China and Inner Asia
Communication, Public Opinion, and Globalization in Urban China. By Francis L.F. Lee, Chin-Chuan Lee, Mike Z. Yao, Tsan-Kuo Chang, Fen Jennifer Lin, and Chris Fei Shen. Reviewed by Timothy Hildebrandt
Beyond Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea: Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources. Edited by Robert Beckman, Ian Townsend-Gault, Clive Schofield, Tara Davenport, Leonardo Bernard. Reviewed by Kuan-Hsiung Wang
Australasia and the Pacific Islands
DOCUMENTARY FILM REVIEW
Children of the Revolution. Directed and produced by Shane O’Sullivan; executive producers, Alan Maher, Christiane Hinz; directors of photography, Bassem Fayad, Robin Probyn, Axel Schneppat; editors, Ben Yeates, Fergal McGrath, Shane O’Sullivan. Reviewed by Patricia G. Steinhoff
THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF THE ECONOMICS OF THE PACIFIC RIM. Edited by Inderjit Kaur and Nirvikar Singh. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. xiii, 738 pp. (Figures, tables, graphs.) US$150.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-19-975199-0.
This book consists of 26 chapters written by scholars specializing in the economics of countries on the Pacific Rim. The book also includes an introduction by the editors. The 26 contributing chapters are divided into six parts corresponding to broadly defined substantive areas: part 1: the natural world: history, climate, and risks, consisting of chapter 1 (E. Jones), chapter 2 (D. Roland-Holst) and chapter 3 (I. Noy); part 2: people: migration, demographics and human capital, consisting of chapter 4 (P. Martin), chapter 5 (N. Ogawa) and chapter 6 (A. Goujon); part 3: perspectives on economic growth and development, consisting of chapter 7 (B. Bosworth and S.M. Collins), chapter 8 (H.T. Dinh and J.Y. Lin) and chapter 9 (M.S. Kumar, N. Singh and J. Woo); part 4: regional governance and trade linkages, consisting of chapter 10 (W. Dobson and P.A. Petri), chapter 11 (D. Kapur and M. Suri), chapter 12 (J. Ravenhill), chapter 13 (P-C Athukorala) and chapter 14 (K-Y Wong); part 5: industry, policy and innovation, consisting of chapter 15 (I. Kaur), chapter 16 (T-H Yang and D-S Huang), chapter 17 (H. Pack), chapter 18 (F.T. Tschang) and chapter 19 (S. Yusuf); and part 6: macroeconomics and finance, consisting of chapter 20 (A.O. Krueger), chapter 21 (J. Aizenman and H. Ito), chapter 22 (M.S. Gochoco-Bautista and N.R. Sotocinal), chapter 23 (E. Ogawa and C. Nakamura), chapter 24 (M.D. Chinn and H. Ito), chapter 25 (R. Glick and M. Hutchison) and chapter 26 (Y-W Cheung and H. Miao).
This book addresses the economic issues that are relevant for more than four dozen Pacific Rim countries. Many of these issues are also important for the world’s other regions (e.g., implications of intra-regional differences in: political systems, the endowment of natural resources, and the levels of economic development). The editors also single out as important for the region many dimensions of interactions between the United States and China. Specifically, various attempts in the past at regional cooperation or coordination in trade, finance, regulatory standards and macroeconomic policies are all influenced to some extent by the regional presence of China and the United States. Many of the chapters as well pay attention to the implications of China for the regional (as well as global) economies.
Papers in part 1 discuss topics including the exploitation of the region’s natural resources by Western and other countries, climate change and natural disasters. Papers in part 2 discuss, for example, demographic changes and migration, and their impacts on intergenerational transfers (chapter 5). These are problems in Japan now but some other countries will also face them soon. Human capital accumulation continues to be important for economic development of this region, but considerable differences exist in the effectiveness of upgrading workers’ human capital (chapter 6). Papers in part 3 focus on economic growth and development. Many studies on Japan on this topic exist in the literature, and we see much research on this topic being conducted on China. Comparing Pacific Rim countries in Asia and Latin America, Bosworth and Collins (chapter 2) show that: Latin American countries lag behind their Asian counterparts in growth; Asia’s developing nations tend to rely on capital accumulation for growth; and they still lag high-income countries significantly in terms of per-capita income. Lin and Hinh (chapter 8) make a unique contribution to the study of the economic development of the fourteen island nations of the Pacific. Chapter 9 concludes that improved efficiency and effectiveness of government spending will be required for the region’s further effective development.
Papers in part 4 discuss the role of regional institutions (e.g., the Asian Development Bank, regional free trade agreements), multinational firms and international trade. Multinational firms play significant roles in the regional economy, for example, in developing their global production supply chains (chapter 13). China, however, exercises its strong bargaining position vis-à-vis large Western multinationals, thus causing a divergence between the Western geopolitical objective to contain China and the geoeconomic realities with a strengthened China (chapter 11). Intra-regional as well as global trade issues are also discussed (chapter 14). Papers in part 5 discuss industrial policies, innovation and their implications. Kaur (chapter 15) discusses the traditional flying geese theory of development, foreign direct investment (FDI) and related concepts such as catch-up industrialization. The role of multinational firms in trade, particularly their inter-firm and inter-country trade patterns are examined (chapter 16). Industrial policy is a primary policy tool for some Asian governments for promoting economic growth. Pack (chapter 17), applying his own methodology to Taiwan, estimates that while industrial policy did have some positive impacts on Taiwan’s growth, most of the growth is attributable to physical and human capital accumulation, good macroeconomic policies, and overall innovation. Topics on culture and creative industries in some of the Asian countries are also discussed (chapters 18, 19). Papers in part 5 discuss macroeconomic issues with a focus on China and its currency (RMB) in the global market. The role of flexible exchange rates in the post-Asia currency crisis and the Mundell-Fleming trilemma are discussed (chapters 21, 22). Current account imbalances and related global finance issues are discussed in chapters 23, 24 and 25. Ogawa and Nakamura (chapter 23) recommend against the possibility of implementing some form of Asian currency unit, given the recent experience of the euro zone. Chinn and Ito (chapter 24) argue that remedying the current account imbalances might require China’s undertaking significant changes in the way its financial markets and institutions are organized. In fact China’s domestic financial development (as of early 2012) has been modest, while internationalization of its currency and liberalization of capital controls has been limited (chapter 25). Also political factors must be considered for explaining the evolving role of the RMB in international markets (chapter 26).
These 26 chapters cover many topics well. One topic of interest that is not covered fully is the role business groups play in economic development. Business groups are prevalent in India, Japan, China, South Korea, Thailand and other countries. Japan’s prewar zaibatsu groups’ role in economic development is documented by Morck and Nakamura (“Business Groups and the Big Push: Meiji Japan’s Mass Privatization and Subsequent Growth,” Enterprise and Society 8, 2007: 543-601). South Korea’s chaebols are thought to have played a similar role. Business groups also play major roles in organizing supply chains and production networks.
The introduction states that papers in this handbook collectively provide useful insights about the economics of the Pacific Rim region. The editors have succeeded in their task.
Masao Nakamura, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD TRADING SYSTEM: Asian Perspectives. A VoxEU.org Book. Edited by Richard E. Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai, and Ganeshan Wignaraja. Tokyo: Asian Development Bank Institute; London: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 2013. viii, 169 leaves. (Figures, tables.) eBook: http://www.voxeu.org/sites/default/files/Future_World_Trading_System.pdf.
This book brings together abridged versions of papers presented at a conference held at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva in March 2013. Following the editorial introduction and opening remarks by the then director-general of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, the book is thematically organized into four sections: supply chains and production networks, commercial and industrial policies, regional trade governance, and global trade governance.
The first section begins with a chapter by Baldwin (chapter 3) which argues for reforming world trade governance to accommodate the expansion of global production networks (GPNs). The case made here for a new “WTO 2.0” has, however, completely overlooked the pivotal role played by unilateral trade and investment liberalization and other supply-side reforms in East Asia’s success in reaping gains from joining GPNs. The proposed global initiatives could perhaps play a facilitating role at the margin, but solid unilateral action by individual countries is the key to achieving the expected outcome. Inomoto (chapter 4) illustrates how, in a context where trade within GPNs is expanding rapidly, the use of official (gross) trade statistics leads to inaccurate measurement of bilateral trade imbalances and presents alternative “value-added” estimates derived by combining official trade statistics and input-output (I-O) tables. These estimates need to be treated with caution because of the well-known limitations of the available I-O data and the underlying restrictive assumptions of the estimation method (Robert E. Yuskavage, “Perspectives from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis,” in Trade in Value Added: Developing New Measures of Cross-Border Trade, eds. Adithya Mattoo et al., Washington DC: World Bank, 2013, 331–335). The methodological issues aside, it is important to emphasize that the measurement of bilateral trade imbalances is rather inconsequential for assessing the developmental implications of GPNs. Trade theory postulates, and the East Asian experience vividly illustrates, that a single-minded focus on domestic value addition can hamper, rather than help, employment expansion (and hence poverty alleviation) through global economic integration. Based on resource allocation considerations derived from the principle of comparative advantage, one can make a strong case for the expansion of low-value-added export industries in a labour abundant economy. When a country imports capital-intensive inputs such as machinery, synthetic fibre and industrial chemicals with foreign exchange earned by exporting labour-intensive products such as garments, footwear and toys, it is implicitly substituting labour for capital in the production process. Xing (chapter 5) discusses challenge posed by the expansion of GPNs for delineating the impact of exchange rate changes on trade flows and proposes using value-added trade weights (rather than the conventional gross trade weight) for estimating the real exchange rate index. His prognosis is very clear, but the proposed remedy seems to have ignored the well-known empirical regularity that, for a given country, source country composition of parts and components imports differ considerably from the destination-country composition of its final (assembled) goods export. Wignaraja (chapter 6) examines the role of SME in GPNs based on a firm-level survey of selected East Asian countries. The chapter is informative, but unfortunately it has completely overlooked the role of multinational enterprises (MNEs), the key players of GPNs, in fostering the participation of SMEs. There is ample evidence that SMEs emerge de novo benefiting from the vendor development (sub-contracting) strategies of MNEs. The real policy challenge is not simply to design policies to promote SMEs, but to explore alternative pathways to facilitate forging links between MNEs and potential local entrepreneurs.
In section 2, Low and Tijala (chapter 7) provide a synthesis of trade and industry policy choices, with a clear warning of the risk of possible government failure. Evenett (chapter 8) provides a fascinating analysis of the proliferation of non-traditional (non-tariff) forms of trade protection in clear violation of WTO obligations during the years following the onset of the global financial crisis. The chapter makes a strong case for revising WTO rules with a view to averting “murky” protectionism. Pomfret and Pontines (chapter 9) find that countries have begun to rely increasingly on exchange rate policy as a trade policy instrument because of their trade liberalization commitments under free-trade agreements (FTAs). This finding points to the need for an exchange-rates coordination mechanism within FTA blocks.
Section 3 is by far the best part of the book. Kawai and Wignaraja (chapter 10) provide a stage-setting overview of the untoward consequences of the proliferation of overlapping FTAs and the related reform proposals. Chia (chapter 11) provides an interesting analytical narrative of the progress made, and challenges faced by, the Association of the South East Asian nations (ASEAN) in its move towards an economic community. Urata (chapter 12) critically examines the proposal for consolidating ASEAN’s FTAs with Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea to form a mega FTA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Dupont (chapter 13) provides a penetrating analysis of the viability of both RCEP and the proposed Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) in light of the European experience. The evidence harnessed in these two chapters casts serious doubts on the viability of the proposed mega FTAs.
Among the contributions in the final section, Uyama (chapter 15) argues for placing emphasis on negotiating pluralistic agreements that specifically focus on a single trade issue (following the example of the Information Technology Agreement) as a solution to the present stalemate of the Doha Round trade negotiations. The remaining chapters break no new grounds and read like straight transcripts of impromptu conference presentations.
Notwithstanding the limitations noted, overall this is an important book that helps the fertilization of new ideas on a subject of contemporary policy relevance. The book is compact and generally well edited and organized, but its reader-friendliness could have been further improved by adding a list of abbreviations and acronyms, and a subject index.
Prema-chandra Athukorala, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ASIAN CONNECTIVITY. Edited by Biswa Nath Bhattacharyay, Masahiro Kawai, Rajat M. Nag. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar in association with the Asian Development Bank Institute and Asian Development Bank, 2012. xviii, 498 pp. (Figures, tables.) £120.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-78100-312-1.
The need to boost regional trade to integrate communities, provide employment and lessen poverty is paramount and well recognized. Also acknowledged is that greater regional trade is a function of quality infrastructure. But the state of infrastructure in Asia is still below par, and so is the ensuing degree of economic integration. It is in this context that this well-researched book must be read, as it provides meticulously collected data that will help economists and policy makers interested in Asia and regional infrastructure.
The first part of the book takes up the commendable task of quantifying the infrastructural demands of the region from 2010 to 2020 and the likely benefits of having the desired infrastructure. This also includes sub-regional findings (impact on the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and South Asia in chapters 3 and 4) and country-specific estimates within chapters. The demand for infrastructure in Asia is calculated in the first chapter using an econometric model (termed as the “top-down” approach) as well as by actually assessing the 1202 infrastructural projects that are underway (“bottom-up” estimation) by way of calculating the cumulative cost of implementing these projects. The top-down approach led to an estimated demand of Rs 2.17 trillion for India in 10 years. This chapter also breaks down infrastructural needs (ICT, water, electricity, transport, etc.) by sector and raises the question of financing, which is addressed in chapter 10.
Updated, modified versions of the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model were used to measure the impact of improvements in transport infrastructure on trade in the Asian sub-regions. The results firmly indicate that trade facilitation, helped by improved physical connectivity between countries, will have positive impacts on poverty alleviation and income in GMS. While the positive welfare impacts of a reduction in regional transportation costs in South Asia are identified in the following chapter—and more recent studies seem to confirm these impacts (Tsunehiro Otsuki, Keiichiro Honda, John S. Wilson, “Trade facilitation in South Asia,” South Asian Journal of Global Business Research 2 no. 2 (2013): 172–190)—the centrality of political logjams in issues surrounding trade facilitation in the sub-continent cannot be understated.
The second part of the book will particularly interest policy formulators and implementers, as it highlights the policy imperatives of evaluating infrastructural projects. It offers a qualitative exercise that brings to the fore the do’s and don’ts of project implementation, which might, for one, help avoid cost and time overruns. Chapter 7, which deals with inter-country infrastructure in Asia, speaks of a need to address issues of governance, as local capital is not too scarce to fund infrastructure. Governance and the institutional aspects of infrastructure building are an important thrust area of the book. Chapter 8 deals with the environmental impacts of the energy sector. Chapter 9 has lessons for the Asia-Pacific region from the EU, whose cross-border institutions (regulatory, legal, etc.) and infrastructure are of high quality—as a result of which 71 percent of its total exports are intra-regional. The EU, however, doesn’t come across as a perfectly politically integrated region, and there is not much that Asia can learn from the EU in that respect.
The last part of the book contends with addressing infrastructure financing needs—a difficult and relatively less traveled terrain in the literature. The first chapter in this section suggests financing tools for infrastructure building in Asia, including a common central bank for Asia, regional infrastructure companies, and other already-in-use tools like PPP and MDBs. Importantly, it talks about how Asian savings and surpluses are tucked away in US bond markets or used up in non-productive activities like stock market speculation and real estate investments. An important policy implication of this narrative, one that the author draws, is that Asian economies should develop deeper financial markets back home. But their attractiveness as an investment choice needs to be looked into.
Chapter 11 deals with the role of FDI in regional infrastructure, a crucial area of study in the given area, but stops short of either analyzing the determinants of FDI or mapping the FDI trends in the region per se. Instead, the chapter comprehensively looks at the FDI-financed regional infrastructural projects across the world as a possible blueprint for Asia. Chapter 12 demonstrates how the PPP model was used to fund EU regional infrastructure and accommodates a project-wise tabulation of PPP projects in all individual EU countries, which is commendable. The challenges of the PPP model, including risk allocation, in very large and long-gestation projects are pointed out. While India has warmed up to the PPP model in the past few years, these chapters will have an important bearing on India’s infrastructure policy making.
This book raises a question future research might address through the lens of public policy: why do some regions not manage to integrate well despite the known benefits to regional trade? One hopes this book will prompt policy makers to give Asian integration serious thought. This prescriptive, highly fact-intensive, forward-looking and econometrically strong yet policy-oriented book is an important addition to the literature on trade infrastructure, economic integration and trade policy in Asia. Thus, it will benefit a wide range of specialist audiences, including economists and policy makers.
Pravakar Sahoo, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
REGIONAL INTEGRATION IN EAST ASIA: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives. Edited by Satoshi Amako, Shunji Matsuoka and Kenji Horiuchi. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2013. xxx, 356 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$40.00, paper. ISBN 978-92-808-1222-0.
East Asian integration has progressed steadily during the last decades, largely driven by the region’s economic success. A rapid intensification of trade and investment flows between East Asian countries related to the establishment of regional production networks has promoted real sector integration. The trend of closer economic interdependence was initially set by market forces and later supported by intergovernmental policy initiatives through the signing of various regional free trade agreements (FTAs) and broader economic partnership agreements. Today, 50 to 55 percent of East Asia’s total trade occurs at the intraregional level—a clear indicator of the region’s high degree of interdependence in the real sector.
Progress has also occurred in the area of money and finance, albeit with lower intensity, as East Asian financial markets remain somewhat underdeveloped. Besides, regional financial integration has followed a reverse pattern from that of the real sector: it was prompted by initiatives for intergovernmental cooperation introduced in response to the Asian financial crisis of 1997/98, more than by market forces. Typically, such initiatives were adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea—ASEAN+3.
East Asian regionalism is also showing continuous progress in a multiplicity of other areas from people-to-people exchanges, security, infrastructure development, environment, energy, health, sport, education, and the provision of other regional public goods through the shared management of common resources. Although in recent years political problems have been troubling the horizon for international relations among key East Asian countries (mainly due to disputes over a few islands in the Japan Sea and South-China Sea) all in all the last few decades have been marked by a rapid intensification of East Asian regionalization, at a time when East Asian countries have also been undertaking an unprecedented move towards globalization: economically, socially and culturally.
The book Regional Integration in East Asia: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives, edited by three well-known scholars from Waseda University (Satoshi Amako, Shunji Matsuoka and Kenji Horiuchi) provides an excellent analysis of how East Asian countries are following at the same time both processes of regionalization and globalization, with few contradictions but large synergies and complementarities. The study provides an insightful review of the theoretical approaches that contribute to the understanding of East Asian integration logic and trends, including long-term historical perspectives of key countries such as China, Japan and the ASEAN member states.
The book is structured in three parts. The first part covers a detailed discussion of theoretical contributions on East Asian integration, including issues related to mandates, norms and governance of regional institutions, social aspects concerning the creation of a region-wide community in comparison with the European experience, and the influence of domestic politics on the pace of regionalization through FTAs. The second part analyzes specific issues, from economic integration, to cooperation in areas such as energy, the environment, education and regional security. Finally, the third part provides an interesting historical perspective to Asian integration, covering the views of several key thinkers who promoted the idea of regionalism and pan-Asian approaches. It also includes a review of key historical events which contributed to the formation of today’s East Asian regionalization.
In addition to the need for promoting regionalism in parallel and in a complementary fashion with globalism, a major finding of the study is that China’s emergence as a key player in the process of East Asian integration creates both centripetal and centrifugal forces that operate at the same time. While China is helping in many ways to make East Asia a more cohesive region, it also pushes for a reconsolidation of old alliances between East Asian countries (for example Japan, Korea and the Philippines) with the United States, and non-regional powers as well. In turn, this contributes to making the current status of East Asian integration particularly complex and defined by a multiplicity of layers and non-univocal perspectives. The ability to treat such complexity in a rigorous analytical framework, such as the one adopted by Waseda’s Global Institute for Asia’s Regional Integration (GIARI), is a major contribution of the study.
The focus on international relations is, however, one of the book’s intrinsic limitations. The chapter by Shujiro Urata is the only one in the whole book that focuses on economic issues. And while this chapter provides an excellent analysis of integration and cooperation in the real sector, it is also important to discuss the financial and monetary pillar of East Asian integration, as well as other key components of regional economic interdependence such as infrastructure and connectivity.
Many important institutions and initiatives for East Asian integration were created in response to the 1997/98 financial crisis, and given the need to further develop Asian financial sectors, and increase their efficiency, money and finance will likely play a major role as drivers of regional integration in the future. At the same time, the development of regional infrastructure has greatly facilitated the creation of economic corridors linking subregions, such as the one involving Mekong River countries, and deserve a detailed analysis in order to provide a complete snapshot of today’s East Asia.
Other important aspects of integration which are missing in the study relate to the various dimensions of people-to-people exchanges, including tourism flows, cultural activities, sports, and community-building initiatives organized through the civil society. These exchanges are fundamental contributions to the formation of regional identity and, as explained in the GIARI model, to the creation of a new culture emerging from the civil society that appreciates the benefits of social, political, and economic integration with regional neighbors.
The GIARI model could also be strengthened by a wider and deeper analysis of the issues of leadership and legitimacy. Now that economic development is providing the internal financial resources needed to build an East Asian community, legitimacy remains a crucial factor for aspiring regional leaders. The mechanisms to ensure the region’s equitable and sustainable development deserve more space too, as they are of utmost importance to guarantee regional harmony—a key feature stressed in the East Asian model compared with that of Europe and other regional groupings.
Despite these shortcomings the study remains a major contribution and a key reference for future works.
Giovanni Capannelli, Asian Development Bank Institute, Tokyo, Japan
THE EAST ASIAN PEACE: Conflict Prevention and Informal Peacebuilding. Critical Studies of the Asia-Pacific Series. By Mikael Weissmann. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. xiv, 219 pp. (Tables, figures.), US$90.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-230-31396-5.
Given that the East Asian headlines most prominent in the global press recently focus on maritime military tensions and dark warnings about the conflicts these could spark, many will be surprised to pick up a book entitled The East Asian Peace and discover that this region has been uniquely peaceful. Quantitative research confirms that East Asia has been relatively more peaceful than other regions. As author Mikael Weissmann observes, the “last major armed interstate conflict” in East Asia was the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war (7–8).
Lest one is tempted to conclude that harmony is breaking out in East Asia, alas, the recent headlines are not entirely wrong. Weissmann finds many potential conflicts, not only in Northeast Asia, but also in Southeast Asia, where numerous unresolved territorial disputes remain, some of which became militarized. Nonetheless, this militarization failed to lead to armed conflict, a fact reflecting the East Asian peace (8). His explanation for this is “an underlying peace-building process has concurrently transformed interstate relations” (10). Weissmann goes beyond identifying a “no-war peace” and asserts “East Asia indeed enjoys a ‘relative peace’ both in terms of quality and stability”(10). Supporting this, he notes that “all of China’s land border disputes with its Southeast Asian neighbors have been resolved”(10). One might add that the same is true for China’s land border disputes with Russia and the Central Asian Republics.
Weissmann makes an even more distinctive claim when he challenges the dominant Western view that East Asian multilateralism has been ineffective. Unlike this view, he takes informal processes seriously, and finds that East Asia has developed significant preventive diplomacy and conflict management mechanisms. I have heard Japanese diplomats make a similar claim, namely that Western accounts overlook the ASEAN Way of conflict management. This consists of several processes in Weissmann’s view: elite interactions, back-channel negotiations, economic interdependence and integration, functional integration, multilateralism, and institutionalization of peaceful relations (149). East Asians thereby develop “positive relations despite the existence of conflicting issues,” and this “has been institutionalized in the ASEAN Way, with its sensitivity for avoiding confrontation, focusing on conflict avoidance, and saving face while building consensus”(164). Western approaches to conflict resolution emerge from this book as intellectually well developed, but benighted in terms of emotional intelligence. By contrast, the ASEAN Way emerges as less intellectually developed, but as more emotionally intelligent, and thereby ultimately as more successful.
For a Scandinavia-based observer, Weissmann expresses surprising belief in the efficacy of personal networks. Rather than seeing these as synonymous with corruption, he argues that “personal networks facilitate the optimal selection of participants for track-two diplomacy” (163).
Weissmann suggests that these regional processes are leading to the Asianization or “ASEANization” of China: “the ASEAN Way has been important for the Chinese learning and self-redefinition process” (160). He claims that ASEAN has “entangled the dragon”: “China has become locked into a web of institutionalized multilateral practices, agreements and norm systems”(159). Nevertheless, it remains unclear to what extent China has become “locked in,” and how much mutual interdependence there is versus one-sided dependence by China’s neighbours? China has rather appeared to socialize to the US practice of using economic sanctions as a weapon in political disputes.
This book reflects the peak of East Asia’s security multilateralism that was reached in 2003-2004, and largely overlooks more recent troubles. Yet, one can use this book’s framework to understand some of the recent tensions. For example, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) emphasized transparency, official diplomatic channels, and rule of law in its dealings with China, especially regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute, which contrasts strongly with the non-confrontational, back-channel approach favoured by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) (and which avoided applying Japanese law to these islands). In light of Weissmann’s analysis we can identify the DPJ’s transparent and formal approach as a major reason for the aggravation of this bilateral dispute from 2010.
Weissmann appears over-optimistic in light of recent events when claiming “key maritime flashpoints in the South China Sea have been mitigated and a consensus has been reached among the parties to resolve the dispute peacefully” (10). In contrast to Weissmann’s constructivist approach, which sees these informal peace-building processes socializing states and leading to a redefinition of national interests and identities, realists would view the progress this book identifies as an artifact of a transient distribution of power, with a rising China interested in closer economic integration and a peaceful environment, and not yet strong enough to unilaterally have its way. One problem with such a critique, however, is that it is not clear ten years later that the distribution of capabilities has moved enough to explain China’s shift in behaviour, assuming there has been a shift.
Weissmann identifies the US military presence in the region as one important cause for the East Asian peace. As a non-US-based observer, he can arguably look at this more dispassionately than many US-based observers who dominate the discourse on East Asian security, and who can have institutional and even identity and emotional investments in the US military presence. Although Weissmann identifies the US role as positive for regional peace (with the partial exception of the Korean Peninsula), he nonetheless argues that the US role has been modest, as it has not contributed much to improving the quality of the East Asian peace, and only contributes to the no-war peace. A realist might argue that it was precisely in 2003–2004, when the US was distracted from the region, that regional processes reached their height and that it was when the US reengaged and attempted to contain China that regional tensions rose. Recent tensions notwithstanding, the East Asian peace, at least as a minimal no-war peace, remains largely intact. No armed conflicts have erupted. The regional preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution mechanisms that Weissmann identified persist and are at work attempting to resolve current tensions.
In sum, this book is a must-read for anyone focusing on East Asian regional security. It presents the most comprehensive argument to date about how and why East Asia’s informal conflict prevention and peacebuilding mechanisms are more effective than Western observers realize.
Paul Midford, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
CLEAVAGE, CONNECTION AND CONFLICT IN RURAL, URBAN AND CONTEMPORARY ASIA. ARI – Springer Asia Series, v. 3. Tim Bunnell, D. Parthasarthy, Eric C. Thompson, editors. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013. viii, 247 pp. (Tables, figures, maps, plates.) US$99.00, cloth. ISBN 978-94-007-5481-2.
This is a welcome addition to the literature on rural-urban relations in contemporary Asia. The edited volume brings together 13 chapters written by 16 authors dealing with four countries. In the introduction, the editors contend that most social research is conceived either from an urban or agrarian perspective. To address this issue, the book shows a great deal of coherence in the objective of transcending the analytical limitations that arise from conceptions of urban and rural as “spatially distinct and discrete domains” (5). The originality of this work as a whole certainly lies in its broadly defined aims surrounding the articulation of social, cultural and political relations across the urban and the rural, which reflects how these geographical units are increasingly blurred in a time of heightened mobility.
