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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #236: May 29, 2006

Modern Asian Studies

Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 40 - Issue 01 - February 2006
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099

The South China Sea in the Age of European Decline (pp1-57)
STEIN TØNNESSON (International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO))
The history of the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands in the period 1930–56 will be analysed here within a context of regional political and strategic developments. The focus will be on how French and British authorities estimated the economic and strategic value of the two island groups in various periods. The Paracels and Spratlys are studied the way one would examine the pawns in a game of chess. In themselves they are unimportant, but in certain situations they gain significance, and mediocre players may pay inordinate attention to their protection. There is also the faint possibility that a pawn can be changed into a queen, for instance if oil is discovered. In order to understand the constellations that push simple pawns into the limelight, they must be seen in relation to the general balance of forces on the chessboard, and the strategies of all players.

Empire on the Cheap: The Control of Opium Smoking in the Straits Settlements, 1925–1939 (pp59-80)
HARUMI GOTO-SHIBATA (Chiba University, Japan)
Already between 40 and 50 percent of the military contribution is derived from the sale of opium. I say nothing about the Imperial Government thus drawing any revenue from what it is committed to regard as a tainted source.

'Only Women can Change this World into Heaven' Mei Niang, Male Chauvinist Society, and the Japanese Cultural Agenda in North China, 1939–1941 (pp81-107)
NORMAN SMITH (University of Guelph, Canada)
From 1939 to 1941, Mei Niang (b. 1920) penned three of her most famous novellas, Bang (Clam)(1939), Yu (Fish)(1941), and Xie (Crabs)(1941). Each of these works sheds light on the struggle of Chinese feminists in Japanese-occupied north China to realize ideals that stood in stark contrast to the conservative constructs of 'good wives, wise mothers' (xianqi liangmu) favoured by colonial officials. The contemporary appeal of Mei Niang's work is attested to by a catch-phrase, coined in 1942, that linked her with one of the most celebrated Chinese women writers of the twentieth century, Zhang Ailing (1920–1995): 'the south has Zhang Ailing, the north has Mei Niang' (Nan Ling, Bei Mei). Both women attained great fame in Japanese-occupied territories, only to have their achievements tempered by condemnation of the environments in which they forged their early careers. The Chinese civil war that followed the collapse of the Japanese empire propelled the two writers along divergent trajectories: Zhang Ailing moved to Hong Kong and the United States, where she achieved iconic status, while Mei Niang remained in the People's Republic of China, to be vilified. As one of the pre-eminent 'writers of the enemy occupation' (lunxian zuojia), Mei Niang was persecuted by a Maoist regime (1949–1976) dedicated to the refutation of the Japanese colonial order in its entirety.

Ideology and Cosmology: Maoist Discussion on Physics and the Cultural Revolution (pp109-149)
YINGHONG CHENG (Delaware State University)
The Cultural Revolution has reached its fortieth anniversary (1966–2006), but many questions about it remain unanswered or the answers themselves are controversial. Among the questions, why Mao and Maoist ideologists went such an extreme in seeking their political goals, and how they would justify the chaos and disasters the Chinese society suffered from 1966 to 1976, are perhaps the most fundamental one. To answer this question, Mao and China scholars have provided interpretations from political, economic, social, and cultural perspectives.

Differentiated Actors: Central–Local Politics in China's Rural Tax Reforms (pp151-174)
LINDA CHELAN LI (Department of Public and Social Administration, City University of Hong Kong)
How decisions and policies are made and implemented? This classical question in political science has attracted a considerable literature amongst observers of realpolitik in China, with its continental size, 1.3 billion population and five layers of government. Mirroring the move away from the traditional dualism of 'top-down' versus 'bottom-up' approaches in the general implementation literature, recent literature on Chinese central–local politics emphasizes the co-participation of central and local actors in decision-making and the dialectical interactive relationship between central and local power. Goodman recognizes, for instance, that central and local actors have differentiated roles to play in decision-making. Li makes the case of interactive central–local power, calling for a reconceptualization of central-local relations in a non-zero-sum schema. Recent studies on the 'Open Up the West' national policy augment the claim for 'disaggregating' China, and the relevance of the provincial, regional and local as levels and foci of analysis. Against the traditional emphasis over central predominance versus provincial power, this body of literature, adopting a 'non-dualistic' approach to power, highlights the co-existence of central and local power in a diffuse, complex decision-making process.

