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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #152: July 23, 2004

Modern Asian Studies

Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 37 - Issue 01 - February 2003
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099

The Social Life of Opium in China, 1483–1999 (pp1-39)
Yangwen Zheng (University of Pennsylvania)
The history of opium is a major theme in modern Chinese history. Books and academic careers have been devoted to its study. Yet the question that scholars of the opium wars and of modern China have failed to ask is how the demand for opium was generated. My puzzle, during the initial stage of research, was who smoked opium and why. Neither Chinese nor non-Chinese scholars have written much about this, with the exception of Jonathan Spence. Although opium consumption is a well-acknowledged fact, the reasons for its prevalence have never been fully factored into the historiography of the opium wars and of modern China. Michael Greenberg has dwelt on the opium trade, Chang Hsin-pao and Peter Fay on the people and events that made armed conflicts between China and the West unavoidable. John Wong has continued to focus on imperialism, James Polachek on Chinese internal politics while Opium regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839–1952, the latest work, has studied the political systems that controlled opium. But the political history of opium, like the opium trade and the theatre of war, is only part of the story. We need to distinguish them from the wider social and cultural life of opium in China. The vital questions are first, the point at which opium was transformed from a medicine to a luxury item and, secondly, why it became so popular and widespread after people discovered its recreational value. It is these questions that I address. We cannot fully understand the root problem of the opium wars and their role in the emergence of modern China until we can explain who was smoking opium and why they smoked it.

Violence and Ethnicity on a Qing Colonial Frontier: Customary and Statutory Law in the Eighteenth-Century Miao Pale (pp41-80)
Donald S. Sutton (Carnegie Mellon University)
No less than in modern times, law under imperial systems can do many things. Its enactment can be a focus for bureaucratic debate and struggle. Its implementation may provoke bitter resistance or creative adaptations. It can be ignored or it can spur unpredictable social change. In eighteenth-century southwestern China, law did all this: issues of law are paramount in the burst of Qing (1644–1911) expansion and Han Chinese colonization which brought many local non-Han societies directly under imperial governance for the first time. This paper examines both its development and its effects in the remote region of the Eastern Miao (Hmong) (see map), a group based on settled agriculture in the Hunan/Guizhou provincial border zone west of the Yuan river. It begins with administrative incorporation (which occurred in two stages in 1703–4 and 1727–32) and ends on the eve of the Miao uprising and its suppression in the 1790s.

Officers, Gentlemen and Thieves: The Looting of Monasteries during the 1903/4 Younghusband Mission to Tibet (pp81-109)
Michael Carrington (Coventry University)
During the early years of British conquest in India [and elsewhere] indiscriminate and frenzied looting often followed military action. Certainly, the acquisition of plunder had always been used as an incentive for the troops, though its distribution was often disproportionate and the source of much discontent. Officially appointed prize agents ought to have lessened any animosity, though like the Admiralty Prize Courts which were a 'public scandal', the military agents were mostly thought to be 'sharks' and men often went collecting for themselves rather than for the 'official' pot. By the latter half of the nineteenth century, collection of plunder had also become the 'collecting' of curios and artefacts for both personal and institutional reasons. This material had become increasingly important in the process of 'othering' Oriental and African societies and was exemplified in the professionalism of exploration and the growth of ethnographic departments in museums, the new 'temples of Empire'. The gathering of information may have reached new heights but the British attempt at a monopoly on knowledge was not particularly ordered or controlled and events within the Empire offered the world's press numerous opportunities for criticism. Nearer home, reports of looting often became ammunition in the hands of liberal critics of Empire who had their cause strengthened after the disastrous events of the South African War with its burning, looting and removal of non-combatants to concentration camps. So looting may have become morally questionable, but it was institutionalized and symptomatic of the British imperial state's desire for artefacts with which to provide information about 'exotic' societies. There was literally a 'scramble' for information out of which, it was hoped, an ordered and systematic scheme of knowledge would realize the dream of an 'imperial archive' in which fantasy became reality and ultimate knowledge became ultimate power.

'Cocked Hats and Swords and Small, Little Garrisons': Britain, Canada and the Fall of Hong Kong, 1941 (pp111-157)
Kent Fedorowich (University of the West of England, Bristol)
Just days before the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, the Foreign Office in London received a letter from Ian Morrison, late Honorary Attaché to the British embassy in Tokyo, who was returning to the United Kingdom via south China. For the past month, Morrison had been enjoying the allure of Hong Kong. Astounded by the bustle and 'ever-fresh beauty' of this prosperous corner of empire, one of the first impressions upon his arrival in the colony was its remarkable isolation.

From Indochine to Indochic: The Lang Bian/Dalat Palace Hotel and French Colonial Leisure, Power and Culture (pp159-194)
Eric T. Jennings (University of Toronto)
Looking at an early picture of the French colonial hill station of Dalat circa 1925, one is struck by the centrality of an edifice around which the entire European resort seems to have been conceived. Completed in 1922, this monumental hotel, known at the time as the Lang Bian Palace (since rebaptized the Dalat Palace Hotel), was designed as a site of colonial leisure and power at the centre of Indochina's premier site of French villeggiatura, 'discovered' by Dr Alexandre Yersin in 1893, and earmarked for development into a hill station by the Governor General of Indochina, Paul Doumer in 1897–8. According to the geographer Robert Reed, the Lang Bian Palace 'function[ed] almost immediately as the nerve center of proper Western colonial society in the highlands.'

Tales of Treachery: Rumour as the Source of Claims that Tipu Sultan was Betrayed (pp195-211)
Kate Brittlebank (Monash University)
One of the more famous episodes in the narrative of British colonial expansion in India, and one that has been extensively mythologized, is the death in 1799 of Tipu Sultan and the fall of his capital, Srirangapattana. British troops, supported by their Indian allies—in particular, the forces of Hyderabad—stormed the island fortress on 4 May, bringing to an end the Mysore kingdom's role as the last significant indigenous power in the south. The old Hindu Wodeyar dynasty was reinstated and the kingdom itself was reduced to a landlocked state, with much of its territory redistributed among the victors. It is not the purpose of this article to attempt an analysis of why Tipu was defeated. Rather its aim is to underline the importance of returning to sources and re-examining evidence, even, or perhaps especially, if beliefs about a certain event have been held for so long. This is particularly true in the case of such an evocative and contentious figure as Tipu Sultan, whose life and legacy have been appropriated by interests in polemical debates over at least the last 150 years. As the following discussion will show, if one is to achieve a better understanding of an event such as the fall of Srirangapattana and its aftermath, a return to the sources is imperative.

Processes of Secularization in Contemporary India: Guru Faith in the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission (pp213-253)
Maya Warrier (University of Wales, Lampeter)
The perceived resurgence of Hindu nationalist sentiments in India, particularly since the 1990s, occupies centre-stage in much of the current academic writing on contemporary Hinduism. This preoccupation with politicized Hinduism has meant that other developments in contemporary Hindu society, which run contrary to the dominant trend, have tended to go relatively unnoticed in recent academic literature. One such development has to do with religious belief and practice within some of the more popular modern guru organizations in India, many of which own and manage vast institutional and financial empires, command an international presence, and, within India, attract followers largely from educated, urban, 'middle class' sections of the country's population. Commentators in the past have tended to see the popularity of these guru organizations merely as a sign of intensified religiosity among urban middle class Indians. A closer look at these organizations and the place which many of them occupy in the lives of their followers, however, indicates that this apparently intensified religiosity also carries within it seeds of something quite different—trends towards the secularization of civil society.

Modern Asian Studies (2004)
Copyright ©2004 Cambridge University Press

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