The book is organized in four parts, one for each country—India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand—and the chapters address case studies in many sub-national regions. In this regard, the book appears as an overview of issues relevant to the fields of urban planning, cultural geography, sociology, political science and social anthropology, in Southeast and South Asia. However, as a result of this breadth, it lacks the depth of a more circumscribed account.
The first part addresses how urbanization has provided new opportunities and constraints for both dominant and subaltern groups in India. Chapter 2 explores how rural elites in states such as Maharashtra seek to secure access to capital cities where they can wield power over financial flows. State capitals such as Hyderabad are coveted by dominant castes to gain privileged access to state agencies “with the power to make decisions on contracts, permits, and licenses” (27). Chapter 3 considers the political and institutional situation in India which has led to erratic governance of land. In this context, actors with in-depth local knowledge of land histories and ground-level experience at dealing with complex land governance systems play a central role in land transactions. Chapter 4 addresses the pressure exerted by the expansion of the city of Mumbai on resources in the hinterland, which historically formed the livelihood of forest dwellers. The authors sketch out the impact of successive legislations, both for extraction and conservation purposes, on resource access for indigenous tribes.
Part 2 focuses mainly on new legal frameworks affecting urban-rural interactions in Indonesia. Chapter 5 provides an account on the challenges of urban planning in Greater Yogyakarta, which stretches over three administrative units, two of which are predominantly rural. Although decentralization legislation has fragmented regional governance, a joint secretariat has provided an effective horizontal structure to coordinate infrastructure services at the regional scale. In chapter 6, the authors argue that the war which unfolded in the countryside of Aceh in the postcolonial era exacerbated imbalances between urban and rural areas. However, the post-New Order legislation on regional autonomy and the 2005 Helsinki peace agreement have opened up more possibilities for political and economic cooperation across urban and rural spaces. Chapter 7 addresses the issue of economic development in the medium-sized cities of Java and questions the association of urbanization and improvement of economic welfare. The author highlights that Cirebon is a case of urbanization without development as the city is especially affected by economic reconversion and the end of redistribution mechanisms linked to fiscal decentralization.
Part 3 deals with representations of rural Malaysia, a country which is predominantly urban, with institutionalized ethnic categories. Chapter 8 analyzes the perceptions of Malay inhabitants of a village which has been integrated into a suburban area of Penang Island. Some villagers perceive themselves as “insiders” with a privileged relation to place, while people can be identified as “outsiders” when they are perceived to threaten the cohesion of the imagined village society. In chapter 9, the author explores the gendered dimension of modernization in a village of Negeri Sembilan and warns against essentialist visions of Malay rural societies. Increased mobility linked to work in the service and industrial economy has individualized socioeconomic relations. The agricultural sector, long a sphere dominated by women, is increasingly neglected, although women remain important landowners. And chapter 10 presents an argument about how chauvinistic discourses are mobilized by urban political elites to delegitimize the choice of rural voters in Malaysia as elsewhere. The chapter historicizes this question in regards with class relations within the Malay population and contrasts it with America, China and Thailand, where the same trend is observed.
Part 4 explores meanings taken on by the rural and the urban in Thailand according to different socio-political stances. Chapter 11 explores the perceptions in Thai society on the phua farang phenomenon: intermarriage between Western men and Isan women. In a moralistic fashion, phua farang is condemned by the urban elite, which denies agency to rural women and seeks to ascribe to rural women the role of safeguarding national tradition. Chapter 12 revisits the history of the formation of the Red Shirt movement to highlight the emergence of a distinct political subjectivity emerging from rural areas, but with a broader subaltern base. The Red Shirt movement would have been a response of disadvantaged urban and rural populations to elitist aristocratic urban-based chauvinism and their attempt to take over the state in a coup d’état in 2006. Chapter 13 provides an ethnographic narrative about the city of Chiang Mai envisioned by rural migrants as a place of encounter, of possibilities and danger. The account shows lives unfolding in anxious times of political and economic crisis, times particularly unsettling for newcomers.
The book is an original contribution which succeeds in showing the problematic aspects of rural and urban categories for governance and political imagination. However, the broad disciplinary, geographical and methodological scope undermines the sense of cohesion that derives from the common epistemological aim. Moreover, it seems that organizing the chapters according to dominant themes would have rendered more obvious the convergence of processes and meaning formation across nations. Nevertheless, these flaws do not undermine the overall quality of this contribution, which furthers our understanding of social transformations in Asia.
Jean-François Bissonnette, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
TRANSITIONS AND NON-TRANSITIONS FROM COMMUNISM: Regime Survival in China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam. By Steven Saxonberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. xi, 350 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$100.95, cloth. ISBN 978-1-107-02388-8.
WHY COMMUNISM DID NOT COLLAPSE: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe. Edited by Martin K. Dimitrov. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. xiv, 375 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$34.99, paper. ISBN 978-1-107-65113-5.
The fragments that seemingly confirm the decline of communism are visible everywhere in the twenty-first century: the Wall reduced to a memorial in the centre of Berlin in Germany; a Lenin statue decapitated in the southern district of Orenburg, Russia; empty spots in Albania where Enver Hoxa’s statues used to stand over the hills of his hometown of Gjirokastër and Skanderbeg Square in the capital Tirana; and the sense of anachronistic quaintness draping the street signs in central Maputo, Mozambique adorned with familiar names from the pantheon of socialist state leaders in the 1970s such as Kim Il-Sung. These, however, deflect attention from a rather obvious fact: there remain communist or socialist states in the post-Cold War age, even if in different forms than Marx or Lenin might have envisaged.
The two books reviewed here, as indicated by their titles, ask a common and cogent question: what explains the collapse or transition from communism in some nation-states, while others retained communism in some form? Steven Saxonberg’s single-authored book focuses on, as the subtitle indicates, “regime survival” in China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam, while Martin Dimitrov’s edited volume deals with “regime resilience” in Asia and Europe via comparative analyses of several collapsed Eastern European communist states and the extant communist states of China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam. Both start with the position that cases of survival and collapse can be fruitfully compared to provide more robust insights into the reasons behind these divergent outcomes, and both argue persuasively that additional variables to just the use of systematic repression must be taken into account when analyzing the causes of these divergent outcomes.
The books are structured along thematic lines rather than by country cases. Saxonberg’s nine chapters include an introduction followed by a chapter that outlines regime typology based on hegemony and ideological legitimacy, then a chapter that analyzes the role of nationalism in fuelling personalistic regimes in China, Vietnam and North Korea, among others. Chapter 4 examines how opposition within states is affected by changes in the type of regime, while the following chapter, focusing on East European cases, outlines the notion of “revolutionary potential”: the extent of frustrated rising expectations and the ease with which oppositional groups can disseminate their messages to the larger society. Chapter 6 overviews negotiated transitions from authoritarianism that were not racked by violence, and chapter 7 explains two cases of communist, one-party rule survival—China and Vietnam—via a focus on their respective variations on state capitalism and ends with a prediction of negotiated transition for these countries in the future. The following chapter explores non-transitions in maturing and patrimonial communisms through a comparative analysis of North Korea and Cuba. The ninth and final chapter is a conclusion that sums up the findings and takes a brief tour of future prospects for the remaining communist states (other than Laos).
Dimitrov’s volume has eleven chapters—an introduction and nine body chapters—organized around four types of adaptation: economic; ideological; those caused from international sources; and institutional adaptations that increase inclusivity or accountability. A conclusion sums up the findings and looks ahead. Most of the chapters are explicitly comparative, while some focus on one case with some added comparative references. Thomas Bernstein compares resilience and collapse in China and the Soviet Union in the first body chapter by looking at liberalization, scale of reform, sequencing and leadership. After comparing China, North Korea and the Soviet Union in his chapter, Vladimir Tismaneanu argues that some “communist regimes disappeared because they lost their hierocratic credentials” (98). In chapter 4, Charles Armstrong explains the importance of ideology in North Korea’s regime survival, while in the next, Valerie Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik outline three diffusion models for transition—demonstration effects, similar conditions and spread of transnational networks. Mark Kramer then examines the dynamics of diffusion of transitions and the impact on regime survival in the Soviet Bloc in chapter 6, while in chapter 7 Mary Gallagher and Jonathan Hanson apply selectorate theory to authoritarian survival and resilience to conclude that the composition of the winning coalition matters as much as its size. Incremental reforms as significant contributors to regime durability in China are the focus of Kellee Tsai’s analysis in the next chapter. Chapter 9 is a comparison of the substantive differences between vertical and horizontal institutions of accountability in China and Vietnam by Regina Abrami, Edmund Malesky and Yu Zheng. The final body chapter, “Vertical Accountability in Communist Regimes” by Dimitrov, draws on an impressive range of Bulgarian and Chinese sources to compare the role of citizen complaints in eroding vertical accountability in the two countries up to 1989, and why one regime collapsed while the other survived.
A closer look at case selection criteria and geographic coverage reveals a few differences. Both start with the position that despite the unity within diversity or diversity within the unity that the assemblage of communist states present, it is emphatically useful to compare countries that transitioned (whether through peaceful or violent processes) away from communism with those that did not. But Saxonberg aspires to cover a sampling of communist countries from around the world, while the Dimitrov volume limits itself to Asia and Europe.
Saxonberg explains the logic for including only Ethiopia from African states, why Grenada was included along with Nicaragua from Latin America, and why Laos, Cambodia, Bulgaria and Albania were excluded. According to the author’s assertion, he claims the four countries excluded were not “key” cases, but does not clarify by what criteria this conclusion was reached. If one were to select the diffusion of personalist dictatorship (“patrimonial communism” in his terminology) as a potential indicator for transition or non-transition, surely Albania could have been an important case. If genocide or systematic use of violence were isolated as key variables affecting regime resilience or likelihood for transitions, presumably Cambodia would have been a key example. Aside from relative importance, Saxonberg states that there are not many secondary sources on these specific countries. This is perhaps correct in relative terms. However, there are several major books and notable articles published in English on Cambodia, Laos, Bulgaria and Albania that could have been used. Saxonberg also notes that he does not have the language capacities to access the “original sources” in these cases (11), indirectly suggesting that he used primary source materials for the cases he did include. However, there is zero indication that he used materials in the original languages for his empirical information on countries such as China and North Korea. His final reason for excluding some cases, the lack of time, is the most persuasive: after all, he has covered a laudable number of countries by himself, especially when the original plan was for the book to be jointly authored with two others.
Dimitrov and company mark their catchment area more succinctly, ostensibly focusing on the 15 “core” communist states that were recognized by the Soviet Union, all of which had considerable communist party size and reach, economic nationalization and agricultural collectivization, and used communist ideology as a tool for indoctrination and mobilization. In contrast to Saxonberg’s grouping, the core 15 includes Laos, Bulgaria and Albania, but not Cambodia. Cambodia, instead, is categorized as part of a set of 11 countries placed under the rubric of “Communist penumbra” states that are excluded from the comparison set due to insufficient scale and scope in the analytical areas outlined above (17–19). The case for comparability of communist states pre-1989, the five surviving states, and of these five with those that collapsed 1989–1991, is also explicitly explained; but the countries that are actually analyzed do not map perfectly to the boundaries drawn in the introduction. For example, Laos makes several appearances in Dimitrov’s introduction but returns in only the most cursory of fashions in a handful of spots in the rest of the chapters. Mongolia, one of the core 15, is a central part of Mark Kramer’s chapter, but merits no significant mentions in the others. Two former Soviet republics in Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, are not flagged at all in the introduction, but are briefly analyzed in chapter 5 by Bunce and Wolchik.
In terms of the analysis, both list similar factors in explaining regime survival. In addition to violent repression, institutional reforms in political and economic fields, the adjustment of ideologies to maintain legitimacy, and reactions to social unrest via changes in accountability and inclusivity are raised in both texts. There are some differences in the list of variables: Saxonberg distinguishes more clearly between stages or types of socialist states (i.e., maturing – reforming, or freezing) and places more emphasis on the issue of timing of reforms (333). Dimitrov and company, on the other hand, note the role of spatial contiguity in explaining diffusion of revolts and transitions, and assert that continuous adaptive change has resulted in a higher likelihood of regime resilience (8).
Both works draw from existing analyses of authoritarian or autocratic regimes, but the distinctions between authoritarian regimes of the socialist ilk and those that might be categorized as non-socialist and personalist, single-party or bureaucratic authoritarian seem to move in and out of focus. There is the slippage in terms: the Dimitrov volume title explicitly refers to “communism” but several of the chapters continuously refer to “authoritarianism” and make comparisons to non-socialist or communist governments in Tunisia and Syria (211) or Africa and the Middle East (148). But more importantly, the question of whether or not the explanations for regime stability or collapse applies to all types of authoritarian states or not, or if in limited forms, based on what factors, is not examined at much depth. Dimitrov acknowledges the potential problems of generalizability (4–5, 19), but differences in types of political rule and natural resource endowments are treated briefly and in a rather cursory manner (311–312), while Saxonberg, discussing other socialist-personalist cases in his explanation of case selection criteria, does not appear to address the issue of generalizability across different sub-types. For specialists of Asian politics, for example, the potential utility, or lack thereof, of looking at single-party (or single-party dominated) governments of Singapore and Malaysia, or an absolute monarchy such as Brunei, with those of Vietnam and Laos might have been an interesting avenue of exploration, especially if the role of contiguity and demonstration effects are significant factors in generating visions of alternative forms of governance.
Even as things stand, some of the comparative insights appear to generate observations that seem to teeter close to being too general to be useful. Even if external threats have helped fuel the use of nationalism in conjunction with communist ideology in China, Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea (Dimitrov, 26), most specialists of these countries would point to differences in ethnic and language diversity, scale of territory, natural resource endowments, efficiency of the propaganda apparatus, and a range of other factors that would create significant differences in the relative weight that perceived external threats would have in fuelling the production of nationalist ideologies in each.
But these issues ultimately do not alter the fact that these books are paragons for the case that socialist or communist states can and should be productively analyzed as a group, regardless of regime collapse or resilience. Studies of socialist states have often been based on captivating yet isolated case studies that have created portraits without a canvas of systematic comparisons and precise causal explanations, making these two titles particularly welcome and timely. Specialists of individual socialist countries in Asia and other regions, and comparativists who focus on socialism, authoritarianism and political transitions, will all be certain to find these two formulations very useful, in fact necessary, to engage with in the future.
Hyung-Gu Lynn, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
March 2014. World stock exchanges from New York to London to Tokyo are sent into tailspins with major declines in equities and in futures prices for key commodities such as oil, metals, and food stocks. The reason? Fears that economic growth in the People’s Republic of China is fading to just over 7 percent from its previous annual highs at 10 percent or more.
Thirty-five years ago, in 1978, when the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, led by Deng Xiaoping, announced dramatic economic reforms, including plans to open the previously insulated and autarkic Chinese economy to the outside world, no one could have foreseen such a turn of events. Yet with plans to maintain 30 to 50 international conglomerates with many listed in the Fortune 500 and a growing middle class in what is now the second-largest economy in the world, China is by all accounts a major player in the international economy, a situation that will only expand. The reason for this growing economic prowess is, of course, the dramatic annual growth rates between 9 and 10 percent that the Chinese economy has sustained for the last thirty years or so. It is to this basic question that the author, a prominent economist in Europe and China, has turned her accomplished analytical skills and data collection abilities in what is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive, if sometimes a bit overloaded, books on this crucial question on the origins of China’s rapid and sustained economic growth.
Utilizing standard models of economic growth and relying on the extensive research of existing prominent research on China’s roaring economy, the author emphasizes that she sees “specific aspects” of Chinese economic growth that go beyond the standard theories. Like most works on this heavily studied topic, the exhaustive sources and research employed in the book, which the author stresses draws on more reliable micro-level over macro-level data, demonstrates that fully one-half of this growth stems from the continuing and substantial capital accumulation in China, financed primarily by a very high savings rate among the general population, corporations, and even the government. Also contributing to this rapid growth have been labour accumulation and development of human capital (10–20 percent), transfer of knowledge and technology that have accompanied joint ventures with more technologically advanced foreign corporations, and increasing investment in research and development by domestic corporations aimed at engendering “indigenous innovation.”
For this reader, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is its focus on institutional developments, especially the slow but evident creation of legal protection of property rights (2007 Property Rights Law), patent law and courts, and adherence to standards mandated by the World Trade Organization, to which China ascended in 2001. “Improved protection of property rights,” the author argues, “appears to have contributed to the strong industrial output that boosted the GDP growth of the 2000s” (315). To the extent that an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime is strengthened, especially protection of patents that are increasingly applied for by Chinese firms for protection from other Chinese firms, benefits will continue to accrue to the macro economy and hopefully the Chinese consumer.
Despite these evident gains over more than three decades, China’s economy is not without major structural and institutional problems which could affect its future prospects for continued economic growth. The most serious is the “financial repression” that rewards persistently inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with cheap and almost unlimited credit at the expense of the more efficient private-sector corporations that too often are starved of domestic capital. And while the role of the state has retreated considerably from the pre-1978 era to the point that government spending at 19 percent of GDP is among the lowest in the developing world, the author calls for recasting the Chinese state’s role from economic management through the ubiquitous Party cadres in SOEs and a government-owned and run banking system to a more conventional role of protecting property rights, especially land, and ensuring social protection for its population through comprehensive social insurance. Whether and how the Chinese state, which for more than six decades has directed China’s economy, can make this transition is left unanswered.
Even more important is a significant growth in consumption that since the 1990s has fallen dramatically largely because of stagnant wages, along with an expansion of the service sector that remains at a rather paltry 40 percent of GDP. The 12th Five-Year Economic Plan (2011–2015) calls for a rebalancing of the Chinese economy with increased domestic demand and less reliance on exports, but until capital markets, specifically interest rates, are reformed and labour mobility is less restricted, Chinese workers will continue to see their dramatic improvements in productivity go elsewhere.
A prodigious work with reams of data, numerous charts, and mathematical models and equations, this is without question an enormously well-researched book. Yet, for a non-technical economist such as this reviewer, the narrative at times gets a bit overwhelming and even leaden, with excessive references and asides in the text that should have been relegated to endnotes. Still, this is an invaluable book for anyone interested in understanding the various factors—economic, political and technological—behind China’s experience at promoting economic growth for over three decades and the necessary measures for increasing privatization, marketization and rule of law that will ensure its continuing economic prowess.
Lawrence R. Sullivan, Adelphi University, Garden City, USA
CAPITALISM FROM BELOW: Markets and Institutional Change in China. By Victor Nee, Sonja Opper. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. xv, 431 pp. (Maps, graphs, tables, illus.) US$45.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-674-05020-4.
In the book Capitalism from Below, Victor Nee and Sonja Opper ask what drove China’s post-Maoist economic transformation from a command economy to an emerging capitalist society. This ambitious study questions how the private sector was able to flourish throughout the transformative years when the government failed to provide entrepreneurs with economic resources or protection of property rights.
Nee and Opper’s impressive study offers a compelling account of how China’s emerging entrepreneurial class was able to decouple from the state-centric business model by developing a competitive market economy based on informal networks, social learning and the innovation of production models. Capitalism from Below takes the reader through the vast and complex world of informal networks and succeeds in showing the connection between the socio-economic importance of guanxi (relationships) and China’s modern economy.
The study begins by acknowledging the importance of China’s early economic reforms, which allowed for shifts in market allocation. Yet they suggest that a bottoms-up entrepreneurial spirit enabled the development of capitalist economic institutions. They focus on informal networks that self-organized and created clusters of producers, suppliers and distributors. For Nee and Opper, these networks are the origin of China’s competitive market economy as they developed information flows and cooperation between independent economic actors.
To show this the authors offer a useful Schelling diagram that outlines their theory of a multi-level causal model of institutional change. This is developed through a mixed-method research design that involved interviews, surveys and extensive fieldwork. The study’s findings are partially derived from a remarkable 711 interviews held in seven municipalities throughout the Yangzi Delta region. The authors worked with the Shanghai-based Market Survey Research Institute to identify interviewees in the manufacturing technology sector who were then selected using a stratified simple random sample.
Nee and Opper then build upon new institutionalism theory to explain China’s economic transformation. The authors draw on the work of Josef Schumpeter and Max Weber to highlight the social construction of bottoms-up capitalism. To survive China’s dysfunctional market economy, they argue that the private sector needed to “decouple” from state policy while maintaining legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party. They pay close attention to relationship-based lending that involved small loans between family and friends that allowed them to operate outside the state’s purview.
The sociological concept of isomorphism is then introduced as a pragmatic tool for explaining how entrepreneurs were able to adapt to China’s hostile economic environment. They write, “‘The dominant strategy throughout the reform period was to mimic already existing organizational forms generally perceived as legitimate, in order to limit the social and economic costs associated with decoupling from the established social and legal structure” (131). By mimicking the structure of established state-approved firms, private entrepreneurs became indistinguishable from public companies. This allowed the private sector to rapidly expand with tacit approval from the state.
The book then offers a perceptive account of the rise of industrial clusters that brought trust and cooperation between diverse entrepreneurs that enabled them to refine the region’s comparative advantage. Networks of trust along with an endless supply of migrant labour to the Yangzi delta region developed into a core economic institution that strengthened private enterprise. Pressures to innovate and stay competitive also encouraged private enterprise to develop human resource policies and an opportunity to break away from the traditional household business model. For Nee and Opper, China’s expansive labour market has thus emerged as a mainstay economic institution developed exclusively by the entrepreneurial class.
The final few chapters of the book are devoted to reinforcing the authors’ hypothesis. They write, “In sum, our evidence strongly supports our hypothesis that the effectiveness of social norms, beyond the shadow of the law … can provide robust mechanisms explaining cooperation within large social groups, thereby enabling dynamic economic development” (225). China’s entrepreneurial class has thus developed an endogenous competitive market built around a self-enforcing social structure that promotes economic innovation.
While the authors implicitly suggest that modern capitalism was an “unintended” outcome of the economic reforms instituted by the Party, they argue the government had no option but to later pursue wide economic accommodation and policy to accommodate private entrepreneurs. The government dependency on the private sector to provide economic growth has thus spurred deep relationships between officials and entrepreneurs. However, Nee and Opper are quick to clarify that while rent-seeking does occur on some level, the majority of private-sector actors do not receive long-term financial benefits from having relationships with the Party officials.
Although Nee and Opper provide an exceptional account on the role of entrepreneurism in post-Maoist China, the book is not without shortcomings. First and most strikingly, they glance over the role of the state and Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms that set the economic conditions for entrepreneurs. Without the top-down motivation for decentralization and Beijing’s directive to empower local authorities, China’s entrepreneurial class may not have been able to develop competitive markets.
Second, the overtly positive image of China’s entrepreneurs detracts from many of the controversies associated with economies in transition. There is a substantial body of literature suggesting that China’s private sector is endemically corrupt while guanxi networks have become outlets of patronage. The reader is left wondering if such networks can also damage the entrepreneurial spirit.
Finally, the reader may ask what social and environmental impact entrepreneurs have when operating outside any regulatory framework. Interestingly, the study does suggest that entrepreneurs often do not follow state regulations such as the Labour Law. Of course, the long-term social costs are beyond the scope of this study yet acknowledging the controversy may have balanced the seemingly favourable opinions the authors hold towards the entrepreneurial class.
Capitalism from Below should be considered mandatory reading not only for China specialists but also those looking to understand how the private sector complements innovation in transition economies. Nee and Opper convincingly show how personal networks and a critical mass of resilient entrepreneurs can bring about policy shifts in emerging markets. This book is not to be missed.
Robert J. Hanlon, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, Canada
CHINA’S ROAD TO GREATER FINANCIAL STABILITY: Some Policy Perspectives. Editors, Udaibir S. Das, Jonathan Fiechter and Tao Sun. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 2013. xiii, 229 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$38.00, paper. ISBN 978-1-61635-406-0.
China’s Road to Greater Financial Stability examines China’s financial institutions and policies in order to establish what risks or returns they present to financial stability. The book is well organized, addressing the different facets of China’s financial system in depth and without much overlap, and easy to read, written in clear language with a strong structure. The content is drawn out expertly, but there are two aspects missing that limit the usefulness of this manuscript. First, there is very little written about shadow banking, which is mentioned, but dismissed as a small component of the financial system. In fact, shadow banking, or non-bank loan finance, is equivalent to 30 percent of China’s bank assets (and over 50 percent of GDP) and has posed increasing risks to financial stability. Second, there is no economic or financial theory used in the text. In particular, there is no discussion of theories of financial stability and development, which vary in their assumptions and conclusions about what comprises a stable, deepening financial system.
Shadow banking has posed a large threat to China’s financial stability in recent years and therefore is one of the most relevant topics to the subject of this book. The excessive risks taken in the trust sector have been carried through to banks’ wealth management products. Risks taken by credit guarantee companies and Internet lending companies have resulted in the failure of these companies. Regulatory responses to problems in the shadow banking sector have been multiple.
Financial stability and financial development theory have changed dramatically over the past several decades. They have moved away from assumptions that financial liberalization is always beneficial for an economy and toward assumptions that countries should take a cautious approach to liberalization. Current theoretical assumptions are embodied in the policy advice presented in the volume but an explicit statement of those assumptions is omitted, which may lead to confusion. For example, various chapters in the volume state that a) finance can destabilize growth; b) that finance can become predatory in open economies; or c) that financial liberalization, including exchange rate and interest rate liberalization, is necessary to enhance growth in China. These assumptions are seemingly contradictory, but can be resolved by drawing out the theoretical underpinnings associated with them. It is probable that financial stability and financial development theory will once again change, and the assumptions implied in this volume will no longer be so evident.
Despite these gaps, the volume provides a great deal of valuable information on China’s financial system and can be used as a reference on the most relevant financial institutions and policies present in the country today. Some highlights of the book include chapter 4 by Yang Li and Xiaojing Zhang, on China’s sovereign balance sheet risks, which provides an interesting analysis of sovereign assets and liabilities and the potential financial risks associated with these; chapter 5 by Nuno Cassola and Nathan Porter, on systemic liquidity and monetary policy, which analyzes how the policies of the People’s Bank of China impact liquidity and financial prices; chapter 7 by Silvia Iorgova and Yinqiu Lu, on the structure of the banking system, which besides examining the banking system, contains a brief discussion of the relationship between banks and local governments; and chapter 11 by Shuqing Guo, on China’s capital markets, which describes China’s stock and bond markets and discusses the reform measures that have been implemented. Li and Zhang’s look at the sovereign balance sheet is an important and often overlooked component of assessing financial stability. The authors find that the possibility of a sovereign debt crisis is low, since the state has built up sufficient equity. Cassola and Porter incorporate useful figures on interest rates, bond spreads and measures of structural liquidity to discuss potential liquidity shocks due to uneven distribution of liquidity, even when overall liquidity in the system is sufficient. Iorgova and Lu deconstruct the components of the banking sector and include a brief section on the shadow banking system as well as a look at the debt burden that local government financial platforms have placed on banks. Guo’s chapter on capital markets contains useful figures on capital market structures and financial assets, and a helpful table that lists a number of reforms that are implemented or being considered and how they are being put into practice.
The book is written in a clear style by reputable contributors, and is accessible to scholars, policy makers and financial analysts who seek a clear snapshot of China’s financial system. The book is also well priced: at USD $38.00, the book can provide a useful resource for any library. The work is timely, as financial stability in China is a topic that has grown increasingly complex and of concern. An updated version of this volume that takes into account the shadow banking sector, financial stability and deepening theory, and the new financial reforms due to be implemented this year would be most welcome. As it stands, we recommend this book to those interested in China’s financial system.
Sara Hsu, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, USA
CHINESE MONEY IN GLOBAL CONTEXT: Historic Junctures Between 600 BCE and 2012. By Niv Horesh. Stanford: Stanford Economics and Finance (an imprint of Stanford University Press), 2013, c2014. xii, 364 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$65.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8047-8719-2.
