Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power

1st Edition

Edited by Liana Chua, Joanna Cook, Nicholas Long, Lee Wilson


210 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Southeast Asia has undergone innumerable far-reaching changes and dramatic transformations over the last half-century. This book explores the concept of power in relation to these transformations, and examines its various social, cultural, religious, economic and political forms.

The book works from the ground up, portraying Southeast Asians’ own perspectives, conceptualizations and experiences of power through empirically rich case studies. Exploring concepts of power in diverse settings, from the stratagems of Indonesian politicians and the aspirations of marginal Lao bureaucrats, to mass ‘Prayer Power’ rallies in the Philippines, self-cultivation practices of Thai Buddhists and relations with the dead in Singapore, the book lays out a new framework for the analysis of power in Southeast Asia in which orientations towards or away from certain models, practices and configurations of power take centre stage in analysis. In doing so the book demonstrates how power cannot be pinned down to a single definition, but is woven into Southeast Asian lives in complex, subtle, and often surprising ways. 

Integrating theoretical debates with empirical evidence drawn from the contributing authors’ own research, this book is of particular interest to scholars and students of Anthropology and Asian Studies.

Table of Contents

Foreword: In search of power in Southeast Asia Victor T. King 1. Introduction: power and orientation in Southeast Asia Liana Chua, Joanna Cook, Nicholas Long and Lee Wilson 2. The subject of power in Southeast Asia Shelly Errington 3. Power, protection and perfectibility: aspiration and materiality in Thailand Joanna Cook 4. Sakti reconsidered: power and the disenchantment of the world Adrian Vickers 5. Landscape, power and agency in Eastern Indonesia Catherine Allerton 6. The symbolic appropriation of war-related objects by the Jorai of Northeast Cambodia Krisna Uk 7. The anthropology of a necessary mistake: the unsettled dead and the imagined state in contemporary Singapore Ruth E. Toulson 8. Privateers, politicians, prowess and power in Indonesia Loren Ryter 9. Bureaucratic migrants and the potential of prosperity in upland Laos Sarinda Singh 10. Living on the horizon of the everlasting present: power, planning, and the emergence of baroque forms of life in urban Malaysia Richard Baxstrom 11. Apparitions of sapiocracy: Vietnam’s emergent welfare state and the restless dead of Thanh Ha Markus Schlecker 12. From the power of prayer to prayer power: on religion and revolt in the modern Philippines Deirdre de la Cruz

About the Editors

Liana Chua is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Brunel University, West London, UK.

Joanna Cook is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

Nicholas Long is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Social Anthropology and a Junior Research Fellow at St Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Lee Wilson is a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, UK.

About the Series

The Modern Anthropology of Southeast Asia

The books in this series address issues in processes of development, globalisation and change in Southeast Asia. Where appropriate they contextualise change and local responses to it by providing ethnographic materials on social and cultural forms and institutions. Although all the contributors to the series examine modern and contemporary issues in the anthropology of Southeast Asia, the emphasis in each book differs as authors choose to concentrate on specific dimensions of change and globalisation or work out particular conceptual approaches to the complex issues of development. Areas of concern include: nation-building, power and the media; technological innovations in agriculture and rural-urban migration; the expansion of industrial and commercial employment; the rapid increase in cultural and ethnic tourism; the consequences of deforestation and environmental degradation; heritage and identity; contemporary expressions of religious affliliation; the 'modernisation of tradition'; ethnic identity and conflict; changing gender relations; and the religious transformation of society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies