, climate, agriculture/self-sufficiency and education.
However, as we have seen in recent years, it may be that some of the king’s close advisors were themselves not so well informed and even biased in protecting their own interests in the palace-centred power network. The book also never shows how such advice from a close group/network of royalist elites (especially from the Privy Council) may have led to the king formulating certain opinions claimed to be his alone. All we are told is that the king, acting independently, is the moral refuge and protector of Thais; a “modern-day dhammaraja” (43). The positioning of the king as having unlimited charisma, moral power and virtue creates an underlying sense that everything else must, ipso facto, be inadequate—including of course elected governments and other knowledge/s. It is the continuing and hidden tension between the ruling monarch and government (the latter exercising its own, if imperfect, rational-legal sanction), regardless of the constitution, which threatens the king’s authority and persisting majestic power and interests.
The book is organized thematically according to conventional modern Chakri history, replete with numerous photographs. Most of the chapters tend to emphatically reaffirm, and with an inkling of academic authority, what has in fact been well documented elsewhere in the national media. It is the timing of the book which is interesting. It was produced during a period of (continuing) intense division in Thai society and not long after the statesanctioned military massacre of pro-democracy (Red Shirt) protestors in April/May 2010. Perhaps that was the purpose in the timing of publication, or as a refutation to Paul Handley’s book The King Never Smiles. The book’s editors show either a lack of understanding or a blatant bias in regard to a few comments on the Red Shirt movement, disregarding the issues of concern among the masses and why they could not even get the political party they voted for three times without disqualification, citizens beaten, incarcerated and occasionally killed in the process. These matters of course are never discussed and perhaps have no place in a volume on the life of the monarch, which makes one wonder why a scattering of one-sided political statements interspersed throughout the text were ever included.
To Thais who still believe in the munificence and selfless beneficence of the royal family, its continuing aura and unifying symbolic function, the book will reinforce what they already know or feel. For these believers, it is grist for the mill and a confirmation of historical knowledge learned since childhood, as certain truth statements. For those disenchanted masses and intellectuals questioning the overall post-World-War-II historical plot of continuing elite dominance (especially after 1958), the book as a general history through the person of the monarch says little more than what we are told in existing sanctioned narratives.
As an attempt to add a critical and objective perspective, a chapter on lèse majesté is included, but even this is put in its proper perspective in a caption at the beginning of the chapter which reads: “…Due to the reverence Thais have traditionally accorded their monarch, some legal scholars argue that the lèse majesté law, which protects the king from insult, is justified as a reflection of societal consensus” (302). Maybe, but this does tend to ignore the increasingly loud, if necessarily subdued, calls for legal reform on this question and the work of reformist legal scholars such as the Nitirat Law Reform Group. The critics of lèse majesté say the law must be changed and is used simply as a political weapon by the pro-royalist regime to suppress calls from the periphery for democratic changes, increased human rights, opportunity and freedom. It has little to do with the king as such, who says that he “is a human being and as such should be subject to criticism” and that “charges against those accused of lèse majesté should be dropped, and those held in jail for lèse majesté should be released” (172, 313). So, we may ask ironically, why has this not happened given the unbridled respect shown to the king?
In “The Life: Seventh Cycle 2000-2011” only a couple of pages are devoted to the 2006 coup and its aftermath, which permanently divided the country and tore open a post-1932 festering sore, an irretrievable rift among people in relation to their devotion to the monarch. Stories need to be substantiated in reality. The question of the editorial committee should not be to labour on the fact that, to devotees, the king is a great man. Rather, in what way can the Thai monarchy today, or in the future, reposition itself to respond to wider societal changes? The same question confronted other monarchies around the world in the past century. The continued use of forms of structural and symbolic violence, elite cultural hegemony and coercion by the dominant elite regime (amaat) and ultra-nationalists, can only work against the interests of a persisting Thai monarchy.
Jim Taylor, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Australasia and the Pacific
PACIFIC WORLDS: A History of Seas, Peoples, and Cultures. By Matt K. Matsuda. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. xii, 436 pp. (Maps, Illus.) US$25.99, paper. ISBN 978-0-521-71566-9.
Many of us living in southern Oceania consider “the Pacific” to be the islands or states of the geographic regions known as Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Many in the huge surrounding landmasses of South-East Asia, East Asia, the Americas and Australia see “the Pacific” as being the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Matt Matsuda’s splendid history shatters the basin and, with it, the rim. His analysis harnesses two forces: centripetal and centrifugal. The first sees the fringing continents being drawn into the island Pacific and the second sees the island Pacific being flung to the periphery of these lands. But it offers even more, for we see how Europe, half a world away, became a part of the globalization process from at least the sixteenth century, as it impinged on these continents and islands.