In this wide-ranging study, Niv Horesh seeks to identify the lines of convergence and divergence between Chinese and Western monetary systems from antiquity to the twenty-first century. This is not a history of Chinese money, but rather an examination of certain episodes or “historic junctures” that illuminate both “surprising commonalities” as well as the “Great Divergence” (13) between these distinctive monetary systems. On balance, though, it is the divergences rather than the convergences that stand out. Horesh rightly emphasizes the often-neglected place of copper currencies in the West from Roman to early modern times, but the basic distinction between gold/silver coinage in Europe and the Islamic world on one hand and bronze coins in East Asia on the other, persisted down to modern times. More central to Horesh’s argument, the technological divide in mining and minting, the contrast between the Chinese state’s monopoly on coining and printing money versus the more entrepreneurial world of the West, and the financial revolution in early modern Europe that created joint-stock companies, central banks and national debt financing, explain why the monetary institutions of the West rather than in China nurtured modern economic development.
The book has an inauspicious beginning. The first chapter proposes the novel argument that the invention of round (bronze) coins in China derived from the influence of Hellenic currencies mediated by the round coins the Maurya Empire in South Asia introduced sometime after 304 BCE. Horesh makes the fundamental error of attributing the first issue of round coins in China to the First Emperor of Qin (r. 249–10 BCE). In fact, archaeological finds have confirmed that the Qin state issued its round Banliang coins beginning in 336 BCE, antedating the appearance of the Mauryan circular coins. Most of the chapter is devoted to much later (and hence irrelevant to the issue at hand) examples of coins reflecting cross-cultural influences, such as the bilingual Sino-Kharosthi coins of Khotan from the first-second centuries CE. Horesh deems the “circumstantial and archaeological evidence” for his thesis “quite compelling” (38). However, his argument proceeds from the absence rather than the presence of either archaeological or documentary evidence.
In any event, the rest of the book focuses not on mutual influences but rather the separate and what Horesh describes as the “path-dependent” trajectories of Chinese and Western monetary practices, with particular attention to the evolution of paper money and banking. Horesh recognizes conceptual differences in thinking about money, but he devotes little space to monetary theories. Instead, he attributes what he calls the “Great Monetary Divergence” primarily to differences in technology in a broad sense, encompassing minting technology, state support or lack thereof for mining, and concepts such as hard currency reserves for paper money issues. In Horesh’s view, this Great Monetary Divergence can be traced back at least to the sixteenth century: in contrast to the Ming Empire’s disastrous experiment with fiat paper money, which bequeathed a lasting aversion to fiduciary currencies, Tudor England’s equally misguided Great Debasement of 1542–51 led to a series of crucial breakthroughs in the conceptualization of money—the inviolability of currency reserves, national legal tender currencies, and the creation of national debt through banknote issuance—that propelled the rise of England as a fiscal-military nation-state as well as the creation of modern monetary and banking institutions. Horesh contends that this Great Money Divergence and related developments, such as Europeans’ global pursuit of trade and mining resources, figured centrally in economic development that resulted in the Industrial Revolution happening in England rather than elsewhere.
Part 2 examines fiduciary currencies and banking in nineteenth- and twentieth-century China, the main focus of Horesh’s previously published research. Horesh observes that to the very end of the imperial era, the first decade of the twentieth century, the Chinese economy relied almost entirely on hard currency; private banknotes, whether issued by domestic or foreign banks, occupied only a marginal place in the money supply. He undoubtedly is correct in arguing that the absence of sound paper instruments was a key factor in China’s high interest rates, which certainly discouraged capital investment. In a chapter devoted to Japan’s colonial banks in China, Korea and Taiwan—one of the novel contributions of the book—Horesh shows that the Japanese flexibly applied different banking policies depending on varying political and economic circumstances. In his view, the Japanese colonial banks cannot be seen simply as appendages of the Japanese state; instead, they acted as semi-official commercial banks, not unlike the British banks in Hong Kong. However, Horesh downplays the ways in which these banking institutions, both British and Japanese, served colonial agendas.
In his final chapter Horesh takes up the current debate on the prospect that the People’s Republic of China’s renminbi currency will supplant the US dollar as the global reserve currency within the forseeable future. He points out that there is a historical precedent for the PRC’s accumulation of enormous foreign currency reserves in the massive inflow of silver to China during the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century to offset the European states’ negative trade balances with China. (Earlier in the book [14, 116–17], however, he regards this influx of bullion as a sign of China’s weakness, not strength.) Horesh explores the pros and cons for China that loosening controls over the renminbi and capital flows in order to internationalize its currency would entail, underscoring the strong reservations harboured by Chinese economists and policy makers. Still, the renminbi’s role as an international currency surely will expand in the coming decades. Thus it is only in the future that we can expect that the separate trajectories of Chinese and Western monetary histories will at long last converge.
Richard von Glahn, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Few topics in today’s increasingly interconnected world are as pertinent as “the rise” of China. China’s ascent has both an economic dimension as the country expands its global commercial footprint, and a security dimension resulting from its ability to project power to safeguard self-interest. While the economic aspect of China’s rise—and the resulting trade imbalances—are widely acknowledged, Denny Roy (East-West Center, Honolulu) contends that “identifying and specifying the security consequences of a stronger China is relatively challenging” (1). In Return of the Dragon: Rising China and Regional Security, Roy provides an ambitious sweep of China’s regional engagement from northeast Asia to Iran. Roy sees China’s ascent as disruptive to the status quo, arguing that “ultimately China’s expectation of a sphere of influence will create or worsen dangers for China’s neighbors” and that an “extraordinarily strong China will decrease security for the region” (2). One reason, in the author’s opinion, lies in the rising state’s aspirations to make itself stronger relative to others, resulting in new tensions with neighbours. This may lead to a “security dilemma” whereby the true intentions of a state are opaque to others, and appear as hostile, generate mistrust and are locked in a “spiral of rising tension” (3). Another reason is that China is a “returning” power that has a strong historical sense about its proper place in the world (4–5).
Although Roy’s framing of China’s rise is decidedly cautious—the conclusion is a zero-sum view that China’s gain shall be someone else’s loss—the eleven chapters that make up Return of the Dragon provide a comparatively more balanced assessment of the variables that shape China’s regional engagement. Addressing China’s relations with its neighbours (Japan, North Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam as well as South and West Asia) alongside broader foreign policy variables (military modernization, maritime border disputes, the US strategic role in Asia), Return of the Dragon presents a broad and up-to-date overview of China’s regional foreign policy and how it shapes regional security. The book is well written, carefully structured and shall be particularly welcomed amongst policy makers and a non-academic readership looking for a survey of contemporary China’s extensive regional impact.
In recent years, China has adopted an assertive posture in its maritime disputes: Roy’s overview of the dispute with Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands, as well as its maritime claims in the South China Seas presents these complex historical issues in a comprehensible manner and reaffirms his argument that an ascendant China shall be more assertive regionally. These tensions notwithstanding—much of which are framed by modern history as is the case with Chinese relations with Japan—Return of the Dragon approaches Chinese foreign policy considerations as deliberated and measured. Referring to Deng Xiaoping’s “twenty-four character strategy,” that had cautioned China to bide its time, Roy notes that this policy of “remaining calm, cooperative, conciliatory … has served China well” (31). He astutely notes that the domestic agenda, which includes addressing corruption, income inequality and uneven development looms large in China’s list of priorities and acts as a break for a more assertive foreign policy (30, 144–145). Roy also correctly highlights variables that mitigate an overly assertive foreign policy on China’s part: a lack of consensus in Beijing that China ought to replace the United States (or even form a so-called “G-2” with the United States), as well as increasing economic interdependence on the United States and an acknowledgement that a conflict with Washington would be extremely costly for Beijing.
While Return of the Dragon shall be well received as a useful overview of China’s multifaceted engagement with its neighbours, critical academic readership may take issue with some aspects of the book. First, the book does not directly engage with the vast amounts of material on foreign and security policy from China (communiqués, policy statements, white papers), which alongside Chinese are increasingly available in the English language on the Internet. The reader also does not get a sense of the individuals and institutions making Chinese foreign and security policy, or of the role played by specific members from within China’s elite. Engagement with non-Chinese scholarship is likewise minimal; while Roy refers to about half-a-dozen recent English-language volumes on Chinese foreign policy (8–10), his engagement with this scholarship is largely limited to the introduction. The book has a total of thirteen pages of notes (263–276), which includes bibliographical references. The two-and-a-half-page index is not adequate, lacking entries for Central Asia (125), “G-2”/G-7/G-8/G-20 (145) (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not indexed and is instead listed under Russia-Chinese relations). Maps would also have been illustrative, especially in the discussions on border disputes.
Roy also frequently finds himself making claims on behalf of others, such as “most Chinese think” (39), “[m]any Chinese elites believe” (40), “[m]any observers believe”(89), “analysts of contemporary China argue” (162, 164), “some Chinese statements … suggest” (255) whilst neither identifying the alleged claimants nor his sources. References to the possible relevance of historical periods and structures—the Warring States period (475–221 BCE) or the tribute trade system, for example—are cursory and do not reference the extensive scholarship on these topics. Instead, the author alludes to their continued relevance based on the views of (unidentified) “analysts of contemporary China” (for the Warring States) and an unspecified “theory” (for the relevance of the tribute trade system) (162).
These criticisms notwithstanding, Roy has made a useful contribution through arguing that an ascendant China shall be a more assertive regional power. Return of the Dragon is an ambitious book in its attempt to tackle China’s recent engagement in a diverse and complex region, and it is successful in illustrating the different ways in which an increasingly powerful China could affect the Asia Pacific. Given Beijing’s economic and strategic engagement with a growing number of states and non-state actors today, Return of the Dragon shall be welcomed by readers looking for an accessible survey of Chinese foreign policy and its regional security implications.
Hasan H. Karrar, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan
COMMUNICATION, PUBLIC OPINION, AND GLOBALIZATION IN URBAN CHINA. Routledge Studies in Rhetoric and Communication, 18. By Francis L.F. Lee, Chin-Chuan Lee, Mike Z. Yao, Tsan-Kuo Chang, Fen Jennifer Lin, and Chris Fei Shen. New York; London: Routledge, 2014. xvi, 199 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$125.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-71320-7.
Since the Mao era drew to a close, scholars have been interested in how Chinese citizens perceive the world around them. Despite gradual openings in the 1970s and 1980s, the average Chinese saw the world in a decidedly narrow way. In the last two decades, economic development and technological innovations have given more Chinese the opportunity to experience the world more broadly. Amidst globalization, how do urban Chinese perceive the world? Francis L.F. Lee and his coauthors tackle this very question. Well written, full of pithy and purposeful prose, their book provides a systematic analysis of urban Chinese views of globalization and the role of media in shaping them. They seek to fill a gap between the concept of “cosmopolitan communications” and its measure by disaggregating media into local, national and transnational parts. The authors argue that while all forms of media are important in understanding Chinese attitudes on globalization, domestic media has the strongest effect on citizens’ views, whereas foreign media reinforces preexisting worldviews.
In reaching these conclusions, the authors draw heavily upon a groundbreaking large-scale, comprehensive study of urban Chinese media consumers. Their survey instrument was distributed to four cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xi’an—using a multistage probability sample, analyzed through multivariate regressions and descriptive statistics. The authors offer a well-reasoned case selection rationale and detailed explanation of survey distribution methods. This careful attention extends to their use of key concepts throughout the book; they define and operationalize “globalization,” a term often used but rarely defined in academia and popular media.
Before addressing Chinese views of globalization, the authors wisely establish the context within which Chinese experience the world. In chapter 2, survey data shows that most urban Chinese have limited personal interaction with the world around them (i.e., a small percentage traveled abroad, few reported having friends or relatives living abroad, most expressed little interest in the world), thus setting the stage for media to have a particularly strong effect on perceptions. Mindful that globalization can impact China through both structural and individual-level effects, the authors examine foreign media consumption in chapter 3. Their survey, conducted in 2006 and 2007, showed that Chinese people consume media primarily through television. Like many other behavioural patterns in China, foreign media consumption varied across regions: in political centres with tighter political control, like Beijing, foreign media exposure was low; in economically strong cosmopolitan centres that can support local media, like Shanghai, foreign media consumption was also quite low.
The following chapters focus on the effect of this exposure. Chapter 4 explores the general relationship between media and nationalist sentiment, concluding that foreign media does not make people more nationalistic, but it shapes the kind of nationalism they display. Chapter 5 more narrowly focuses on Chinese attitudes towards the United States, which is often seen to best represent contemporary globalization. The authors point to a general ambivalence toward America: respondents viewed US political institutions positively, but its leaders more negatively. This ambivalence might be differently characterized as nuanced, one further revealed in chapters 6 and 7, in analyses of Chinese awareness and attitudes towards globalization. Survey respondents conceived of globalization more abstractly (which might not make them unique in the world); they thought of it as a very “global” phenomenon, but one that affected individuals differently based upon where they lived. The authors wisely differentiated respondents’ attitudes toward globalization’s effects on the country and the individual: the survey revealed the Chinese were less likely to see it as having a positive effect on them as individuals, rather than on the country as a whole. Analysis by age cohort, perhaps not surprisingly, revealed interesting variations: younger urban Chinese saw the positive effects more than older individuals, in large part because they were more likely to encounter outsiders through media or personal relations.
A major challenge inherent in media studies is how fast-changing technology can make findings seem quickly out of date, a problem compounded by the slow-moving book publishing process. The survey that forms the empirical core of this book was conducted before Chinese use of the Internet and microblogging tools like weibo exploded. While technological innovations may not fundamentally challenge the authors’ findings, the way in which these platforms increase accessibility to foreign media speaks to the need for follow-up studies. This is not to suggest that their analytical framework cannot withstand inquiry into new media. In fact, such study would be in line with the authors’ interest in the individual-level effects of globalization; there is nothing more individually experienced, it would seem, than microblogging.
Changes in technology aside, Lee and the other authors paint a finely detailed portrait of urban Chinese consumers of media. But while the book is quite consciously a study limited to consumption of media, readers might be left wanting to learn more about the production side, as well. Especially in recent years, with the growth of Internet use and China’s soft power push (a point the authors only allude to, 70), the country is as much a producer of media as a consumer of it. This book will whet the appetite of those searching for a better understanding of China as an active, rather than passive, participant in this process of globalization. Attention to the microblogging phenomenon, too, would go far in understanding the production of media.
To their credit, the authors are well aware of the changes in the media landscape since the survey was conducted. As they suggest, this book—and the impressive survey upon which it is based—provides a baseline stay from which future studies might build upon. Scholars interested in how Chinese views of the world are changing, particularly amidst rapid shifts in technology and communication, will find this book of real benefit as they move forward in their research. This solid foundation of understanding might also allow others to place China into a more comparative context and generalize the findings beyond a single case study.
Timothy Hildebrandt, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom
BEYOND TERRITORIAL DISPUTES IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA: Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources. NUS Centre for International Law Series. Edited by Robert Beckman, Ian Townsend-Gault, Clive Schofield, Tara Davenport, Leonardo Bernard. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar; Singapore: NUS Centre for International Law, 2013. xx, 351 pp. (Figures.) US$105.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-78195-593-2.
The book, Beyond Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea: Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources (hereinafter “the book”), is an excellent work of collective wisdom on solving the disputes in the South China Sea region. Fourteen scholars contributed their intellectual analysis on the possible flashpoints in the East Asian region, and more importantly, they offered an extensive study on joint development, which is a feasible resolution to the disputes. The book mainly covers two aspects of joint development, i.e., a discussion of the legal contents of joint development and an introduction to certain precedents of joint development implemented in Northeast and Southeast Asia, basically around co-operation regarding hydrocarbon resources.
Furthermore, in the book’s final chapter, the editors establish a formula or procedure for constructing a joint development mechanism and for offering a flow of thinking in case the relevant agreement is concluded. These include: 1. Clarifying claims in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (this is necessary if the claimants want to understand what the legal basis is for each other’s claim); 2. Identifying areas for joint development; 3. Increasing knowledge of features in the Spratly Islands, especially the interpretation of an “island” under Article 121(3); 4. Increasing knowledge of nature and of the location of hydrocarbon resources; and 5. Starting such development in small areas with limited parties that would be easier and less complicated to reach an agreement on the development.
In a nutshell, just like the book notes, “One of the benefits of joint development arrangements is that the claimants concerned can agree on joint co-operation arrangements in a specific defined area without any of them having to give up or clarify their claims to geographic features or maritime space” (327). This is the spirit behind the process of joint development.
Having said that, a couple of supplements could be made to replenish the aforementioned formula/procedure:
- Emphasizing co-operation among Parties concerned is an obligation. One of the issues to be considered is that of the duty of states to co-operate whether they be friends or foes. This concept can be traced back to certain documents made more than four decades ago. For example, a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1970 states, “States have the duty to co-operate with one another, irrespective of the differences in their political, economic and social systems, in the various spheres of international relations…” Furthermore, this duty could be characterized into two aspects: a duty to enter into negotiations or a duty to negotiate and to reach an agreement. Obviously both duties of co-operation will require negotiations entered into in good faith (or bona fide). Moreover, the Parties concerned should be obliged to work together in good faith to attempt to reach an agreement. This is also provided in Article 74(3) and Article 83(3) of the UNCLOS. The wording, “in a spirit of understanding and co-operation,” indicates that the Parties concerned should negotiate in a spirit of good faith. The obligation to seek agreement in good faith is also well-defined in some international juridical cases. In the 1969 North Sea Continental Shelf Cases, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated, “[T]he parties are under an obligation to enter into negotiations with a view to arriving at an agreement and not merely to go through a formal process of negotiation as a sort of prior condition for the automatic application of a certain method of delimitation in the absence of agreement; they are under an obligation so to conduct themselves that the negotiations are meaningful” (101). Also, in its 1984 report on the Gulf of Maine Case, the ICJ stated that the Parties were under duty to negotiate in good faith and with genuine intentions of achieving positive results.
- Joint co-operation mechanism in the utilizing fishery resources could be regarded as another feasible and practical alternative for starting a regional co-operation regime and could be used as a feasible measure to solve the South China Sea disputes, apart from the joint development on hydrocarbon resources mentioned in the book. It sidesteps the issue of sovereignty and focuses upon a common interest co-operatively, namely the utilization of living resources. This is encouraged under Article 123(a) of the UNCLOS. It also defers long-term negotiations with respect to delimitation of the continental shelf relating to the hydrocarbon resource issue. Thus, as co-operative relationships are forged with regard to fishery resources, mutual confidence might be promoted among the Parties concerned that may eventually contribute to successful co-operation with respect to hydrocarbon resources. Under the pressure of heavy demands on food security in the region, fishery resources management is crucial in preventing over-exploitation or overfishing and may become a touchstone of the Parties’ sincerity. Without affecting jurisdictional boundaries as laid down in the UNCLOS, it is certainly possible to have joint co-operation on fishery resources management in the South China Sea as the starting point for further co-operation. If all Parties concerned treat co-operation as a key step toward achieving mutual benefit, then the future for such a regional joint development or joint co-operation mechanism could be assured.
To conclude, this book is informative and pragmatic in its academic nature. In addition, it is also important for providing a great amount of legal discussion on solving the South China Sea disputes through the construction of joint development mechanisms, while also presenting successful past experiences in such matters.
Kuan-Hsiung Wang, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
CHINESE INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE: Technology Acquisition and Military Modernization. Asian Security Studies. By William C. Hannas, James Mulvenon and Anna B. Puglisi. London; New York: Routledge, 2013. xvi, 296 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$39.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-415-82142-1.
During the Cold War a debate developed within the Allied counter-intelligence community which could be summarized by “ten-foot-tall Russians” and “the monster plot.” Briefly, there was a view taken by some professionals that interpreted Soviet operations directed against NATO in Machiavellian terms, and saw the Kremlin’s strategy as akin to a diabolical game of chess in which an adversary had adopted every kind of devious scheme to mislead its opponent about its true intentions. This was the era of Jim Angleton’s “wilderness of mirrors,” when the defection of the KGB officer Yuri Nosenko fueled divisive arguments over his authenticity, and led to a kind of doctrinal schism within the Western security and intelligence apparatus that remains relevant today, even in a Chinese context.
The new variant of the old arguments centres on the nature of the PRC’s espionage methodology. Just as there was general agreement at the height of superpower confrontation, when all agreed broadly on the inherently malevolent nature of the regime, the issue was the extent to which a rather dysfunctional and artificial society could pose a serious threat to its perceived enemies. Today, few would dispute the scale of Chinese ambitions, nor the factual evidence of escalating statistics relating to stolen technology, copyright infringements and wholesale theft of proprietary intellectual property. Put simply, there is a major espionage offensive underway, and the crux of the matter is not so much the need to recognize it for what it really is, as few attempt to conceal the obvious, but rather to define the precise methodology that has been adopted by Beijing to achieve the government’s goals.
On one side you have the perspective taken by the former FBI analyst Dr. Paul Moore, who identified several distinctive characteristics of the Chinese cases he studied, which see a threat encapsulated by the “thousand grains of sand” theory: that the Ministry of State Security (MSS) conducts its overseas operations in a very different way to its foreign counterparts, and therefore enjoys a considerable advantage. It takes a wide “blunderbuss” approach, in preference to the narrow sniper’s rifle, and makes a pitch to thousands of potential sources, instead of focusing on just a few targets. The MSS is fragmented, without conventional rezidenturas or stations operating under diplomatic cover, so it is harder to monitor by routine physical or technical surveillance. The MSS prefers to exploit “clean skins,” not flawed personalities, and rarely pays its agents, but allows them to enrich themselves by acting as intermediaries for highly profitable but illegal business transactions, often dealing with embargoed material. The MSS opts for ethnic Chinese, invariably resorts to supposed latent patriotism for the “middle kingdom” and relies on the cultural appeal of guanxi, or family obligation, to leverage cooperation.
The authors call such views “Old School,” but even when attempting to demolish some alleged “urban legends,” such as the Cox Report’s oft-quoted 3,000 front companies established in North America by the PRC and the various component parts of an illicit procurement program, they convey the impression that previous surveys have generally under-estimated the scale of the espionage tsunami. They also rehearse the arguments deployed in the charges of racism directed at the FBI, which has often faced allegations of racial profiling when in pursuit of ethnic Chinese. In the most notorious example, that of Wen Ho Lee, the authors tend to muddy the already murky waters by referring to his “actual innocence or guilt” as though the issue is in some doubt, when the record clearly shows that the physicist pleaded guilty to a felony and was sentenced to time already served in prison, having spent 227 days in solitary confinement.
The historical record also shows that in the case of Qian Xuesen, there was no “genuine injustice” and that far from being a victim of “McCarthyist excesses,” the missile scientist lost his security clearance at the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, when he had attempted to return to China, and then in 1955 was deported in return for 11 American airmen captured in Korea. McCarthy, whatever his faults, played no part in Qian’s lengthy house arrest in California.
The alternative view to Moore’s is that the tradecraft employed by the Chinese is a distraction from the problem of nearly 200,000 Chinese students at liberty in the United States, subsidized by Uncle Sam, who are, or have the potential, to loot the country’s industrial secrets. This is not a series of case histories, as exemplified by the Chi Mak exposure or the Katrina Leung scandal, but rather a thoughtful analysis of a veritable haemorrhage of sensitive, commercially valuable information, ranging from atomic weapon blueprints, systems algorithms, and even entire jet engines. This short-circuit of international trade restrictions and tariff barriers has, so we are told, kick-started an economy that Mao all but razed to the ground. Worse, American politicians have failed to grasp either the hideous reality, or what is required to restore that much-contested arena, the level playing-field.
However, the authors conclude that the comparatively chaotic, uncoordinated Chinese intelligence and scientific monolith makes it impossible to reassemble the myriad pieces of information “for maximum exploitation and gain” (192). In other words, the Chinese are stealing secrets, so they assert, but do not benefit from them because of an intrinsic failure to prevent them from being “likely stove-piped and fragmented” (192). Thus we are now in the realm of speculation, rather than analysis of verifiable facts.
The authors have sidestepped a potential minefield by paying lip-service to the prevailing views on profiling by asking the rhetorical question: “How does the strategy explain Chinese recruitment of non-ethnics?,” of which there are certainly a few (198). The obvious response is that the MSS, like anyone else in the intelligence collection business, will be opportunistic when gift-horses materialize. It seems unlikely that the MSS invokes a house rule not to recruit Indians, Malays or Caucasians, and the statistical evidence supports this, but this does not obscure the common denominator in the overwhelming majority of espionage cases.
Nigel West, Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Washington, DC, USA
The Uyghur and Tibetan people have had a notoriously difficult relationship with the state. Even today, most of them continue to reject, sometimes violently, the form of national identity it proposes. By comparison, most of China’s other 53 ethnic minority groups have been much more accommodating. Why? This is a complicated question which Professor Enze Han, a lecturer on the international security of East Asia at SOAS in London, is attempting to answer. By and large, his explanations are convincing.
The essence of his argument is that focusing on domestic factors, e.g., a lack of economic opportunity or limited religious and cultural freedoms, is, of course, crucial to determine whether a group will contest the legitimacy of the state. But this approach only yields an incomplete picture. External factors are equally important, particularly for groups that entertain close links with an organized diaspora. For instance, most Uyghurs will naturally find that the lives of their ethnic kin in Central Asia have much greater meaning than those of any “domestic other.” As Han rightfully points out, “the dynamic of ethnic political mobilization is different for ethnic groups that have extensive external kin relations” (11).
This is a highly sensible premise. But how does it measure up to reality? After briefly describing the historical context in which China’s recent nation-building policies have developed, Han explores this question in five short chapters, each one focussing on a different ethnic group: the Uyghur, Joseonjok (Chinese Korean), Mongol, Dai and Tibetan. Using data he gathered through his own fieldwork between 2006 and 2008, Han shows how domestic and international factors have modulated in different ways the response of each of these groups to state policies.
Han begins with the Uyghurs. For years, this Turkic minority has been living under well-documented cultural, religious and economic restrictions. This largely explains its tense relationship with the state. But that is not all. As Han points out, when the Uyghurs turn their gaze to the near abroad, they see various examples of prosperous Turkic peoples. For example, Han uses the most recent statistics available to show how GDP per head has consistently been lower in Xinjiang than in Kazakhstan, where the largest population of Uyghur expatriates live, or Turkey, which still exerts a significant cultural influence. In recent years, this contrast has been further accentuated by the fact that Xinjiang’s robust economic growth has brought few tangible benefits to the Uyghurs.
By comparison, being part of China has brought much clearer economic gains to the Mongol community: two decades of rapid growth ensured that by 2007, GDP per head in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), where most ethnic Mongols live, was twice as high as in Mongolia. But not all is rosy in the IMAR and Han’s surveys show that many Mongols believe their struggling culture is actually much better protected across the border. They also recognize that Mongolia is a democracy, albeit an imperfect one, and that it offers greater political freedoms than China. In theory, such sentiments could be exploited to foster a more acute sense of identity within the Mongol populations of China, but there is no widely recognized international organization or charismatic leader in a position to do so. This is in marked contrast with the Uyghurs and Tibetans, both of whom benefit from the support of outside advocates, the World Uyghur Congress and the Dalai Lama, respectively. This lack of outside assistance and encouragement partly explains why the Mongols have not articulated grand strategies of self-determination.
What of the Dai? This minority group, which is found mostly in southern Yunnan and numbers just over a million people, maintains close kinship relations with communities in Burma, Thailand and Laos, none of which have been bastions of political or economic stability in recent years. This has made the Dai realize the relative prosperity they have enjoyed in China and so their gripes have largely focused on local concerns.
The Joseonjok, a population of approximately two million people from China’s northeast, constitute a somewhat special case: a large segment of their external kin, i.e., those who live in South Korea, are vastly more prosperous and enjoy incomparable political freedoms. So why have the Joseonjok not mobilized to contest the state’s legitimacy, like the Uyghurs or the Tibetans? Han points to several factors, most significantly that neither of the two Koreas, nor any outside organization for that matter, has shown interest “in supporting the Joseonjok politically on issues related to group autonomy within the Chinese state” (66). Equally important, the Chinese Korean minority has had a relatively stable relationship with the state: it was an early supporter of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its members still occupy a disproportionately high number of positions in the Party’s structure. Thus, for those dissatisfied with the status quo, the dominant strategy has been to emigrate en masse to South Korea; according to some estimates 10 percent of all Joseonjok may now be living south of the 38th parallel.
