Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power

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Liana Chua, Joanna Cook, Nicholas Long, Lee Wilson
Routledge, May 4, 2012 - Social Science - 210 pages

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.


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Power and orientation in Southeast Asia
2 The subject of power in Southeast Asia
Aspiration and materiality in Thailand
Power and the disenchantment of the world
5 Landscape power and agency in Eastern Indonesia
6 The symbolic appropriation of warmade objects by the Jorai of Northeast Cambodia
The unsettled dead and the imagined state in contemporary Singapore
8 Privateers politicians prowess and power
9 Bureaucratic migrants and the potential of prosperity in upland Laos
Power planning and the emergence of baroque forms of life in urban Malaysia
Vietnams emergent welfare state and the restless dead of Thanh Ha
On religion and revolt in the modern Philippines

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About the author (2012)

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.

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