Matsuda starts with a big question, “What stories from Asia to Oceania to the Americas make up Pacific history?” (1). To answer, he draws primarily on the domain of history but also anthropology, economics, meteorology, oceanography and politics to construct a vivid and, above all, dynamic and often breathtaking regional meta-history, wide in temporal and locational Book Reviews 695 compass. This is an account of continuous movement of peoples and ideas from ancient times to the present across and around the Pacific and adjacent seas. Boundaries are porous and permeable, people adaptable, acquisitive, and inquisitive, distances great, yet shrinking with changing technologies. The book focuses on “multiple sites of trans-localism” (5), not nicely sequential of eras or civilizations. Major processes are understood via the lens of local episodes and the connections beyond.
Pacific Worlds shows that incoming patterns of commerce, exploration and religion across several centuries did not always result in territorial colonization. But such processes resulted in hubs and enclaves of intercultural and intellectual interactions dotting the region. Depending on their role in transforming and transmitting resources, some enclaves prospered long term, some until the resource was worked out or a better route to the markets developed. Commerce in the region ranges from Arab traders infiltrating South East Asia as early as the tenth century to contemporary Chinese deals with independent island governments for fishing and mining in the southwest Pacific.
Matsuda’s pellucid prose is succinct. One sentence can summarize a major process for an entire ocean: “Remembrances of labouring in foreign lands haunted almost all Pacific societies in the second half of the nineteenth century, even the most singular, like Easter Island” (226). Matsuda reveals the essential humanity of the actors and includes women as part of that humanity. Pacific Worlds details the impacts of colonialism but also reveals how the neat categories of colonizer and colonized are continually subverted by both parties. For those most interested in the Pacific Islands, this book addresses and contextualizes the substantial contacts of south Asia and China with the western Pacific, especially northern Australia and New Guinea, a prolonged relationship that some notable Pacific historians have largely ignored to privilege later English and French interactions on Tahiti in the late eighteenth century.
Matsuda also skilfully distils the essence of place and people by connecting ancient oral traditions with more recent events, showing change but also demonstrating certain continuities. Great culture heroes, revolutionaries as well as saints, such as Rizal and Catarina de San Juan, epitomize indigenous values, attachment to place, and identity. Gifted writers of the present like Hau’ofa, Subramani and Grace have continued to do the same, telling truth through fiction and poetry.
The politics of the Western ideal state saw the political and criminal rejects of Britain and France transported as convicts to serve prison terms in distant Australia and New Caledonia in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, refugees, a.k.a. possible terrorists from the Middle East, risk long voyages in leaking vessels, not unlike the ships of the original convicts, but end up in crowded detention camps in Indonesia or, worse, sent by the Australian government to the hot, scoured atoll of Nauru to await protracted “processing.” Pacific Worlds presents all sides of such difficult contemporary issues yet allows us to make the moral judgement, a judgement more measured once we understand the complexity.
When Pacific Worlds is reprinted I, as a teacher, hope the author will add a table of places and dates as an appendix because this kaleidoscope of stories of people and places can lose the novice reader. Being able to see at a glance relative events across a time span would add to what is already an extraordinary history.
The book ends with a thoughtful Afterword. In relation to the rest of Oceania and certainly the continents whose littorals are washed by that great sea, the small islands of Kiribati may seem “remote,” and “vulnerable” but, as Matsuda shows, they too were and are sites of trans-localism. Many paths, peoples, politics and processes have touched them. Of course to the i-Kiribati, the atolls are home and never remote. With global warming Kiribati has become to many an emblem of the apparently inescapable fate of all such low-lying atolls. Those in high places may well expect these people to fade away or be absorbed by other countries. But the i-Kiribati are resilient. In 2008 they set up the world’s largest maritime reserve in their waters. To them, conservation means more than development through selling the fishery. Since this book’s publication the Cook Islands have much done the same, with 1.065 million square kilometres (411,000 square miles) of maritime reserve with a large core area where no fishing will be permitted. Prime Minister Puna captured Oceania’s essence: “We are not small Pacific island states. We are large ocean island states.” These states show their belief in themselves and the rest of the world. All they ask is global responsibility to reduce greenhouse emissions. So, as he has done throughout this book, Matt Matsuda makes us think right to the last page. Not a bad result for any historian.
