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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 13:38 04/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #275: April 9, 2007

Modern Asian Studies

Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 41 - Issue 02 - March 2007
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099

Research Articles

Terribly Severe Though Mercifully Short: The Episode of the 1918 Influenza in British Malaya (pp221-252)
KAI KHIUN LIEW (The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London)
The influenza epidemic swept through our midst in September and October, unhappily with fatal consequences to a number of friends in the Tamil community. We are glad to say that though terribly severe while it lasted, its duration was mercifully short. On the other hand, the great news that the armistice has been signed filled us with unaccustomed joy.

Who is a Brahmin in Singapore? (pp253-286)
ASHVIN PARAMESWARAN and RODNEY SEBASTIAN (Curtin University of Technology)
Brahmin identity and community-these are the essentials. Melody cannot be understood except by the notes and spaces that constitute it. So too with the group. To know it, we must understand individuals and their interactions. Failure to do this sacrifices accuracy for simplicity; realities get replaced with poor simulacra of themselves. Consider caste names; are they contested? A common assumption is that they are not.

'Relationships Based on Love and Relationships Based on Needs': Emerging Trends in Youth Sex Culture in Contemporary Urban Vietnam (pp287-313)
PHUONG AN NGUYEN (Lund University, Leeds University)
This paper addresses one of the important dimensions of the experience of youth in contemporary urban Vietnam; that is their sexual practices, behaviour and attitudes. Within a conceptual framework that focuses on sexuality and social change in a modernising and increasingly open society, and based on data collected from ethnographic fieldwork in Hanoi from 1999 to 2004, this paper describes an emerging sexual culture among urban youth. It highlights the emerging trends, issues, and activities which constitute youth sex culture in present-day urban Vietnam. It further argues that the emerging trends in youth sexual culture are reflective of rapid and diverse changes in Vietnamese society as well as the impacts of market reforms on its moral codes, values, and perceptions. There has been a continuation of the 'traditional' perceptions of gender roles (particularly the expectation of women to uphold propriety and chastity) and, at the same time, a recognition of the increasingly assertive role of young women in 'modern' sexuality and hence of increasing gender equality in this regard. Meanwhile, young Vietnamese nowadays form heterosexual relationships based on both the grammar of love and the grammar of the market.

Commercial World of Mancherji Khurshedji and the Dutch East India Company: A Study of Mutual Relationships (pp315-342)
GHULAM AHMAD NADRI (Institute for the History of European Expansion (IGEER), Leiden University)
On April 1st 1768, a Parsi servant of Mancherji Khurshedji, a merchant and -broker of the Dutch Company, came to Surat to whom another Parsi servant of Dhanjishah, a merchant under the English protection, asked wherefrom he came and without any further argument he inflicted a blow with his fist to the first mentioned who then fell down and meanwhile he gave him a slap, then the defender inflicted two pricks with his knife to the offender, many people witnessed this fight, and the Parsi who still had the knife in his hand, was attacked with bamboos with such force that the knife fell from his hand, he was further beaten up till he fell down.

Imperial Solution of a Colonial Problem: Bhils of Khandesh up to c. 1850 (pp343-367)
N. BENJAMIN and B. B. MOHANTY (Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune)
Khandesh region in Maharashtra is an extensive plain interspersed with ranges of hills. It is nearly surrounded by broad chains of mountains covered with vegetation. It was inhabited by the Bhils. They lived in hovels which often crested the tops of isolated hills where approach was immediately discovered and easily defended. They shifted to new habitats after a few weeks or months. Turbulent by disposition and skilful hunters by necessity, they obtained their supplies of roots, berries and game from the jungles. As Captain D. C. Graham put it, 'To barter anything but what was reaped by the hand of violence was an offence against the tribe; to cultivate or engage in mechanical craft deeply degrading; and no employment was considered to be correct which in any way interfered with the cherished burden of the long-bow, and the ponderous sheaf of arrows'.

Missionary Education, Religion and Knowledge in India, c.18801915 (pp369-394)
HAYDEN J. A. BELLENOIT (St Antony's College, University of Oxford)
Christian missionaries were some of the most influential actors in colonial India. Yet they only began working recently in relation to larger British influence in the subcontinent. Originally banned from the territories of the East India Company for fears of upsetting Indian religious sensibilities, they were allowed to operate after 1843 in parallel with a rising Utilitarian and evangelist fervour in Britain and within particular Company circles; the latter often blurred the distinctions between 'moral improvement', civilisation and Christianity. Missionaries were influential in the debate over sati and the subsequent outlaw of its practice. Protestant encounters with Hinduism and Islam were defined by the rhetoric of 'heathen' and 'unbelievers', as missionaries derided the 'idolatry' of Hinduism and 'bigotry' of Islam. Some of the first mission schools established were in the Bombay Presidency, Bengal and the Punjab. During this period missionaries ascribed utility to the corpus of western scholarship as an ally against Indian religions. They hoped to 'prove' their falsehoods. The primary way to do this was through western education, arguing that western scholarship was saturated with Christian morals and that such ethoses would transform Indians accordingly. This was a period when the symmetry between Christianity and western scholarship was championed by missionaries such as John Murdoch and Alexander Duff. After the Indian Mutiny (18578), missionaries were held in check (at least officially) by the colonial state as a means of avoiding upsetting Indian religious sensibilities. Yet, ironically, in northern India missionaries came to be relied upon by a cash-strapped Education Department. They came to dominate education and were credited with doing much to push the frontiers of western pedagogy in their efforts to propagate their faith.

The Court of Wards in a Princely State: Bank Robber or Babysitter? (pp395-420)
BENJAMIN B. COHEN (The University of Utah)
Scholarship on institutional history rarely brings the academe to a heightened state of excitement. However, when institutions cross spans of time and place while intersecting with multiple cultural identities and levels of power, things can become more captivating. An ideal institution for examination of this very process is the Court of Wards. Originally devised in Tudor England, the Court was later brought to India by members of the East India Company and put into wide use throughout the subcontinent. In India, its purpose was to shelter child heirs and their estates, eventually returning heir and estate to autonomy when ruling age was reached. However, while the Court in England and in India has received some critical review, we can extend its investigation one step further by examining its use in the 'other India', that of the princely states. How did this administrative unit become adopted and adapted to some of India's 560 princely states? To what degree were the Court and its administrators able to rectify an inherent tension within the Court's purpose? It was largely designed to protect child heirs and their estates, and return them in due time. But, in a princely state, in some circumstances, the ultimate 'owner' of any land was the chief prince. Did the Court mediate between the wishes of the ruling prince and his (or her) smaller 'little kings?' In short, to what extent was the Court of Wards at times a babysitter, and at other times a bank robber?

The Great Bengal Famine and the Question of FAD Yet Again (pp421-440 )
M. MUFAKHARUL ISLAM (Dhaka University and Independent University, Bangladesh)
The famine of 1943 cost the Bengal province some three millions lives. Following Amartya Sen's proposition that the famine was not caused by a significant decline in food availability as such the last two decades or so have witnessed a renewed scholarly interest in the subject. On the basis of a fresh look at the available crop statistics this essay supports his basic contention. But at the same time it argues that his proposition is not quite new. Secondly, it suggests that for a fuller understanding of the severity of the crisis it will not be enough to analyse the problem exclusively from the point of view of exchange entitlement failure and with reference to the events in 1943 or thereabout. In other words, the crisis needs to be viewed from a broader and larger perspective.

Modern Asian Studies (2007)
Copyright ©2007 Cambridge University Press

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