Sample Book Reviews

Asia General

GLOBALIZATION, THE CITY AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN PACIFIC ASIA. Edited by Mike Douglass, K.C. Ho and Giok Ling Ooi. London and New York: Routledge, 2008. xvii, 293 pp. (Tables, figures, maps.) US$150.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-415-39789-6./

In the past two decades, following the “spatial turn” in the social sciences and the humanities, there have been various attempts to show, often in interdisciplinary fashion, how power and space are mutually constitutive. Several important studies have pointed out the powerful forces of the nation–state, the capitalists and behind them the global economy in the shaping of the city. There have also been studies on how members of civil society register their presence in urban spaces via cultures and how they work for and against the interests of the political economy of the city. In the field of Asian studies, the question of space has long been associated with power and authority (under the mandate of tradition and nation–state as well as forces of colonialism and capitalism, among others) leaving the perennial question of whether urban space in Asia could ever be liberated from power and authority. Can there be a democratic space in Asia? What is democratic space for countries in Asia anyway?
Globalization, the City and Civil Society in Pacific Asia takes up the challenge of responding to these questions by ways of looking at the role of physical (and virtual) urban space. The book makes a clear statement that to understand the formation of civil society in Asia is to understand the concomitant production of its urban space. No doubt, the book is a timely contribution, especially within the context of what we have recognized, problematically perhaps, as the post-authoritarian Asia. The assumption and the possibility of having a physical space in Asia
which could constitute a variety of Habermasian “public sphere” is both intriguing and exciting. The continuing debates on what constitutes and counts as democratic Asia, what form of civil society it takes and what kind of governance it provokes, all return to us with physical space in
mind. The key and most engaging question is how liberating the urban space has been in Asia as most of the countries in this region have embraced various kinds of capitalist mode of market economy and the strategy (and legacy) of development based on state authoritarianism.

Understandably, almost all the authors in the book refrain themselves from using the term “public space” noting that this term connotes the power of government. Instead, a new vocabulary is used as a theoretical framework that is the “civic space,” referring to a relatively autonomous sphere,
a kind of (imagined and real) democratic space critical to both the intervention of the state and economic interests. Civic space is the space of the people, or should we say particular social groups, namely members of the middle class who are seen as capable of forming a critical consciousness in opposition to the colonization of the city by the authoritarian state and the abuse of capitalist economy. What the space and the people have done to each other and how successful they are in forming a democratic space are the main stories of the book.

The introduction and the chapters collected in this book are an important read. Mike Douglas, K.C. Ho and Giok Ling Ooi, as editors of the book have written theoretically challenging pieces which present an articulate framework for the subsequent empirically rich essays by scholars from
various disciplines. Through examples and case studies ranging from the streets of urban China and the peri-urban villages to the Malaysian mosque and pavement in Hanoi and to the “demopolis” of Jakarta, the authors challenge state and society relations by rendering them unstable and creative.The engagement with civic space as the embodiment of the democratic process in Asia means centring attention on the politics of space. It also means addressing the issues of reception, an aspect that has often been overlooked by works on urban studies. The authors identify and qualify spaces that play the role of a civic space, assessing their historical constructions and their potentials for the future. They do not always agree with the general framework provided by the editors (who themselves do not occupy a single position on the issue). Some authors show the evidence of the working civic space in their case studies by showing the insurgency of people claiming rights to the city; others question the assumption of the civic space by showing how it is continuously subjected to (authoritative) regulation at both the national and the local level. The coherency of the theme and the diversity of the cases which include detailed studies of civic spaces of China, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam allow a dialogue that leaves us with a shared political direction or at least moments of political possibility and alternative ways of imagining the production of space in Asia. It is in this spirit that the book is a must read for those working on urbanism in Asia, even though we have to accept the irony that the condition of possibility for the emergence of civic space in Asia is to acknowledge the merit of globalization, in all senses of the word.

Abidin Kusno, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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UNDERSTANDING EAST ASIA’S ECONOMIC “MIRACLES.” By Zhiqun Zhu. Ann Arbor (MI): Association for Asian Studies, 2009. xviii, 77 pp. (Tables, B&W photos.) US$10.00, paper. ISBN 978-0924304-545.

This is the third volume in the Association for Asian Studies’ Key Issues in Asian Studies series, aimed at providing teaching materials for teachers and students at undergraduate institutions and high schools. It packs a great deal of information and analysis into a small package,
arguing for the importance of the topic on its own merits, as well as for understanding important issues in East Asia, and for developing countries more broadly. After introducing the topic, Professor Zhu reviews the experiences of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He then compares and contrasts the cases and finally draws on their experiences for lessons for other countries.

He starts by introducing “the flying geese pattern” where the “four little dragons” followed the lead of Japan, emphasizing how low expectations were for East Asia’s development as compared with many other countries of the postwar world. It is within this context that the East Asian experience
can be called “miraculous.” This leads to discussions of the activist role of the state in each case, and how it relates to the market at home and globally. There is a helpful discussion of the developmental state model and the risks of devolving into crony capitalism, as exposed in the 1997 financial crisis. A book of this length cannot delve deeply into the details of each case, and the author hits most of the important points. I would have done more on land reform as well as contrasting Japan’s keiretsu and Korea’s chaebol with Taiwan’s guanxi qiye (not mentioned) and
plethora of small enterprises. There is a helpful list of suggestions for further reading at the end.

