Transgender identities and other forms of gender and sexuality that transcend the normative pose important questions about society, culture, politics, and history. They force us to question, for example, the forces that divide humanity into two gender categories and render them necessary, inevitable, and natural. The transgender also exposes a host of dynamics that, at first glance, have little to do with gender or sex, such as processes of power and domination; the complex relationship among agency, subjectivity, and structure; and the mutual constitution of the global and the local.
Particularly intriguing is the fact that gender and sexual diversity appear to be more prevalent in some regions of the world than in others. Gender on the Edge is an exploration of the ways in which non-normative gendering and sexuality in one such region, the Pacific Islands, are implicated in a wide range of socio-cultural dynamics that are at once local and global, historical, and contemporary. The authors recognize that different social configurations, cultural contexts, and historical trajectories generate diverse ways of being transgender across the societies of the region, but they also acknowledge that these differences are overlaid with commonalities and predictabilities.
In 2008, 140 years after it had annexed Ainu lands, the Japanese government shocked observers by finally recognizing Ainu as an Indigenous people. In this moment of unparalleled political change, it was Uzawa Kanako, a young Ainu activist, who signalled the necessity of moving beyond the historical legacy of “Ainu studies.” Mired in a colonial mindset of abject academic practices, Ainu Studies was an umbrella term for an approach that claimed scientific authority vis-à-vis Ainu, who became its research objects. As a result of this legacy, a latent sense of suspicion still hangs over the purposes and intentions of non-Ainu researchers.
This major new volume seeks to re-address the role of academic scholarship in Ainu social, cultural, and political affairs. Placing Ainu firmly into current debates over Indigeneity, Beyond Ainu Studies provides a broad yet critical overview of the history and current status of Ainu research.
Although architecture continually responds to ascetic compulsions, as in its frequent encounter with the question of excess and less, it is typically considered separate from asceticism. In contrast, The Hermit’s Hutoffers original insight and explores the rich and mutual ways in which asceticism and architecture are played out in each other’s practices. Relying primarily on Buddhist materials, author Kazi K. Ashraf provides a complex narrative that stems from the simple structure of the hermit’s hut, showing how the significance of the hut resonates widely and how the question of dwelling is central to ascetic imagination. In exploring the conjunctions of architecture and asceticism, he breaks new ground by presenting ascetic practice as fundamentally an architectural project, namely the fabrication of a “last” hut.
This innovative book weaves together the fields of architecture, anthropology, religion, and philosophy to offer multidisciplinary and historical insights. It will appeal to readers with diverse interests and in a variety of disciplines—whether one is interested in the history of ascetic architecture in India, the concept of “home” in ancient India, or the theme of the body as building.
Ancient Ryukyu explores 30,000 years of human occupation in the Ryukyu Islands, from the earliest human presence in the region up to A.D. 1609 and the emergence of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It focuses on the unique geopolitical position of the islands, their environment, and the many human communities whose historical activities can be discerned. Drawing on the impressive work of dozens of local archaeologists who have brought the islands’ early history to life, Richard Pearson describes explorers and sojourners and colonists who arrived thousands of years ago, and their ancient trade links to Japan, Korea, and China.
Through analysis of work completed at about 120 sites described in dozens of rare Japanese government reports with limited circulation, Pearson is able to show that many modern features of the culture, politics, and economy of the Ryukyu Islands have very deep roots.
“This extremely important study in Pacific and island archaeology makes use of the huge database generated by Okinawan archaeology in the postwar era and places the Okinawan islands in the context of current theoretical debates within island archaeology in the Pacific and beyond. It is also a major study of premodern Okinawa. With its many valuable overviews and discussions, as well as its original analyses and interpretations, it will undoubtedly become the definitive text in English.” —Mark Hudson, Nishikyushu University
InThe Kanak Awakening, David Chappell examines the rise in New Caledonia of rival identity formations that became increasingly polarized in the 1970s. It explores in particular the emergence of activist discourses in favor of Kanak cultural nationalism and land reform, multiracial progressive sovereignty, or a combination of both aspirations. Most studies of modern New Caledonia focus on the violent 1980s uprising, which left deep scars on local memories and identities. Yet the genesis of that rebellion began with a handful of university students who painted graffiti on public buildings in 1969, and such activists discussed many of the same issues that face the country’s leadership today.
“This is a very valuable contribution to the literature on New Caledonia’s recent history and the search for Kanak identity in a world of decolonization. The author shows an excellent command of the literature, not only the discussions leading up to the ‘Melanesia 2000’ event but the long archaeological and anthropological record. It is a valuable synthesis of the ways in which the political and the cultural have connected to produce and interesting experiment of decolonization without independence.” —John Kim Munholland, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Minnesota
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