Judith A. Bennett, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
As it often happens, the fieldwork that informs Out of Place was born out of intellectual irritation and happenchance. As an undergraduate, Michael Goddard was disturbed by the tendency at the time to present cultures as if they included no people as such but rather were assemblages of structures. A chance summer job working at a community mental health centre led to an MA thesis drawing upon the life histories of ex-psychiatric patients and subsequently to PhD research in 1985-86 on “mental illness” in the upper Kaugel Valley in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Goddard drew on his dissertation for a number of articles, but restricted public access to the manuscript “due to the nature of some of its content” (x). Goddard doesn’t specify what revisions he has made to the original manuscript, but one senses that they are fairly light. For instance, he makes no reference to the extensive and lively literature on indigenous constructions of personhood, despite its obvious relevance, one supposes because this was not yet a burning topic in the mid-1980s. The book is more narrowly focused.
The running theme that links the chapters and inspires the title is that the Kakoli people at the time of Goddard’s fieldwork lacked a concept of mental illness and thus any attempt to describe their “ethnopsychiatry” would be empirically impossible and conceptually false. The Kakoli did have a word (kekelepa) they applied to what would conventionally be understood as madness. Yet they used the same term for a wide array of behaviours ranging from confusion and random violence to acting out and drunkenness. In an earlier publication, Goddard had translated kekelepa as “crazy,” “silly” or “irrational.” He suggests here that a more accurate gloss would be actions “estranged from the ‘normal’ behaviour of the group”—that is to say, actions that are “socially ‘out of place’” (70-71). The Kakoli provided a wide variety of explanations for kekelepa behaviour when it occurred, none of which, unlike explanations for illnesses, suggested a “logics of causality” (77). They accepted, apparently without much concern, that fits of kekelepa might come and go for no apparent reason. In sum, madness was behaviour that was out of place socially and for which there was no apparent cause.
Out of Place follows two tracks, only loosely joined by the often-repeated theme that a psychiatry based on an assumption of mental illness makes little sense in a cultural context lacking a mind/body ontology. The first is a critical history of the development and practice of psychiatry in Papua New Guinea, beginning with the passage of an “insanity ordinance” in 1912 up to the present, concentrating on the establishment of mental health services in the late colonial period. These opening chapters make distressing reading, not just for the typically abysmal treatment giving the unfortunates who ended up in psychiatric facilities but also for the yawning gap between the ideal of cultural sensitivity tirelessly promoted by the head of the mental health services, Dr. B.G. Burton-Bradley, and the reality. The reality was and almost certainly remains that clinical psychiatric treatments were employed primarily to control disruptive individuals.
The second track of Out of Place is an ethnographic account of madness as encountered by the author in the remote high Kaugel Valley in the mid- 1980s. The key word here is “encountered,” as Goddard is very present in the case histories he presents. He begins in chapter 2 with six individuals who had spent periods in the secure ward at Goroka Hospital for whom there were records he was allowed to access. These brief accounts establish that the Kakoli as much as the Administration treated psychiatric interventions as a form of social control. The following chapter investigates the rather diffuse understandings of madness in the context of indigenous notions about causes and responses to sickness, emphasizing the anomalous status of kekelepa as a condition defined more in terms of an implicit violation of community morality than overt behaviours and thus not something that can be cured.
The remaining three substantive chapters present detailed field-based studies of four individuals the Kakoli considered to be mad. The cases serve to illustrate the highly contextualized, speculative and shifting nature of Kakoli explanations of and responses to kekelepa, ranging from assertions of spirit possession to a vague notion of seasonal madness. Just as interestingly, the case histories illustrate the contextualized and shifting understandings of the author in his own encounters with these individuals and their neighbours. Goddard is very present in these accounts, describing his attempts to track down the individuals and document local explanations for their behaviour as well as providing vivid descriptions of kekelepa incidents he witnessed. He very honestly describes his own shifting understandings of what often appeared to him as psychotic episodes in a context in which such explanations had no cultural resonance. The most poignant chapter concerns Hari, a “giant” whose madness according to Kakoli witnesses consisted of constant running over huge distances, strange speeches and occasional random acts of destruction such as chopping down trees and killing pigs. Goddard struck up a friendship of sorts with Hari based on a mutual love of marathon running. As he learns more of Hari’s history, Goddard comes to realize that the Kakoli imagining of his madness derived primarily from Hari’s status as an outsider unafraid to voice criticisms of his society and unwilling to fulfill obligations to kin and neighbours. As Goddard vividly puts it, the social “construction of kekelepa Hari was a communal exercise in moral iconography” (144).
The book concludes with brief but fascinating thoughts on how various engagements with Western institutions, especially Christianity, may be leading the Kakoli to a conception of personhood in which psychiatric explanations of madness make sense. The chief value of Out of Place, however, resides in its ethnographic contribution: a compelling witnessing from the field that powerfully challenges conventional thinking underlying a global discipline of mental health.