Han ends his study with a chapter on Tibet. Since he was unable to conduct fieldwork in the Tibetan Autonomous Region or in neighbouring provinces with large Tibetan communities, his narrative is largely based on secondary sources. Here, Han has chosen to give less importance to economic factors due to his assumption that “the omnipresent status of Buddhism in Tibetan society also means that “earthly” obsessions with material wealth and comforts are perhaps not as important as in the other societies discussed in the book.” This feels a little bit gratuitous and somewhat self-serving, but Han nonetheless convincingly shows how the ebb and flow of external support has closely conditioned the relationship of the Tibetan community with the Chinese state.
If one must point to a weakness in Han’s study, it is probably that his samples are often small. His work on the Dai, for example, focused on a single community, that of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan, while his surveys in the IMAR and the Joseonjok areas targeted relatively small numbers of individuals whose opinions may not be representative of the communities as a whole. To be fair, conducting fieldwork in China, particularly on a highly sensitive issue such as the contentious relationship between ethnic minorities and the state, is often challenging. Despite this shortcoming, this book constitutes a useful addition to our understanding of the relationship between the Chinese state and its ethnic minorities.
Martin Laflamme, Embassy of Canada, Beijing, China (Views presented are solely those of the reviewer)
New forms of urban poverty in China have received much research attention in recent years. This is not surprising because Chinese cities, after three decades of market reform, have become key sites to observe extreme forms of socio-spatial inequality. Most of the scholarship, however, invokes generic vocabulary, such as “urban poverty” or “the poor,” to capture rising inequalities. The existing literature, mostly based on surveys of the “poor population,” has produced a particular kind of knowledge that portrays the poor in China as victims of neoliberal reforms, just like their counterparts in other countries. Relying on quantitative surveys, sociologists examine patterns of social stratification, while geographers map patterns of spatial segregation. Two groups of people and the space they inhabit loom large in the social science scholarship on poverty in China: laid-off workers living in decaying danwei housing compounds and migrant workers settling in urban villages (chengzhongcun). We learn from the literature quite a bit about social stratification and spatial segregation, but somehow, the narrative is often flat and what we do not learn is the specificity of the Chinese urban poor.
The Specter of “the People” is a critical intervention in the literature on urban poverty in China. Based on more than two years of extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Harbin, one of the major cities in the rustbelt of northeastern China, this book offers a much richer account of the historically specific conditions that have produced the category of the new urban poor, such as laid-off workers and migrants. The author deliberately avoids using generic vocabulary such as “the poor” or the “poor population.”
Instead, the author chooses to use “the people” (renmin). This shift from “the poor” to “the people” opens up a whole array of analytical possibilities for investigating the complexity of urban poverty in China today.
The main question of the book is deceptively simple, that is, who are “the people” (renmin) in today’s China? As the chapters demonstrate, “the people” is a contested category and it has always been exclusive, along gender, urban vs. rural, and state vs. non-state divides. The “people,” since the beginning years of socialism, have included mostly full-time male workers employed in state-owned enterprises. Women, part-time, contract-based workers, and workers employed in collectively owned enterprises have been often excluded. Moreover, the entire rural population is excluded from the category of “the people.” While many of “the people” today are laid off, they can still make powerful claims to the state demanding various social security programs to improve their condition. Other poor groups cannot make the same claim as former industrial workers. In other words, not all poverty has the same urgency for the state.
Many former workers have become destitute in China’s thriving market economy, but because of their past—as “masters” of the country, the laid-off urban workers do not easily accept their position at the bottom of the new socio-economic hierarchy. This book describes, in vivid details, how laid-off urban workers believe that they just had “bad luck” and their colleagues who got rich simply had “better luck.” They do not see themselves as a separate class from the new rich. Moreover, the laid-off workers and their families are eager to “participate” in the new market economy, by investing their meager savings in the stock market and in properties. Although most of them cannot afford a new home, residents in the poor neighbourhood of Hadong, the primary fieldwork site of the book, talk all the time about moving to a better apartment. A few of them succeeded, but most have failed. Thus, as the book reveals, this poverty group of urban laid-off workers is full of contradictions, as they are caught between hope and despair, ambitions and structural disadvantages.
Most works on urban poverty in China have adopted the theoretical framework of neoliberalism and the language of policy intervention. In many of the accounts, China’s new urban poor live in shantytowns, and they are just like residents in the ghettos in the US, favelas in Brazil, and slums in India. The Specter of “the People” stands out in the literature, because it argues, clearly and powerfully, that China’s urban poor are different because of their past as “the people” and “masters” of a socialist country. This book theorizes these historical and context-specific conditions of the poor, and by doing so, it goes beyond the standard narrative of neoliberalism and dispossession.
Xuefei Ren, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA
The Hungarian uprising of 1956 and its bloody suppression by the Soviet Red Army was a key event in the history of the Cold War. Less well known are the Chinese contributions to the debates in Moscow in response to the crisis, and the repercussions of the events in Eastern Europe in the young People’s Republic of China (PRC). Yet, as this new, meticulously researched study shows, the dual crises in Poland and Hungary had direct bearing on the tumultuous events sweeping China in 1956 and 1957, and beyond.
Zhu’s study builds on an impressive body of recent research, mostly by Chinese scholars, on the PRC’s interactions with its partners in the socialist world, and on substantial archival research in the Chinese Foreign Ministry archives and Hungarian archives. Soviet archival sources are quoted in Chinese and English translations, illustrating how much source material has become accessible to researchers over the past two decades.
The introduction and the first two chapters provide the setting for the events of October 1956. Zhu traces the dynamics of East bloc politics in the early and mid-1950s, when, after Stalin’s death in 1953 and the successful completion of the early stages of China’s socialist transformation, Mao saw an opportunity for a more proactive Chinese participation in intra-bloc diplomacy. Khrushchev’s denouncement of Stalin at the XXth Communist Party of the Soviet Union congress in February 1956 put Mao in a quandary; while it freed the PRC to pursue a more active policy in Eastern Europe, the Chinese political and economic systems were essentially Stalinist, and thus vulnerable to criticism. The socialist regimes in Eastern Europe faced the same dilemma; more fragile than the PRC, Poland and Hungary were the first to buckle under stress. With Poland, under the new, nationalistic leadership of Gomulka, near collapse, Khrushchev ordered the Red Army to intervene. Last-ditch diplomacy helped to avert a military confrontation, but Khrushchev’s intervention presented Mao with an opportunity to denounce what he called Soviet “great-power chauvinism” and offer to mediate.
Chinese diplomats were soon enough called on to show their skills. Just after the arrival of a high-level delegation led by Liu Shaoqi, called to Moscow for an emergency meeting over Poland, the situation in Hungary suddenly exploded. As Zhu shows in great detail in chapter 3, the Chinese delegation unexpectedly found itself at the frontlines of diplomatic containment efforts. Struggling to formulate a position, the Chinese side conferred with Mao and initially decided to stick to the “anti-chauvinist” line—or, as Zhu proposes, to use the Polish and Hungarian crises as bargaining chips, “a rare good chance to manipulate the weakening Soviets to abdicate the leading position [in the socialist world] and give room to what he saw as better men,” that is, the Chinese (164). However, Chinese efforts to keep abreast of the rapidly evolving situation in Budapest were hampered by poor communication and coordination—delayed telegrams and a virtual shutdown of the Chinese embassy there—that eventually necessitated an embarrassing about-face in early November. The Chinese side had initially called for a withdrawal of Soviet troops and counseled Khrushchev to seek a compromise with Imre Nagy, the new Hungarian leader. When Nagy announced the restoration of a multi-party system on October 31, and, a day later, Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, however, the Chinese had to put aside their reservations and back the full-scale military suppression of the Hungarian revolution that began on November 4. In summing up her findings, Zhu dismisses the suggestion, put forward by scholars such as Shen Zhihua, that the PRC had decisive influence on Soviet policy making at this critical juncture. Rather, she shows that Mao had to abandon his effort to promote more equal relations among the nations of the socialist bloc in order to preserve bloc unity, a goal that was clearly more important, even if that meant a perpetuation of the hierarchical structure of the East bloc.
Zhu’s detailed account and her nuanced assessment of the events of October and early November 1956 shed crucial new light on the international relations of the early PRC. Yet the author does not end her account here; fortunately, she dives deeply into the field of domestic Chinese politics to probe the impact of the Hungarian crisis and its fallout for China’s own tumultuous 1957. In chapter 4, Zhu reassesses the Hundred Flowers campaign and the CCP’s subsequent sharp reversal in early June. How did the CCP evaluate the crisis in Eastern Europe, and what lessons were to be learned? Zhu convincingly demonstrates that Mao, on the one hand, and Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Chen Yun, on the other, drew sharply different conclusions from the events in Eastern Europe. While the latter pointed to the socio-economic problems caused by the Stalinist economic approach, Mao interpreted the crises primarily in political and ideological terms, finding no fault with the Stalinist system per se, which he had introduced in the PRC. Rather than adjustments in the economic realm, the chairman advocated political liberalization and a determined fight against bureaucratism as the means to prevent a similar crisis in China. Zhu debunks the discredited “luring the snakes from their hole” theory that presents Mao as a cynic. Instead, she shows how Mao tried to apply the lessons from Eastern Europe; yet as a seasoned leader, he was conscious of the risks he took when allowing criticism of the Party. Once this criticism got out of hand in mid-May, Mao was quick to reverse course and launch the anti-Rightist campaign. As this summary makes clear, the events of 1956 and 1957, both international and domestic, are highly complex, but their understanding is crucial for the long-term historical trajectory of the PRC. Zhu’s meticulous study sheds light on one of the crucial junctures in modern Chinese history and world history.
1956: Mao’s China and the Hungarian Crisis will be essential reading for a specialist audience and graduate students in Chinese history, Cold War studies and international relations. It is unfortunate, though, that the books suffers from a lack of proper editing. Convoluted passages abound; the Hungarian party is variously referred to as HWP, HWUP, HCP and MSP—the acronym-rich book has no list of abbreviations. The Soviet ambassador to China appears as (Pavel) Iudin and Yudin within the same footnote. Such carelessness on behalf of the publisher distracts attention from an excellent study.
Nicolai Volland, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA
MAO: The Real Story. By Alexander V. Pantsov with Steven I. Levine. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013, c2012. xix, 755 pp.,  pp. of plates. (Maps, illus.) US$20.00, paper. ISBN 978-1-4516-5448-6.
Mao: The Real Story is a well-written comprehensive history of the life and times of Mao Zedong. The book presents an alternative to the one-sided polemic of Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Zhang and Jan Halliday.
The authors claim a new thesis, namely that “Mao was a faithful follower of Stalin who took pains to reassure the Boss of his loyalty and who dared to deviate from the Soviet model only after Stalin’s death”(4). In fact, a number of scholars have discussed the influence of Stalin on Mao. That having been said, Pantsov and Levine’s exhaustive study of Russian archives fleshes out details of the Mao saga not reported in earlier English-language biographies. The authors present everything from new information about the future Chairman’s father to observations of Mao made by various Soviet officials in the 1930s, 1940s and beyond. They also show how little Mao relied on the actual peasantry, recruiting an army mostly from Hakka fringe elements and what Marx would have called a rural lumpenproletariat.
Stalin had no problem with this and “[s]tarting in the late 1920s, Stalin’s Comintern began to support Mao and even periodically to rise to his defense when other CCP leaders criticized the obstinate Hunanese”(236–237). By 1930, Soviet publications were writing up Mao and Zhu De as important international revolutionary figures “well-known outside of China” (255). Stalin even made it clear that Mao was under his protection and should not be touched. By 1934, the Soviets were publishing Russian editions of Mao’s works and short biographies of him.
As a result of his close connection to Stalin, it was only after the Soviet leader died in 1953 that Mao felt free to become a Maoist. Or, as Mao himself put it, an “adventurist” who would no longer play second fiddle to Soviet leaders. According to the authors’ speculations, Mao’s critical and sometimes rude behaviour towards Khrushchev was a result of Mao’s attempts to show his own greatness and take revenge for what he had endured under Stalin (445–446).
Whether this conjecture about Mao’s inner psyche is true or not, the authors make it clear that when Mao began to abandon Soviet policies and take China further to the left in the late 1950s, he was not the only one pulling China in this direction. In January 1958, Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai, supposedly at least in part to please the boss, came up with the word commune and got the development of the ultimately disastrous giant co-ops of the Great Leap Forward going.
But the authors explain that the problems of the Great Leap were not simply a result of the government’s actions. The disastrous consequences of the Leap were also brought on by one of the worst droughts ever to sweep China. This needs elaboration. In recent years, a number of scholars have questioned the severity of this drought and laid more of the blame for the Great Leap at Mao’s feet, a point the authors don’t mention.
The book also contains interesting new information garnered from Russian sources on the Cultural Revolution. It is, however, a shame the authors didn’t take more of an opportunity to look at how the Cultural Revolution broke up the Stalinist system in China and freed the country for the economic reforms that followed Mao’s death.
The book concludes that although “Mao’s crimes against humanity are no less terrible than the evil deeds of other twentieth century dictators … he did not have plans to exterminate millions of people on purpose.” Moreover, “he followed the principle of ‘cure the illness to save the patient … He neither killed Bo Gu, nor Zhou Enlai, nor Ren Bishi, nor Zhang Guotao, nor even Wang Ming …[H]e forced them to ‘lose face’ but kept them in power” (575).
The authors argue that Mao kept many officials with whom he disagreed in a position where they were able enact the reforms made after Mao died. Pantsov and Levine show that for all his “adventurist” proclivities, Mao was generally careful to balance radicals in his government with reformers.
The authors seem to have taken a similarly balanced approach in regard to the sources they used. People as diverse as Mao’s grandson and Li Lisan’s daughter were among the many they interviewed. The contributions of this wide-ranging group help make the book a valuable resource.
Lee Feigon, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, Washington, DC, USA
CHINESE COMFORT WOMEN: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves. Contemporary Chinese Studies. By Peipei Qiu, with Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013. xx, 254 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$32.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-7748-2545-0.
This is an important book that signals fundamental shifts in understandings of the Japanese military’s use of “comfort women” in Asia during the Second World War. To date, most discussion of “comfort women,” the English translation of the Japanese euphemism ianfu, has focused on roughly 200,000 Korean and Japanese nationals. This volume sheds light on the suffering of an approximately equal number of Chinese women who were forcibly drafted by the Japanese military and whose experiences were silenced for decades. It is the first English-language monograph to record the memories of Chinese women at the “comfort stations” and it does a fine job of introducing these important findings to international audiences. The volume centres on oral interviews with twelve survivors conducted by Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei from 1998–2008, more than five decades after the “comfort women” system was dismantled and the women were “liberated.” One of the great strengths of this work is the demonstration that these women’s suffering continued long after the Japanese military was defeated and the war ended.
The volume consists of three sections. The first recounts the establishment of the “comfort women” stations, stressing the deliberate and calculated mass abduction of local women. Many of the women’s families struggled to raise the ransoms that the military demanded to free them, challenging often repeated assertions that Chinese do not value daughters. The middle section is a harrowing recounting of the experiences of the twelve women, who came from regions as diverse as the north of China and the southern island of Hainan. Their personal narratives are, as to be expected, moving and reflective of an enormous level of unjust suffering. The final section recounts the women’s postwar lives and the grassroots movement that has arisen to seek redress for the injustices that they endured. It clearly spells out the long-term costs that these women paid for the Japanese military’s violation of the most basic human rights and dignity.
The authors make clear that the purpose of this monograph is to facilitate understanding between Japanese people and their neighbours and not to encourage antagonistic, nationalistic stances. They argue that it is necessary to transcend the posturing of nation-states and recognize that the suffering caused by war is a violation of individual human lives. Whether this goal can be achieved may be debatable but the Japanese government’s ongoing failure to fully acknowledge the nature and extent of these war crimes is not. At the heart of this book lies the ruthless, militaristic nature of the “comfort women” system and the Japanese Imperial Army’s direct involvement in an unimaginable level of violence towards Chinese people that the Japanese government still refuses to be held morally, legally or otherwise responsible for. Chinese Comfort Women makes a very strong and compelling case that the Japanese military was systematically and deliberately involved in the kidnapping, sexual exploitation and enslavement of enormous numbers of Chinese women. While the purpose of the “comfort stations” was, according to Japanese military leaders, to ostensibly prevent mass rape and the spread of venereal diseases, the effect was to shatter and shame Chinese—and ultimately discredit the much-vaunted propaganda of Imperial Japan liberating China from Caucasian imperialism.
A chief contribution of this volume is the demonstration that massive numbers of Chinese “comfort women” were obtained locally and viewed as no more than military supplies, treated as “public latrines.” The scale of this inhumane treatment was enormous, with Su Zhiliang estimating that around 200,000 Chinese women were forced into sexual slavery by and for the Japanese military. The political symbolism of the system, with the raping and killing of Chinese women symbolic of China’s subjugation to Imperial Japan, compounded the women’s suffering by fuelling prejudices toward them and their suffering. Some of the women whose lives fill these pages were welcomed back into their families while others survived to find their families utterly decimated; to add further insult to injury, they were denounced as collaborators in the subsequent Maoist era. These women’s fates appear to have differed little from those of the countless thousands of other, mainly Korean, “comfort women” who also suffered enormously at the hands of the Japanese military—and patriarchy—and have been the major focus of “comfort women” research to date. While the authors do point out varied significances of the patriarchal norms within which the Japanese military operated, perhaps an even deeper, more prolonged analysis of patriarchy would strengthen further the authors’ stated ambition to move beyond nation-state renderings of the topic.
“Comfort women” have attracted increasing attention in recent years but this is the first English-language monograph to focus on the suffering of those Chinese women whose lives were forever altered by the abhorrent behaviour of the Japanese military. The twelve women whose experiences are recounted here deserve a great deal of credit for having survived the wartime crimes committed against them, subsequent persecution in the Maoist era, the refusal of the Japanese government to take full responsibility for the actions of its military, and the interviewing process, all of which must have been traumatizing. Chinese Comfort Women does an excellent job of linking these women’s lives to forces that darkened much of China’s tortuous twentieth century yet remain far too little understood.
Norman Smith, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
LOST IN TRANSITION: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China. SUNY Series in Global Modernity. By Yiu-Wai Chu. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2013. viii, 219 pp. (Tables.) US$80.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4384-4645-5.
A content analysis of world press coverage of Hong Kong in recent years would certainly show the predominant themes to have been business and politics. Both are fast-moving topics that are in many respects quantifiable. But of equal interest to these two spheres is the less tangible one of cultural change. This is not of course a separate sphere since it relates closely to both politics and economics. Culture requires some form of economic base to exist and, in a society where democratic activity is as narrowly circumscribed as it is in Hong Kong, it becomes a proxy arena for political conflict.
Interest in Hong Kong is rising again. This partly reflects the installation of a new chief executive in Hong Kong completely different in character to the first two, and this has been accompanied by the rise to power of a new regime in Beijing: a regime, it seems, with a new and distinctive ideological mission. Added to these political shifts are current predictions that in the business field the “One Country Two Systems” framework will be dead by about the year 2020.
In these circumstances a serious study of the cultural dimensions of contemporary Hong Kong is much needed, and this is what Yiu-Wai Chu provides in his new book. Much of this work has appeared in other formats as events unfolded, but here he sums up and extends his research in an impressive way.
The basic thesis of the book is that in the process of transition from colony to Special Administrative Region the vitality that local culture exhibited so vigorously in the 1970s and 1980s has been lost. The paradox implicitly addressed here is that this decline in grassroots local culture has taken place at a time when Hong Kong has, increasingly, been attempting to assert an identity in the face of potentially crushing commercial, political and cultural pressures from the mainland.
In the 1960s and 1970s most Hong Kongers were too pre-occupied with everyday life and careers to be introspective. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government reinforced the contemporary tendency to ignore the realities of the mainland until, finally, the shock waves of the Cultural Revolution irrupted onto the political scene in 1967. Reflections on Hong Kong’s special characteristics were thus largely left to Western journalists such as Richard Hughes (Hong Kong: Borrowed Place-Borrowed Time, 1968) while the images known best to the outside world were provided by films such as Love is a Many Splendoured Thing (1955) and The Countess from Hong Kong (1967).
The situation changed radically in the 1980s and 1990s. The economy was strong at the time and this supported a surge of film making and musical activity. At the same time local academics and others began to reflect much more seriously on what aspects of Hong Kong might be sustainable under the One Country Two Systems regime.
The core of the author’s book is the story of how the Hong Kong government (and in particular former chief executive Donald Tsang) has attempted to foster a “top-down” culture of values, images and activities that differentiates Hong Kong, while combining these policies with a strong, pro-mainland Chinese nationalism.
In its early stages this cultural “branding” policy was more or less independent of other policies, but after the world financial crash of 2008 cultural policy suddenly assumed much more importance as the basis for potential new pillars of the economy. New pillars were needed because the old four pillars had not delivered the high growth of the colonial period, and financial services in particular were seen as being unlikely to increase their share of local GDP for the foreseeable future.
The book includes detailed case studies of both the film and music sectors to illustrate the author’s argument that truly local cultural initiatives have been weakened rather than strengthened by the top-down government activities.
Yiu Wai Chu is particularly critical of the “neo-con” Central District values which he sees as underlying recent cultural policies. There are, however, other obstacles to cultural policy success not really explored here. Leadership is one problem. It is always relatively easy to fill high profile, highly paid, top jobs in Hong Kong. What is missing is the next level down, where what is needed is well-trained and experienced staff who know the Hong Kong situation and can implement plans effectively. Linked to this is the problem of higher education and its contribution. To respond to government initiatives requires a rapid and serious re-orientation of the Higher Education sector, but inertia and vested interests at every level of the system seem likely to ensure that this will not happen in the near future.
Finally, there is the wider issue of the state of freedom of culture and expression. Googling Hong Kong/academic freedom produces some depressing reading these days. Holding, let alone attracting, cultural talent and activity will be hard if current trends persist. Ironically, pressures on Hong Kong may well encourage migration northward, since in the large, more localized world of the mainland, there may in practice be more degrees of freedom than can be found in the city state model of Hong Kong.
Christopher Howe, University of London, London, United Kingdom
TAMING TIBET: Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese Development. Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University. By Emily T. Yeh. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. xvi, 324 pp. (Figures, maps, tables.) US$26.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8014-7832-1.
During the early 1980s, when I first traveled in the Tibetan regions of China, I would often ask the Han Chinese drivers in whose vehicles I journeyed the names of the landmarks and sites that we passed. The reply was almost inevitably the same: zheige difang mei you mingzi, “this place has no name.” Tibetans, of course, did have names for these places, but as they were largely unknown to the small numbers of Han then in Tibet, who viewed their residence there as tantamount to exile, those names, the Tibetan names, were as good as nonexistent. Between Tibet as a meaningful landscape for its indigenous population, and as a nameless, senseless wasteland for the Han who had the misfortune to be there, there was apparently no meeting point whatsoever. One of the challenges for China during the past decades, therefore, has been to generate a new world of meaning on Tibetan soil, one which, if all goes as planned, Tibetans and Han will one day share.
This dilemma is at the core of geographer Emily Yeh’s perceptive and well-researched study, Taming Tibet, which documents successive waves of change in the Chinese state’s development of the Tibetan environment, focusing on the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s capital, Lhasa, and its immediate surroundings. The process described by Yeh, which she terms “territorialization,” is materially manifest in the political, economic and technological innovations and policies broadly serving to integrate the land into the frameworks embraced by the Chinese nation-state, but her argument centrally concerns the subjectivities thereby engendered, for which landscape is inevitably a field for the production of value and meaning.
Yeh identifies three main phases in China’s territorialization of Tibet: the first, beginning during the 1950s and continuing down to the period of post-Cultural Revolution Dengist reform, centred on communalization and the creation of state farms, and sought to redefine the relations between labour and land along socialist lines. The next phase, spanning the 1980s and 1990s, emphasized economic development and the shift to a market economy. Large numbers of Han migrants were, for the first time, permitted to enter Tibet to contribute to the development process, which involved considerable investment from eastern China. Tibetans were frequently marginalized by the new economy that evolved, with which they were sometimes related as renters. Finally, after 2000, new attention was devoted to urbanization, and the transformation of Lhasa and other Tibetan cities and towns into modern Chinese urban centres.
These three phases of development are emphasized respectively in the three major sections into which Taming Tibet is organized, tellingly entitled “Soil,” “Plastic” and “Concrete.” An important leitmotif throughout Yeh’s work is the sharp tension between Chinese expectations—more often in fact a demand—for “gratitude” on the part of Tibetans for the benefits of socialization, economic growth and urban development, and the resentment, recalcitrance or reaction with which Tibetans have sometimes responded. The massive Lhasa riot of March 2008, in which many Han shops and businesses were torched, is among the key points in Yeh’s narration of the mutual incomprehension that festers around the trope of gratitude.
Like many American scholars of the humanities and social sciences in recent decades, Yeh peppers her work with references to the perspectives of (mostly continental) literary and social theorists, including Agamben, Benjamin, Debord and de Certeau. She is restrained, critical and judicious in this, however, and her gestures to these and other theoreticians do serve to clarify her arguments. Particularly strong in this respect is chapter 7, “Engineering Indebtedness and Image,” which makes good use of the category of the “gift” as elaborated in the writings of Mauss, Douglas, Sahlins and others. A welcome, though perhaps not quite intended, implication of Yeh’s effort to reach beyond contemporary China-Tibet scholarship is that Chinese development in Tibet is seen to be not so much a sui generis case as it is a further iteration (albeit a particularly poignant one) of widespread paradoxes and contradictions in the structures of contemporary developing states.
In a concluding “Afterword,” Yeh turns her attention to the wave of self-immolations that has occurred over the past several years, above all in the eastern Tibetan regions of Sichuan and Qinghai. To do this was not without considerable risk, for the causes of and reasons for this most tragic manifestation of Tibetan discontent are much debated, as is the authoritarian Chinese reaction to it. It is to Yeh’s credit that, though devoting only three pages to this difficult issue, she trivializes it not at all. Indeed, her analytic of territorialization proves to be unusually illuminating in this context.
Taming Tibet is notably well written, its accessibility enhanced by the narration of revealing episodes and anecdotes from Yeh’s fieldwork experiences or earlier history. It should certainly be read by all who wish to understand current circumstances in Tibet, as well as Chinese development at large.
Matthew T. Kapstein, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, France and The University of Chicago, Chicago, USA
This book is an exceptionally timely investigation into the role of history as a determinant of foreign relations in “an age of apology and recrimination” (8). This applies particularly in the case of Japan, but a recent television drama Unsere Muetter, Unsere Vaeter (“Generation War”) in Germany also reignited historical debates in that country and sparked renewed acrimony with its Polish neighbour. In this volume Berger seeks to deconstruct the way that three states—Germany, Austria and Japan—have formed their official historical narratives and trace the domestic and international consequences that resulted. To achieve this he employs a concept he dubs “Historical Realism,” (2) which exhibits a dual nature. In the first sense it identifies the power of the state to shape official narratives, often for practical political purposes. Second, he adds that there are caveats and limits to the ability of the state to exercise complete control of historical discourse, due, for example, to “insurgent narratives” from other (unrepresented) quarters of society (3).
In the first chapter Berger provides an analytical framework to superintend the discussion of the three cases studies. The framework, guided by the principle of historical realism, outlines three core approaches to conceptualizing historical memory. These are, respectively, “historical determinism,” “instrumentalism” and “cultural explanations.” Briefly stated, these are distinguished in the following ways: historical determinism is the basic, supposedly “objective” account of “what actually happened,” the neutral recording of the “facts” (14–19). Instrumentalism considers what happens to collective memory when political actors (inevitably) manipulate it for their own national or sectarian purposes; in this approach “history has become the extension of politics by other means” (22). The third approach of culturalism looks at how historical memory becomes embedded in certain ideas, beliefs, values and social practices, and is thus shaped by, or subordinated to them (23). The analytical spectrum thus ranges from the deterministic claim to positivistic objectivity, through a cyphering of the facts due to instrumental political processes, to a strongly constructivist or sociological perspective, in the last of the three. Berger rightly sees these three approaches as complementary “ideal-types,” but also as synergistic, explanatory tools.