The similarities he notes among the cases include export-oriented policies, stable domestic conditions (although he downplays the role of authoritarian repression in achieving this, particularly in South Korea and Taiwan), activist state, visionary leaders and investment in human
resources. He highlights the following differences, primarily between the PRC and the others: the external environment; unequal income distribution; China’s continuous modification of strategies; and the fact that there are really several Chinas, some of which have successfully
implemented lessons from the earlier developers, while others lag far behind. There is no discussion of how the states gained the power and capacity to formulate and implement policies, and the statement that “visionary individual leaders…had a strong commitment to promoting the
well-being of the public” (54) is more than a bit naïve, as it glosses over the desperate situation they all found themselves in, where regime survival was clearly the primary objective.

The last chapter briefly introduces debates over East Asia, mentioning the positions of economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, but for an area studies audience, there should have been a sustained discussion of the Confucianism and the development hypothesis as well.

As well as introducing the concept of “flying geese,” the author should have discussed other relevant concepts, such as product life cycle and global commodity chains, to highlight the ways in which the East Asian economies, with a great deal of hands-on research, guidance and financial
allocation from the states, have successfully anticipated many economic trends and built comparative advantage virtually from scratch. Part of the challenge they all face is to keep doing this in order to stay at the top of the curve. Related to this, Zhu should have paid more attention to the ways in which Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and now the PRC, are investing heavily abroad, in the region and beyond, to take advantage of cheap labour, lax regulations on labour and the environment, tax incentives and market access. This replicates what America and Japan did for the little dragon economies decades earlier, minus the Cold War atmosphere. Another area receiving too little attention is the trade-off between development and the environment. Although he mentions China’s severe environmental degradation, this is a noticeable consequence of industrialization throughout the region which the other states, often pressed by civil society, are now addressing.

Given my own experience teaching The Sociology of Development and Globalization, I would also have advised more attention to the Cold War and its implications for East Asia, in particular the phenomena of divided nations and a garrison mentality in Korea and Taiwan. I find my
students (as well as East Asian youth!) have little or no understanding of this period, or even what the Soviet Union was, and how the competition between the “free” and “communist” worlds drove so much of the global political economy for decades.

The language varies from rather complex sentences conveying sophisticated ideas and intellectual debates to high school level near-fragments. And an index would have helped.

Thomas B. Gold, The University of California, Berkeley, USA

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China and Inner Asia

NEW MASTERS, NEW SERVANTS: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China. By Yan Hairong. Durham (NC) and London: Duke University Press, 2008. x, 314 pp (Illus., B&W photos.) US$23.95, paper. ISBN: 978-0-8223-4304-2.

China has an estimated 200 million rural–urban migrants, who have been the engine that has propelled China’s extraordinary rate of economic growth. Despite their contributions to China’s economic development, rural–urban migrants form part of an emerging urban underclass. They endure sub-standard housing, earn low incomes relative to their local urban counterparts and confront widespread discrimination in many forms. For the most part, for instance, migrant workers in China’s cities face numerous obstacles in accessing education for their children, in participating in social insurance schemes, in accessing reproductive and sexual health services and in obtaining decent housing. It has also been well documented that China’s migrants are frowned upon by many urban locals who blame them for all manner of urban ills, from increasing urban crime to urban unemployment. It is against this backdrop that Yan Hairong’s book New Masters, New Servants explores class dynamics and the struggle for suzhi (quality) among migrant women from Anhui.

In chapter 1 and the introduction to chapter 2, Yan explains how China’s post-reform urban development policies have increased the divide between the urban and rural societies. According to Yan, the increasing chasm between China’s urban “haves” and rural “have-nots” is interpreted in terms of low suzhi (quality). For female migrant labourers in domestic service, the result is the subjugation of female rural servants by urban masters. This introduction sets the scene for Yan to analyze how female migrant workers in domestic service both conceptualize the discourse of development as well as struggle to achieve suzhi. In her Intermezzo I (chapter 3), Yan discusses in depth the idea of suzhi and the manner in which it is used as an instrument to further China’s capitalist endeavours. Migration is seen as the vehicle through which subjectivity is mobilized and through which self-development-in-pursuit-of-capitalist-development is propelled. In Intermezzo II (chapters 4 and 5), Yan explores the idea that the city imposes itself on migrant women, luring them to embrace modernity through growing consumer identity. Migrants adopt a veneer of urban chic that belies their subjugated status but which concomitantly serves to reframe their city stays in ways which serve development. In chapter 6, Yan turns to the subject of place identity; discussing how migration serves to distance women from their traditional roots and roles while simultaneously barriers to permanent migration prevent the development of an urban identity. This conundrum is another key to subjugation and drives home the message that China’s identity requires a paradigm shift, not simply a shift in discourse, to shake off the enduring shackles of Maoism.

The ethnographic approach taken by Yan is a particularly powerful one and shows a deep empathy for the servants for whom the study is named. One criticism, if there is one, is that the ethnography is sometimes interpreted within dense and complex theoretical frameworks which might be inaccessible to some readers. Nonetheless, the volume is one of the most compelling I have read on gendered domestic labour and should be essential reading not only for those interested in China’s rural urban migrants but for scholars of migration and development more generally. On the whole, Yan’s new volume is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Clearly, the face of a globalizing China cannot be understood without a focus on the plight of migrant workers. This book is a timely contribution that provides that lens.

Ingrid Nielsen, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

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THE DRAGON’S HIDDEN WINGS: How China Rises with Its Soft Power. By Sheng Ding. Lanham (MD): Lexington Books, 2008. x, 199 pp. (Figures, tables.) US$25.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-7391-2393-5.