John Barker, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
LAUGHING AT LEVIATHAN: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua. Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning. By Danilyn Rutherford. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. xvi, 301 pp. (B&W photos.) US$27.50, paper. ISBN 978-0-226-73198-8.
In Laughing at Leviathan Rutherford shows that in the portrayal of West Papua, studies dating back to colonial times frequently massaged reality to affect a specific audience, portraying a level of dependency of Papua that suited colonial purposes. Adversely though, the colonialists were themselves over time used as an audience by the very “stone-age men” they described. Papuans had (and still have) a vested interest in portraying a particular image of themselves and so manipulate reality to their own advantage. Laughing at Leviathan deconstructs a series of portraits adding context or enhancing detail in a way that illustrates how the “reality” portrayed is layered. In the volume Rutherford provides a pastiche of essays based on earlier work (ranging from 1998 to 2008), implicitly making the point that her argument has been maturing over years.
Basically Rutherford sets out to “spur political thought by examining the uneasy relationship between sovereignty and audience” (1). Having set out what she means by the pursuit of sovereignty and the role played in this pursuit by audiences in the first chapter, she explores these themes in seven different settings. The first half of the book, “Geographies of Sovereignty,” focuses on a changing political landscape where we meet a variety of different audiences with their own specific interests that gradually give shape to West Papua as we know it. The second chapter, entitled like the volume itself “Laughing at Leviathan” (the title refers to an essay by John Furnivall), comes to grips with Dutch colonial policy of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Rutherford shows how West Papua with all its challenges increasingly became a near-obsession to create (and perpetuate) the perfect colony. In “Trekking to New Guinea” the setting changes: West Papua becomes “this obvious solution” for the problems the Dutch colonial administration had with the Netherlands Indies’ changing demographic structure. By the early twentieth century migration to the Netherlands Indies had become commonplace and an educated Indonesian elite demanded its place in local society. As a result both the poor white settlers and local mixed-bloods became increasingly marginalized. Rutherford explores the different audiences motivated to intervene and capitalize on West Papua as a solution to this budding social problem.
In “Waiting for the End in Biak” the scene alters dramatically: centre stage is the dramatic murder in 1998 of Papuan demonstrators raising the Papuan Morning Star flag on Biak Island. Rutherford explores the motivations of the various actors and audiences involved. She does not limit this to the event itself, but extends into Papuan and Indonesian nationalism. She also refers to the attempts by Filep Karma, the organizer, to invoke international interest for the plight of the Papuan population.
In the second half of the book, “Signs of Sovereignty in Motion,” Rutherford’s approach is more semiotic in nature, focusing on how audiences are addressed. Again, the first essay takes us to the second half of the nineteenth century, Biak and Numfoor. “Frontiers of the lingua franca” looks into the missionaries “inventing” Christian terminology in the languages of yet-to-be-converted peoples. Straightforward translation of terminology would not purge existing beliefs. Use of Malay was similarly ambivalent in the eyes of the missions. In “Institutional Power and Interpretative Practice” the focus remains on the development of Christianity on Biak/Numfoor, but we are taken through the mutual evaluation of Christian concepts by different audiences. Again, this is not limited to the immediate surroundings, the development of the local Protestant church. It also extends to the Koreri movement that in various forms lasted from before World War II to well into the 1990s reacting not only to Dutch, but also to Japanese and Indonesian bids for sovereignty.
The final two chapters relate to events that occurred since the turn of the twenty-first century, both based on visual documents. “Third-Person Nationalism” focuses on the video “Why Papua Wants Freedom.” Rutherford concludes that this video—though it addresses a nationalist Papuan audience and was purchased by many Papuans—in fact contains a message that sustains Papuan dependency, “[providing] fodder for an Indonesian multiculturalism” (201). “The Appeal of Slippery Pronouns” focuses on two YouTube fragments. The first shows Filep Karma, the organizer of the 2008 flag-raising, speaking during a similar event four years earlier. This rousing speech is paired to a fragment based on Obama’s “Yes, we can” speech, but containing a variety of images of Papuans being tortured by Indonesian soldiers. In both cases the role of the international—especially an American— audience in the solution of the present stalemate in Papua is stressed.
In her epilogue “Beasts and Sovereigns,” Rutherford picks up several strands of dialogue from the volume. She points out that her intention was not to solve, but “[to offer] a starting point for further reflection, by tracing the effects, in a particular setting, of the uneasy relationship of sovereignty and audience … [the various actors] all participate in the various dimensions of the real-world interdependencies that bedevil every quest for supreme and absolute power” (248).