Thus equipped with this analytical framework he then proceeds to examine Germany as the “model penitent,” arguing that although it took longer than is usually imagined, Germany, partly as a result of the enormity of its crimes, serves as the standard for national repentance and redemption. He then introduces the less well-known case of Austria, “the prodigal impenitent,” and shows how the country only belatedly faced up to its complicity in Nazi crimes after decades of denial. Lastly, he turns to Japan, “the model impenitent,” that has yet to face squarely the crimes it committed in the name of its empire in Asia. In the process he explains how an official narrative stressing the victimization of Japan itself, through the fire bombings and atomic bombings, and the callous rapacity of their own militarist system, prevented the nation from internalizing the suffering that Japan had caused as an aggressor in Asia.
Before concluding, the last chapter is dedicated to a more detailed account of “The geopolitics of remembering and forgetting 1991–2010” (175). It tracks the revival of historical issues as an impediment to Japan’s contemporary relations with Korea and China, looking again at how external pressures (gaiatsu) created difficulties for Japanese foreign policy, in particular a slew of popular support for restitution for Japan’s wartime victims, such as the “comfort women,” a collective fury at nationalist textbooks, and the prime minister’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine (which also houses war criminals). The instrumental and cultural explanations are in evidence here as national governments sought to coopt the anti-Japanese zeitgeist; one fuelled by relentless media portrayals of the devastating greater East Asia war, caricaturing Japanese barbarities.
One important point to register here is that, despite widespread misperceptions to the contrary, Japan has made substantial and repeated efforts to apologize for its wartime conduct to its aggrieved neighbours. But, as Berger points out, “Japan’s apologies have been limited in scope, challenged domestically, and singularly unsuccessful in improving Japan’s relations with its foreign neighbours” (124). The continued historical spats between Tokyo and Seoul/Beijing are testament to this sad predicament. In addition, the author indicates how contested historical understandings have become fused with contemporary territorial disputes between Japan on the one hand, and Korea (Dok-do/Takeshima) and China (Senkaku/Diaoyu) on the other, leading to potential physical as well as political conflict. In the conclusion the author reviews the efficacy of the analytical framework in teasing out such questions, as well as looking at policy implications.
In sum, this an incredibly important book dealing with a fascinating and pertinent topic, and one which provides a great deal of thought-provoking and introspection on the part of the reader. Comparisons will inevitably be made to Ian Buruma’s landmark volume The Wages of Guilt, yet Berger’s is the more analytical work, and scarcely less readable for it. It is an indispensable guide for those seeking to gain greater insights and understanding of the thorny historical issues that continue to plague relations between Japan and its Asian neighbours, and the comparisons to be drawn with that country’s former German/Austrian allies.
Thomas Wilkins, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
IN DEFENSE OF JUSTICE: Joseph Kurihara and the Japanese American Struggle for Equality. The Asian American Experience. By Eileen H. Tamura. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. xv, 228 pp., pp. of plates. US$40.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-252-03778-8.
This book provides a notable addition to the revisionist literature on the wartime removal and confinement of West Coast Japanese Americans (often, if imprecisely, called the Japanese American internment). In contrast to popular accounts that underline the patriotism of the American citizens of Japanese ancestry herded into government camps, revisionist accounts have emphasized the active role of the inmates in resisting their condition and protesting racist treatment. Among the best-known (or most notorious) dissidents was Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara, a World War I veteran embittered by mass removal. His actions in camp, especially his role in the chain of events leading to the so-called Manzanar Riot, have attracted significant attention since the war years. Yet the man himself has remained rather in the shadows. Eileen Tamura, a professor in the College of Education at University of Hawai’i Manoa, has produced a first biography of Kurihara.
Tamura’s early chapters deal with Kurihara’s boyhood in turn-of-the-century Hawaii. In Tamura’s portrait, Kurihara emerges as an idealistic and ambitious youth. Alone among his siblings, he decided to attend Catholic school in place of the Territory’s free public schools, and ultimately converted to Catholicism. In 1915, he moved to the mainland in hopes of attending medical school. However, after the US entered World War I, Kurihara enlisted in the US Army, though he served in combat duty for just two weeks before the Armistice. After 1919, he settled in California, despite the racial prejudice there, working as an accountant and on fishing boats.
The bulk of Tamura’s work covers Kurihara’s wartime confinement experience. Kurihara believed that the unconstitutional actions of the government in confining him on racial grounds without due process (the more insulting given his record as a veteran) voided his allegiance. At public meetings at Manzanar he proclaimed his attachment to Japan and denounced pro-American Nisei, notably members of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), as traitors. Because of his advanced age and experience, and because he was willing to speak out openly, he became an influential advocate for anti-administration forces. In December 1942, after JACL leader Fred Tayama was beaten by dissident inmates, the kitchen workers’ leader Harry Ueno was arrested for the crime. Outraged, a mob of inmates formed. Kurihara addressed the mob in English mixed with Japanese, calling for Ueno’s liberation and for the “extermination” of a list of accused informers, whom he named. In the ensuing revolt, gangs invaded the suspected informers’ barracks, while protesters marched on the police station where Ueno was held. Military guards sent to restore order opened fire on the crowd, killing two inmates and wounding others.
In the wake of the incidents, Kurihara, Ueno and other “troublemakers” were arrested. Over the following months, they were held at a pair of isolation camps, Moab in Utah and then Leupp in Arizona, before being sent to the Tule Lake segregation camp. As Tamura recounts, Kurihara acted as a model inmate in these facilities. Chastened by his Manzanar experience, he refrained from political activism and was even threatened with violence at Moab for cooperating with administrators. Nevertheless, Kurihara determined to renounce the United States. Stripped of his citizenship, he accepted deportation to Japan, where he had never visited. Despite the hardships of life in postwar Japan, he remained there (working initially for US Occupation authorities, ironically enough) for the remaining twenty years of his life.
Tamura’s study is the last of a line of works in the University of Illinois Press’s Asian American Experience series supervised by the renowned historian Roger Daniels, who added a foreword (full disclosure: I edited a volume in this same series). Her work is noteworthy in that, while it underlines Kurihara’s exceptional activism, it uses his biography as a lever for examining larger questions about Japanese American wartime experience, notably the meaning of citizenship and the fluid nature of loyalty and resistance: for all of Kurihara’s asserted Japanese identity, his activism revealed his essentially American character. To her credit, while Tamura admires Kurihara’s principled stand—such can certainly be inferred from her book’s subtitle —she does not shy away from considering its paradoxes, and devotes an extended section to exploring whether he should be considered a hero or villain. The book is also a product of impressively thorough research, incuding Kurihara’s unpublished autobiography, while the author displays a mastery of the main secondary literature.
There are a few substantive matters the reader wishes Tamura had further addressed. First, while she explores Kurihara’s early embrace of Catholicism as an idiosyncratic and assimilationist move, she fails to note its connections to education, especially given Kurihara’s dream of attending medical school. Mainland Catholic colleges such as Loyola University in New Orleans admitted various Nisei, including some from Hawaii. Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska distinguished itself by graduating over a dozen Japanese-American medical students from Hawaii in the prewar decades. Another element deserving further study is the ambivalent connection between Kurihara and Togo Tanaka, the onetime Rafu Shimpo editor whose death Kurihara called for at Manzanar. Tamura notes their durable mutual esteem despite their disagreements, and cites Tanaka’s postwar articles praising Kurihara, but does not explain the context of their appearance. Worse, the author seems unaware of an important moment of missed collaboration between the two men. In February 1942 Tanaka and Larry Tajiri (the future editor of the JACL newspaper Pacific Citizen) proposed creating a United Citizens Federation in hopes of averting mass removal, and held a public meeting to organize it. Kurihara, unable to be present, wrote Tanaka to offer support and propose himself as leader of the fledgling organization, stating “I will gladly sacrifice my personal liberty, and resources for the sake of the the niseis,” While Tanaka reprinted the letter text in his diary, he apparently never acted on Kurihara’s offer. It is tantalizing to consider whether Kurihara’s wartime stance might have been altered had he undertaken partnership with his future adversaries following Executive Order 9066.
Greg Robinson, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada
MONEY, TRAINS, AND GUILLOTINES: Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan. Asia-Pacific. By William Marotti. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 2013. xxi, 417 pp.,  pp. of plates. (Illus.) US$25.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8223-4980-8.
Postwar Japanese art has recently attracted much attention amongst academics and curators in North America and Japan. An anthology of critical essays, manifestos and other writings in this field was published by the Museum of Modern Art in 2012, while prominent artists’ groups like the Gutai Art Association (1954–72) and Mono-ha (active in the late 1960s and the early 1970s) had retrospectives at major American museums and galleries, accompanied by scholarly monographs. William A. Marotti’s Money, Trains, and Guillotines is a long-awaited book that deals with artist Akasegawa Genpei and the group Hi-Red Center in the social and political context of 1960s Japan, providing for the first time to an English-language audience access to one of the most important figures in postwar Japanese art.
Marotti’s book is divided into three parts. Part 1 discusses the historical background of the “Model 1,000 Yen Note Trial.” In 1965, Akasegawa was prosecuted for the crime of “currency imitation” after making partial prints of the 1,000-yen banknote as an art project. Marotti argues that the freedom of speech, guaranteed by the postwar Constitution, is limited under the idea of public welfare, arguing how paternalistic state authority, enshrined under the Meiji Constitution of 1889, is retained in the revised postwar Constitution. The author also makes a careful reading of “Spy Rules” (later renamed “The Ambiguous Ocean”), a short story that Akasegawa likely wrote during the preparation of his banknote prints. Marotti argues that the story reflects Akasegawa’s views on contemporary politics, especially the demonstrations against Anpo (the Security Treaty with the US), and the hopes he held for a revolutionary transformation of everyday life and society, as articulated in his subsequent artworks.
The subject of part 2 is the Yomiuri Indépendant, the yearly non-jury, non-prize exhibition sponsored by the newspaper company Yomiuri Shimbun between 1949 and 1963. Marotti shows how the company’s sponsorship and support of a range of exhibitions including the Yomiuri Indépendant led to erase memories of its wartime propaganda activities and postwar labour conflicts and replace them with positive images of high culture and a democratized system of participation and viewing. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the annual exhibition became a major venue for young avant-garde artists, engendering playful competition in a variety of media, including objets, installation and performance. The author discusses how, through their diverse artworks, these young artists focused on the everyday world and developed critical philosophies of political action through art.
“How do you restart political activism in a time of apparent uneventfulness?” (204). Starting with this question, part 3 discusses how young artists reorganized their artistic practices during the temporary abeyance of mass activism in the early 1960s. The author first details a 1962 event in Tokyo in which young artists, two of whom would later form Hi-Red Center with Akasegawa, resorted to “direct action” with their performances on Tokyo’s trains after a friend, Imaizumi Yoshihiko, failed in realizing his plan for erecting a giant guillotine in the Imperial Plaza. “Theses on ‘Capitalist Realism,’” an article written by Akasegawa after his first police interrogations, is analyzed to show how the artist articulated a critique of the pseudo-reality of money, identifying it as “an agent of hidden forms of domination” (206) supported by state authority. The author also studies another essay by Akasegawa, “The Intent of the Act Based on the Intent of the Act—Before Passing through the Courtroom,” reading it as a response to his indictment, to discuss how it critically anticipates the trial’s reduction of his work to either conventional art or crime, affirming the potential of a radical artistic practice to generate moments that allow “glimpses of emancipatory possibilities in everyday life” (206).
Within Japanese scholarship, the art activism of Akasegawa and his colleagues has been largely discussed in relationship to the anti-art movement. Money, Trains, and Guillotines, the product of many years of painstaking research, successfully locates Akasegawa’s practices in a broader historical (not only art-historical), political, and social context by explicating his art in relation to key historical moments such as the making of the new Constitution (especially in relation to the emperor), the formation of the Yomiuri Shimbun, the transformation of mass protests and demonstrations. The author’s use of Jacques Rancière’s term “police,” the distribution of the perceptible, functions effectively in the discussion of the political dimensions of Akasegawa’s art, making an important contribution to the theorization of the 1960s art in Japan and elsewhere.
This book’s other major contribution is Marotti’s detailed analyses of the enigmatic essays and stories Akasegawa wrote in his early period. These writings contrast sharply with the straightforward prose of his later writings, known for their light and witty style. The author read these writings as direct responses to specific events in the artist’s career: “Spy Rules” (June 1963) to his printing of the banknotes in January 1963 and its use as an invitation to his one-man exhibition in February; “Theses on ‘Capitalist Realism’” (February 1964) to the police interrogation and the newspaper article in January; and “The Intent of the Act Based on the Intent of the Act” (January 1966) to his indictment in November 1965. Some might question how far one can appraise Akasegawa’s texts, given their ambiguous and allegorical quality, as effective responses to contemporary urgencies. But Marotti’s subtle readings of these texts, underappreciated in Japanese scholarship, make a strong case for their importance within art history. Money, Trains, and Guillotines not only fills in a major gap within English-language understanding of postwar Japanese art. Once translated into Japanese—which it should be, promptly—it should sharpen the discourse within Akasegawa’s home country.
Kenji Kajiya, Kyoto City University of Arts, Kyoto, Japan
THE NATURE OF THE BEASTS: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo. Asia: Local Studies/Global Themes, 27. By Ian Jared Miller; foreword by Harriet Ritvo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. xxvii, 322 pp. (Figures.) US$65.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-520-271869.
“The zoological garden thrives in a culture of alienation that it helps to produce,” writes Ian Jared Miller in his impressive The Nature of Beasts (20). Miller deconstructs the history of Tokyo’s Ueno Park Imperial Zoological Garden—once the exhibitionary crown jewel of Japan’s Empire—in order to reveal the distinct human structures, institutions and values that have shaped Japan’s visions of the natural world from the 1880s through the post-World War II period. As Miller demonstrates, the Ueno Zoo and its exhibitions were an attempt by zoo administrators, scientists, colonial authorities, nationalist bureaucrats and Japanese patrons to seek “the wellspring of humanity” (20) in a modern world that was increasingly industrial, urban and disorienting. The zoo itself served as an institutional metaphor for a people and an empire seeking to achieve revitalization, but ultimately struggling to negotiate fantasies of nature with the complex realities of war, colonialism, national sacrifice and potential extinction.
In its struggle to make sense of the natural world as most zoos do, the Ueno Zoo was a product and producer of what Miller calls “ecological modernity”(2)—human beings’ attempts to situate themselves and non-human nature in the modern world. The first two chapters consider the establishment of the Ueno Zoo as a mechanism of evolutionary theory, modernization and imperialism that was designed to separate human beings from the rest of nature. In doing so, zoo administrators and scientists envisioned a broader mission of instructing the Japanese people of their own separateness and special mission in the world. By the early twentieth century, Japanese imperialism across East and Southeast Asia broadened the zoological horizons of the Japanese people by offering new exotic wildlife trophies for display. The Ueno Zoo did the important ideological work of empire by providing a colonial outlet for Japanese immersion in the natural and seemingly authentic. These distinct representations concealed the brutal realities of colonial war and reminded patrons of where Japan was gloriously headed, as was powerfully reflected in the name of a female giraffe born at the zoo in 1942: “South” (85).
The third and fourth chapters deal entirely with the zoo in wartime. In further blurring boundaries, the Ueno Zoo mobilized its animals for the purposes of total war as dogs, pigeons, elephants, camels, yaks and especially war horses were celebrated and memorialized. Animal displays projected patriotic messages of civilian production and soldierly duty. By far, the most powerful episode comes in chapter 4, when the Tokyo municipal government and zoo officials organized the 1943 massacre of dozens of zoo animals (a process occurring across Japan’s dwindling empire). Faced with increasing food shortages and security concerns over escaped animals during impending air raids, Tokyo and Ueno Zoo administrators utilized the excruciating killing of its popular animal residents as a potent ideological demonstration of national martyrdom in the face of imminent destruction. Through the killing and subsequent pageantry memorializing the animals, “the Great Zoo Massacre” offered a coded language to discuss the unthinkable issue of defeat. This traumatic event proved to be a moment of rupture in the zoo’s history as the full excesses of the war’s sacrifices sparked a move away from civilizational collapse and towards the gradual embrace of human redemption in the face of extinction. The final two chapters examine this transition in the context of the postwar zoo and how it became an institutional incarnation of postwar Japan itself. In a rejection of the nation’s recent past, Ueno embraced a children’s zoo to teach Japan’s postwar children lessons in productivity, social order, innocence and human compassion for animals. The Children’s Zoo embodied the broader pains of postwar trauma, normalizing relations with the United States, demilitarizing both humans and animals, and concealing Japan’s colonial past. Miller finishes by examining the more recent history of Ueno’s attempts to breed pandas. This process entailed the “panda diplomacy” of rebuilding ties with China, but it also revealed Japan’s latest phase of ecological modernity: enclosing the natural world for its own protection from human exploitation. As Miller demonstrates, ecological modernity has reached perhaps its most problematic stage. Ueno Zoo’s attempts to artificially reproduce threatened species as a cure for mass extinction have only highlighted the paradoxes of the very same modernity that originally fueled such a crisis.
In exploring the Ueno Zoo and broader Japanese imperial cultural attitudes towards the natural world, Miller offers a necessary non-Western history of such exhibitions alongside the other great histories of zoos, including Harriet Ritvo’s The Animal Estate (Harvard University Press, 1987) and Nigel Rothfels’s Savages and Beasts (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). Miller’s contribution, however, offers a fundamentally different framework for understanding zoos during the height of global imperialism. Prevailing narratives in recent Japanese environmental histories, as well as zoo histories more generally, emphasize decline: either the decline of humanity’s intimacy with the natural world or the decline of nature itself. As Miller argues, the Ueno Zoo, through its contributions to ecological modernity, offers a story neither of environmental decline, nor institutional progress, but rather a narrative of negotiations and contradictions through humans’ attempts to situate themselves in nature. In doing so, Miller presents one of the first major histories of zoos to be situated explicitly within the Anthropocene, a geological epoch typified by humanity’s impact on most aspects of life on Earth. By historicizing the Anthropocene through the story of Japan’s empire over nature, Miller successfully deploys cultural history as a mechanism for understanding the complex human behaviours and structures that have produced and impeded our full understanding of humanity’s place in nature, climate change and ongoing mass extinctions. The Nature of Beasts is a critical intervention in global zoo, environmental and Japanese histories. It stands on its own as a fascinating and thoughtful history, but also provides opportunities for future scholarly exploration into patterns of human dominion over nature across the East Asian world.
Noah Cincinnati, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, USA
TOKYO VERNACULAR: Common Spaces, Local Histories, Found Objects. A Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies. By Jordan Sand. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. xiii, 208 pp. (Figures.) US$34.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-520-28037-3.
This book explores how since the 1950s Japanese citizens have actively drawn on traces from the vernacular past to express local identities, while rejecting grand-scale, state-led expressions of nationhood and the commodification of urban experiences linked with capitalist agendas. It thereby fills an important gap in the English-language literature about Japanese heritage and preservation. Based on a detailed examination of an impressive range of Japanese-language materials, Sand produces an original and insightful account of the historical emergence of four distinct groups of engaged inhabitants of postwar Tokyo. The capital city forms the spatial frame for an ambitious analysis (in four chapters) of ideals of urban belonging as expressed by protesters in public spaces during the 1960s, amateur preservation activists producing a local magazine as well as professionals engaging in street observation studies during the 1980s, and those involved in the creation of museums of everyday life during the 1990s.
In chapter 1 Sand argues that during the 1960s a shift occurred from mass protests held in sanctioned urban spaces such as the “citizen’s plaza,” created to express a unified national voice, to a political activism that championed vernacular urbanism and favoured a more spontaneous, organic use of public space. He gives a fascinating account of how in 1969 the Shinjuku West Exit Plaza, in front of one of Tokyo’s busiest underground stations, envisioned as a capitalist space of transit and flow, was transformed on Saturday evenings into an urban commons where spontaneous civic actions ranging from playful demonstrations to sing-alongs took place amongst citizens who did not know each other. Although these gatherings were forcefully brought to an end, they resulted in theoretical discussions about, and practical demands for, urban democratic spaces where people could debate freely. Still, as Sand rightly demonstrates throughout his book, civic activities based on worthy ideals can always be appropriated by groups driven by other agendas, and the consumption-orientated leisure zones created during the 1970s and 1980s negate the anti-capitalist stance at the base of the protests. Moreover, the spread of television produced a new kind of democratic public space that could be enjoyed by everyone, albeit passively, from the comfort of the home.
In chapter 2 Sand narrates the motivations of three housewives who in 1984 started editing the Yanesen magazine, employing oral histories and everyday local news to foster a sense of community in their neighbourhood. He rightly contextualizes this initiative within the larger machizukuri (town-making) movement, that emphasized the preservation of the “traditional” urban streetscape, and that swept Japan during the 1980s as a reaction against the alienation associated with living in large urban housing estates (danchi). However, unlike most town-building projects strongly associated with local government, Yanesen “asserted a collective claim that the district belonged to its residents” (84). Paradoxically, the magazine’s popularity also caused an influx of tourists and the “boutiquification” of the area during the 1990s.
Chapter 3, also set in the 1980s, follows an eclectic group of professionals (architectural historians, cultural critics and artists) who questioned established theories about urban generation and preservation by documenting and categorizing idiosyncratic, incidentally found objects such as manhole covers, building ornaments or street gardens. By calling these purposeless objects, primarily valued for their material presence, “deviant property,” (92) the group made a political statement against the state-endorsed speculation of urban property by developers. Importantly, this movement rejected any kind of abstract theorization or authorship, focusing instead on offering ordinary citizens new tools to reclaim their city. Sand argues that ultimately this movement, like the activists he previously discussed, failed to achieve its goals because, as it gained in popularity and became the focus of media attention, the trivial objects at its centre were transformed into useful commodities. Moreover, critical observational activities were turned into a fun pastime of nostalgic discovery, and the government saw it as a useful device for redesigning the city.
Finally, in the fourth chapter Sand turns his attention to historical museums that aimed to produce a more inclusive notion of heritage by concentrating on everyday life exhibits. In his view, the Edo-Tokyo museum, built in 1993, exemplified a shift in focus in Japanese heritage thinking from production and timeless peasant life to consumption and domesticity, epitomized by the reconstruction of ordinary 1950s home interiors centred around the low dining table (chabudai) embodying family togetherness. Although the focus on everydayness was thought to encourage visitors to question official historical narratives, in practice the widespread use of similar nostalgic domestic displays resulted in the creation of a national, homogenous everyday life. In this chapter Sand also praises the Showa Everyday Museum in Nagoya for breaking with museum conventions, abandoning authorized public history in favour of visitors’ personal memory. It is an inspiring example that indicates how, by broadening the scope of his research to include engaged communities outside the capital, Sand could have added another level of complexity to his argument, while also transcending the usual Tokyo-focused, English-language scholarship about Japan. Nagoya is particularly interesting in this respect because the city also has a long tradition of amateur street observation groups and could therefore offer an insightful comparison in chapter 3.
The book concludes with situating these Japanese case studies within global trends towards preserving the past. For me, this section is less successful because Sand is rather quick to dismiss cultural-specific understandings of authenticity, thereby disregarding the growing body of literature about this topic. Moreover, the book would also have benefitted from a more in-depth discussion of new forms of civic actions emerging after the 2011 earthquake, especially considering the important role of the Internet. None of this, however, detracts from the fact that this is a rich and ambitious work that achieves what it set out to do in showing that authenticity is an ongoing process produced by the State and the Market, but also by various mobilized communities who imagine the past in different ways, but who are never fully detached from the abstracting forces they are contesting.
Inge Daniels, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
CINEMA OF ACTUALITY: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics. Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society. By Yuriko Furuhata. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. ix, 266 pp. (Illus.) US$24.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8223-5504-6
Yuriko Furuhata’s new book on political filmmaking in 1960s Japan adds significant depth, nuance and context to a topic that has, for good reason, long captivated an audience of cinephiles, activists and researchers. She describes this project as a media history of cinema’s response to journalism’s shift to television, one that draws on film studies, media studies, cultural studies and art history to craft an understanding of the discourses on “actuality” (akuchuaritii) and the “image” (eizō). I would argue it to be more as well—this book is ultimately a genealogy of the cultural politics of radical Japanese filmmaking historicized within the global, mediatized “Long Sixties.”
Cinema of Actuality is organized into five provocative chapters on the following issues: intermedia experimentation, the event-nature of cinema, remediation of journalism, the “landscape” discourse (fūkeiron), and militant cinema against television. The filmmakers who figure prominently here include Ōshima Nagisa, Matsumoto Toshio, Adachi Masao and Wakamatsu Kōji, but equal treatment is given to major players in the creation of a rigorous and politicalized film discourse at the time—Matsuda Masao, Nakahira Takuma and Hariu Ichirō—as well as to an earlier generation of intellectuals with whom these figures engaged, such as art critic Hanada Kiyoteru or the materialist philosopher Tosaka Jun. These foundational thinkers were actively responding to international discourses on “actuality” (Aktualität, actualité) and positioning themselves against idealist tendencies in phenomenology, so the narrative’s movement to Adorno and Heidegger feels grounded here, not forced. Furuhata further enlivens her analysis through useful engagement with Rancière (on spectacle and policing), Derrida (on “artifactuality,” the construction of an actuality-effect), and Foucault (on governmentality and discipline).
The combined effect of Furuhata’s careful balance of close analysis of films, rich archival work, and theoretical framing is a series of bold insights into the political tactics at work in both filmmaking and art discourse. One example is in demonstrating Matsumoto’s praxis of Hanada’s theory of a strategic merger between documentary and the surreal in order to use “actuality” to shatter the illusions of socialist realism (replacing them with a more radical revelation of actuality-as-contingency). Another is a corrective to our understanding of Ōshima’s Death By Hanging from a reflexive restaging of a historical event (the 1958 Komatsugawa incident) to Furuhata’s reading of the film as a conspicuously artificial documentary of a historical event itself already deeply theatrical from its inception (since Ri reported his own murder, mediatizing it as it emerged into public consciousness). What is at stake in this shift is recognition of the complicity between the criminal and the journalist, the way they collaboratively generate the media spectacle.
By placing the so-called “landscape films” in the context of politicized directors’ turn away from media spectacle toward the everyday, Furuhata makes sense of work by Adachi and Ōshima that has often vexed analysis. The idea that a shift away from the thrill of conflict to contemplate the politicization of the most mundane of spaces is compelling and necessary to shift the consciousness of activists from myopic tactical blows to the riot police, say, toward a broader, strategic transformation of society. That said, Matsuda Masao’s close reading here of a portrait of a city street devoid of both police and protester as more political than a direct image of conflict still strikes me as odd. Had he left it alone, this argument might have some traction in its suggestion that the images of conflict between student and cop had already been coopted by the media machine. But by drawing our attention to the words on the manhole cover—“Imperial University Sewer”—the suggestion becomes one in which Japan’s imperialist legacy still pervades the very streets on which everyday citizens go about their day. The risk here, in overstating the pervasiveness of centralized government power, is that Matsuda himself becomes complicit with the hegemonic logic of the regime, which will always exaggerate its capacity to police. What gets downplayed is the extraordinary amount of underregulated social space available to citizens, space in which to begin the transformation immediately. It is this side of landscape cinema—the tension between these seemingly passive images of networks and the ready availability of them—that makes these films so disconcerting, and indeed (still) vexing.
Furuhata’s analysis of Adachi and Wakamatsu’s The Red Army / PFLP was carefully handled and sharp. The logic of the project was to juxtapose the violent spectacular imagery of the Palestine conflict captured from television sources together with footage of everyday life from militant refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. Most remarkable here was the pushback Adachi received even from guerillas when he articulated his interest in documenting this radically different form of everyday life (in which one cooks meals with an AK-47 leaning against the kitchen counter). It is the everydayness of war in these camps, the way armed conflict and the threat of violent attack is woven into the fabric and necessarily desensationalized that Adachi seems to have identified as the important note on actuality that needed to be conveyed to activists back in Japan. While I understand the rationale for staying focused on the film, I did find myself curious to know how Furuhata would analyze the way the Japanese (and international) media has handled the Lod Airport massacre by the Japanese Red Army in relation to this film and these filmmakers. It seems that recent coverage has recast Okamoto Kōzō and Wakamatsu Kōji as a nostalgic human-interest story, almost spectacularizing the everydayness of their reunions.
