Cambodge Wins Major SEA Studies Book Award

Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, 1860–1945, by Penny Edwards, was awarded the Harry J. Benda Prize at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting in March 2009.

“In Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, Penny Edwards examines brilliantly the metamorphosis of the kingdom of Cambodia into the French-Khmer colonial entity of Cambodge—the chrysalis from which today’s Cambodia has emerged. Demonstrating a masterful command of scholarship and of archival, literary, and popular sources, Edwards reveals not a simple dance of colonial domination and resistance but an array of complex collaborations through which Khmer subjects adapted, and embraced as their own, processes set in train by the French: to iconize and secularize Angkor Vat; to promote a Khmer Buddhism separate from Thai influence and free of hoary superstitions; and to root ‘Khmerness’ both in a romanticized antiquity and France-led modernity.

In a narrative that is elegantly crafted and ultimately gripping, Edwards links the colonial world of schools, research institutes, and print culture and of museums, monuments, and tourism to the post-colonial nation-building projects of Sihanouk, Lon Nol, and Pol Pot. In doing so, she brings legibility to highly theorized subjects such as hybridity, authenticity, and nationalism and both complicates and enriches our understanding of the colonial era and its legacies in modern Southeast Asia—demonstrating, as Harry J. Benda did, how rigorous historical scholarship can expose surprising ways in which the past is complicit in the present.”

Begin Here Receives Honorable Mention for AAAS Book Award

Begin Here: Reading Asian North American Autobiographies of Childhood, by Rocío G. Davis, will receive an Honorable Mention for the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) 2007 Literacy Studies Book Award. The award will be presented at this week’s AAAS Annual Meeting in Honolulu.

“Informed by the latest developments in postmodern and postcolonial autobiography theory, this vital work focuses on 50 autobiographies of childhood written by Asian Americans in North America. . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice

Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines

Scholars have long assumed that Spanish colonial rule had only a limited demographic impact on the Philippines. Filipinos, they believed, had acquired immunity to Old World diseases prior to Spanish arrival; conquest was thought to have been more benign than what took place in the Americas because of more enlightened colonial policies introduced by Philip II. Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines, by Linda A. Newson, illuminates the demographic history of the Spanish Philippines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and, in the process, challenges these assumptions.

“The book is truly remarkable in breadth and depth and has the power of a prosecuting attorney’s relentless presentation of a damning circumstantial case: the reader’s resistance gives way under the sheer weight of the evidence. We hear many different voices (some ecclesiastical, some civil or military) reiterating the same sad tale of depopulation and slow recovery. Others have, on less evidence, surmised some of this story of loss, but no one before has effectively estimated its depth or duration. The tale deserves to be told.” —Norman G. Owen, editor, The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia

April 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3272-8 / $56.00 (CLOTH)

A Companion to Grammata Serica Recensa

Minimal Old Chinese and Later Han Chinese: A Companion to Grammata Serica Recensa succeeds admirably in the goals the author has set for it. The introduction is the clearest and most useful document of its kind I have seen in recent years. It lays out in relatively few pages what others have heretofore taken reams to express. The body of the work gives the reader the entire syllable inventory of Old Chinese in a clear and useful format. The index and finding list are well organized and allow quick access to the material in the text. I predict that it will become a standard handbook for sinologists in general, just as Kalgren’s Grammata Serica and Grammata Serica Recensa have been during the past sixty years.” —W. South Coblin, University of Iowa

“The present work will fill the need for an updated and easy-to-use source for citing the various historically reconstructed stages of Chinese. It retains the basic structure of Karlgren’s early works with one big difference: the inclusion of an additional historical stage, Later Han Chinese. [Axel] Schuessler’s work will allow a much wider audience to access the most important result of Chinese historical phonology, especially those not interested in specializing in the study of historical phonology. It will also be a helpful resource for the linguist who, although familiar with the linguistic literature concerning Old Chinese, often needs a convenient way to look up reconstructions. Even those given to a more speculative turn of mind may well find that their work is greatly facilitated by Schuessler’s book. I believe that in a short time Minimal Old Chinese and Later Han Chinese will become a standard reference on the active sinologist’s bookshelf.” —Jerry Norman, University of Washington

April 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3264-3 / $58.00 (CLOTH)

Fundamental Spoken Chinese

Fundamental Spoken Chinese, by Robert Sanders and Nora Yao, introduces most of the basic grammatical patterns of modern spoken Mandarin in a carefully planned, graduated fashion. Every chapter follows the same organizational format and includes: key grammar points, new vocabulary items arranged by part of speech, sentence patterns, and four or five short dialogues illustrating contextual use of each new grammar pattern and vocabulary item. Non-technical explanations of grammar are written from the perspective of the English-speaking learner and are illustrated with multiple sentences in simple chart form. When appropriate, vocabulary and culture notes are provided, together with numerous drills, exercises, and in-class activities. Finally, English-Chinese translation exercises help determine how well students have mastered the chapter’s grammar and vocabulary.

“The course set out in Fundamental Spoken Chinese and Fundamental Written Chinese provides a thorough training in all the skills that a learner needs to reach a basic level of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese as well as a solid foundation for more advanced study. Fundamental Spoken Chinese is marvelously executed. The explanations of grammar and usage are exceptionally clear, the best I’ve ever seen in a textbook. The charts used to illustrate grammatical constructions are easy to follow, and the examples are well chosen for maximal clarity. The dialogues are naturalistic and well keyed to everyday situations, as is the vocabulary. Fundamental Written Chinese has many of the same virtues as its companion volume. Like Fundamental Spoken Chinese, Fundamental Written Chinese not only teaches the content of the lesson but also inculcates habits essential for further learning. The emphasis on explaining characters explicitly in terms of radicals and phonetics is an example of the kind of approach that makes for successful advanced learners. The two books are designed to be flexible so that teachers of various approaches can use them either to introduce the spoken and written skills simultaneously or to introduce writing after the spoken language has progressed to a certain level. Teachers and learners are provided with all the basic tools needed in one well-designed package.” —Mark Hansell, Carleton College

April 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3156-1 / $39.00 (PAPER)