Does Rutherford achieve what she sets out to do? In my opinion both yes and no. She does convincingly show how different audiences pursued and still pursue sovereignty for Papua. She also shows shifts in the meaning of sovereignty for Papua depending on audience and setting. Problematic in her argument is the centre stage position of Biak and the Biak people throughout most of the volume, certainly when the focus is on present-day West Papua. For how representative is Biak? West Papua is culturally and linguistically extremely diverse and there is no clear-cut Papuan identity as yet. Biak does have the longest and widest-ranging experience with outside contact. Similarly, the Biak myth of Koreri—with its culture hero Manarmakeri—is one of the most complex and extensive appropriations of outside cultural influences we can find in Papua. Yet, the question is will these aspects eventually become central to Papuan identity and an inalienable part of the Papuan claim to sovereignty? Even though Rutherford acknowledges the question, she—perhaps rightly so—also avoids it, offering Laughing at Leviathan as a starting point for further reflection on the subject.
Sjoerd R. Jaarsma, Papua Heritage Foundation, Hilversum, The Netherlands
FREEDOM IN ENTANGLED WORLDS: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power. By Eben Kirksey. Durham, NC; London: Duke University Press, 2012. xvii, 305 pp. (Maps, B&W illus.) US$24.95, paper. ISBN 978- 0-8223-5134-4.
In this extensively researched study, based on hundreds of interviews and years of on-site observation, Eben Kirksey examines the dynamics of politics and resource exploitation in the long-contested western half of the island of New Guinea. As the title suggests, his focus is on exploring the complex and entangled recent history of West Papua and its relationships with other political and business entities. Unraveling the strangling tendrils of a central government whose primary political party Golkar used the banyan tree as a symbol is a daunting task, but one which Kirksey has pursued with care, and writes about with an ear for nuance and irony.
Following an insightful introduction which summarizes the colonial history of West Papua and introduces us to key figures in his own journeys within the country, Kirksey organizes the book chronologically by the three stages he perceives should inform our understanding of the merdeka (freedom) movement and its ramifications. Covering the years 1998-2000, in chapters 1 and 2, he examines the changes in Indonesian politics when Suharto was forced from power, the short-lived flag-raisings in Jayapura and Biak when supporters of independence for West Papua came out of the woodwork to celebrate, and which were followed by immediate, forceful reprisals by the central government. In the chapter “From the Rhizome to the Banyan,” he gives a tightly argued analysis of political dynamics in West Papua, and especially highlights the entanglements of noted independence figures including Theys Eluay, shown in his home next to a photograph of John F. Kennedy meeting with Sukarno in 1961 (67). Eluay, he shows, collaborated with the government and with corporations, accepting gifts and political attention, even as he maintained an identity as a nationalist figure. Kirksey notes that “as leaders like Eluay enjoyed personal freedoms, as their imaginations were captured by the promises of capitalism, they nonetheless secured limited rights and justice for the West Papuan people” (76).
The second stage, covering 2000-2002, involves an examination of the various warring factions within the independence movement and the larger world of Indonesian politics, using as one focus the development of a BP project to extract natural gas from the Bintuni Bay area. This is also the section where we learn of the deaths of Theys Eluay and of Wellam Korwam. Chapter 4 helps us see more of Kirksey’s complex relationship to his own research, and we learn of an epiphanic moment that tips him toward a more activist form of ethnographic study. One of his sources challenges him: “Don’t use your data as a pillow and go to sleep when you get to America … Don’t just use this as a bridge to your own professional opportunities” (127). This charge seems to shape this book profoundly, in that Kirksey does not try to distance himself from his observations. In the third section, for example, which looks ahead from 2002 and speculates on the future of the politics and entanglements of West Papua, while examining some of the recent attempts to bring West Papua’s situation to a higher priority among Western governments, Kirksey describes some of his own activism among government leaders in the West.
With its accounts of subversion, treachery, gruesome atrocities and terrifying betrayals, as well as its sometimes chilling photographs, this book is not bedtime reading, but it will be welcomed by scholars and historians seeking to understand the many entanglements of this part of New Guinea. It raises important questions about the collusions between corporations and governments, and can help us read between the lines of news articles and annual reports.
Larry M. Lake, Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, USA
NO FAMILY IS AN ISLAND: Cultural Expertise among Samoans in Diaspora. Expertise Series. By Ilana Gershon. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012. xi, 192p. US$22.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8014-7805-5.
Facing the dilemmas of grant writing for the National Office of Samoan Affairs in California, Gershon opens the book by reflecting back on the experience. Gershon explains her initial grant writing with this office in the United States was unsuccessful because, as she later realized, she relied too heavily on culture, as she had learned to do after a year and a half of fieldwork among Samoan migrants in New Zealand. Her interlocutors in California were not convinced this strategy was persuasive; they had learned to focus on Samoanness as an ethnicity or minority status. Through this reflection Gershon opens the central theme of the book: the role of culture in government bureaucracies. She analyzes the consequences of being a culturebearer among Samoan migrants managing government bureaucracies. This research explains that differential access to social mobility available to Samoan migrants in the United States and New Zealand reflects not only the construction of culture, but also the different histories of dominant minorities in each nation.
