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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 11:09 03/29/2007
Journal Abstracts #273: March 22, 2007

The International Journal of Asian Studies

Journal Name: The International Journal of Asian Studies: Volume 4 - Issue 01 - January 2007
Print ISSN: 1479-5914 Online ISSN: 1479-5922


Yoshihiko Amino
The terms muen, kugai, and raku appear in medieval documents and invoke the idea of places which exist outside the reach of the secular power, such as shrines, temples, bridges and markets. They can also be extended to refer to people who are without worldly ties. Such places highlight the limitations that applied to political authority in medieval Japan, and they were characterized by such "freedoms" as limitations on the right of entry, exemptions from rents, taxes and corvée labor, rights of free passage, asylum from conflict and the civil law, non-recognition of serfdom or slavery, non-application of collective punishment, and authority based on seniority. The terms themselves defy clear individual definition. All three can be traced to Buddhist texts, though they were appropriated in the medieval period to secular use. Muen refers to being "unattached" (that is, without karmic ties), kugai to the realm of temples (the abodes of those who have cut secular ties), and raku to the ideal realm (or "paradise"). Though these terms were associated with liberty in the medieval period, they lost their positive connotations once the country was unified at the end of the sixteenth century.

Aya Ikegame (University of Edinburgh)
Mysore Fort, now situated in the centre of Mysore city, former capital of Mysore princely state, was effectively the city itself in pre-modern times. During the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, however, the fort changed its form from a residential town into a modern garden or empty space where now only the palace and several temples remain. This transformation was intended to serve not only to improve the sanitation and hygiene of the city but also to beautify and glorify it as the capital of a Hindu kingdom. In the process, the modern western idea of "improvement" and the traditional Hindu idea of dharma (moral order) were somehow reconciled and mutually strengthened. This paper aims to demonstrate how the two concepts worked together during the period of indirect rule. More broadly, the transformation of space in Mysore city reveals the nature of Hindu kingship under British rule. The colonial power did not simply diminish the authority of the Indian kings, but rather enhanced their presence at a supra-local level. The fundamental paradox of Hindu kingship, in which kings have to be transcendent, above society, and at the same time to be rooted in society, remained a conundrum for Indian kings to resolve.

Asian monetary history revisited

Akinobu Kuroda (University of Tokyo)
The common sense of modern times was not always "common" in the past. For example, if it is true that inflation is caused by an oversupply of money, a short supply of money must cause deflation. However logical that sounds, though, it has not been so uncommon in history that rising prices were recognized as being caused by a scarcity of currency. Even in the same period, a common idea prevailing in one historical area was not always common in another; rather, it sometimes appeared in quite the opposite direction. It is likely that the idea that a government gains from bad currencies, while traders appreciate good ones, is popular throughout the world. In the case of China, however, its dynasties sometimes intentionally issued high-quality coins without regard to their losses. East Asia shared the idea that cheap currency harms the state, while an expensive currency harms the people. This is in considerable contrast with a common image in other regions that authorities gained profits from seigniorage.

Asian monetary history revisited [1]

Richard von Glahn (UCLA)
Both the physical qualities of different types of money and the cultural values assigned to them contributed to the determination of their economic value. China began to import substantial quantities of silver coins from Europe as early as the sixteenth century, but it was around 1800 that a foreign coin, the so-called "Carolus peso" issued by the Spanish kings Carlos III and Carlos IV, became the basis of a new monetary standard in China, the yuan. In the nineteenth century the Carolus peso and imitations of it (mostly manufactured in China) served as the principal means of exchange, and the yuan as the standard unit of account, in the markets of South China. This paper analyzes the monetary conditions that led to the establishment of the Carolus peso as the monetary standard of South China with particular consideration of the distinctive "currency circuits" formed by regional variations in monetary circulation. Significant differences can be seen in the monetary regimes that prevailed in Jiangnan and Guangdong, the major commercial centers of the empire. While Guangdong reverted to a commodity money standard that allowed the use of a wide range of different types of physical monies, including "chopped" and broken foreign coins, in Jiangnan the Carolus peso became a unified, fiduciary monetary standard. This regional variation attests to the distinctive regional characteristics of market culture in late imperial China.

Law, state and society in China [6]

Susumu Fuma (Kyoto University)
Litigation masters (songshi), who flourished in traditional China, have long been associated in the minds of the public with questionable legal behaviour, taking advantage of the lack of legal know-how of plaintiffs. Though they existed outside the law and their existence was constantly castigated by the authorities, they played a very important role in society. This article examine the reality of what it meant for ordinary people to go to law, in an attempt to reassess how the litigation system actually worked, as opposed to how it was described ideally by the state. It first looks at litigation procedures and the trial process, and concludes that the Chinese were extremely litigious, challenging the notion that people preferred to resolve disputes by mediation rather than by going to court. Court procedures were complicated and costs high, and not all plaints submitted to the court were accepted. To ensure that the correct forms were followed, expert help was necessary, and this help often took the form of the litigation master. He acted as proxy for litigants, for he was unable to appear in court in person, and he played a vital role in negotiating with the lower court functionaries whose support was vital for the success of a case. He also wrote plaints in a form acceptable to the courts, and coached litigants in their presentation. The litigation master was often a former civil service examination candidate, and so trained in the kind of writing skills the court required. Failed students often had to choose between becoming a private secretary to a magistrate or a litigation master, and there was a continuum between the two. Thus it was the examination system itself that fostered litigation masters. Because the state refused to recognize litigiousness, it also had to refuse to recognize the lawful existence of litigation masters. Nevertheless they met an important social need.

State of the field

Barbara Watson Andaya (University of Hawai'i)
Historians of Southeast Asia have begun to consider the history of women and gender relatively recently, even though the complementary relationship between men and women has long been cited as a regional characteristic. In the last twenty years or so the field has witnessed some important advances, most notably in the study of the twentieth century but also in the preceding periods as well. Generalizations advanced in the past are now being refined through a number of new case studies. The second half of this essay, surveying recent publications primarily in English, focuses on pre-twentieth century history, identifying the areas where research has been most productive and suggesting lines of inquiry that might be profitable in the future.

The International Journal of Asian Studies (2007)
Copyright ©2007 Cambridge University Press

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