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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 11:20 02/02/2009
Journal Abstracts #317: February 2, 2009

Modern Asian Studies

Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 42 - Issue 06 - November 2008
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099

Research Articles

The Wong Lineage Land: Property and Belonging in the New Territories of Hong Kong in 1904 (pp1079-1111)
GÖRAN AIJMER (Gothenburg Research Institute)
This essay explores the distribution of the ownership of land in a coastal village in the New Territories of Hong Kong at the beginning of the last century. The study examines land and houses as indices of relative wealth in a poor community. Above all, it points to the discursive social use of land as a genealogical tract in an area where written genealogies would have been scarce or nonexisting. Belonging in terms of agnatic continuity and its ramifications over time were mapped out in the agricultural landscape to form a complete depicting graph.

Hunan: Laboratory of Reform and Land of Revolution: Hunanese in the Making of Modern China (pp1113-1136)
ZHENG YANGWEN (School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Hunan produced the largest number and most able leaders for the Chinese Communist Party. How could this land-locked, sleepy and conservative province produce so many revolutionaries? This article examines the consequences of three consecutive political theatres and their actors that turned Hunan into a laboratory of reform and land of revolution. It focuses on what three generations of Hunanese did that pushed Hunan into and kept the province in the national spotlight. The Hunanese, be they Qing loyalists, constitutional reformers, Han nationalists or communists, dominated China's political stage from the 1850s to the 1980s. They were patriotic and pragmatic in their patriotism. Would the Communist Revolution have been so fundamental and bloody had Champagne liberals or those with no militarist tradition controlled the helm? With the tide of Hunan gone, we must re-examine this province to see how it had shaped and changed the course of modern China.

Building Up Modernity?: The Changing Spatial Representations of State Power in a Chinese Socialist "Model Community" (pp1137-1171)
WING CHUNG HO (City University of Hong Kong)
This essay looked into how a group of residents in a Chinese community negotiated with the ideological tropes inscribed in the spatial, which aimed to build up state–people trust on the future course of national development. Under investigation was a slum-turned-socialist-model community called "Cucumber Lane" in two historical junctures in which its spatial settings were radically reorganized. It was argued that the two spatial reorganizations exemplified two major state-led projects of modernity, each of which entailed a specific representation of space that ideologically adumbrated a specific course of national development. It was found that while the residents welcomed the project of modernity launched in the 1960s with enthusiasm, they received the other in the 1990s largely with apathy, and even with mistrust and disbelief.

Who Would Marry a Strong Woman? A Short Story by Bhagvaticharan Varma (pp1173-1187)
THEO DAMSTEEGT (Kern Institute, Leiden University, The Netherlands)
In Varma's story 'Pata-banethi', a robust young man refuses to marry a female student when he finds out that she is trained in defensive violence, as a virangana. At first sight, the story appears to draw attention to the difficulties women trained like men in fighting will have in getting married and finding a place in society. An analysis of characterisation, however, suggests that Varma's story goes against such a stereotypic male evaluation of strong women, and actually underlines the social and political value of violence controlled by mental strength, a value that can be recognised by both men and women.

Inaccurate Conceptions: Disputed Measures of Nutritional Needs and Famine Deaths in Colonial India (pp1189-1212)
DAVID HALL-MATTHEWS (School of Politics and International Studies, Leeds University)
From the 1870s onwards, debates about famine policy were central to both colonial and nationalist conceptions of the role, effectiveness and legitimacy of the state in India. Although opinions on how best to relieve famines varied, ideological opposition to a narrow laissez-faire paradigm was given short shrift in the years preceding the formulation of the Indian Famine Codes. However, specific empirical critiques of the making and implementing of famine policy were more effective. This article explores the ways in which such challenges put scientific and statistical experts within the colonial edifice at odds with those at the top of the political hierarchy, focusing on disputes over relief wages and famine mortality calculations between Sir Richard Temple and Surgeon-Major W. R. Cornish. It further examines how proto-nationalist groups and newspapers seized on the value given to statistics by the state to hold it to account for its failure to relieve famine.

Fazlul Huq, Region and Religion in Bengal: The Forgotten Alternative of 1940–43 (pp1213-1249)
SANA AIYAR ( Department of History, Harvard University, Robinson Hall, 35 Quincy Street, Cambridge MA 02138 USA)
In the wake of the Government of India Act of 1935, provincial politics emerged as a challenge to the authority and legitimacy of all-India, centralised political parties. While the Congress and the Muslim League set up a binary opposition between secular and religious nationalism, provincial politicians refused to succumb to the singularity of either alternative. Partition historiography has been concerned with the interplay of national and communal ideologies in the 1940s, overshadowing this third trajectory of regional politics that was informed by provincial particularities. This article traces a short-lived alternative that emerged in Bengal between 1940 and 1943 under the premiership of Fazlul Huq. Huq produced a peculiar form of identity politics that appealed not only to religious sentiment but also to regional loyalty that cut across the religious divide. Significantly, he did so without resorting to secular claims. By challenging Jinnah's claim to being the sole spokesman of Muslims in India and highlighting the different concerns of a province with a Muslim majority, Huq reconciled the twin identities of religion and region within the same political paradigm, and foreshadowed the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971.

Secularism and the Gujarat State: 1960–2005 (pp1251-1281)
NIKITA SUD (University of Oxford)
Secularism has been a defining norm for the modern, liberal Indian state. The constitutionally secular Gujarat state is believed to have undergone a paradigmatic shift in 2002, when it supported a massacre of Muslim citizens. This article investigates the empirical as well as normative state in situations of inter-religious violence. It traces the journey of the secular norm over a 45-year period, in the context of contests over identity, political ideology and socio-political dominance. The picture that emerges is much more nuanced than that projected by stark pronouncements of paradigm shifts and the inauguration of a Hindu rashtra.

Modern Asian Studies (2008)
Copyright ©2007 Cambridge University Press

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