Gershon ethnographically grounds terms such as culture and system by examining a historic moment of neoliberal reform of government bureaucracies from 1996 to 1998. Through participant observation and interviews with Samoan migrant-based churches and families, complemented by similar methods among Samoan community workers and their clients, Gershon shows the reader the complexities of interactions among migrants and government bureaucrats as they manage multiculturalism and often times use terms like culture and system in different ways.
This book shows not only how Samoan migrants manage the demands of their families and churches in creative and strategic ways, but also how, as both community workers and clients, Samoan migrants manage bureaucracies and government systems. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 (including chapter 1 and chapter 2) deals with “the project of being Samoan” (15) in a context where migrants often have to manage the contradictory demands of capitalist exchange and Samoan ritual exchange, traditional Samoan churches and evangelical churches, and more generally cultural and acultural systems. In these chapters, Gershon focuses on how Samoan migrants employ economic, social and communicative strategies to keep these spheres, or social orders, distinct.
Part 2 focuses on how Samoan migrants navigate government bureaucracies. Using a comparative framework, the book shows how different social, political and economic trajectories are forged in an ethnoscape marked by the historical legacies of the dominant minorities in each nation. Chapter 3 uses “classic” ethnographic understandings about roles, models of self, and village political systems to show how these form an epistemological foundation for Samoan migrants that impacts their communication with government bureaucrats in the United States. Gershon argues that these miscommunications are not the result of a culture clash but of a clash in reflexivities. Chapter 4 examines taken-for-granted assumptions about the nuclear family lurking in legislation designed to accommodate Polynesian extended families in New Zealand. Chapter 5 examines how Samoan community workers and their clients engage with assimilation rhetoric in the United States. She argues that when community workers enter the homes of Samoan migrants they are not acting in a Foucauldian manner aimed at controlling populations, but are instead acting as neoliberal instructors demonstrating to their clients how to distinguish between orientations to families and government and encouraging them to be choice makers.
Gershon analyzes this material in order to make two overarching theoretical arguments. First, responding both to the demands of her fieldsites and to anthropological debates over the culture concept, Gershon suggests that scholars need to account both for how the cultural and the acultural are constructed. Samoan migrants are a particularly well-suited people with whom to examine this theoretical intervention because, as the author notes, Samoan migrants are constantly differentiating between what is marked as fa’asamoa, “the Samoan way,” and that which is not, and thus considered acultural. Gershon further demonstrates how the acultural does more than naturalize hegemonic social orders: it provides opportunities for Samoan migrants to disentangle from Samoan social orders marked as cultural.
The second theoretical intervention Gershon outlines is a focus on reflexivities. Breaking with the anthropological tradition of reflexivity referring to the ways in which the subject position of the researcher affects ethnography, Gershon suggests a deeper awareness of how people’s “reflexive engagement with their own contexts is a crucial component for how and why people interact in ways that they do” (7). Gershon demonstrates how Samoan migrants and government bureaucrats, acting as social analysts, clash not in culture but in reflexivities.
This ethnography creatively weaves Samoan ethnography and kinship studies with theoretical approaches to systems, bureaucracies and community work in order to answer a “commonplace problem: How do people navigate contexts in which multiple social orders exist simultaneously?” (170). The book accomplishes this by shifting attention away from defining cultural worlds to looking at ways people act as social analysts and construct spheres as cultural or acultural, and thus how differences are made cultural. The book is strongest when it provides examples of the ways people navigate multiple social orders; for example Gershon describes a training session for juvenile probation case managers, one of whom was her Samoan interlocutor. She analyzes how miscommunications unfold and at times how her interlocutors strategically manage these miscommunications; this analysis sheds light not only on bureaucracies but also on the social lives of her interlocutors.
Because the chapters bring together a wide range of data, from the domain of ritual exchange to systems theory, in a clear and creative fashion, this ethnography will be valuable to undergraduates and scholars of the region, as well as to those interested in kinship, bureaucracy, policy, migration studies, neoliberalism and applied/engaged anthropology.