Furuhata’s Cinema of Actuality is an important book that makes a strong contribution to research on Japanese cinema, 1960s political culture, and theoretical work on image politics. I expect that it will, as intended, provoke response and debate.
Steven Ridgely, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, USA
What do you think of when you hear the word pink? A satirical pop star? Barbie? Breast cancer? Gays? When I saw the title of this book, I thought it referred to the last, as in the “Pink Dollar,” having something to do with tourism.
I was wrong: the subtitle gives the subject clearly.
The book is a series of essays, I suspect, topics compiled over a decade or more by a cultural studies-leaning anthropologist, but rounded into a coherent text about what the author calls “Japanese cute-cool,” with the linking theoretical theme of Joseph Nye’s (1990/2004) concept of “Soft Power” that bookends the volume. “Soft Power” may be a relatively new concept in the social sciences, but it has been a feature of international relations for some decades, whereby a country seeks to enhance its power position in the world through promoting elements of its culture. Typically, this is done through councils (i.e., the British), institutes (i.e., the Confucius) and a variety of other means such as sponsoring particular events.
“Hello Kitty” is a different matter as it began as a commercial challenge (by sonrio.com) to Disney’s mouse by a Japanese cat-like creature with a blank expression and, sometimes, a waving arm/paw. The core of the book’s argument is on page 32:
No longer only a part of children’s consumer culture, Hello Kitty serves less as a generational divide than as a shared bridge. How it manages to do so—that is, convincing consumers within a broad span of ages of the desirability of the global icon, of the irresistibility of Japanese Cute-Cool—is in large part the subject of this book.
Perhaps I am just unobservant in my travels, but I always associate Hello Kitty with Asia, Asian shops in Sydney where I live and Asian countries where I travel from time to time. When I think of Japan modern, I don’t think of it as being cute. I think of consumer brands like Sony, Toyota and Nikon: technically advanced and well-manufactured products, even if many of them are made far from archipelagic Japan. But Yano sees more than that through her over 300 (sometimes B&W illustrated) pages of text divided into 7 chapters, plus an introduction and two appendices.
Chapter 1, “Kitty at home,” uses “cute” (kawaii) and kyarakutā (character) to analyze Kitty in Japan, noting at the beginning that Kitty is the “perfectly affordable souvenir” (45), termed a “trinket seduction” (72) later in the same pages. “Marketing Kitty” (chapter 2) features insightful interviews with Sanrio employees and others from a few years ago, recording their thoughts on the development of the product, while chapter 3 (“Global Kitty Nearly Everywhere”) explores interviews with Kitty consumers and why some people like to have “the cat” around as a “best friend.” The emphasis shifts in chapter 4, “Kitty Backlash,” looking at those who repudiate Kitty’s “core message … [of] … friendship, happiness and intimacy” (163). Views about Kitty, expressed in more interviews, are perhaps not unlike, and for similar reasons, emotions encompassing other consumer cute kitsch, such as Barbie. Chapter 5, “Kitty Subversions,” has two long interviews and several quotations from informants to show how Kitty may be used to critique consumerism and branding. Chapter 6, “Playing with Kitty,” “mixing Hello Kitty into edgy art worlds” (231) continues the topic, though in contrast to chapter 4, the artists involved are often commissioned by Sanrio, with the intention of furthering their brand. The concluding chapter seeks to contextualize “Japan’s cute-cool as global wink” (252). Kitty launched in the 1970s according to the Sanrio narrative and Yano began her fascination in 1998, so the printed sources and interviews flow over those decades.
Yano minimizes the Gift element of Kitty, quoting “happiness tinged with pink” (118) and “small gift, big smile” (70, the Sanrio Company’s slogan). Marcel Mauss is in the bibliography, but little used when discussing the extensive Japanese gift culture: the index shows one citation on page 68, but no discussion. “Cool Japan” and “soft power” reappear, as you would expect, in the summary that mentions tourism’s “nation branding” (259). I think, like many international symbols and brands, Kitty is multivalent, negative and positive depending on context, Coca-Cola and McDonalds being other such examples. Even simpler in design is the dollar sign ($) that may be used to show success and desirability or greed and rapacity. The book finishes with a short postscript about the March 2011 tsunami, the effects of which continue to play out. In a cute kitsch and tacky kitsch combo, Sanrio joined with the crystal brand Swarovski to produce Kitty crystal figures, to be auctioned in support of the Japanese Red Cross. Appendix 1 is a Kitty timeline, with appendix 2 listing artists who participated in Sanrio’s Thirtieth Anniversary [of Kitty] Exhibit and Catalogue (2004), and 22 pages of notes, 14 pages of bibliography and a 10-page index complete the volume.
The core audience for Pink Globalization is that group interested in the culture of postwar Japan, with the larger constituency being those ruminating on prominent cultural symbols, the long-time terrain of us anthropologists and the core of more recent “cultural studies” writers. In spite of the documented arguments, I cannot see Kitty as “global.” I accept the argument of Kitty’s ubiquity in Japan, where the character originated. Hello Kitty can be found in North America, hardly South, rarely in Europe, and not at all in Africa; Kitty predominately is a pan-Pacific kyarakutā (character), but without much impact beyond. Of course, often for people in the US, if something is in their part of the world it is unquestionably “global.”
Grant McCall, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
This is a rare superbly written magisterial book on the idea and practice of citizenship in India. It is a political and ideational constitutional history of citizenship that takes a clear intellectual position on citizenship and development. Three significant themes are dealt with. First, is India moving from a liberal conception of citizenship by birth and naturalization (jus soli) towards the more conservative jus sanguinis principle of citizenship by descent? Second, the book elaborates the tension between group differentiated rights and the creation of a civic community. Finally, debates over the question of social and economic rights, and civil and political equality are detailed in an exhaustive and nuanced manner.
The first chapter is a graphic account of the dilemmas of “imperial citizenship” and “colonial citizenship.” Imperial citizenship refers to the treatment of transnational Indians who were discriminated in relation to British-born, Dominion-born and European-born people in colonial India. Colonial citizenship refers to the rights of Indians in India. Indian laws generally empowered the rich, the landed and the educated, while paying some regard to minority communities and the disadvantaged. The Indian quest for equality at the time of independence therefore arose from its absence during colonial rule.
The second chapter, “Legal Citizenship and the Long Shadow of the Partition” tells a nuanced story about the Indian commitment to jus soli and clear deviations from it. The deviations, for example, pertain to Muslims wishing to return to India from Pakistan after partition and their claims to property, and the treatment of Bangladeshi migrants in Assam in the 1980s. In both cases, being Muslim was a disadvantage. Liberal voices nevertheless prevailed when the Supreme Court upheld the rights of Muslims who were inadvertently trapped in Pakistan at partition and returned back with Pakistani passports. The narrative reveals not only the Hindu-Muslim problem but a more complex problem of the Assamese not accepting Bengalis and other such inter-ethnic issues.
The next chapter details how migrant dalits and adivasis from Pakistan have had to struggle to obtain citizenship, and even more its benefits, while the rich and powerful Indian diaspora has been wooed by the government.
The book moves from a fascinating section on legal status to a section on citizenship and rights. The chapter “Pedagogies of Duty” presents a fascinating history of how the British first deployed the idea of citizenship and rights to legitimize rule over a divided society. It was this agenda of citizenship and arguments for obedience to which there arose a nationalist response: arguing why these rights lacked substance and morality. It provided an opportunity for the educated elite to rise above social and cultural differences to make political arguments about political and social equality. The next chapter details debates in the Constituent Assembly that led to a privileging of civil and political rights over social and economic rights. The historical detail and interpretation of various views on why Ambedkar changed his mind about the primacy of economic and social rights is just one example of the attention to historical detail.
The final chapter on rights describes how civil and political rights were highlighted in the constitution but not social and economic rights. The chapter remains skeptical about the new rights-based approach to development initiated after 2005, where citizens have been granted the right to food, work and education, among others. The chapter argues against the selective approach to targeting the poor and certain depressed social categories. And, it opposes cash transfers in lieu of public services. It concedes that the period of corporate-sector-driven growth in India is one where these rights have been provided, even though the book is skeptical about the benefits of industrial deregulation and globalization.
The next section of the book is devoted to citizenship. Chapter 7 describes how the dominant view within the Congress Party was largely opposed to group-differentiated citizenship for a variety of different reasons. It was the Muslim League and Ambedkar who sought representation of special interests. Women received some special rights. Hindu nationalists favoured a Hindu India with no special rights for other communities. The chapter details these ideational and political struggles in colonial India. Chapter 8 tells the story for scheduled tribes, who received special rights and reservations but whose human condition has only exacerbated internal violence, and the rise of the idea of backwardness and reservations for backward caste groups.
The book bemoans challenges to civic citizenship in the form of group differentiated rights. While these arguments are powerfully articulated, reservations have played a role in the creation of a scheduled caste party—the Bahujan Samaj Party and numerous backward caste parties in states like Tamil Nadu—where development has taken hold and gotten entrenched. One would have liked to learn more about the Indian citizen’s newfound civic rights to education, work, food and privileged government information. Where the book succeeds most brilliantly is in charting the historical roots of India’s developmental predicament through the conceptual lens of citizenship and rights.
Rahul Mukherji, National University of Singapore, Singapore
During the 2009 national elections, with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP–Majority People’s Party) riding high on the back of its electoral success in the 2007 State Elections in Uttar Pradesh, the party leader Mayawati was openly touted as a potential prime minister and was regarded as a key player in national politics. Fast forward to the recently concluded 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the BSP hardly merits a mention. A low-key campaign culminated in a wipe-out in which the party failed to secure a single victory. Other Dalit parties, such as the Tamil Viduthalai Ciruthaigal Katchi (Liberation Panther Party) whose leader Thirumavalavan came to prominence as an MP during protests over the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka in 2009, and his interventions on the Ambedkar Cartoon controversy in 2012, also drew a blank. Some of this is due to the “Modi wave” which dominated media coverage long before it became a reality, but it also reflects uncertainties, questions and critiques surrounding Dalit politics. Professor Sudha Pai’s introduction to Dalit Assertion, thus, is both timely and welcome and helps to contextualize and explain some of the central processes and debates around Dalit mobilization in India.
After an introduction to the emergence of Dalit politics—both institutional and extra-institutional—the book comprises five key chapters that deal with the ideological underpinnings of Dalit assertion, mobilization at the grass-roots level, the performance of Dalit political parties, the rise of Middle Class activism and a consideration of possible future directions. The introduction sets the scene well; it is neither too detailed and dense for the non-specialist nor so simplistic as to put off more expert readers. Pai highlights the rise of Dalit assertion in multiple forms but also outlines the fissures within the Dalit category and analyzes what is described as an “impasse” in Dalit politics. We then receive an overview of the ideological strands of the Dalit struggle. Here the book focuses on three prominent ideological currents: the Dravidian, Gandhian and Ambedkarite (including Kanshi Ram’s adaptation of Ambedkar) approaches. The reflection on non-Brahminism in South and West India is heartening given the frequent neglect of Southern experiences in such accounts. The key positions of each strand are outlined and Pai reflects on how popular and durable each approach has been, before concluding that Ambedkarite ideology is on the rise and best captures the intent of younger Dalits. Some reflection on why Communist parties failed to address Dalit issues and retain the Dalits who were initially mobilized in class struggles would have been welcome here, though I would not quarrel with the main focus of the chapter.
The rationale for the three substantive chapters is persuasive, since there is clearly no one form or mode of assertion. The tripartite division into grassroots, political party and middle-class activism allows Pai to capture important currents of Dalit mobilization and assertion. The book draws on examples and research from across India in these three chapters, which demonstrate the author’s familiarity with key developments and trends in Dalit struggles. The first chapter documents the localized challenges to caste discrimination that have tackled forms of untouchability head on, but also reflects on the impact these contests have had. Pai notes how challenges from below are often met by violent responses, not from those at the apex of the caste hierarchy but from Backward Caste groups seeking to defend their power and prestige. The book also charts the rise of intra-Dalit conflicts as different castes compete for scarce resources and rally behind different leaders or strategies. One reason why Dalit assertion has slightly stalled of late, it is suggested, arises from these internal divisions. Nor are these divisions confined to caste, as we see in the chapter on parties: the move to political institutionalization has entailed a split between the radical Dalits, who wish to break with the system and annihilate caste, and more pragmatic activists, who seek a share of power within the existing system of political relationships. The compromises and debates entailed in this process are captured here and offer one reason for the decline in Dalit political fortunes, as does the discussion of how Dalits at the grassroots level are increasingly frustrated by identity politics and desire economic and social development. Nevertheless, as Pai notes, Dalit parties have “introduced greater social inclusiveness into the political system” (107).
The final substantive chapter addresses the debate about an impasse from a different angle. What Pai shows here is that newly educated and affluent Dalits who benefitted from early assertion and reservation but are now disillusioned by Dalit parties are not necessarily insulating themselves from less fortunate Dalits, but are engaged in a range of interventions that seek to rethink Dalit involvement in society. This chapter focuses on the Bhopal document, the debates around reservation in the private sector, and calls for supplier diversity. These campaigns mark a recognition that the significance of the state as an employer is declining and demonstrate a shift in Dalit aspirations. The call for supplier diversity shows an understanding of innovative policies that might undermine the networks of caste that inform decisions about who to employ or trade with and serve to perpetuate forms of exclusion. The conclusion then thinks through key issues with each of these main strands of Dalit struggle and reflects on how a more meaningful and socially equitable democracy might be attained. At a time when Dalit voices in Europe and the US are increasingly prominent, some reflection on global links and struggles would have been welcome, as would some consideration of the increasing use of social media by Dalit activists, but these are minor quibbles. Overall this is an excellent and highly recommended introduction to the diversity and impact of Dalit assertion which helps us think through the current state of Dalit politics.
Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
THE PROMISE OF POWER: The Origins of Democracy in India and Autocracy in Pakistan. By Maya Tudor. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. xiii, 240 pp. (Table, figures, maps.) C$95.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-107-03296-5.
In the author’s own words, “the central puzzle motivating this study has been why, despite broadly similar institutional inheritances and colonial legacies, did India’s and Pakistan’s democratic trajectories quickly diverge upon independence?” (205). Why and how was democracy institutionalized in India and authoritarianism entrenched in Pakistan so soon after both emerged from a common colonial experience is not a new question, but Maya Tudor’s Promise of Power offers probably the most comprehensive and thorough answer to date. Going beyond the traditional notion that the prospects of democratization in a post-colonial developing country are invariably linked to its level of economic development, social make-up and emerging institutional stability, Tudor builds a solid historical-political case to explain how the post-colonial states of India and Pakistan developed such divergent political trajectories after 1947. The answer, she explains, does not lie merely with the politics, parties, personalities and institutions that emerged after independence; the phenomenon of political divergence has deeper roots in developments that long preceded the transfer of power in 1947.
Following a useful introductory chapter, in which the central argument of the book, its intended theoretical and substantive contributions to the subject matter are clearly explained, the following four content chapters offer detailed and comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the class composition and consequent political programs of the Indian nationalist movement and the Pakistan campaign. In these carefully crafted chapters that are well supported by sound empirical evidence, Tudor clearly elucidates the differences between Indian National Congress organization and the nationalist movement that it led on the one hand, and the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan, and the Muslim and provincial politics that it engendered, on the other. Here, the key thrust of the book emerges: class differences and their historically conditioned interests fundamentally affected the shape, content and political agenda of the parties that eventually dominated the politics of the late colonial state and the subsequent successor states of India and Pakistan.
The composition of the dominant classes, and the alliances that they formed to protect or further their material interests, not only determined the strength, reach and durability of the political parties that emerged to contest political power in the 1930s and 1940s, but also compelled their political trajectories, leading to particular outcomes. The Indian National Congress, which essentially represented the urban and rural middle class, was able to develop consensus and unity through alliances of various social interests, complex leadership structures that linked high command to grassroots, as well as salient and inclusive programmatic reforms, thereby laying strong foundations for a stable and durable democratic system after independence. The Pakistan movement, on the other hand, depended on the “coalition of convenience” (123) built by the landed aristocracy in the Muslim majority provinces in northern India to secure political power in order to protect their vested interests. There was less desire on the part of the political elites to effect democratic and distributive reforms to groups that did not share class interests, but were only tenuously linked to the party on the basis of shared religious identity. The Pakistan movement was also defined “negatively” as a response to the threat of Hindu majority domination and therefore lacked strong grassroots party infrastructure and programs for mobilization. This resulted in the absence of institutionalized power-sharing structures during the transition to independence. The outcome was regime instability leading to autocratic regimes and subsequent periods of bureaucratic-military rule in Pakistan.
In both countries, post-colonial developments followed the trajectory already set in the preceding decades. At this “critical window of transition” (217), the relative strengths and weaknesses of the respective political parties in India and Pakistan thus determined if they were able and willing to forge compromises, institutionalize power sharing through effective constitution making, and maintain organizational integrity as they assumed political power at independence. The outcome of all that, Tudor argues, was to result in the consequent long-term democratic stability in India and the constant regime instability in Pakistan.
This is a carefully researched and clearly written study that not only makes a compelling argument but also offers perceptive insights into the history of the Indian and Pakistani political movements. While the broader political and social contexts that accompany the narratives in the chapters are not necessarily new to readers familiar with the political history of India and Pakistan, the author must be commended for the convincing manner in which the historical conditions and circumstances in the lead-up to 1947 and beyond are marshaled to support her overarching argument. Overall, this illuminating book is an enjoyable read. The Promise of Power is a valuable study that has much to offer to those wishing to comprehend the political dynamics of India and Pakistan. It is, at the same time, an important contribution to the literature on the challenges of democratization in post-colonial developing countries.
Tan Tai Yong, National University of Singapore, Singapore
ECOLOGY IS PERMANENT ECONOMY: The Activism and Environmental Philosophy of Sunderlal Bahuguna. By George Alfred James. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2013. xii, 266 pp. (Illus., maps.) US$85.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4384-4673-8.
In this book, George Alfred James explores the life, ideas and activism of the Gandhian environmentalist and social worker, Sunderlal Bahuguna. The book provides insights into the intellectual influences on Bahuguna and how his experiences as an activist shaped his ideas over time. One of James’ major aims with this book is to explore the intellectual roots of Indian environmentalism, focusing particularly on the environmental ideas inherent in India’s spiritual traditions and Gandhian philosophy. James illustrates the practical values of these ideas, by showing how they have been embodied in Bahuguna’s work.
It should be acknowledged that this book does not claim to be aimed at an academic audience. Rather, James’ intended audience is “people of all ages, but especially young people who will be inspired and motivated to further study the environment and to be involved in the struggle for the future of the planet” (3). Perhaps for this reason, the book is written in a simple and accessible style and does not assume too much background knowledge from the reader.
The book’s central chapters are arranged around major events in Bahuguna’s life, presented chronologically. Chapters 2 to 6 describe Bahuguna’s formative years, examining his major intellectual influences and his early experiences with activism and development work. These chapters provide an informative and accessible introduction to Gandhian philosophy and its evolution and application in the Garhwal hills. We are introduced to the work of Sri Dev Suman, Mirabehn, Saralabehn and Vinoba Bhave, all of whom had a profound influence on Bahuguna and his wife, Vimla Nautiyal. There are also detailed accounts of the role of Bahuguna and Vimla in the development of Sarvodaya collectives in Tehri-Garhwal in the 1950s, which aimed to promote Gandhian-inspired development in the region.
Chapters 7 to 10 deal with different aspects of the Chipko movement: the mobilization for forest protection and local employment with which Bahuguna’s name is most associated. In these chapters, James gives an overview of the events of the movement, considers different “modes of resistance” employed (placing special emphasis on the role of religion) and examines different perspectives on the Chipko message. The final chapters deal with Bahuguna’s later activism. Chapter 11 describes the foot march (padyatra) that Bahuguna undertook between 1981 and 1983, in which he walked the breadth of the Himalaya to promote environmental awareness and develop a broad perspective on the condition of the Himalayan ecosystem. Chapters 12 and 13 explore Bahuguna’s involvement in the movement against the Tehri Dam. James considers some of the controversies surrounding the role of Hindu nationalists in this movement and the question of whether the movement was a “failure.” Finally, chapter 14 presents a summary of Bahuguna’s philosophy, which brings together Gandhian ideas, ecological science and spirituality. James’ account of the role of religion in Bahuguna’s thought is particularly elegant, highlighting the value of a perspective that sees the divinity in nature and opposes the illusion (maya) of the capitalist economy.
The book is highly effective as a work of biography. It provides a very clear sense of Bahuguna’s motivations, intellectual influences and changes in his viewpoint over time. The book falls short, however, in its aim of providing insight into Indian environmentalism. This is chiefly because its primary empirical content is a series of interviews with Bahuguna and secondary materials written about him. James rarely takes a critical perspective on this material. When he does engage with critiques of Bahuguna, the aim seems to be to defend Bahuguna, rather than to carefully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his position. We receive very little insight into the perspectives of rank-and-file members of the movements that Bahuguna came to represent. Such perspectives are surely important to develop any comprehensive view of “Indian environmentalism.” This is particularly evident in James’ representations of Chipko. For example, in chapter 8 he argues that religion was a major force for mobilization in the movement, citing the use of padyatras (foot marches, or “pilgrimages”), fasts and prayer recitals. However, since James’ claims regarding the significance of these mobilizational techniques is based almost exclusively on Bahuguna’s accounts, the reader is left uncertain as to how significant they really were for Chipko’s rank-and-file supporters.
In chapter 10, James does make some attempt to engage with criticisms of Bahuguna. He considers some of the claims that Bahuguna was at the centre of a division within Chipko between those who favoured development and those who favoured forest conservation. James makes an important contribution by countering some of the simplistic representations of Bahuguna as being anti-modern and anti-development. He demonstrates that Bahuguna’s philosophy was always informed by the economic needs of Uttarakhand’s villages, though his understanding of “needs” and “development” were informed by an ecological and Gandhian perspective. He goes on to argue that the supposed divisions within the Chipko movement were exaggerated by academics and journalists. In saying this, James appears to gloss over claims that Bahuguna’s ecological narrative was at odds with the perspectives of local participants in Chipko, who were more in favour of local-led development than environmental conservation per se. On these issues, James simply reproduces Bahuguna’s perspective: that local people’s claims were always for forest protection, while the claims for the development of small-scale forestry were made by local industries. This overlooks that local industries are led and potentially supported by local people. In the absence of any empirical data on local perspectives (besides Bahuguna’s), the debate that James presents is simply one of competing assertions from activists, journalists and some academics.
Even if this book is aimed more at young activists than scholars, these lapses are not helpful. The quest for sustainability requires honest appraisals of points of tension between environmental conservation and local development aspirations—not just celebrations of prominent and articulate activists.
Trent Brown, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN INDIA: Sovereignty and (Anti) Conversion. Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series, 60. By Goldie Osuri. New York; London: Routledge, 2012. xii, 204 pp. (Figures.) US$145.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-66557-5.
The front page identifies Goldie Osuri as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media, Music, Communications and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, Australia. In the epilogue, subtitled “Conversion as profanation,” she describes her personal background and the reasons for writing the book. Born into a fourth-generation Christian family in Narasapur, West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, she grew up in a multi-religious environment, where Hindus, Muslims and Christians of various denominations apparently lived peacefully side by side. However: “In 2010 the state of Andhra Pradesh experienced the second-highest number of attacks against Christians in India” (159). Osuri comments: “Conversion now is a charged issue in the state and the violence encouraged by Hindutva groups is on the increase. I offer this ethnography of lived conversions to Christianity in Andhra Pradesh as a way of engaging in a counter affective biopolitics, a counter to Hindutva incitement of hatred” (159).
The chapter titles reveal the book’s theoretical orientation: 1. (Anti) conversion as exception: genealogies; 2. (Anti) conversion: transnational bio/necropolitical engagements; 3. Sovereignty and the Indian secular; 4. What’s love got to do with it? Sovereignty and conversion; and 5. Profaning religious freedom.
Much space is taken up by discussions on political philosophy and legal theory, quoting Aristotle, Kant, Spinoza, Carl Schmitt, G. Agamben, J. Derrida, M. Foucault and A.S. Mandair. The relevance of these writings to (anti)conversion in India is not always very clear. The bibliography contains some 400 titles: the only comprehensive work on Hinduism listed is Wendy Doniger’s controversial Hindus, An Alternative History (by now banned for distribution in India). P.V. Kane’s monumental History of Dharmasastra is not mentioned, though it is certainly of greater relevance to India than the writings of the extensively quoted Carl Schmitt. Nor are there any references to classical Indian writings on political theory or to the sources of traditional Indian/Hindu law.
Osuri challenges the claim of Hindutva organizations to represent the original and essential India. She is unqualifiedly hostile towards the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She repudiates Vir Savarkar, the “conceptual founder of Hindutva,” who held that “Indian national identity, must, at its foundation, be based within the political philosophy of Hindutva” and approvingly quotes Chaturvedi: “Hinduism is only a fraction, a part of Hindutva, whereas Hindutva is not a word, but a history” (2).
Osuri is aware that “(anti)conversion” during the British Raj, especially in Adivasi areas, had much to do with economics and local politics. While the British colonial government supported Christian missions in India, some native rulers passed anti-conversion laws, especially in tribal areas. Discussing the background to the 2010 disturbances in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, involving around 50,000 (mainly Christian) Adivasis and Dalits, Osuri acknowledges the complexity of the issues, but puts the blame for the violence squarely on Hindutva activists. She also hints at pro-Hindutva bias in the commuting of the death sentence for the murderers of Australian medical missionary Dr. Graham Staines and his two young sons, burned to death in 1999 in their camper by members of the Bajrang Dal.
Chapter 4, different in style and content from the rest of the book, discusses two popular Bollywood productions: Jhodaa Akbar is a historical film about the love-marriage between the Muslim Emperor Akbar and the Hindu Rajput princess Jhoda, who continued worshipping Krishna at the court of Agra. Saat Khhoon Maf tells the story of a Goanese Catholic woman, who killed her seven husbands—Hindu, Muslim and Christian—and died a Catholic nun.
Chapter 5 takes aim at the influential Hindu American Foundation, which she dubs Yankee Hindutva, commenting: “Ironically, in the 21st century, transnational Hindutva attempts to align itself with US Imperial sovereignty in a post 9/11 context” (133).
I agree with Osuri’s condemnation of the attempted violent and/or deceitful Hinduization of Adivasis, of the jarring totalitarian language of some proponents of Hindutva, and of the politicizing of religion. However, I am missing an equally critical stance towards Christian missions, which came to India with the totalitarian claim of possessing the only true religion and being the only way to salvation. While Christian missions in British India were more humane than the Spanish-Portuguese conquista in the Americas, and while some Christian missionaries effectively protected Adivasis against exploitation and abuse by outsiders, the Portuguese in Goa, Diu and Daman placed before Hindus, Jews and Muslims the alternative of either being baptized or leaving their homeland. They introduced the Holy Inquisition, which from 1560 to 1812 tortured and killed thousands.
Sadly, religious conflicts are not amenable to rational solutions: the “sovereign” majority—right or wrong—will generally prevail and minorities are too often forced to accommodate themselves. “Tolerance” is a modern secular concept and neither universally practiced nor enforceable. The 1950 Constitution of India, shaped by modern Western models, is very liberal. It guarantees the free exercise of (all) religions, including their propagation. But it also allows an interpretation like that of the Niyogi Commission in 1957. The commission (which also included an Indian Christian), ruled that “conversion” (to Christianity) can be legally prohibited for reasons of public peace and national security.