Children, Emotion, Identity and Empire: Views from the Blechyndens' Calcutta Diaries (1790–1822) (pp175-201)
PETER ROBB (School of Oriental and African Studies, London)
The voluminous Blechynden diaries, in the British Library, offer incomparable opportunities for studying (among other things) domestic life among middle-level British residents of Calcutta around the start of the nineteenth century. This paper is concerned with a small part of the history of the Blechynden household, focusing on Arthur Blechynden, son of Richard and his successor as superintendent of roads. Richard's diary runs to more than 70 volumes and Arthur's to seven. These sources permit none of the structural analysis that was made the basis of family history by Peter Laslett and others; but they touch several points of the richer canvas painted by Laurence Stone, and those genres that are concerned with individual lives, with emotion, with relationships, and with identity, the kinds of subject approached by the contributors to Roy Porter's collection Rewriting the Self. In this paper some of these issues will be taken up, with particular reference to ideas of individuality and of race. That discussion will then lead on to another, on the construction of British imperial identity outside Britain and in the context of the formation of empire, an aspect that seems worthy of more attention than it has received.

Colonial Gifts: Family Politics and the Exchange of Goods in British India, c. 1780–1820 (pp203-231)
MARGOT C. FINN (University of Warwick)
In August 1851, James Russell travelled to London from his estate on the banks of the Tweed. As a young man decades earlier, Russell had served as a cavalry officer in India, and he was anxious to exploit this visit to the metropolis to renew his acquaintance with the men who had formed his social circle years ago in Hyderabad. Having arrived in London, James Russell called on Charles Russell (no relation) at the latter's residence in Argyle Street. Chairman of the Great Western Railway, Charles Russell too had passed his youth in India, serving as a lieutenant in the Company's army and as an assistant to the diplomatic Resident at Hyderabad-his older brother, Henry. In a letter to his brother-now Sir Henry and (thanks to his Indian fortune) the proprietor of an extensive landed estate in Berkshire-Charles described James Russell as 'still a great oddity, almost mad I think', but conceded that 'all his feelings are those of [a] gentleman and his pursuits have always been intellectual'. To substantiate this assessment of his old friend's sensibilities, he instanced James Russell's retention and use of a dictionary given to him by Charles in Hyderabad. 'He gratified me by telling me that he still retained "a handsome Greek Lexicon" which I gave him, when he resumed the study of Greek', Charles informed his brother Henry. 'On his way home [from India] he followed the retreat of the ten thousand with Xenophon in his hand; and he has since worked hard, he tells me, at the Greek historians, poets & dramatists'. Having reminisced in London with Charles, James Russell journeyed to Berkshire to visit Sir Henry Russell, who read excerpts from Charles's letter aloud to his guest. 'I always liked him', Sir Henry wrote to his brother upon James Russell's departure, 'and when I read to him your reference to early days, his eyes filled with tears'.

The Problem with 'Rich Refugees' Sponsorship, Capital, and the Informal Economy of Tibetan Refugees (pp233-253)
AUDREY PROST (Department of Anthropology, University College London)
This article examines issues pertaining to the growth of 'informal' economic exchanges and relationships of patronage in the Tibetan refugee community of Dharamsala (H-P), India. I firstly review the theoretical and methodological challenges posed by investigations of Tibetan refugee modernity, then focus on one particular form of exchange in the informal economy of exiles: rogs ram, or the sponsorship of Tibetans by foreigners. The article argues that symbolic capital comes to play a particularly important role in communities where economic capital is scarce, acting in fact as a proviso to economic capital. The highly unstable character of symbolic capital means that, for Tibetan refugees as for other communities, its conversion into economic capital is arduous and engenders a tense field of negotiations between sponsors and beneficiaries.

Modern Asian Studies (2006)
Copyright ©2006 Cambridge University Press

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