Jessica A. Hardin, Brandeis University, Waltham, USA
He pointed to a piece of driftwood. ‘You see, he said, ‘this one, too, comes and goes. Who knows where it came from? It got stuck here three days ago, that’s when I first saw it. Now it is stuck here. But who knows what will happen next?’ (10-11)
This engaging and beautifully written monograph shows how driftwood is entangled with the ontology and sociality of the inhabitants of Pororan Island, which is part of the autonomous province of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. Pororans’ particular mode of engaging in social relations is intimately connected to their preoccupation with fishing and their marine environment, hence Schneider’s characterization of Pororans’ sociality as a “saltwater sociality” (xxi-xxii). As the quote above indicates, in which a man comments on people’s unpredictable movements, Pororans are enormously interested in the movements of persons across the island and across the sea, both in their everyday lives as fishing people and on ritual occasions. In fact, they take their cues about the current state of social relations from observations of human movements. In addition to movements of people and driftwood, they take note of tides, fish and baskets of sweet potatoes that can stand in for absent grandchildren. Their particular saltwater sociality is framed against the stable, solid and immobile place of Buka mainland and its sociality, which is not focused on “going around” (roror) as on Pororan, but on “following roads.”
After an engaging preface (xiii-xxii), in which Schneider details her first personal encounters with the little island and people of Pororan and Buka in 2004, we are introduced to these places in the introduction (1-24). Here, Schneider also elucidates her ethnographic focus on movement and the four innovative methods she applied for studying movements: watching people and listening to people’s shifting locations in space; paying attention to verbs of movement as well as to related hand, arm and eye movements; moving with Pororans; and strategically deploying her own movements to elicit reactions. She argues that movement on Pororan “make the capacities of persons and their relational constitution apparent in particular forms” (20), hence movements as objectification.
Schneider starts her analysis with a chapter on fishing in order to “set the tone of open-ended inquiries with surprising outcomes for everything that follows” (21), which characterizes Pororan sociality, as exemplified by the quote above. The second chapter, “Kin on the Move,” details how Pororans watch, discuss and elicit movements; their vision of matrilineal kinship; their matrilineal group (pinaposa) and the importance of following the mother, or senior woman of their pinaposa. It also details the way men are “pulling” women into marriage and how fathers are important in “making grow” and “steering their wives” and children’s movements through house-building (69), although this could be diverted by mothers “going around.” Chapter 3, “Mobile Places,” focuses on places and the groups of people that inhabit them (80). It discusses ancestral settlement, colonial gathering and the importance, or rather non-importance, of stones on Pororan. This chapter foremost shows Pororans’ lack of interest in immobile places and “emplaced power” in relation to their mainland relatives and neighbours. Chapter 4 focuses on Pororans’ matrilineages (pinaposa) and how the tsunon’s (highranking man) “looking after the place” is at the same time “looking after” his pinaposa (107). Chapter 5 discusses marriage and mortuary rites and how elements within these performances indicate people’s strong interest in “indeterminate transformations” (161). Chapter 6 frames Pororans’ interests in keeping relations open-ended against national efforts of reviving kastom or custom (164). In being indifferent to kastom, Pororans claim the vitality of island life, as knowledge (and indeed the future) is, according to Pororans, inherently incomplete and open-ended (185). The concluding chapter sums up the main argument and successfully manages to relate the ethnographic data to various sets of anthropological literature and theories.
In short, Schneider provides us with wonderful new material from a region that has received relatively little ethnographic interest, especially in the recent “post-conflict” period. Her study is relevant to current Pacific Island studies and makes a contribution to longstanding debates about Melanesian sociality, while addressing themes such as matrilineal kinship, rank, gender and marriage and mortuary rites. Given its clarity, depth and scope: a must read for anthropology students.
Anna-Karina Hermkens, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Documentary Film Review
ANPO, ART X WAR: The Art of Resistance [Film]. Directed and produced by Linda Hoaglund; Cinematography, Yamazaki Yutaka; Editor, Scott Burgess; Music, Satoshi Takeishi, Shoko Nagai. Harriman, NY: New Day Films, 2010. 1 videodisc (89 min.) US$275.00 (Institutions/Universities); US$95.00 (Community Groups/Public Libraries/High Schools); US$80.00 (Rental). ISBN 978-1-56592-479-6. (URL: http://www.newday.com/films/anpoartxwar.html)
Linda Hoaglund’s documentary film ANPO, Art X War: The Art of Resistance is a provocative and thought-provoking examination of the politics and history of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan (ANPO) as seen through the eyes of Japanese artists and their depictions of civic protest, the American military presence in the country, and the ordinary Japanese people who have been forced to live with the consequences of this alliance. Make no mistake, this is a film with a very distinct political position: the ANPO is presented as a wholly traumatizing, destructive and negative force in Japan. As New York Times reporter Tim Weiner graphically asserts, the ANPO treaty is the equivalent of a relationship between a “prostitute” and a “pimp.” In the photographs, films, paintings and interviews throughout the documentary we learn how the ANPO has bred animosity toward the US, fueled social unrest and shattered lives. Because of the treaty Japan is apparently still subject to an American occupation which began after its defeat in the Pacific War and continues in the form of military bases dotted throughout the archipelago, especially in Okinawa Prefecture. Ordinary Japanese people are portrayed as victims of the American military and their own government which, as one young artist concludes, has never really been interested in protecting the people.