This book explores a very important topic in contemporary Chinese foreign policy and international strategy. It is a comprehensive study on the resources behind China’s soft power, the practice of soft power-based foreign policy and the implications for China’s rise and international politics for the coming decades.

The author argues that China has been conscious of, and to a large extent intends to pursue, a soft power strategy during its rise. This study concludes that China has achieved tremendous but unbalanced gains in its soft power diplomacy in the past three decades. The main hindrance of China’s soft power comes from Beijing’s outdated political values and some of the negative aspects in domestic governance. The author also contends that the future development of China’s soft power will be constrained by a number of major factors, such as historical disputes, authoritarian political institutions and the West-dominated international system. The author believes that two possible scenarios—massive domestic unrest and outright foreign intervention in Taiwan and Tibet—could reverse China’s pursuit of a soft power strategy.

This book attempts to make theoretical contributions to the study of soft power. In response to other scholars’ criticisms of Joseph S. Nye’s original conceptualization, the author explores the multidimensionality of soft power resources and attempts to provide a clear model to explain how state actors convert their potential soft power resources to desired policy outcomes. The author believes that soft power primarily works through international regimes and the attraction of soft power resources to various political actors in the other countries. Despite the author’s strenuous efforts in elucidating a clearer theoretical understanding of soft power, the usual puzzle remains: What really produces attraction?

The author basically follows Nye’s fundamental theoretical assumption that certain power resources, by their nature, produce attraction for soft power. These power resources include culture, political values, and the substance and style of foreign policy. This assumption may be problematic. For instance, the author discusses the many ways through which cultural power can be exercised coercively (60-61). It is also mentioned that Western culture and political values were regarded by Chinese ruling elite as a significant threat (26-27). On the other hand, in the real world, the so-called hard power resources, economic and military power, can also produce attraction, for instance American military power in the eyes of US allies. If culture can be used coercively and economic and military power can engender attraction, how can we assume that culture, values and foreign policy are the main soft power resources? In fact, in this book, much of the discussion of China’s soft power influence in the global south is about China’s economic activities and adroit foreign policy. The author also concedes that even many aspects in China’s foreign policy, for instance human rights issues and foreign propaganda, serve as constraining factors for the further growth of Beijing’s soft power.

Despite this weakness in its theoretical approach, this book is commendable for its conscious attention to theoretical clarity, particularly given the fact that the term soft power has been used very loosely in many other writings. The partial success in this study is evidence that more rigorous theorization of soft power is still much needed and possible. The more notable strength of the book rests with the empirical analysis of Beijing’s practice of a soft power-based foreign policy. This book should be a useful read for people who are interested in Chinese foreign policy and China’s rising strategy in international politics. It is successful in proposing a soft power perspective in watching and studying China’s rise.

Li Mingjiang, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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Northeast Asia

CHOOSE AND FOCUS: Japanese Business Strategies for the 21st Century. By Ulrike Schaede. Ithaca (NY) and London: Cornell University Press, 2008. ix, 291 pp. (Tables, graphs.) US$29.95, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8014-4706-8.

Ulrike Schaede, in her insightful book, sets out to dispel what she regards as the myth of a “lost decade” of Japanese business. She views the period of 1998-2006 as Japan’s strategic inflection point, a point in time (or a period in this case) when industry dynamics were altered in irreversible ways, such that newly emerging competitive environments force changes in the ways of doing business.

Schaede argues that the triggers to the shifts in the Japanese business environment were a banking crisis and recession, the deepening of globalization, social crisis and emerging new political visions with regard to the role of markets in the economy. She asserts that the banking reforms of 1998 marked the tipping point for a regulatory reform process that created a new strategic context for Japanese firms as well as a new industrial architecture.

Schaede identifies the following as the core elements of the Japanese business system that characterized “Old Japan” (that is, post-war Japan to 1998): business groups, a main bank system, internal processes of corporate governance, subcontracting hierarchies, restricted distribution systems and relational pricing as well as difficult entry of foreign competitors to the Japanese economy. She shows how each of these elements has changed as a response to the events that took place in Japan from 1998-2006. These changes reflected an increasing role for markets in shaping the way business is done and the new strategic paradigm of large Japanese corporations. For example, the banking crisis and consequent banking reform have led to the demise of the main bank system of financing and governance. Similarly cross-shareholding by business group members, which served as a glue to hold business groups together, was also reduced, changing the role and importance of business groups as sources of stability but which also isolated firms from markets.

The emergence of institutional investors, who manage their investments with an eye to performance, shifted business goals from an emphasis on sales and growth to one of profit. Globalization increased competition and led a shift to a cost emphasis in supply chain relations, undermining the notion of long-term, protective supply relations characteristics of “Old Japan.” In the New Japan spot market pricing has become the norm and retail competition has turned to price. The lifetime employment system was also transformed to accommodate the new context of market competition, becoming more flexible, transparent and efficient. The adjustment of corporate Japan to the new business context required a critical strategic shift: a move from unbridled diversification to a paradigm of “choose and focus.”

Choose and focus led to a transformation of Japanese firms from large and inflexible entities to nimble competitors. The top priority shifted from sales to profitability. Firms have spun off non-core activities, aggressively building the areas in which they excel. Achieving profitability required innovation and differentiation in “expensive” Japan and/or an efficient global outsourcing system. Focused growth was targeted at building market power through industrial consolidation and realization of economies of scale. This shift, argues Schaede, put Japanese firms once again on a path of renewal resulting in a combined record pretax profit for six years in a row, until 2007, and an increase in the Nikkei 225 stock market index by 100 percent from January 2003 to 2007.