Osuri’s work is a major contribution to the debate on religious freedom in general, and in India in particular. Since she is an Indian Christian, one can understand her conflation of militant Hindu organizations and Hindu political parties with all Hindu organizations. However, there are moderate proponents of Hindutva who argue that Bharat is the cradle and the home of Hinduism (however vaguely defined) and that there is a right to peaceful means to protect their own traditions from what they feel are undue outside interference. Traditional Hinduism has been largely tolerant and Hindus have lived for centuries in peace side by side with other faith communities—as Goldie Osuri’s own hometown Narasapur has shown.
Klaus K. Klostermaier, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
The Hindi-language cinema based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has acquired global recognition in the last two decades under the label “Bollywood,” and the same period has seen the welcome publication of numerous scholarly works devoted to it, as well as the proliferation of college courses surveying its history, conventions and transnational impact—finally acknowledging that this “other” of Euro-American filmic conventions has been one of the world’s most avidly consumed and influential entertainment forms for well over half a century. Recent entrants in the category of introductory overviews include Tejaswini Ganti’s Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema (2nd ed., Routledge, 2013), and Kush Varia’s book, reviewed here, written for the “Short Cuts” series that is meant especially for film studies courses.
Despite some commendable features, Varia’s book is regrettably uneven. Much well-written and insightful analysis—sometimes addressing interesting topics (such as diasporic fandom and gay readings of films) not treated in other introductory works—alternates with awkwardly written and even ungrammatical passages, and the plot summaries of important films, presented as sets of “case studies” to illustrate each thematic section of the book, are at times confusing and inadequately contextualized. In addition, unexamined and misleading clichés (such as that which forms the book’s alliterative subtitle) occur periodically, despite the author’s stated aim to go beyond such journalistic formulas and to address, within a brief compass, the historical breadth and thematic depth of this prolific cinema.
After a brief introduction that outlines the book’s aims, the first chapter, “History and Industry,” traces the development of cinema on the subcontinent, noting precursor art forms and performance genres, early feature films and studios, the impact of sound (which ended the dominance of imported films and established both the convention of operatic melodrama and of Hindi-Urdu as a cinematic lingua franca for much of the region), and the evolution, through several thematic periods, of cinema after Indian independence. Much of this is factually sound, clearly presented and accompanied by citation of relevant scholarship, although the author’s periodization of post-1947 cinema appears to owe more than a little to the 2004 first edition of Ganti’s book, which is not cited. Films selected as case studies here are both apt and initially well-analyzed (e.g., Pyaasa, 18–19, Mr. India, 23–25), though the two most recent choices (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Lagaan, 27–30) receive more cursory treatment; curiously, the seminal Amitabh Bachchan films of the 1970s, though mentioned, appear as case studies only in later, topical chapters.
Chapter 2, “Narrative and Genres,” is less well organized. An illuminating discussion of, for example, the persistence of religion in Hindi cinema’s brand of “melodrama,” and of its linguistic registers, is followed, unaccountably, by sloppy analyses of two of the most celebrated films of the 1970s (in reverse-chronological order: Amar Akbar Anthony and Sholay, 34–36). A decent treatment of the vital role of music and song culminates in clumsy and inadequate plot summaries of Baiju Bawra and Dil Se (42–44). The general discussion of “Genres” that follows is notably weak, introducing only “the Social” and “Romance” (categories so broad and vaguely defined that they may be applied to most Hindi films); later sections address, with somewhat greater clarity, “The Historical and the Islamicate Film,” and “Supernatural Genres”; a final section on “Other Genres” briefly alludes to war and gangster films.
The third chapter, “Characters and Morality,” is similarly uneven. Insightful discussion of the persistence of classical and familial role models is followed by cursory and confusing analysis of three films (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…!, Mother India, and the 1955 Devdas), again in unexplained reverse-chronological order. A following section on “Villains and Vamps” is again well written, and the chapter concludes with a welcome discussion of “Gay, Lesbian and Transgender characters.”
Chapter 4, “Settings and Style,” is a disjointed collage, ranging from thoughtful discussion of stock film sets (mansions, huts, cabarets, hospitals) to less cogent treatments of animals, rainstorms, religious festivals and costuming. To illustrate the latter topic, two important films, Shree 420 and Khalnayak, are discussed—the former, decently (though the author cites the “colour” of a character’s dress in this 1955 b/w film); the latter, less so. The next chapter deals with “Stars and Audiences” in similarly erratic fashion. Bachchan is treated at last, but is over-emphasized and a-historically identified as “Bollywood’s biggest star” (98); the immense popularity of other male and female actors, through more than six decades, goes unmentioned, apart from the (interesting and notable) identification of gay male fans, especially in the diaspora, with tragic heroines like Meena Kumari. A brief conclusion (“Bye-Bye Bollywood?”) muses appropriately on some of the changes occurring in the industry today.
It is fairly common these days to find academic books that appear to have escaped the diligence of a copy editor or proofreader, and Varia’s Bollywood offers a particularly egregious example of this trend. To the instances of poor writing already mentioned must be added frequent typographical errors, some of which appear to be relics of an auto-correct function allowed to go unchecked (e.g., “transgression,” apparently for “transition,” on page 63, and the nonsensical “which has spurned some of the greatest successes,” on page 70, where the author doubtless meant “spawned”). In addition, a number of words or phrases are accidentally repeated, and an entire sentence beginning “But the main reason for the failure of A Throw of Dice to connect to domestic audiences” occurs twice in the same paragraph on page 13. A few jarring factual errors mar discussions of important films—thus, star Shashi Kapoor is misidentified as his brother Shammi in the synopsis of the seminal Deewaar on page 97. It is disappointing to see such sloppy non-editing in a prestigious film studies series, and it unfortunately compromises the suitability of this often-interesting book for use by today’s undergraduates—who sorely need examples of lucid prose.
Philip Lutgendorf, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
CAULDRON OF RESISTANCE: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and 1950s Southern Vietnam. The United States in the World. By Jessica M. Chapman. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 2013. xi, 276 pp. (Maps, figures.) US$39.95, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8014-5061-7.
Recent years have yielded a rich harvest of book-length studies on the period from the end of the First Indochina War (1946–1954) and the Geneva Accords to US imperial intervention, the establishment of the Republic of Viet Nam (RVN, 1955–1975), and the Ngo Dinh Diem regime (1954–1963) in the country’s southern half. Authors like James Carter, Philip Catton, Seth Jacobs, Mark Lawrence, Fredrik Logevall and Edward Miller have expanded our knowledge of, in particular, the politics and diplomacy of the era. Much of that recent work provides a more complex portrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem and the US-supported state he established in the crucial months and years after the Geneva Conference. While the contours of a nuanced treatment of the RVN and the Diem government had already appeared in Viet Nam Studies, such a detailed analysis of Ngo Dinh Diem had been lacking in Viet Nam War Studies, still dominated by US-centrism and largely un-emancipated from Cold War prerogatives. Neither “US puppet” nor “Churchill of the East,” Ngo Dinh Diem emerges in this new literature as a nationalist in his own right, masterful in manipulating political forces around him, and, while beholden to the US, ruthlessly pursues his own agenda.
Jessica Chapman adds to this œuvre with her important, immensely insightful and readable Cauldron of Resistance. Like many of her recent peers, she focuses particularly on the years 1953–1956: the end of the French war, the Geneva Conference, and political events and diplomatic moves in Viet Nam’s south surrounding the dual replacement of the Associated State of Viet Nam (ASVN, 1949–1955) under Bao Dai with the RVN under Diem and of the French presence with US overlordship. In her treatment of the symbiotic, yet contentious Diem-US relationship itself, Chapman largely focuses on the familiar cast of characters and political and diplomatic archives like other recent publications. She similarly notes the irony of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime: Diem’s personal traits and uncompromising, violent strategies that soon assured the RVN’s stabilization in the country’s southern half also led to his downfall in 1963; his singular feat of imposing central state power over the southern regions came at the heavy price of simultaneously sowing the seeds of the eventual destruction both of his regime and the US neo-colonial project south of the DMZ.
The core contributions of Cauldron of Resistance, however, lie in the twist that Chapman adds to our knowledge of the ASVN and the early RVN. She provides the first sustained study of the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and Binh Xuyen as influential political actors since the 1940s and argues convincingly that these “politico-religious organizations” be considered centrally in any serious analysis of the period. Here Chapman positions herself against prevailing notions in the literature that too quickly dismiss these “sects” and “crime cartels” as regional power brokers without national ambitions and as “warlords” defending their fiefs, whose bloody destruction in 1954/55 only serves to highlight Diem’s success at “nation-building” and as a mere way-station towards the RVN’s ultimate confrontation with communism.
Rather, Chapman argues, these three politico-religious organizations were deeply embedded in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious environment of Viet Nam’s deep south and arose in a milieu of millenarian movements, secret societies, syncretic religious and cultural associations, and multipolar power under a repressive, unsettling colonial regime. They defended their autonomy and pursued their anti-colonial, yet anti-communist national ambitions in uneasy alliances with, variously, the French, Trotskyites, the Japanese, the Viet Minh, and Bao Dai loyalists, or in violent conflict against some of these forces at other times. (Chapman’s chapter 1 provides a superb overview of this multifaceted history from the 1840s to the 1940s.) By the early 1950s, the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao and Binh Xuyen enjoyed formidable political and military power in the south and prominence in the vigorous public debates and behind-the-scenes maneuvers surrounding the Geneva Accords. In the complex contexts of their times, they were rational political actors.
Cauldron argues that US officials, however, were deaf to the appeals of these politico-religious groups as they misread them—encouraged by Ngo Dinh Diem—as exotic, irrational, anti-modern, “feudal” warlords, bandits and sects. Chapman’s point here wonderfully complements Seth Jacobs’ argument that the US threw their support behind Diem in part because his Catholicism, conservatism, and anti-communism resonated deeply with, and hence was legible to, 1950s US political culture.
Chapman’s second major argument is that it was Diem’s intolerance of the challenge to his power posed by the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao and Binh Xuyen, more so than any communist threat, that motivated the rapid construction of the RVN’s repressive state apparatus in 1954–1956, when there was no active revolutionary resistance south of the DMZ. Even after destroying the three organizations’ militias by 1955, Diem continued to employ, with active US support, his police state’s “terroristic” campaigns against all opposition, even if outwardly anti-communist, mainly out of concern over lingering politico-religious networks and influences. This is a novel argument challenging conventional Cold War interpretations, but Chapman’s diligent documentation is indeed persuasive.
The book’s important third insight arises from its preceding argument: Diem’s state terror campaigns were so uncompromising, indiscriminate and violent that they eventually drove politico-religious partisans into an alliance of necessity with southern communists and created the late 1950s revolutionary conditions leading to the founding of the National Liberation Front (NLF). Misread by US officials, excluded from power and hunted by Diem, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and Binh Xuyen leaders and followers became constitutive members of the southern revolutionary resistance that ultimately helped defeat the RVN and the US. Here Chapman gives us an indication that a thorough re-evaluation of the NLF outside of Cold War clichés is an urgent task awaiting the field.
I have a few quibbles with Cauldron of Resistance. With its emphasis on the three politico-religious groups, the book’s title hardly reflects its actual focus and genuine contribution. Given that the power bases of the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and Binh Xuyen were in former Cochinchina, Chapman should have given the reader a better understanding of their political activities and ambitions in other regions, particularly the centre. I also find the author’s use of the term “communist” sweeping, even as she forcefully argues, in the case of “sects,” for a more nuanced terminology. The book’s glossary of Vietnamese diacritics contains quite a few errors. Finally, Chapman’s conclusion with its US foreign policy recommendations and linkage to the so-called “war on terror” seems contrived and naïve; some of its language (e.g., “In Vietnam, the battle between the forces of communism and those in support of American-style liberal democratic capitalism…”) stands in contradiction to the book’s very points.
Nevertheless, Jessica Chapman’s Cauldron of Resistance is a fine achievement and a welcome addition to the study of 1950s Viet Nam and US interventionism, contains a number of important arguments that demand reconsideration of our assumptions, and therefore is highly recommended.
Christoph Giebel, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
HOT SCIENCE, HIGH WATER: Assembling Nature, Society and Environmental Policy in Contemporary Vietnam. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series, no. 124. By Eren Zink. Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2013. xx, 270 pp. (Figures, tables.) £18.99, paper. ISBN 978-87-7694-128-4.
Hot Science, High Water is a rare and much needed contribution to the study of how decisions are made and policies formed on environmental issues in intricate relations to the reproduction of culture, politics and society. It shows how scientists are not only experts in their fields but also members of a particular social and cultural order. Behind this insight is not merely the merit of ethnographic work, but also productive engagement with actor-network theory to cast light on activities that have given shape to policy, scientists and ultimately society. Using Latour’s framework, the book productively counters foundational approaches to environmental crisis, such as that of political ecology which seeks to contextualize the crisis within a narrative of capitalism. It also problematizes most effectively the institution of policy making, which often assumes the power of “best practices” in influencing varieties of environmental ideals, norms and ethics.
The author Eren Zink, who teaches anthropology of science at Uppsala University, did an excellent job in assembling accounts that feature the intricate social production of scientific discourse in Vietnam in the context of unequal exchange of knowledge between the Global North and the Global South. Instead of looking at the power of international norms and scientific discourses, such as that of Climate Change, in influencing Vietnamese environmental policy, Zink shows how Vietnamese scientists reworked and appropriated those norms to produce policies that work for their own material and moral ambitions. He tells a story about the production of difference, not so much by way of exposing competing accounts about the environment and Climate Change, but by way of harnessing the knowledge to serve other purposes, an act that dislodged the authority of the international agencies who seek to control the practices of knowledge in Vietnam.
Zink follows the Vietnamese scientists and the mechanism by which they remade matters concerning environmental crises into something that could address other issues. The whole processes of remaking brought in social practices that are far from scientific (such as micro-politics and cultural economies) but are equally important in understanding the Vietnamese way of producing nature and environmental policy. There is no doubt a strong component of constructedness of nature and crises but Zink makes clear that the book is in no way denying the crises. The concern is about how the global environmental crises are made relevant to the local situation and how much such efforts rely on the practices of cultural economy.
The book’s strongest theoretical contribution is situated in Zink’s use of “slippery space,” defined as a space produced (by Vietnamese scientists) for misunderstanding and misrecognition of power and knowledge, which ironically served as a basis for collaboration with international development agencies. He applies this concept (and the more familiar idea of habitus from Bourdieu) rather loosely (or better productively) to capture a variety of instances of exchange between different habitus, between the local and foreign actors and between natural and human actors.
As theory occupies a central component in the framing of the ethnographic finding, Zink opens his narrative appropriately with a useful exploration of the concepts and theoretical tools that have made the actor-network theory an accessible and productive method, if only one is willing to follow the scientists at work. Chapter 2 provides another important angle to understanding the making of nature and society in Vietnam. It demonstrates the power or the agency of history and the culture of scientific training in Vietnam and how the power of Confucian learning continues to shape the contemporary habits of scientists in their production of scientific knowledge. The “Science Histories” chapter is a pleasure to read, as it contextualizes the manner of working of Vietnamese scientists in their habits (chapter 3) and in their negotiation with nature (chapter 4) and international development and scientific agencies (chapters five and six). One of the best parts of the story is how the scientific fact of climate change is made to work for seemingly unrelated things, such as kinship relations, political patron-client, and career advancement, without jeopardizing relations with frustrated international agencies. Another great story concerns the formation of national Climate Change policy, which is based on an acceptance of the scientific facts of Climate Change, but it sides with other developing countries in their refusal to accept the mitigation projects proposed by industrialized countries. The last chapter is most interesting as it tells the story of young scientists who have returned home with new scientific knowledge and their own professional ideals but encountered the habitus that demanded adaptation of their manner of working which would in turn shape their scientific knowledge itself. Young scientists who are moving in and out of western institutions have also learned to constitute their own slippery space to deal with older scientific establishments in Vietnam.
We thus return to the central theme of the book – how scientists made a space for themselves in the social space of Vietnam by way of harnessing global interests, concerns and ideals about nature and crises. In taking local culture and politics seriously, Eren Zink presents novel insights into the history and ethnography of science and policy-making while simultaneously contributes greatly towards advancing our knowledge about Vietnamese society.
Abidin Kusno, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIALIST CLUB AND THE CONTEST FOR MALAYA: Tangled Strands of Modernity. By Loh Kah Seng et al. Singapore: NUS Press, 2013. 347 pp. (B&W photos.) US$30.00, paper. ISBN 978-9971-69-692-4.
The history of decolonization and the making of independent nation states continues to interest scholars across various disciplines. Competing accounts of the tumultuous fifties and sixties, formative years for the forging of a national identity in Malaya and Singapore, have emerged to enrich our understanding of the past. The monumental memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew can be read against The Fajar Generation: The University Socialist Club and the Politics of Postwar Malaya and Singapore (Poh Soo Kai et al. , Strategic Information and Research Centre, 2010). The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaysia: Tangled Strands of Modernity adds a scholarly, well-researched dimension to this list. Focusing on an important student organization, the University Socialist Club, the authors embark on a riveting account of the Left in Singapore. The Left, whose role is often elided or consigned to footnotes, emerges as a key player in the exciting years of nation formation. The careful control of tonal objectivity in the authors’ skillfully chosen language makes this an admirably balanced account in which no individual or group is privileged.
Solidly grounded in traditional historical sources such as colonial office records and other written documents like student writings, the authors also use oral histories and interviews. As they see it, “our book is one instance of how oral histories can contribute to the imperial archives and student writings to enrich academic scholarship” (11). Organized chronologically, the history of the Socialist Club is explored within the larger context of major political events of the fifties and sixties. Thus the role of the club acquires wider resonances in the context of the Fajar Trial, the resistance to Malaysia and Operation Coldstore, to name a few. The thematic concerns which undergird this study of a formidable student club shares with other postcolonial writings themes such as identity (both individual and societal), the envisioning of a nation, and the surveillance mechanism of managed decolonization. The book is enriched by the authors’ familiarity with subaltern and postcolonial theories on decolonization and nation formation. Referring to Partha Chatterjee’s “derivative nationalism” they see the paradoxical position of the Socialist Club members whose anti-colonial stand did not prevent the adoption of a Western model of modernity. More significantly, the authors are fully cognizant of the power of the discursive dimension in the Cold War order of information gathering. Words were not only referential but “patently accusatory and transformative” (257). Thus terms like “socialist,” “communist,” “left-wing,” and “right-wing” acquired loaded meanings.
Beginning with the Socialist Club’s formation in 1953 and its early activities, the authors then trace the club’s continued role in speaking up for “stifled Malayans” after the Fajar Trial. They question the binary Manichean thinking of official accounts which see a simple divide between apathetic English-educated students and chauvinistic, Communist-influenced Chinese-medium students. Far from being apathetic, club members organized talks to educate students on socialism, helped to “invigorate left-wing trade unions” (86) and, together with other students groups, attempted to form the Pan Malayan Students’ Federation. The club’s promotion of Malay as the national language showed a non-communal approach, privileging class over ethnic-cultural ties. Divergences did occur because conflicting opinions operated both within the club and between the club and its critics. The term “socialist” engendered various shades of meaning as Fabian socialists, liberal socialists and democratic socialists lay claim to “socialism.” In spite of sharing socialist ideals, club members’ overlapping roles reveal that the identity of left-leaning student activists was not homogeneous, but fluid.
A note-worthy contribution is the authors’ recognition that even after Operation Coldstore, club members continued to use their publication to educate and inform. One detail which draws our attention is the club’s refusal to accept Lee Kuan Yew’s offer to grant a new permit for the publication of Fajar if the publication’s name was changed. Such a change of name would alter the historical legacy of the club by dissociating it from “its anti-establishment credentials and history” (200). The range of its critiques on many important issues such as the merger debate would be further neglected.
The theme of curtailment adds to our understanding of the surveillance which the postwar world order mandated. Besides more overt forms, surveillance consisted of the “systematic collection and use of specific forms of information” (155). The authors note the state’s use of paternalistic imagery in representing the student activists as naïve youths easily susceptible to leftist propaganda and thus in need of paternal guidance and chastisement. Arrests, incarceration and the toll on individuals are poignantly portrayed via the use of interviews which makes history come alive, complementing the documented evidence in a mutually enriching manner. Oral history as a reflection on identity is rightly seen as a continuing dialogue between past and present since “even the silences of memory are socially significant” (235).
Careful selection of materials offers us a balanced picture of the achievements and shortcomings of the University Socialist Club. Some members were silent about violations of civil liberties by communist states. The club’s vision of a non-communal Malaya where multi-racial workers unite across racial lines to forge a modernist Malaya underestimated the divisive power of ethnic ties. A socialist nation could not square with that of a fledgling Singapore where, after 1965, rapid industrialization required a vastly different concept of capital acquisition and social engineering.
The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity will appeal to scholars across many disciplines and the general public. Careful not to dismiss the official state narrative of nation formation as mere propaganda or promote the memories of the Left as gospel truth, the authors succeed admirably in adding a nuanced perspective to the history of Malaya and Singapore. Informative biographical sketches of the club’s members will educate future generations about a group of important individuals in our past. For some, the club’s members were too idealistic, fuelled by “moral authority, derived from their nascent roles as intellectuals and change makers” (134). Yet many of them paid a heavy price for their beliefs. They deserve a place in our reflection on the legacies of the past as these impinge on the present.
Wong Soak Koon, Independent Researcher, Universiti Sains Malaysia (retired)
CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE AND DEMOCRACY IN INDONESIA. Problems of International Politics. By Donald L. Horowitz. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. xviii, 326 pp. (Tables, map.) US$29.99, paper. ISBN 978-1-107-64115-0.
Indonesia is a far-flung archipelago of more than 250 million citizens, whose highly variegated society, while 90 percent Muslim, speaks some 700 languages. Its economy, meanwhile, is geared simply to commodities and services, trapping it at a modest level of development. How is it, then, that such uncongenial soil supports the only polity among ASEAN countries today regarded by Freedom House as “politically free”? In this remarkable book, Donald Horowitz finds the answer to Indonesia’s democratic resilience in a medley of factors: starting conditions, fortuitous timing, consensual elites and viscous but free-moving social forces, producing a benign kinetic that he labels “multipolar fluidity.” But most signally, within this constellation, institutions have emerged which, by feeding back to perpetuate the alignments in which they originate, have kept democracy on beam.
In focusing on Indonesia, Horowitz begins by recounting that its society involves a vast patchwork of micro-identities. But at “rare and dangerous moments” (38), affiliations can gather in sharp confrontation along main axes of secular-nationalism and modernist and traditional Islam, locally demarcated as aliran (cultural streams). His task, then, is to show how institutions have been created in ways that deter political elites from so mobilizing voters along these lines that sentiments are brought to the boil, breaking democracy down. It is worth rehearsing his surprising findings as they disturb some cherished understandings in political science.
First, in terms of sequencing, it was fortuitous in Indonesia that electoral contestation preceded institutional change. Elections held shortly after Suharto’s demise brought legislators to power who, better than any constituent assembly or commission that outside experts might counsel, designed institutions that they could live with, increasing prospects for their eschewing the social mobilizing by which democracy would be threatened.
Second, in afterward revamping the constitution, legislators adopted a form of list proportional representation (PR), ensuring that more than one party represented each aliran. In this way, they encouraged movement by voters within streams. In addition, as the many parties that appeared contested elections avidly, they sought to extend their reach by forging “odd-couple coalitions,” whether Muslim-Christian, santri-abangan, or indigene-immigrant in scope. This prompted movement by voters across streams as well. What is more, the multipolar fluidity that set in was reinforced by a president who, after 2004, was contrarily elected on a plurality or, even better, a majority basis. Specifically, with citizens finding their aliran only indistinctly reflected in presidential slates that were few in number and broad in appeal, they were driven again to wade across streams, or lose sight of them altogether, their gaze averted to the personal appeal of lead candidates. Horowitz proposes a wise dictum for democratic stability in Indonesia: “foster intra-group competition, encourage intergroup alliances” (275).
But this too challenges a longstanding adage in political science, specifically, that presidential systems and legislatures elected on the basis of list PR, by pitting a majoritarian executive against a fissiparous cabinet, necessarily make for grievous tensions and deadlock. Horowitz argues, however, that in Indonesia a directly elected president and list PR have been optimal, sustaining multipolar fluidity by deterring candidates from recklessly activating aliran.
Third, rather than any “one shot’” package of constitutional reform, Indonesia’s institutional change was incremental and protracted. But if this precluded the early codification of electoral rules that experts might prescribe, it has enabled legislators to pursue ongoing institutional adjustment, thereby ensuring their continuing loyalties. Of course, this narrow pursuit of rewards does not always cumulate in collective long-term benefits. Horowitz shows that many legislators, while citing parliamentary stalemate and Outer Island rebellions during the 1950s, but more gravely concerned that their own large parties should prevail, have tried repeatedly to banish the smaller parties upon which much multipolar fluidity depends.
Hence, in seeking to dampen PR’s proliferative effects, legislators have imposed ever more stringent requirements on parties that seek to contest elections. But while avoiding fragmentation among micro-identities, Horowitz contends that this risks bifurcation between secularists and Islamists, “splitting the country down the middle.” Sundry anomalies have also set in. For example, despite extensive decentralization, parties hoping to contest at the local level must still meet a perverse requirement that they operate a country-wide branch structure. Further, while parties compete vigorously in elections, they afterward collude in legislative arenas. And the oversize cabinets in which they meet, while evoking inclusion and consensus, are mainly held together by a “conspiracy of silence,” with members tolerating each other’s looting of state assets in order to finance their party activities. Presidents also prefer oversize cabinets to minimum winning coalitions, helping them face down the parties that would blackmail them with threats of defection.
Fourth, in the ensuing absence of serious opposition and accountability, Horowitz turns to questions about democratic stability and quality, challenging the old saw that all good things go together. By posing counterfactuals, Horowitz demonstrates that in Indonesia, democracy’s stability and quality vary inversely. In particular, if corruption were better controlled, narrowing the conduits to patronage that parties require to survive, habituated collusion might give way to sharp confrontation. Further, if religious minorities were better protected, encouraging them to practice their beliefs more openly, they would draw the ire of the Muslim majority and rambunctious vigilantes. And finally, if these axes were to intertwine, with vigorously competing parties now hardening along the secular-Islamist divide, multipolar fluidity might congeal in a deadly bipolar faceoff.
In sum, Horowitz offers a sumptuous and thoughtful account. His book will hold obvious appeal for the legions of dedicated Indonesianists. But it might profit the generalists even more, confronting at many turns their long-held tenets about democratic stability. Even so, a few queries might be raised. At what point is democracy’s quality so compromised, with the freeness and fairness of elections disfigured by corrupt financing, for example, that democracy slips into some authoritarian category? On this score, we might ask how analytically separable and sequential democracy’s stability and quality really are.
Further, Horowitz places great store on originating conditions, prodding legislators down a pathway on which they are partly predestined. But this is to muddle legacy and agency, making it difficult to disentangle their respective contributions to institutional change in even the single case of Indonesia, much more in any theoretical way across other divided societies. The direction of causality between institutions and legislators is also unclear, with rules changed regularly by legislators who are then bound by them, but only until they are changed again. As Horowitz observes, electoral laws have been altered in Indonesia prior to every election.
Finally, however institutions took shape in Indonesia, if just a couple of presidential slates, by issuing overarching appeals, help to promote multipolar fluidity, why couldn’t a limited number of big parties, in establishing themselves as catch-all vehicles, do the same? Would the shared preeminence of, say, Golkar and PDI-P, necessarily do more to polarize aliran than to dilute them? The two-party system that preceded Marcos in the Philippines indicates that they might not, intimating that Indonesia’s (re)framers, in their wariness over small parties, may have a point.
William Case, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
FAITH AND THE STATE: A History of Islamic Philanthropy in Indonesia. Brill’s Southeast Asian Library, v. 1. By Amelia Fauzia. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013. xxx, 346 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$156.00, cloth. ISBN 978-90-04-23397-3.
