Much has been written about Natsume Soseki (1867–1916), one of Japan’s most celebrated writers. Known primarily for his novels, he also published a large and diverse body of short personal writings (shohin) that have long lived in the shadow of his fictional works. The essays, which appeared in the Asahi shinbun between 1907 and 1915, comprise a fascinating autobiographical mosaic, while capturing the spirit of the Meiji era and the birth of modern Japan. In Reflections in a Glass Door: Memory and Melancholy in the Personal Writings of Natsume Soseki, by Marvin Marcus, readers are introduced to a rich sampling of Soseki’s shohin. The writer revisits his Tokyo childhood, recalling family, friends, and colleagues and musing wistfully on the transformation of his city and its old neighborhoods. He painfully recounts his two years in London, where he immersed himself in literary research even as he struggled with severe depression. A chronic stomach ailment causes Soseki to reflect on his own mortality and what he saw as the spiritual afflictions of modern Japanese: rampant egocentrism and materialism. Throughout he adopts a number of narrative voices and poses: the peevish husband, the harried novelist, the convalescent, the seeker of wisdom.
“Author of a marvelously readable study of Mori Ogai, modern Japan’s other immovable mountain, Marcus here combines translation, biography, history, criticism, and analysis to guide the reader gracefully through the best of Soseki’s non-fictional (and semi-fictional) writing, illuminating both the major novels and the idiosyncratic mind that created them. An impressive work.” —Jay Rubin, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3306-0 / $49.00 (CLOTH)
The City in Southeast Asia: Patterns, Processes and Policy, by Peter J. Rimmer and Howard Dick, explores the ways of moving beyond outmoded paradigms of the Third World City. Under “Patterns,” the authors look at the “global cities” of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur, and then the national capitals of Bangkok, Jakarta, and Manila, in relation to the second cities of Chiang Mai, Surabaya, Cebu, and Penang. “Processes” focuses upon the privitization of climate through air-conditioned environments, the industrialization of consumption in the form of large shopping malls, the role of cities as platforms for the globalization strategies of Asian multinationals, and the contest at street-level between public and private space. Finally, “Policy” addresses governance and markets with regard to key issues in urban and land-use planning.
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3313-8 / $34.00 (PAPER)
Studies of the Tai world often treat “state” and “community” as polar opposites: the state produces administrative uniformity and commercialization while community sustains tradition, local knowledge, and subsistence economy. This assumption leads to the conclusion that the traditional community is undermined by the modern forces of state incorporation and market penetration. States rule and communities resist. Tai Lands and Thailand: Community and State in Southeast Asia, edited by Andrew Walker, takes a very different view. Using thematic and ethnographic studies from Thailand, Laos, Burma, and southern China, the authors describe modern forms of community where state power intersects with markets, livelihoods, and aspirations.
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3359-6 / $29.00 (PAPER)
Community still provides a rallying point for urban low-income residents of the off-street neighborhoods (kampung) in Yogyakarta and in other cities of Java. However, the nature of community changed dramatically during the economic and political transition that followed the fall of the Soeharto regime in Indonesia. Under Soeharto, kampung residents both cooperated in the supervision of their lives by the state and explored forms of sociality that gave some protection from collusion with the state. With the demise of the New Order and the rise of policies promoting decentralization, urban society changed under the impact of political reform, globalization, global and local patterns of consumerism, and kampung expressions of community. In Kampung, Islam and State in Urban Java, Patrick Guinness examines these processes in terms of economic, political and ritual patterns, and from the perspectives of kampung leaders and enterpreneurs, kampung youth, formal and casual labor, and NGO volunteers working in these neighborhoods.
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3360-2 / $32.00 (PAPER)
Painting has played a significant role in modern Vietnam. Postage stamps, billboards, and annual national exhibitions attest to its fundamental place in a country where painters may be hailed as national heroes and include among their number fervent nationalists, propagandists, even dissidents. As Vietnamese painting has gained prominence in the contemporary transnational art circuits of Southeast Asia, many artists have become millionaires, yet Vietnamese painting is generally overlooked in art history surveys of the region. Nora Taylor sets out here to change that. Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art engages with twentieth-century Vietnam through its artists and their works, providing a new angle on a country most often portrayed through the lens of war and politics.
“Painters in Hanoi adds important perspectives to the growing body of literature on contemporary Southeast Asian art, as it also illuminates the highly specific political, economic, and social conditions that shape but do not determine that art. Taylor’s deeply satisfying work further erodes unitary notions of an artistic modernity and the authority of Euro-American paradigms of art history and art making to explain art production throughout the world. She convincingly demonstrates that artistic identity never remains stable but is always asserted, tested, defined, and redefined in local and now global social worlds.” —Journal of Asian Studies
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3355-8 / $26.00 (PAPER)
Ambitious in its scope and scale, Natives and Exotics: World War II and Environment in the Southern Pacific, by Judith A. Bennett, ranges over rear bases and operational fronts from Bora Bora to New Guinea, providing a lucid analysis of resource exploitation, entangled wartime politics, and human perceptions of the vast Oceanic environment. Although the war’s physical impact proved significant and oftentimes enduring, it shows that the tropical environment offered its own challenges: Unfamiliar tides left landing craft stranded; unseen microbes carrying endemic diseases disabled thousands of troops. Weather, terrain, plants, animals—all played an active role as enemy or ally.
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3350-3 / $30.00 (PAPER)