Schaede’s clear and convincing articulation of the transformation of the Japanese corporate system provides a new perspective on both Old and New Japan. Her discussion about business transformation has solid roots in strategic management theory and shows a deep understanding of Japanese political and economic history. The core of her argument is valid, though her assessment of the new business context in Japan is somewhat optimistic. Rigidities in the political and economic system remain; hence changes in corporate adaptations are slow to come. As well, her story is only partial since she focuses on the largest industrial corporations neglecting the crucial symbiotic role of middle-size and small firms in Japan in providing flexibility to the large firms. To have a complete picture of Japan’s business system, I look forward to a book which will explore how the rest of Japan’s business sector (that is, the medium-size and small firms) has been transformed during the shift from the Old to the New Japan and show what role they now play in the architecture of the business system. I also wonder how the “choose and focus” strategic paradigm measures up in the post-global financial crisis world.

In conclusion, the book is informative and thought provoking. It is a must-read for serious scholars of Japanese business and economics and business people interested in Japan.

Ilan Vertinsky, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada 

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JAPAN’S WHALING: The Politics of Culture in Historical Perspective. By Hiroyuki Watanabe; translated by Hugh Clarke. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press; Portland (OR); distributed by International Specialized Book Services, 2009. xvi, 222 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$34.95, paper. ISBN 978-1-876843-69-4.

The book, which is based on the author’s PhD thesis in historical sociology, has two main objectives: first, to question the existence of a “Japanese whaling culture,” often cited in support of whaling. His argument can easily be taken for an anti-whaling position had it not been for his second objective: to argue for a plural human–whale relationship where a modest coastal catch of whales can be tolerated.

In the prologue he makes it clear that his main concern is to dismantle the “whaling culture” myth favoured by some anthropologists, among whom this reviewer might be one. In particular he takes issue with what he perceives as a tendency to construct historical continuities where there are none. A major thrust of the book is therefore to emphasize historical discontinuities. In chapter 1 he sketches the history of Japanese whaling from the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) to 1945, focusing on changes in the composition of the labour force, with local participation giving way to ethnic stratified crews. In chapter 4 he goes on to argue that there was no national whale cuisine; whales were eaten only in certain regions until aggressive marketing and militaristic expansion promoted whale-eating throughout the country in the twentieth century.

A central thesis is that the introduction of “Norwegian-style” whaling in 1897 reduced a plural human–whale relationship to a single one. Whales became nothing but a resource to be exploited. His prime example is an old view among fishers that whales drove fish to shore, a view he claims is the origin for the belief that whales incarnate Ebisu, a deity of riches. This was challenged by the whaling industry and the authorities, leading to violent clashes between a whaling enterprise and the host village in 1911. The whaling company prevailed and whales were, as the argument goes, reduced to a resource (chapter 2). The old plurality of the relationship is further stressed in chapter 3, where he juxtaposes a fishery benefiting from the behaviour of finless porpoises with the ruthless hunt of grey whales in Korean waters.

Another thesis, which seems to be somewhat peripheral to his main argument, is that sustainable use of wildlife is incompatible with a market economy (chapter 5). He calls it “the logic of overfishing.” To justify this claim he refers to the deplorable history of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and quotes from the rhetoric of whaling entrepreneurs. Although the quotations are interesting, this is the least satisfying chapter for several reasons. He fails to link his narrative to international discourses on the ecology of whales; he stops his narrative in 1972, just when the IWC entered a more conservative period; and, not least, he fails to give his claim a theoretical foundation. He could easily have used authors such as G. Hardin (“The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science 162: 1243-48, 1968) and C.W. Clark (“The Economics of Overexploitation,” Science 181: 630-34, 1973).

What I appreciate most with this book is the material Watanabe brings forward about the 1911 riot and his attempt to trace the spread of whale meat consumption up to 1941 (although, as he admits, facing methodological problems). There is also an interesting section on the rational for wildlife protection in pre-war Japan, and those without much knowledge about Japanese whaling and the IWC will probably find something of interest.

However, there are several problems with the book, some of which have already been touched upon. I do not consider his critique of the concept “culture” among these. The merit of this concept has been hotly debated even among anthropologists. My concern is how Watanabe lives up to the task he has set upon himself. Take his focus on historical discontinuities. First, he fails to note that the pelagic fleets to the end recruited many workers from the old whaling centres in the southwest and that many people from these areas moved with the whaling activities northeast. Second, conflicts between whaling enterprises and host villages are not new. Most whaling enterprises were already in the Tokugawa period highly mobile (and not localized, as claimed by Watanabe) and engaged locals only for tasks that required least skill. Moreover, the inconveniences to the fisheries were considerable and caused conflicts.

In discussing the need for plural human–whale relations Watanabe fails to note that those he criticizes point out that Japanese whalers do not only see whales as a resource but as persons in need of Buddhist ceremonies, as Ebisu, and much more. It is this plurality that sets Japanese whalers off from their Norwegian colleagues (who mostly see whales as a resource) and their Australian adversaries (who see them as solely persons). Watanabe himself is an example of this pragmatism; although believing that sustainable wildlife extraction is incompatible with markets, he endorses small-scale minke whaling for the sake of plurality.

Arne Kalland, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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South Asia

SOUTH ASIAN CULTURES OF THE BOMB: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan. Edited by Itty Abraham. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009. 222 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$65.00, cloth, ISBN 978-0-253-35253-8; US$24.95, paper, ISBN 978-0-253-22032-5.