Hoaglund’s documentary does a marvelous job of presenting the treasure Book Reviews 707 chest of artistic expression–in painting, in photography, and in film–born of the ANPO experience. In the works of painters such as Ishii Shigeo and Nakamura Hiroshi and photographer Hamaya Hiroshi we are transported back to the tumultuous politics and protest of late-1950s and early 1960s Japan, and particularly to the anti-treaty protests of 1960, when hundreds of thousands of Japanese came out to oppose the renewal of this bilateral military agreement. Activists, such as the renowned folk singer Katō Tokiko and the writer Hosaka Masayasu, offer fascinating insights into the complex motivations of protesters at the time: some simply wanted to avoid another war, others hated Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke and wanted him removed, some wanted to “protect democracy,” and yet others wanted the US military out of Japan (or some combination of all these factors). As the writer Handō Kazutoshi recalls, “I hated America.” The documentary skillfully depicts the trauma of the ANPO for these individuals and the ways it found expression in their creative work.
Impressive also is the historical reach of the documentary, which manages to touch on the atomic bombing of Japan (as in Shōmei Tōmatsu’s shocking photographs of A-bomb victims), the impact of the Korean War, 1950s and 1960s protests, and activism against US military bases in Okinawa and elsewhere in the present. The editing and cinematography for the photographs and paintings is simply wonderful, with many absorbing closeups and carefully executed panning shots, clearly the result of meticulous and thoughtful planning by Hoaglund and her crew on the documentary. Combined with the mesmerizing soundtrack, the result is an extremely captivating piece of filmmaking with a gripping atmosphere that kept me absolutely captivated throughout.
Apart from being a terrific documentary in itself, ANPO, Art X War: The Art of Resistance will be a valuable classroom resource for teaching about the links between politics, protest and the evolution of artistic expression in postwar Japan. Given its tight focus on the impact of the security treaty on postwar Japan, educators will certainly need to provide some contextualization for students if they intend to use the film for teaching. Students might benefit, for example, by knowing more about the history behind the ANPO before viewing. For instance, why is such an agreement in place and why has it lasted so long? Hoaglund’s documentary provides some of the answers when it deals with early postwar agreements between Japanese and US elites. But the story is more complex and necessarily involves consideration of Japan’s earlier war in Asia and the many victims of its aggression in the region, which are only mentioned in passing. Indeed, the ANPO also needs to be understood in the wider context of the geo-politics of East Asia, both in terms of Japan’s earlier imperialistic forays into the region and its complicity in postwar US strategies in Vietnam and elsewhere, especially during the Cold War. The film sensitively shows how Japanese people have been negatively affected by the ANPO—in other words, the domestic side of the story—but there is another, just as important story, about the impact of the ANPO on Japan’s relations with other Asian countries in the postwar period. On one level, the ANPO treaty undoubtedly impeded genuine engagement between Japan and its Asian neighbours in the postwar period and it arguably also influenced artists who came to see their country as yet another victim of American “imperialism.” Many seem to have been oblivious to questions of Japan’s historical crimes against other Asian nations and the ways the ANPO tended to shield Japanese people from facing these head-on. This is really the untold story of the ANPO in the documentary and it is such a complicated topic that I can understand why Hoaglu nd chooses to concentrate only on the ANPO within Japan. In my own work on the anti-Vietnam War movement in Japan I came across quite a lot of protest art dealing with the Japan-America- Asia nexus and the country’s complicity in postwar US Cold War policy in Asia, so it seems that at least some artists saw the connection between the ANPO and Asia. The artists Maruki Iri and Toshi, whose work appears in the documentary, have been concerned with Japan’s wartime legacy, for example, with respect to the Nanking massacre. My sense is that there is another documentary waiting to be made about this issue, hopefully by a filmmaker as skilled as Linda Hoaglund.
To return to ANPO, Art X War: The Art of Resistance, however, I thoroughly recommend this film for researchers and for use in the classroom. It is a provocative, though-provoking and skillful examination of an issue which continues to shape modern Japan right through to the present. Moreover, its treatment of important yet little-known (at least outside Japan) painters, photographers and other Japanese artists provides a completely refreshing insight into the US-Japan military alliance.
Simon Avenell, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia