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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 10:23 05/28/2007
Journal Abstracts #274: March 30, 2007

Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

Journal Name: Journal of Southeast Asian Studies: February 2007, Volume 38, Issue 1

Print ISSN:0022-4634 Online ISSN:1474-0680


Words across Space and Time: An Analysis of Lexical Items in Khmer Inscriptions, Sixth–Fourteenth Centuries CE (pp1-26)
Eileen Lustig (The University of Sydney), Damian Evans (Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney) and Ngaire Richards (Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney)
The study presents a relational database of words referring to material items and institutional processes in over 700 Pre-Angkorian and Angkorian inscriptions, from the sixth to the fourteenth centuries CE. The lexical items within the database have been spatially and temporally referenced, and a geographic information system (GIS) is used to show trends and anomalies over time and space in the distributions of temple sites; key items and materials; and the roles of the rulers, the founders, the donors and temple workers. The current study identifies changes in the socio-economic institutions and relationships within Khmer society through the Pre-Angkorian and into the Angkorian period in Cambodia.

The Body of the King: Reappraising Singhasari Period Syncretism (pp27-53)
Thomas M. Hunter (The Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study)
This article argues for a reassessment of the history of the Singhasari period based on disambiguating diverse historical sources that have often been combined to produce a seamless narrative, when in fact the textual record is marked by conflict, contradiction and ambiguity. The author proposes a basic division between the perspective of kakawin literature, which represents the interests of royal and priestly actors with a large stake in maintaining a fixed symbolic order, and literature in Middle Javanese, which reflects the more personal values that arose among young royals competing for favourable position in the core-line status hierarchy. The author further claims that symbolic initiatives of Krtanagara (1265–92 CE) that led to his identification as 'the god Shiva-Buddha' were not aimed at producing a syncretic religious system, but rather a politico-religious hegemony that had profound effects on the shape of statecraft during the Majapahit era.

Prince Phetsarath (1890–1959): Nationalism and Royalty in the Making of Modern Laos (pp55-81)
Søren Ivarsson (Department of History, University of Copenhagen) and Christopher E. Goscha (Department of History, Université du Québec à Montréal)
A biography of Prince Phetsarath highlights how a specific idea about Laos and its culture was formed under French colonial rule and nurtured under the Japanese occupation and its aftermath. During these periods, Phetsarath's understanding of Lao cultural nationalism was transformed into a political and anticolonial nationalism. While ultimately a study of failure, Phetsarath's activities show that anticolonial nationalism did not always have to be linked to Communist movements to be 'revolutionary', and suggests the importance of taking into account non-revolutionary and non-Communist actors – even members of royal blood – in order to better understand the complexity that went into the making of modern postcolonial states.

The Racial Distribution of Privilege in a Thai National Park (pp83-105)
Henry D. Delcore (Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fresno)
Tai Lue and Lua people are struggling to maintain access to resources in a northern Thai national park. Contrasting outcomes for Tai Lue and Lua relations with the park can largely be explained by political, economic and discursive structures and the interests, attitudes and actions they promote. In particular, the racialisation of resource use constrains the ability of minority upland groups like the Lua to secure recognition and legitimacy for their resource use practices.

Sacred Camp: Transgendering Faith in a Philippine Festival (pp107-132)
Patrick Alcedo (Department of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages, of the University of California, Riverside)
By embodying the paradoxes found in three webs of signification – panaad (devotional promise), sacred camp and carnivalesque during the Ati-atihan festival – Augusto Diangson, an individual of the 'third sex', was able to claim membership in the Roman Catholic community of Kalibo, Aklan in the Central Philippines while also negotiating the Church's institution of heterosexuality. The narratives of mischief and the gender ambiguity of the Santo Niño or the Holy Child Jesus, the centre of Ati-atihan's religious veneration, further enabled Diangson to interact with Kalibo's Roman Catholicism. Through an analysis of Diangson and his participation in the festival, this article exposes how ordinary individuals in extraordinary events localise their faith through cross-dressing and dance performance. Seen throughout the Philippines, these processes of mimicry and gender transformation transport individuals into zones of ambivalence and contradictions in which they are able to navigate through the homogenising discourse of their culture and the Church's homogenising myth of Roman Catholicism.

Descriptions of Female Sexuality in Ayu Utami's Saman (pp133-146)
Soe Tjen Marching (Trinity College, Oxford University)
Ayu Utami's Saman, published in May 1998, describes female sexuality openly, a factor which has caused some controversy in Indonesia. Several critics have applauded the explicit descriptions of sexuality in this novel, claiming they are a means of 'talking back' and/or challenging patriarchal authorities in Indonesia. In contrast, some senior and well-known Indonesian writers have alleged that the novel is an example of the increasing Westernisation of their culture. The contemporary debate regarding depictions of sexuality in Saman, however, has failed to appreciate the complex post-colonial situation of the novel.

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