For the first time scholars in this book present a multivoiced assessment of the subtle sociocultural effects of the 1998 nuclear tests in India and Pakistan. The etiology of the secretly planned bomb tests is better known in India than in Pakistan but this fine book is not about origins of the tests but instead their permutations and combinations in two societies which are neighbours and cut from one cloth. This book proves conclusively, again, that a partition done haphazardly in 1947 led to very different experiences in the evolution of military–industrial–political complexes in each country. But where others have focused largely on states and strategic cultures, these authors, under Abraham’s able editorship, show how these two atomic publics are constructed and interact with their surroundings.

The constituents of atomic publics are widely defined here, as they should be; they include the nuclear establishment, the press and media treatments, non-nuclear and non-party elites, and the huge half of both populations who simply did not know after 1998 that both countries had declared themselves nuclear powers. Hundreds of millions did not know that their countries were transforming their newly tested bombs into deliverable weapons, even during the deadly Kargil conflict of 1999. Whatever the public faces of nuclear power are, says Abraham, they are unevenly distributed and ambivalent, leading to a “split public” with deep differences between “vernacular and cosmopolitan” publics.

This book shows there is a spectrum of conformity and dissent in both countries, articulated not just in light of the behaviour of nuclear leaders and the differences between the military cultures of both countries but also in response to the probes and pulls of geopolitical forces. Among middle-class households “disgraced” nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan in Pakistan and celebrated aeronautics engineer President Abdul Kalam in India are (or were, at the turn of this century) familiar associations with these tests.

Complemented by excellent photographs of the paraphernalia, medals, statues, signboards, posters, etc., of the nuclear age drawn from pop culture, the author of each chapter addresses in a coherent way their particular specialties, beginning closer to the bombs and moving outward to public opinion.

Concerning Pakistan, Zia Mian writes about the military and political elite’s long and cautious engagement with the possibilities of nuclear power from 1954 and Ammara Durrani describes the pride shown in letters to the editor associated with A. Q. Khan’s far-flung network for technological proliferation revealed in February 2004. Critical assessments of very interesting regional differences in newspaper-driven opinion surveys of public mood and attitude regarding the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), nuclear accidents, nuclear controls, etc., are well made by Haider Nizamani, and the visualization and interpretation of nuclear power embodied in everyday objects like luggage and buttons is the work of Iftikhar Dadi.

About India, which happens to be editor Abraham’s specialty, there is a chapter by M.V. Ramana on the practice of secrecy going back to the 1950s, including reference to agencies refusing to inform the public and the courts backing them up; Sankaran Krishna on the ontology of the middle class and its preoccupation with intellectual achievement (for example, “prize-winning not problem-solving”) which was the ripe context for bomb support; Srirupa Roy on the atomic public’s variable treatment of voices of opposition and dissent; Raminder Kaur’s ethnography of quasi-religious Hindu representations of the imagined nuclear bombs power (with photos); and Karsten Frey’s close critical study of the public discourse of expert guardians of India’s nuclear mythologies, such as K. Subrahmanyam, as seen in 700 nuclear editorials and opinion articles in major English-language daily newspapers.

The authors make real efforts to compare these two very different public atomic cultures, and one thus sees the Rashomon effect at work, so the chapters do not draw identical conclusions. There is some veiled disappointment about the fact that articulate opposition to the defiant and at times arrogant behaviour of nuclear elites is so muted, reluctant admission and rejection of nuclear secrecy, and different emphasis given to the role of the great powers which have so long played in this theatre. But the achievement in this book is to deconstruct the gross generalizations that are called “India” and “Pakistan,” yielding a nuanced landscape of different atomic publics, rural and urban, rich and poor, literate and illiterate, north and south, and so on. The nuclear is contrasted with and embedded in the rest of culture and society in a skilful way.

According to the bios given, all but one of the authors (like this reviewer) live not in South Asia but in North America where the nuclear arrangements have an older and quite different history. In an apparently globalized and cosmopolitan world the atomic publics dwelling under one nuclear umbrella or another construe their situations remarkably differently, but each has to find the ways to exert influence on their nuclear–industrial enclaves and even be shielded from them. What matters more is where their nuclear umbrellas bump into one another and where the publics have been encouraged to be mutually suspicious. The critical research seen here is unwelcome in official circles in South Asia just as it is elsewhere. I hope other scholars will join this trend to make wider comparisons with other countries of these crucial public issues which so many of us would prefer to forget.

Robert S. Anderson, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada 

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Southeast Asia

DEPENDENT COMMUNITIES: Aid and Politics in Cambodia and East Timor. By Caroline Hughes. Ithaca and New York: Cornell University Press, 2009. xii, 265 pp. (Maps.) US$46.95, cloth, ISBN 978-0-87727-778-1; US$23.95, paper, ISBN 978-0-87727-748-4.

Caroline Hughes teaches political science at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, specializing in the politics of post-colonial/post-conflict nation building in Southeast Asia and the dynamics of reconstruction vis-à-vis recent international development policies. She has a depth of knowledge and experience in Cambodia that puts her in good company with that small cadre of outstanding scholars who have studied in some depth the history and politics of that beleaguered country over the past two decades. She has also carried out groundbreaking research in Timor Leste (East Timor) since its independence from Indonesia in 2002, especially during an intensive two-month period of fieldwork in 2005.

In this impressively compact monograph, Hughes joins a broader debate over the objectives of the developed “Northern” world in intervening in post-conflict developing nations. In doing so, she employs studies of two “extreme cases”: Cambodia since 1991 and Timor Leste since 1999. She argues the view that the UN, the World Bank and major donor countries (perhaps excluding Cambodia’s new best friend China) have accommodated a “neo-liberal” doctrine of global governance at considerable cost to the national sovereignty of countries of the “South.”