For the past few decades, an enthusiasm to revitalize philanthropic practices has had far-reaching consequences to the increasing visibility of Islam in the Indonesian public space. Questions about how and why the culture of giving is being rejuvenated within the religious communities are always interesting to pose, partly because the practice of giving, or philanthropy so to speak, is not only about altruistic behaviour. In a nation-state era, philanthropic practices are also constructed by different social, cultural, economic and political factors. This book concerns the historical development and institutional transformation of charitable activities in Indonesian Islam, and examines the political dynamism behind a rapid development of Islamic philanthropic organizations.
The author, Amelia Fauzia, focuses on the state’s role in providing welfare schemes for communities and its consequences to the institutional transformation of philanthropic organizations. According to Fauzia, philanthropy is primarily embedded in civil society, and philanthropic activism is heavily dependent on the state’s welfare policies. She argues that the major factor energizing philanthropic activism among civil society is the state’s weakness in providing an adequate welfare plan. The author also comes to the conclusion that a “weak state” will lead to “strong philanthropy” and a strong state will be characterized by weak philanthropy.
The book consists of four sections divided into seven chapters. In the first section, “From Early Islamization to Islamic Kingdom,” Fauzia provides an overview of the historical development of the religiously motivated giving in Muslim societies. The author highlights the views of ulama (Islamic scholars) and the Muslim interpretation of the normative concept of Islamic philanthropy, such as zakat (almsgiving) and waqf (pious endowment). It is mentioned that, in the past, Muslims in the Indonesian archipelago channeled their zakat to local religious leaders or directly to the poor. Zakat, therefore, functioned as a community-based social security system, as it was fully managed in the hands of society. The absence of any record pointing to the direct engagement of kings or sultans in mobilizing the religiously inspired philanthropic in Indonesian kingdoms indicates that zakat was considered a private matter, instead of a public affair. Nevertheless, she notes that the rise of the nation state has influenced the pattern of the relationship between religion and the state and has changed Muslim views about Islamic philanthropy. Consequently, there are at least two competing streams of opinion among Muslims about how zakat (almsgiving) should be practiced and organized. The first stream is concerned with the revitalization of zakat as a part of the state’s fiscal system; the second stream puts emphasis on the function of zakat as a grassroots social security system.
The second part, “Islamic Philanthropy under Non-Muslim Rule,” discusses the development of Islamic philanthropy from the Dutch colonial period until after Indonesian independence. The author’s detailed exposition of Dutch colonial policies on Muslim philanthropy suggests that zakat was perceived by the Dutch government as a Muslim private matter, and the Dutch colonial government clearly distingushed between the public and private spheres. This type of Dutch policy provided an opportunity for Islamic associations founded in the early twentieth century, such as Muhammadiyah (the modernist Muslim organization) and the Nahdlatul Ulama (the traditionalist Islam), to govern philanthropic funds independently. Active participation of Islamic organizations in philanthropic practices before the Indonesian independence can be seen in the role of Muhammadiyah and the Nahdlatul Ulama in financing a wide array of social enterprises, including the operation of schools, orphanages, clinics, disaster relief agencies and other welfare-oriented social activities. Before the independence era, Muslim concern about zakat was still restricted to Islamic jurisprudential issues.
The next part, “Islamic Philanthropy in the Independent Indonesian State,” examines the process of the bureaucratization of Islamic philanthropy in post-Independence Indonesia, marked by the modernization of waqf during the Old Order era, and the increase of the state interest in zakat organizing in the New Order era. The author critically examines the New Order’s ambiguous policy on Islam. According to the author, on the one hand, the New Order regime firmly asserted Pancasila as the state ideology in order to celebrate the religious and cultural diversity among Indonesian citizens. On the other hand, the New Order also intensified its Islamic policy to accommodate Muslim interest, such as the issuance of regulation on waqf and zakat, as well as the state involvement in sponsoring state-sponsored Islamic philanthropic agencies. This part also presents a contemporary development of Islamic philanthropy. The author draws particular attention to the formation of Indonesian zakat regulation such as the issuance of zakat law and debates on zakat organizing between the supporters of government-sponsored zakat agencies and the advocates of civil-society-based zakat organizations in post-New Order era.
The last section is the conclusion, in which the author discusses two main issues. The author suggests that there have been two competing trends among Indonesian Muslims on how to manage Islamic philanthropy: 1) a strong inclination to privatize Islamic philanthropy; and 2) the state’s enthusiasm to institutionalize (or bureaucratize) Islamic philanthropy. Secondly, the author is concerned with the notions of voluntarism within the communities which have strengthened philanthropic activism in Indonesian Islam. In her reflection, she underlines the necessity to reinforce the institutional capacity of Islamic philanthropic organizations among civil society in order to promote social justice effectively.
This book is a valuable contribution to the literature on Islamic social-political history and should become an important part of studies of Indonesian Islam. It has presented very rich information about the dynamics of encounters between the state and civil society in Indonesian Islam. While the book is, no doubt, very worthwhile for observers in Islamic studies, political Islam and the history of Islam in the Southeast, it has not sufficiently included ethnographic findings of grassroots practices of philanthropy in contemporary Indonesian Islam.
Hilman Latief, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Bantul, Indonesia
ISLAM AND THE MAKING OF THE NATION: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia. Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 282. By Chiara Formichi. Leiden: KITLV Press, 2012. xvii, 244 pp. (Map.) US$49.00, paper. ISBN 978-90-6718-386-4.
If there is one particular form of political Islam in Indonesia that continues to be a security issue today, it is the Negara Islam Indonesia, abbreviated NII (Indonesian Islamic State), that is invariably called the Darul Islam, abbreviated DI, the “abode of Islam” or the ideal Islamic state. The NII was proclaimed by Sekarmaji Marjan Kartosuwiryo (1905–1962) on August 7, 1949 in Cimambang, West Java.
Even though the NII and the DI had been crushed by the Indonesian military more than a half century ago in the aftermath of the capture and execution of Kartosuwiryo in 1962, some splinter groups and cells of the NII continue to remain active underground. It is supposed by many circles of the Indonesian public that a certain splinter group of former NII members remains active, in order to recruit Muslim youth to fight for the cause of the Islamic state of Indonesia. This same splinter group of the NII is also allegedly very close to Indonesian military figures or groups.
The fact that the ideal of, and efforts to create, an Indonesian Islamic State (NII) continue to grip the imagination of a few Indonesian Muslims is briefly outlined by Formichi in this book (185–200). This short discussion deals with the current discourse on Kartosuwiryo’s NII. In the post-Soeharto Indonesia, there is a growing tendency among Islamic-state-oriented Indonesian Muslims to glorify Kartosuwiryo and NII. Despite its brevity, Formichi’s account is one of the most significant strengths of her work compared to other studies on the NII and Kartosuwiryo.
In addition to that, there are some other basic differences to Formichi’s book compared to other earlier works on the NII/DI, particularly the monumental study of Cornelis van Dijk, Rebellion under the Banner of Islam: The Darul Islam in Indonesia (1981). Van Dijk views the Kartosuwiryo’s rebellion mostly as a social movement that used Islam only as a rethoric and rallying cry.
In contrast, Formichi considers Kartosuwiryo’s NII/DI as a genuine expression of political Islam aiming at the creation of an Islamic federation in the archipelago. She argues that roots of the Kartosuwiryo can be traced back to his writings and political activism in the Sarekat Islam (SI, Islamic Association), the earliest Islamic nationalist movement that was founded in 1911 and changed its name to Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia (PSII, Party of Islamic Association of Indonesia) in 1929.
Very active in the SI since his earliest twenties, Kartosuwiryo’s political career seems to skyrocket when, according to Dutch sources, he was promoted to the position of SI secretary general after the congress of the organization in October 1927. According to SI documents, however, he became very active as a regular writer in the SI newspaper FadjarAsia.
According to Formichi, in his articles, Kartosuwiryo showed his commitment to Islamic ideology. In his articles he criticized colonial policies, socio-economic injustices, abuse of power by police, and Dutch religious and political “neutrality.” In addition, he also addressed the international dimension of the nationalist struggle for merdeka (independence). Reading his articles, it is no surprise that he was regarded by the Dutch authorities as a “religious fanatic” who was more than ready to use (and abuse) Islam for his political cause.
Formichi criticizes the failure of other scholars to take a serious consideration of the role of Islam in the NII/DI movement. In her observation, most works produced between 1949 and the 1980s downplayed the role of Islam in NII/DI’s motives for action, highlighting instead its violent turn in later years and its opposition to the established political authority of the Republic of Indonesia. Formichi argues that the failure to take seriously the importance of Islam in the NII/DI movement has gone hand-in-hand, until recently, with a more general marginalization of Indonesia in discussions of political Islam.
Based on this framework, in Formichi’s view, scholars like van Dijk, mostly viewed the origins of the Kartosuwiryo’s rebellion in the frustration of regional military commanders who were sidelined in the formation of a national army and popular discontent towards agrarian reforms and political centralization in Jakarta. Furthermore, Kartosuwiro was considered as lacking Islamic credentials that would give him credibility to lead the efforts to establish an Indonesian Islamic state.
On the other hand, Formichi argues that the NII/DI movement, which she calls “Indonesian Islamism,” cannot be separated from the rise of political Islam in other parts of the Muslim world. This has actually been also suggested by C.A.O. van Nieuwenhujze in his book Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia (1958) that the DI movement was influenced by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ideas. On the the other hand, B.J. Boland, in his The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia (1982), speculated that Kartosuwiryo got some influence for the Pakistani Abu A’la al-Mawdudi.
While there is no evidence of Mawdudi’s influence on the NII/DI movement, Formichi suggested that there was some contact among Indonesian Muslims in Cairo with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, supposedly included was Hassan al-Banna, its supreme leader. These Indonesians in turn transmitted the pan-Islamic ideas that would get a warm reception in those Indonesian Muslims who aspired to create an Indonesian Islamic state.
In conclusion, through this “revisit” study of NII/DI, Formichi is able to show convincingly the Islamic political roots of Kartosuwiryo. With the same token, she shows factors that make this kind of expression of political Islam a failure, not only in the past and the present time, but also beyond.
Azyumardi Azra, State Islamic University, Jakarta, Indonesia
TREASURED POSSESSIONS: Indigenous Interventions into Cultural and Intellectual Property. Objects/Histories: Critical Perspectives on Art, Material Culture, and Representation. By Haidy Geismar. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013. xvi, 297 pp., 8 pp. of plates (Maps, figures.) US$24.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8223-5427-7.
The global struggle over ownership seems to have increased markedly in scope and complexity. In the Pacific, debates about cultural and intellectual property rights are frequent and contested, with for example Fijians furious over the appropriation of masi (barkcloth or tapa) designs by their national airline as well as by a New York fashion designer who used these designs on an “Aztec” dress. In her article “The Expanding Purview of Cultural Properties and their Politics” (in The Annual Review of Law and Social Science 5, 2009: 393–412), legal scholar Rosemary Coombe notes that especially for marginalized and or indigenous people, cultural claims are central to their engagement with international or nongovernmental institutions in order to assert their identity, obtain greater inclusion in political life, defend local autonomy, and engage with or resist global markets (394–5). However, she also critiques the lack of interdisciplinary scholarship in this area and the need to explore “a new and vital field of cultural rights norms and practices emerging in the shadows of cultural properties yet to be validated by formal systems of Western Law” (394, cf 407). In Treasured Possessions Haidy Geismar has conducted such a detailed, interdisciplinary study of how global forms of cultural and intellectual property are being redefined by everyday people and policy makers in two Pacific nations: Vanuatu and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Geismar successfully links perspectives from anthropology, legal anthropology, museum studies and material culture studies to explore the fascinating nexus of culture, property and indigeneity. Treasured Possessions shows how in Vanuatu and New Zealand, alternative notions of property, resources and heritage are emerging. While claims by local communities in these countries are advanced in national and international settings, they are at the same time very cultural and community specific. Throughout the book, Geismar highlights that “we need to understand the intersections of indigeneity and intellectual and cultural property as a provincializing move that destabilizes our certainty about what is local and what is global” (207–8). She highlights this perspective through literature reviews and theoretical arguments in combination with well-presented case studies from Vanuatu and New Zealand, where she has worked for more than ten years.
The fist chapter introduces the analytical framework, key concepts and questions that reappear throughout the book. Geismar’s framework takes both legal codifications and popular understandings of law into account, as well as the particular social and political histories and contexts that inform the production of intellectual and cultural property rights (3).
Chapters 2 and 3 introduce the historical and political contexts of Vanuatu and New Zealand and set out in more detail the frames of indigeneity and law in both places. This regional comparison continues throughout the book, revealing the different frames of indigenous identity, legal practice, museum culture and discourses of ownership and property (26). Chapters 4 and 5 follow the history and contemporary progress of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in Vanuatu and New Zealand, respectively. The Vanuatu cases discuss carvings, carvers, commodities and copyright issues in the context of Vanuatu’s graded (ranked) society. The case of carvers making carvings they had no entitlement to for a hotel via a non-Vanuatu female art dealer, reveals the complex mediations between kastom, traditional copyright “laws,” law and grassroots agency, exposing the limitations of generic legislation as well as the possibilities for the recognition of a new kind of “legal” regime (88). Likewise, the New Zealand cases described in chapter 5 reveal the ways in which IP has been absorbed and subverted, creating new indigenous forms of national property and entitlement. The case of the toi iho trademark and the branding of Māori cultural production in New Zealand elucidate the clashes between cultural artists’ concerns of indigineity and marketing versus the government emphasis on national identity and financial accountability. It also reveals the nature of the provincializing process, which “may always be read in two ways: as a promotion of the subaltern and as a conduit by which the mainstream (or colonial) is relentlessly perpetuated” (118).
The next three chapters focus on questions of cultural and intellectual property in the context of museums, which have become intriguing sites for exploring alternative models of ownership. Chapter 6 discusses museums in Vanuatu and New Zealand and how they have emerged at the forefront of indigenous rethinking of cultural and intellectual property rights, as well as the tensions, politics and paradoxes that this process entails (122). Chapters 7 and 8 explore the role of museums in the aestheticization of cultural property forms, with a discussion of the market for Māori treasures (Taonga) and its auctions in New Zealand, and pig banks as cultural heritage in Vanuatu, respectively. Both chapters reveal the processes of how intellectual and cultural (heritage) property are negotiated and how these are linked with processes of indigenization, or provincialization, as Geismar argues. As she concludes: “treasured possessions come to mediate between sovereignty and the state, between market and culture, and themselves instantiate a space in between. It is in this space that we can still think about the possibilities of alternatives, what they might be, and how they might work” (215).
In conclusion, this impressive, but at times densely written study, is not only a must-read for those working on indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights. Treasured Possessions is a valuable contribution to Pacific anthropology and its interdisciplinary perspective enables a wide readership, ranging from scholars and students in (legal) anthropology, to those interested in material culture and museum studies.
Anna-Karina Hermkens, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
MAKING SENSE OF MICRONESIA: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture. By Francis X. Hezel. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2013. xii, 182 pp. (Maps, figures.) US$27.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8248-3661-0.
Fran Hezel is a Jesuit priest who has worked in Micronesia for 45 years. He’s seen colleagues, Peace Corps volunteers, researchers, contract workers in education, healthcare and development, and a dozen other types of international visitors struggle to understand Island society. This short, readable and informative book distills his substantial scholarship and extensive personal experience of Micronesian life into a form that offers frank and useful advice to the next generations of foreigners lucky enough to spend time in the region.
Like Raymonde Carroll’s Cultural Misunderstandings (1990, U. Chicago Press), Hezel uses the idea of cultural logic to uncover the principles of human relationship that underlie behaviour. His anthropological analysis, though, is soft-focused through straightforward prose and the use of anecdotes and personal experiences to show the principles in action.
The book consists of 12 brief chapters, each dealing with a sphere of life in which Micronesian and American (or “western”) cultural expectations fail to find common ground. Each begins with a personal story, then briefly explains the cultural principle that underlies the behaviour (often puzzling to outsiders), and discusses how changing conditions over the past half-century have created strains in Micronesian life. For example, the chapter on “forging an identity” discusses how matrilineages and extended families governed life, and how recent changes have increased individualism and altered the family’s role, creating problems such as youth suicide. The chapter on “the uses of information” describes how Micronesians—though generous in sharing wealth—tend to hold information close, seeing knowledge as a protected personal resource. Thus, “public information” is hard to come by, and even administrators who have had specialized training at the government’s expense tend to hoard their expertise.
Topics covered are the emphasis on personal qualities, the role of the family, ideas of privacy, the obligation for individuals to respond to family needs, “rights” discourse, sharing and generosity as marks of wealth, secrecy, social signals such as silence and withdrawal, respect, gender relations, sex, expressions of love and caring, and dealing with conflict, loss and grief. While Hezel’s affection for Micronesians and respect for their society is evident, he does not avoid discussion of land disputes, family conflict, incest, alcohol abuse and political challenges. The final section, “In Summary,” argues that this very wide range of behaviours can be understood—by the patient and observant cross-cultural visitor—as the reflection of several underlying cultural principles: personalization, the “primacy of group identity,” and patterns of cooperation.
While anthropologists might disdain quick-read “cross-cultural manuals,” it cannot be denied that they offer a valuable opportunity to inform international workers about a host culture. The worst of these offer brief “how-tos” or lists of “customs” and “taboos.” Hezel’s book takes a much more rewarding approach, inviting the newcomer to think about the cultural principles that underlie unfamiliar behaviour, and to develop the capacity to patiently explore cultural differences.
Those who know Micronesia well will find little that is new here, and they might even disagree with some of Hezel’s evaluations (for example, his assumption that “modernization” is inevitably changing Micronesian society in the direction of Western individualism, or his necessarily brief analysis of gender roles as balanced and complementary). But, even these readers will enjoy the author’s insights and obvious appreciation of island cultures.
The brevity and clear writing in this book make it a great deal more accessible to the non-specialist than nearly all ethnography or anthropological analysis. Yet it should not be thought that this clarity reflects any superficial understanding of Micronesian cultures. Fran Hezel knows the islands and its people intimately, and his goodness in sharing his knowledge so lucidly emphasizes how important he thinks it is that foreigners who go to Micronesia to “help” take the time to learn about the people they hope to serve. “There is no shortcut for understanding a culture,” he writes (164), but this book will surely make the trip easier for those spending time in Micronesia. It might also give Islanders themselves some new ways to think about their culture’s past, present and future.
Lin Poyer, University of Wyoming, Laramie, USA
THE DEATH OF THE BIG MEN AND THE RISE OF THE BIG SHOTS: Custom and Conflict in East New Britain. ASAO Studies in Pacific Anthropology, v. 3. By Keir Martin. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2013. xv, 256 pp. (Illus.) US$95.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-85745-872-8.
In 1995, several months after the volcanic eruption that covered Rabaul in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, I drove from the airport to the only remaining hotel, stunned at the desolate, monochrome landscape. The road had been cut through metres of ash and the once beautiful tropical township was deserted. The village of Matupit, located on a small island, was covered in ash. Several Tolai people I met assured me that it had gone forever. Keir Martin began his research there in 2002, by which time it had risen from the ashes, was again densely populated and the Matupi were once more demonstrating their legendary adaptability. This superb ethnography documents and analyzes the processes of change and people’s complex responses to them up to the mid-2000s.
Matupit and its inhabitants’ capacity for transformation have been the subjects of numerous anthropological studies since the 1960s, notably by A.L. and T.S. Epstein, who described the various ways that changes introduced by colonial administrations (particularly plantation agriculture and the cash economy) had resulted in dramatic shifts in social relations, land tenure and patterns of settlement. Martin’s research follows many of the same themes, but in a very different historical context. The eruption destroyed the village of Matupit, but almost all Matupi survived to participate in those activities associated with reconstruction, including relocation to the land set aside for them at Sikut, an area many kilometres from their village, inland from the new provincial capital, Kokopo. The land at Sikut, allotted to specific people by the provincial government to enable them to establish cash crops, is legally distinct from that held according to customary tenure. This difference, and the ways that people respond to and interpret their ownership, provides Martin with a central theme of the book, the relationships of land and people in a modern state system that retains customary land rights.
Martin engages with many of the classic topics of Melanesian anthropology: the relationship of people to land; reciprocity and the tensions inherent in exchange relationships; the ways that ritual exchanges are affected by the use of money; inter-generational conflicts; the contested definitions of custom or tradition and the means whereby men gain power and authority. His study locates contemporary Tolai in the global political economy, where the forces of neo-liberalism draw new lines between government and citizens and where new forms of sociality emerge. Martin’s examination of the ways that people have, in some instances, embraced government changes relating to land tenure provides an excellent example of the need for caution in the ways that anthropologists have characterized the Melanesian state as an alien, post-colonial enterprise that routinely ignores the interests of villagers. He shows how the transfer of customary land, when “strengthened through statutory declaration,” (69) actually suits the desires of Tolai. It effectively strengthens the status of that land as “customary,” thus enabling matrilineal descendents to claim it in future generations.
Inter-generational tensions, conflicts and changing outlooks loom large in this ethnography. The Tolai, like many people in Papua New Guinea, often remark and reflect on the changes that they have observed in their lifetime. Elders usually insist (like elders elsewhere in the world) that the younger generations have lost respect for them, have no knowledge of the ways that traditions should be maintained and have become individualistic and selfish. Martin explores these generational differences in ways that acknowledge the mixed emotional responses: regrets and censure, impatience and dismissal, sorrow and anger. But the strength of his discussion of generational tensions lies—particularly in his chapter on the decline of fish trap technology—in the ways he interweaves personal reactions to specific transformations with a broad analysis of the effects of commodification on social transactions and the obligation to reciprocate.
Martin takes on the difficult task of negotiating the divisions in current anthropological interpretations of the nature of socio-economic change in Melanesia. He points out that those who stress “cultural continuity that underlies surface changes” (177) are left in a bind—they effectively return their subjects to “the savage slot” of radical alterity. The emphasis on continuity effectively restores Melanesia to the status of “a discrete, separate and essentially ahistorical culture that is either destroyed by or survives the threat of Westernisation” (177). In his scrutiny of the range of reactions to changes, Martin offers a third way, which stresses not only the differences between people, but also the material grounds for variation. Here, as elsewhere in the book, he presents the ways that moral positions, especially those relating to ideals of mutuality, reciprocity and obligation to kin, derive from the fact that “traditional” and “modern” are coeval and in flux.
The title of this book encapsulates its major themes: the changing forms of leadership, male power and the moral responses they provoke. This provides the context for the author’s critique of the debate about possessive individualism and relational personhood. Once again he moves away from the antinomies of current anthropological debate and exposes the subtleties, contestations and circumstances that make notions of the Melanesian self, moral behaviour and adherence to “kastom” shift and combine. This is a groundbreaking ethnography: brilliantly conceived, clearly written and utterly convincing.
Martha Macintyre, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Documentary Film Review
CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION. Directed and produced by Shane O’Sullivan; executive producers: Alan Maher, Christiane Hinz; directors of photography: Bassem Fayad, Robin Probyn, Axel Schneppat; editors: Ben Yeates, Fergal McGrath, Shane O’Sullivan. London: E2 Films, 2011. 1 DVD (88 min.) US$150.00, institutions/universities; US$100.00, public libraries/high schools; US$30.00, personal use. In English, German and Japanese with English subtitles. www.e2films.co.uk.
The name “Children of the Revolution” has graced a rock song, a flamenco band, two commercial films, and a spy novel. This one is a documentary film that views two famous radical women from the New Left protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Shigenobu Fusako of the Japanese Red Army and Ulrike Meinhof of the German Red Army Faction (RAF), through the eyes of their daughters, Bettina Röhl and Shigenobu Mei. Those simple facts, plus connections to the Palestine Liberation movement in Lebanon, pretty much exhaust the similarities between the two women.
Ulrike Meinhof was a decade older than Shigenobu Fusako and their daughters were also born a decade apart. Meinhof was a successful journalist in Germany during the 1960s, writing and editing the left-wing newspaper Konkret founded by her husband Klaus Rainer Röhl. He turned Konkret into a successful commercial magazine and they lived a middle-class life in Hamburg with their twin daughters until they divorced in early 1968. Meinhof moved to Berlin with her daughters, was swept up in the 1968 New Left protests, and got involved with a radical student group led by Andreas Baader that engaged in clandestine political violence and became known as the Baader-Meinhof gang.
By 1970 Meinhof had facilitated a prison break and the wanted RAF group escaped into temporary exile with the Palestinian movement in the Middle East. Meinhof decided to put her two daughters into a Palestinian camp for orphaned children to get a political education, so they were ripped out of second grade and taken to Italy while arrangements were made. Fortunately, after four months a friend learned the girls were in Italy and brought them back to Germany to live with their father. As Bettina recounts, the Palestinian camp was bombed a couple of months later and all the children there were killed. She blames the RAF for trying to control her life. Bettina saw her mother after she was arrested in 1972 and jailed in Germany, but lost contact again before her mother committed suicide in prison in 1976.
In interviews, several women who knew her depict Ulrike Meinhof as a talented but fragile woman who changed radically in 1968 and became mentally ill. A psychiatrist friend attributes it to the effects of brain surgery she underwent shortly after her daughters were born, while others point to depression, her new RAF friends, and the severe isolation she experienced during her first six months in jail. In clips from TV interviews in the early 1970s, Röhl downplays his ex-wife’s involvement in the RAF’s violent activity and emphasizes the good relations within the family. Despite clips of escalating violence at demonstrations with voice-over of Ulrike Meinhof urging revolution, her actions are treated as mental aberrations, not political agency. News clips from the time describe Meinhof as an anarchist, while her daughter protests that she knows nothing about “terrorism.”
The contrast with Shigenobu Fusako and her daughter Mei could not be more striking. The film recounts Shigenobu’s entry into New Left political activism as a student in Japan in the mid-1960s. Red Army Faction leader Shiomi Takaya describes her central role in the militant organization and depicts her subsequent move to the Middle East for the Red Army as consistent with her determined character. Her daughter Mei describes how Shigenobu arranged a paper marriage with another activist in order to leave Japan. Filmmaker Adachi Masao describes how when he went to Lebanon in 1971, Japanese Embassy officials in Beirut called Shigenobu “Sekigun-chan” [Little Miss Red Army]. Adachi made a film about the revolutionary training cooperation between the Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and later joined the Japanese Red Army.
Although the opening lines of the documentary erroneously describe Shigenobu as the “mastermind” of the Lod Airport attack, the people interviewed focus instead on its content and aftermath. Adachi describes the Lod Airport attack as a larger coordinated action planned by the PFLP, of which only the part involving three Japanese men was carried out, and Shiomi notes that civilians were caught in the cross-fire with Israeli soldiers during the attack. Shigenobu’s lawyer points out that the Japanese attackers are blamed for all the casualties because the Israeli government would not permit any outside investigation to determine what had actually happened. Adachi adds that when the attackers were identified as Japanese, the PFLP pressed Shigenobu to announce that the Red Army had carried out the attack. Consequently she became an assassination target and had to go into hiding. The film contains few images of Shigenobu, who was not photographed for security reasons during the many years she was in the Middle East.
Shigenobu’s Japanese husband died in the Lod airport attack. Her daughter Mei, whose father was a Palestinian fighter, was born a year later. Mei describes her unusual childhood as the oldest child in a small radical Japanese community in the Middle East that had to move frequently because of political danger. She was not only stateless, but had to change her false identity each time the group moved. Although she was close to her mother, for their mutual protection they spent little time together as she grew older. After her mother was arrested in Japan in 2000, her lawyer obtained Mei’s Japanese citizenship. Mei now works as a TV commentator and journalist in Japan, actively promotes the Palestinian cause, and meets weekly with her mother, who is serving a 20-year prison term.
The film is a well-crafted documentary that intersperses interviews with contemporary news clips and striking graphics from Adachi’s film, but also includes some material about the PFLP that may confuse viewers. The interviews humanize the two woman activists, one as mentally ill and the other as a strong political actor. Yet the film indulges in the usual sensationalized visuals of planes exploding. Unfortunately, these particular planes were blown up neither by the German RAF nor the Japanese Red Army, but by the PFLP.
Patricia G. Steinhoff, University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu, USA