What does it mean when a city of 180,000 people has more than 5,000 women working as prostitutes? This question frames Vu Trong Phung’s 1937 classic reportage Luc Xi. In the late 1930s, Hanoi had a burgeoning commercial sex industry that involved thousands of people and hundreds of businesses. It was the center of the city’s nightlife and the source of suffering, violence, exploitation, and a venereal disease epidemic. For Phung, a popular writer and intellectual, it also raised disturbing questions about the state of Vietnamese society and culture and whether his country really was “progressing” under French colonial rule. Translator Shaun Kingsley Malarney’s thoughtful and multifaceted introduction provides historical background on colonialism, prostitution, and venereal disease in Vietnam and discusses reportage as a literary genre, political tool, and historical source. A fully annotated translation of Luc Xi follows, in which Phung takes readers into the heart of colonial Hanoi’s sex industry, portraying its female workers, the officials who attempted to regulate it, the doctors who treated its victims, and the secretive medical facility known as the Nha Luc Xi (“The Dispensary”), which examined prostitutes for venereal diseases and held them for treatment.
“Among the most celebrated works of Vietnamese non-fiction reportage, Vu Trọng Phụng’s Luc Xi illuminates the culture of prostitution and the politics of venereal disease prevention in colonial Hanoi. Shaun Malarney’s translation of the text is both elegant and accurate and his detailed introduction provides useful historical context while advancing an important argument about social imbalances embedded within the institutions of colonial medicine. This is an exceptional work of historical scholarship.” —Peter Zinoman, University of California, Berkeley
Southeast Asia: Politics Meaning and Memory
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3467-8 / $45.00 (CLOTH)
For centuries, Burmese have looked to the authority of their religious tradition, Theravada Buddhism, to negotiate social and political hierarchies. Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies, and Civil Society, by Juliane Schober, examines those moments in the modern history of this Southeast Asian country when religion, culture, and politics converge to chart new directions. Arguing against Max Weber’s characterization of Buddhism as other-worldly and divorced from politics, this study shows that Buddhist practice necessitates public validation within an economy of merit in which moral action earns future rewards. The intervention of colonial modernity in traditional Burmese Buddhist worldviews has created conjunctures at which public concerns critical to the nation’s future are reinterpreted in light of a Buddhist paradigm of power.
“Juliane Schober argues that Buddhist conceptions and practices are inevitably tied to conceptions of political power in social, economic, and political realms. In doing so she challenges as obsolete inherited categories of knowledge that define a normative view of Theravada Buddhism as otherworldly, nonpolitical, nonviolent, and ‘protestantized.’ Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar is essential reading for an understanding of the genealogies of hegemony and subjugation, patronage and resistance, and power and loss in contemporary Myanmar, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of Buddhism in Southeast Asia.” —Donald Swearer, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3382-4 / $49.00 (CLOTH)
What is it like to be in charge of a large public bureaucracy? Top-level state executives set agendas, formulate policies, turn legislative mandates into actions, oversee staff operations, develop and manage budgets, and generally influence (for better or worse) agency performance. In Backstage in a Bureaucracy: Politics and Public Service, Susan Chandler and Dick Pratt provide a first-hand day-to-day look at running a large bureaucracy. For eight years Chandler was the director of the Hawai‘i State Department of Human Services, where she managed more than 2,000 employees. Dick Pratt, a public administration professor, has advised a variety of public and private organizations in Hawai’i, the Pacific, and Asia.
“Chandler and Pratt capture with clarity, insight, and good humor the challenges and complexities of leadership in the government sector. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand or contribute through public service, and a cathartic experience for anyone who’s been there.” —Susan Doyle, president, Aloha United Way, and former state deputy director of commerce and consumer affairs
January 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3501-9 / $15.00 (PAPER)
Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics, by Niko Besnier, received an honorable mention for this year’s Edward Sapir Prize. The prize was established by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology in 2001 and is awarded in alternate years to a book that makes the most significant contribution to the understanding of language in society or the ways in which language mediates historical or contemporary sociocultural processes.
Manga is the backbone of Japanese popular culture, influencing everything from television, movies, and video games to novels, art, and theater. Shojo manga (girls’ comics) has been seminal to the genre as a whole and especially formative for Japanese girls’ culture throughout the postwar era. In Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga, Jennifer S. Prough examines the shojo manga industry as a site of cultural storytelling, illuminating the ways that issues of mass media, gender, production, and consumption are involved in the process of creating shojo manga.
“Straight from the Heart is a wonderful book, one that is timely and important in terms of academic interest in the anthropology of popular culture. Its originality lies in the author’s solid ethnographic approach to the topic and in her detailed description of the interactions between editors, artists, and consumers. Certainly it is time for such an in-depth English-language study of shojo manga. Prough’s work makes an important contribution to a number of fields—anthropology, Japan studies, gender/women’s studies, and cultural studies—and the writing style, organization, and length all make it an extremely attractive book for undergraduate course adoption.” —Laura Miller, Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3528-6 / $24.00 (PAPER)
Japan today protects one-seventh of its land surface in parks, which are visited by well over a billion people each year. Parkscapes: Green Spaces in Modern Japan, by Thomas R. H. Havens, analyzes the origins, development, and distinctive features of these public spaces. Havens shows how revolutionary officials in the 1870s seized private properties and converted them into public parks for educating and managing citizens in the new emperor-sanctioned state. Rebuilding Tokyo and Yokohama after the earthquake and fires of 1923 spurred the spread of urban parklands both in the capital and other cities. According to Havens, the growth of suburbs, the national mobilization of World War II, and the post-1945 American occupation helped speed the creation of more urban parks, setting the stage for vast increases in public green spaces during Japan’s golden age of affluence from the 1960s through the 1980s.
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3477-7 / $47.00 (CLOTH)