The comparative analysis between Cambodia and Timor Leste is unique and revealing in many ways, but the two countries have markedly different histories and political imperatives. In retrospect also, the approach taken by the international players to their respective post-conflict situations has differed: the external force that monitored and steered the peace process in Cambodia employed a massive civil administration and a classic peacekeeping force. The intervention (intrusion?) in Timor Leste was, and probably needed to be, more muscular, with “peace building” forces prepared to use force when necessary.

A striking feature of this work is the objectivity with which it approaches the internal political, economic and security challenges facing both countries. Hughes plays no favourites: in Cambodia, the relative success of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the ruling party since the 1980s, is mitigated by a combination of unchallenged coercive power and corruption. The opposition royalists and, particularly, the “neo-liberal” Sam Rainsy Party, are far too dependent on outside players, such as powerful US legislators, and not sufficiently engaged at the grass roots. This, more than anything else, has resulted in their failure to gain electoral support outside of urban centres. In Timor Leste, ruling and opposition forces have engaged in mutual recrimination and violence, calmed only by the intervention, again, of foreign (read mainly Australian) forces.

In spite of a number of terminological abstractions, this work is well structured and readable; the empirical analysis is based on meticulous research and local knowledge. Hughes states her main conclusions up front: briefly stated, (a) international intervention appears to the people of war-torn, aid-dependent societies as remote, unfathomable and coercive; (b) aid donors promote a politics that is confining and atomizing, prioritizing the individual over the collective, draining the national sphere of heroism and import; and (c) the state’s legitimacy deficit leads to demands for a more intimate dependence upon those who clearly control the power and the money: the donor community. Hughes does not, however, finish up with explicit recommendations for changing this situation, characterizing the study as “critical,” rather than policy-oriented.

She explicitly denies that her study is a normatively charged effort to pit an innocent local sphere against a rapacious “international community,” but that often seems to be where we are being led. The tendency of the donor community in the ’90s to emphasize institution building, with state actors relegated to being local administrators of global governance initiatives, is seen to sideline local elites who arguably possess the competence to govern in a culturally appropriate way. Cambodia and Timor have reacted in disparate ways: in the former, the experienced politico-military network associated with the long-ruling CPP makes all the correct rhetorical responses to the international community, then quietly goes its way in building the state according to its own lights. By contrast, in Timor, the post-independence governing authorities bends over backward to please the donors at the expense of building broad internal support, a situation that has led eventually to violent rifts, attempted assassinations and renewed armed international intervention.

Not a major criticism, but I would have liked a more thorough bibliography. I missed, for example, an entry for Sorpong Peou’s seminal work on the influence of the international community in Cambodia’s postwar recovery, but he does pop up in the footnotes. In sum, this is a well-written, clearly structured work that should be required reading for students of international development theory and practice, especially in post-conflict situations.

D. Gordon Longmuir, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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ISLAM AND NATION: Separatist Rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia. By Edward Aspinall. Stanford (CA): Stanford University Press, 2009. xvii, 288 pp. (Map.) US$21.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8047-6045-4.

Having authored numerous authoritative papers on the Aceh conflict, Edward Aspinall has finally provided us with a book. Islam and Nation has been highly anticipated, and it does not disappoint.

Aspinall focuses on three interrelated questions: why Acehnese nationalism emerged as a mass phenomenon, why Islam did not play a more prominent role and how changes in nationalism contributed to peace. The title may be a little misleading, as Islam and Nation tilts towards nation, with Islam playing a supporting role. The chapters are roughly chronological, each guided by distinct theoretical approaches. This makes for reading which is neither theory driven nor simply descriptive.

The reader will appreciate the book’s considerable empirical depth. Particularly impressive is Aspinall’s detective work on Hasan di Tiro and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). He notes that, in the 1950s, di Tiro framed the Darul Islam Rebellion as anti-communist, establishing links to leading American cold warriors. The discussion of GAM historiography, “a textbook case—indeed, almost a parody—of ethnohistory” (69), makes for lively reading. Some readers may criticize Aspinall for being too critical of the rebels, but they will be pressed to challenge him empirically. He also notes that while the rebels were at times predatory, they were also genuinely popular.

In addition to impeccable empirics, the book offers a range of analytical contributions. Aspinall argues that there is no evidence of Acehnese national identity until quite recently. The Sultanate was cosmopolitan, predominantly a Malay Kingdom, while the Dutch War and Darul Islam rebellion were sustained by a faith largely opposed to ethnic traditions. So where did Aceh’s ethnic nationalism originate? Boldly, Aspinall suggests that Acehnese ethnic nationalism was partly a product of Aceh’s de jure special autonomy and Indonesian praise for Aceh’s distinctive traditions and historical contributions. Ironically, the New Order’s banal celebration of provincial identities and Acehnese “specialness” helped create a nation in waiting.

Any book that says so much will likely meet with some objections. I feel that by asking whether nations have ancient roots or are modern creations, Aspinall engages a debate which is largely settled. Many authors accept that these are not mutually exclusive. Ancient traits are used for new purposes, “a novel recombination of existing elements” (Anthony Smith, Ethnicity and Nationalism, 1992, 72).

Secondly, Aspinall asks why Islam played a minor role in a region known for Islamic struggle. His primary response is that each side was Muslim, making Islam a dead end for emphasizing difference. Though not without merit, I found this unsatisfying. How precisely does shared faith influence the conflict? At times, the explanation seems structural, where the conflict naturally remains non-religious: “a logic of identity construction and differentiation…drove [the Acehnese] to deemphasize Islam” (195). This structural argument seems apolitical, at odds with a book about elite constructions of nationalism, and also with Aspinall’s evidence that early GAM members were Darul Islam veterans and that some ground GAM forces saw the conflict as Islamic. At other points, the explanation seems instrumental, with GAM leaders steering the conflict away from Islam. But did they steer it this way because it would not work, or because it was against their interests? If it was against their interests, the same religion point becomes largely irrelevant. GAM leaders lack religious credentials and world views and worked hard to do what the MNLF could not do, that is to maintain control of a nationalist rebellion.

Finally, I feel the nationalism at the core of this book is centred on elites, providing the reader with little guidance on micro-level dynamics. Aspinall mentions that village chiefs “were particularly likely to defect” to the GAM (159), while most Ulama were co-opted by the state (205). He does not explain why these community leaders behaved differently; his claims are supported by scant evidence, and he also states that chiefs “served two masters” (159) and that many rural Ulama supported the rebels (98). Related to this is why people follow the nationalism constructed for them by leaders. Aspinall seems to downplay the importance of human rights abuses in providing a reason to follow. The author hopes to “move beyond” (51) human rights grievances; without the frames provided by leaders, Acehnese may have viewed “military high-handedness” as “unfair and irritating but also as banal and unavoidable” (82). But abuses echo throughout his interviews and, in concluding, Aspinall is more generous, calling human rights abuses “the most important” factor in sustaining the conflict (250).

Quibbles such as this cannot dampen my enthusiasm for this book. It should be read by anyone interested in Southeast Asian politics, Indonesia, nationalism, civil wars and Islamic politics. Islam and Nation will be the account of record for what was Acehnese separatism.

Shane Joshua Barter, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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Australasia and the Pacific Region

MICHAEL ROCKEFELLER: New Guinea Photographs, 1961. By Kevin Bubriski; foreword by Robert Gardner; photographs by Michael Rockefeller. Cambridge (MA): Peabody Museum Press, Harvard University, 2006. vii, 87 pp. (B&W photos.) US$29.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-873-65806-5.

Michael Rockefeller is perhaps best known for the wing of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art that bears his name and the Asmat art inside that he collected on his ill-fated journey to that region of New Guinea in the fall of 1961 (see Adrian A. Gerbrands, The Asmat of New Guinea: The Journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller, New York: Museum of Primitive Art, 1967). What he is perhaps less well known for is his tragically short-lived career as a photographer, something that this exhibition catalogue seeks to rectify.

The photographs in the catalogue, Michael Rockefeller: New Guinea Photographs, 1961, were taken in 1961 during the Harvard–Peabody New Guinea Expedition to the Dani region of the Baliem Valley and were featured in an exhibition that opened in 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Rockefeller joined the expedition during his senior year at Harvard and worked with the film crew as the sound recorder. With the recent advent of the 35-mm camera, all of the members of the expedition—Jan Broekhuijse, Eliot Elisofon, Robert Gardner, Karl Heider, Peter Matthiessen and Samuel Putnam—took photographs, and that included Michael Rockefeller, despite his inexperience and age. Many of those photographs were published in Gardens of War: Life and Death in the New Guinea Stone Age, by Robert Gardner and Karl Heider (New York: Random House, 1968). Other results of the expedition included Robert Gardner’s film, Dead Birds, and Peter Matthiessen’s book, Under the Mountain Wall (New York: Penguin, 1967).

The exhibition’s curator, documentary photographer Kevin Bubriski, began by sorting through Rockefeller’s contact sheets that are housed in the archives of the Peabody Museum. Of the 116 rolls of 35 mm black-and-white film and 83 rolls of 35 mm colour film Rockefeller had shot, Bubriski dealt only with the black-and-white photographs and selected those he felt, “appear as fresh today as they did when the moments they document unfolded” (4). Most of the photographs had never been processed or seen before; they were enlarged and developed using a duotone photographic process for the exhibition. The book’s foreword is written by Robert Gardner and the main essay by Bubriski is titled, “Curator’s Reflections.” The photographs reflect the lives of the Dani people, mostly men, many children and a few of the Dani women. Interspersed among the photographs are quotations by Robert Gardner taken from Gardens of War as well some taken from Michael Rockefeller’s sound log.

The exhibition catalogue demonstrates that Rockefeller was able, either through his naiveté or more likely, a natural aptitude for photography, to capture moments ranging from levity to mourning with equal gravity. Some of the lighter moments include images of Dani children playing games and sharing secrets or of Dani men playing with Rockefeller’s camera equipment—photographs that are indicative of Rockefeller’s rapport with his subjects. The Dani men are the focus of most of the photographs and many capture them during battle, images that Bubriski compares to photographs taken by documentary photographers during the Vietnam War. For example, the photograph titled “Wounded Warrior” captures men carrying on their shoulders a warrior wounded in battle or “Removing an embedded arrow” depicts a Dani man delicately extricating an arrow from a Dani boy, whose head rests on another warrior. In his essay, Burbriski writes about the advantages of documenting a culture within the context of conflict, referring to what fellow documentary filmmaker Peter Getzels describes as the ideal conditions for “a culture to express itself unselfconsciously.”

Perhaps the most powerful images are those that Rockefeller took of the Dani in mourning, particularly those of the Dani women with their arms outstretched, presumably towards the recently departed. Then there is the photograph of two Dani girls, each with one of their arms bound in banana leaves and held in the air. After reading Gardner’s accompanying text you realize that the girls’ fingers had just been sacrificed as part of the mourning process and the seemingly innocuous image becomes much more startling.

