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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #154: July 28, 2004

Modern Asian Studies

Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 37 - Issue 03 - July 2003
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099

Beyond Colonial Law: Indigenous Litigation and the Contestation of Property in the Mayor's Court in Late Eighteenth-Century Madras (pp513-550)
Niels Brimnes (University of Aarhus)
An important branch in recent debates on the nature of the judiciary in colonial south India has focused on the extent to which the judicial institutions—and the social transformations mediated through them—were controlled by the colonial state. This debate is of interest not only from the point of legal history. From the broader perspective of social and cultural history the debate is important because it draws attention to issues such as indigenous agency, conceptual negotiation and the hybrid nature of institutions under colonial rule. It is these issues I intend to address through an analysis of indigenous litigation in the Mayor's Court in late eighteenth-century Madras. The analysis falls in two parts. First, I analyse how indigenous agents availed themselves of the court, despite an official colonial policy of excluding disputes between Indians from its jurisdiction. In the second part, I focus on the ways in which the nature of property was contested and negotiated in complex dialogues between indigenous litigants and representatives of the colonial judiciary. Both parts of the analysis indicate that important aspects of the litigation in the Mayor's Court were largely beyond the control of the colonial authorities.

'I Am Not a Refugee': Rethinking Partition Migration (pp551-584)
Md. Mahbubar Rahman (Department of History, Rajshahi University, Bangladesh) and Willem Van Schendel (International Institute of Social History/University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands )
In the wake of Partition—the break-up of British India in 1947—millions of people moved across the new borders between Pakistan and India. Although much has been written about these 'Partition refugees,' a comprehensive picture remains elusive. This paper advocates a rethinking of the study of cross-border migration in South Asia. It argues especially for looking at categories of cross-border migrants that have so far been ignored, and for employing a more comparative approach. In the first section, we look at conventions that have shaped the literature on Partition refugees. The second section explores some patterns of post-Partition migration to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and the third uses oral evidence from cross-border migrants to present a number of case studies. The concluding section underlines that these cases demonstrate the need for re-examining historiographical conventions regarding Partition migration; it also makes a plea for linking South Asia's partition to broader debates about partition as a political 'solution' to ethnic strife.

Making Claims for Power: A New Agenda in Dalit Politics of Uttar Pradesh, 1946-48 (pp585-612)
Ramnarayan S. Rawat (Fellow, SEPHIS, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam and Department of History, University of Delhi)
'. . . [T]he awakened untouchable today is repeatedly asking them [the Congress] if they could not remove the 'social evil' of their own creation without political power, how do they expect us [the untouchables] to liberate ourselves without political power'. (Shastri, Poona Pact. 1946, p. 24)

'This is 1946, not 1932'. (Shastri, Poona Pact. 1946, p.76)

Shankaranand Shastri's statements help us locate two related propositions that came to constitute Dalit politics in Uttar Pradesh in the 1940s. The first proposition deals with claims made by Dalits to acquire political power—specifically in the form of adequate representation in the provincial legislative assemblies and in the Constituent Assembly. They demanded positive discrimination in the form of reservations within legislative and executive institutions. Safeguards for Dalits, it was argued, should be incorporated into the proposed constitution for Indian citizens. The second proposition concerns achhut identity, through which Dalits hoped to reconstitute their polity in UP. The Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF) and even a section of Congress Harijans staked a claim for achhut identity to distinguish their difference from 'other communities.' Dalit writings increasingly depicted the Poona Pact as a great betrayal by the Congress and the British. From their experience of the two general elections of 1937 and 1946, they argued that the electoral mechanism worked out under the aegis of the Poona Pact was structured against the Dalits.

Banten Rebellion, 1750-1752: Factors behind the Mass Participation (pp613-651)
Atsushi Ota (Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands)
The Banten Rebellion of 1750 has been described in two recent standard accounts in totally different ways. M. C. Ricklefs emphasizes the political conflicts between the ruler and the elite in court circles as a principal cause of the uprising, while J. Kathirithamby-Wells views this event as a consequence of the economic exploitation of an oppressed people. Why has this same event been depicted so differently?

Tuberculosis, Housing and the Colonial State: Hong Kong, 1900-1950 (pp653-682)
Margaret Jones (Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine University of Oxford)
As Tak-Wing Ngo has argued, the 'dominant' view of colonial rule in Hong Kong is one of a state which governed through 'a deliberate policy of indirect rule—a combination of economic laissez-faire and political non-intervention'. It depicts a government which was disengaged from the population, preferring to see the colony as a trading opportunity, whilst leaving the condition of the peoples it held sway over to the philanthropy and humanitarianism of the colony's Chinese elites. This view of British rule was even supported by the primary representative of the imperial state when Sir David Trench admitted in 1970 that social policy, in the sense of responding to the needs of the populace, only began in the colony in 1953. But as Tak-Wing Ngo has argued, these 'established narratives' of Hong Kong's colonial history need to be reassessed and a more nuanced approach adopted to reveal the complexity of even Hong Kong's seemingly simple 'colonial state-society' relations.

The Politics of Anti-Nuclear Protest in Taiwan: A Case of Party-Dependent Movement (1980–2000) (pp683-708)
Ming-Sho HO (Nan-Hua University, Chiayi, Taiwan)
This essay tries to understand a particular pattern of the relation between social movement and political party. By analyzing the development of the anti-nuclear protest in Taiwan, the author puts forth the concept of party-dependent movement. This term denotes an awkward situation where the fate of a social movement is bound to the electoral performance of a certain political party. In Taiwan, the rise of anti-nuclear voice is closely related to the democratic opening. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) adopted an unequivocal anti-nuclear stand ever since its founding in 1986, thus helped to collect the increasing support from the broad movement constituents. But the growing DPP has other political priorities, which means the anti-nuclear goal is often shelved to the disappointment of movement activists. As a consequence of the early convergence, the movement has not been able to re-assert its autonomy.

The Making of a Dream: The Sino-American Expedition to Mount Amne Machin in 1948 (pp709-735)
Shiwei Chen (Lake Forest College, Illinois)
For centuries, China has remained as a place in many Americans' shadowy dreams where fortunes and careers could be made through commerce, industry, religion, education, and adventure. American businessmen and their domestic backers appreciated China's richly endowed natural resources and its untapped market of 400 million customers, looking forward to making immense profits from business investment and commercial establishments. Since the arrival of the first American merchant ship, Empress of China, in Canton in 1784, generation after generation of American businessmen and adventurers landed in the Middle Kingdom to begin their enterprises by foreseeing a promising future for mercantile advantage. In this China drive, individual businessmen outside the U.S. government played a significant role in linking the two countries and peoples through a variety of activities. Some of them were particularly responsible for conveying their ideas, directly or indirectly, to government policy makers in Washington, exerting profound influence on the U.S. foreign policy toward East Asia. Some of them made great efforts to assist in the modernization of China by devoting their lives and resources, turning themselves into friends of China. Some of them, however, played games as adventurers seeking power and wealth in a fraudulent way and creating unexpected occasions for political confrontations and diplomatic conflicts in Sino-American relations. In all of these multi-dimensional interactions, China, a country too weak to control its own affairs in the nineteenth-century and the first half of the twentieth-century, provided a fantastic place for Americans to range freely, exercising their talents for good or evil to the fullest.

The PRC's Relationship with the ASEAN Regional Forum (pp737-763)
Thammy Evans
Ever since the discovery of China by Western nations the West has continually tried to gain access to China, and sometime even to understand her. Conversely, many Eastern nations who came within China's reach have preferred to keep her at arms length. This dichotomy continues today, although the East/West division is less clear. The People's Republic of China's sheer geographical size, its location in the heart of Asia, its huge population and thus its potential as an economic and miitary superpower instils fear in many. Will the PRC become a 'responsible power', an irresponsible hegemon, or collapse into political disorder and chaos? In anticipation of the coming changes in the PRC, the foreign policy of those nations concerned with the PRC has oscillated between engagement and containment of China.

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

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