It is clear from the foreword by Gardner and Bubriski’s essay, that both men had a strong affection for Rockefeller, recalling fondly his response to almost anything on the expedition as “It’s unbelievable!” While the catalogue reproduces what must have been an intimate and beautiful exhibition, it certainly does make one wonder what Rockefeller’s life might have been, had it not been cut short.

Jennifer Wagelie, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA

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THE MANAMBU LANGUAGE OF EAST SEPIK, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. By Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, with the assistance of Jacklyn Yuamali Ala and Pauline Agnes Yuaneng Luma Laki. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. xxv, 702 pp. (Tables, figures, maps, B&W photos.) US$180.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-19-953981-9.

Of the 800 or so Papuan languages in the world, most of them remain undocumented or inadequately documented and many are rapidly disappearing under the shadow of trade languages like Tok Pisin and Papuan Malay. Aikhenvald’s grammar of the Manambu language is a momentous (and timely) addition to Papuan linguistics; the grammar is crafted to the highest quality and the range of topics covered in the grammar is substantially wider than in most other grammars of Papuan languages.

Manambu is spoken along the Sepik River and belongs to the relatively well-known Ndu language family. Chapter 1 provides a linguistic summary of the language and discusses a wide array of fascinating ethnographic topics, such as the structure of houses and the ownership of names in Manambu society. Chapter 2 deals with phonology: there are 9 vowels, 21 consonants and stress is contrastive, for example, àkǝs, “habitual negation,” while akǝs, “catch!” (47). The section on intonation is lengthy for grammars of Papuan languages, but more could be said on the intonational patterns before the right edge (i.e., end) of a sentence.

Chapter 3 introduces the grammatical relations in Manambu. Subjects behave very differently from all non-subject relations. For instance, subjects are always indexed on finite verbs, whereas objects and other non-subjects are indexed only when they are more topical than the subject. Chapter 4 discusses the properties of the various word classes in Manambu: nouns, verbs, adjectives (which number around 20 in total), adverbs and other closed classes of words, like modal words. Interestingly, chapter 10 is also called “closed classes” and deals with noun-like classes such as personal pronouns and numerals, whereas chapter 4 deals with non-noun-like classes such as postpositions and interjections.

Chapters 5 to 8 deal with grammatical categories which are more noun-oriented. Chapter 5 is on grammatical gender; with inanimate entities, masculine gender correlates with long and/or large entities, while feminine gender correlates with small and/or round entities. Chapter 6 is on grammatical number: singular, dual (two), and plural (three or more). Chapter 7 is on nominal cases: there are nine case markers, with interesting case conflations like accusative–locative (object plus “at”/”in”) and allative–instrumental (“to” plus “with”). Chapter 8 outlines the numerous ways of indicating possession.
Chapter 9 is on compounding and derivation; an example is verb root reduplication, which derives action nominalizations: nas(ǝ)-, “count,” while nasǝnas, “counting” (179).

Chapters 11 to 19 concentrate on verb-oriented issues. Chapter 11 discusses the structure of verbs, non-verbal predicates (e.g., nominal predicates) and verb root forms. Verbs can be quite long in Manambu, for example, kay-kwa-taka-saki-sala-kwa-k-na-wun-ǝk, “I will be pouring (liquid) by moving it side to side (across and inward)” (247). Chapter 12 deals with various verbal categories like tense and aspect, chapter 13 discusses mood and modality, and chapter 14 outlines strategies of indicating negation. Chapter 15 discuses various types of verb compounding—such as tǝpǝ-taka-, “(close-put) cover” (338)—and their meanings.

Chapter 16 combines discussions on directionals, such as the suffix sǝwǝl, “inside or away from the Sepik River” (378) and valency-changing devices, such as the causative prefix kay- as in kay-bǝtuku, “cause-to-be blown-up” or “pump (something)” (407)). Chapter 17 discusses the complex predicates, which in Manambu are predicates involving two separate words, e.g., resain tǝ-ku. “resign have-completive same subject” or “having resigned” (432). Chapters 18 and 19 contain detailed discussions on clause chaining and various types of dependent clauses. Similar to many other Papuan languages, most types of chained clauses in Manambu indicate switch-reference, that is, whether the subject of the next clause is the same or different.

Chapter 20 outlines the syntax of phrases and clauses in Manambu, the pragmatic significance of the order of constituents in a clause (e.g., for discourse focus) and discourse organization. Chapter 21 is an interesting chapter on the ethnography of speaking in Manambu and also the semantics of more than 20 notable words: kǝ-, “eat, drink, smoke,” and the “lazy” verb mǝgi-, “do whatever, happen (whatever),” for instance. Chapter 22 discusses Manambu’s relationship with the other languages in the area. It also discusses the use of Tok Pisin and English in Manambu language and society and the viability of the language. Following chapter 22 are three lengthy texts, 38 pages in total, and vocabulary/affix lists, 14 pages in total.

The detail in this grammar is meticulous. Nonetheless, a professional linguist might find it too meticulous at times; sometimes a relatively minor point (to a professional linguist) is accompanied by an overwhelming amount of explanation (e.g., §7.10 “how many cases does Manambu have?”). On the other hand, this is precisely why this grammar would appeal to junior linguists and other human scientists who would benefit immensely from the sumptuous amount of in-depth argumentation. This publication would be most valuable to any linguists interested in Papuan languages and anyone interested in New Guinea in general.

Hilário De Sousa, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France

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