This special issue examines the artistic and creative practices emerging in East Asia and how they are gaining prominent status, not only in the art scene, but in society as a whole. Rather than mirroring social transformations, these groundbreaking practices initiate thought-provoking alternatives for both art and life. They have become instrumental for bringing forward new subjectivities and reshaping the intrinsic values of social and cultural well-being.
This Focus moves forward a long-stalled reconsideration to argue that the relationship between language, ethnicity, and identity in Burma is not necessarily set in stone. Rather, language may be one element informing an ongoing process that various groups engage in to define themselves in relation to others.
Across Central Asia, heritage sites and commemorative practices have become visual protagonists of a nationalist rhetoric. This special issue analyses cultural memory practices used by former and current Central Asian elites as a tool for boosting ethno-nationalism. Multiple commemorative sites serving as visual representations of the past are used to foster a sense of belonging and national pride among the multi-ethnic population. Guest editor Elena Paskaleva asks, how can these practices and local historical contingencies provide a better understanding of the search for national and religious identities in modern Central Asia?
After decades of de-urbanisation under the socialist economic regime, urban growth is now exploding in Vietnam: the country’s urban population has doubled since 1980. This Focus offers a fresh perspective on the production of urban forms, the reconfiguration of local governance, and the renegotiation of daily practices, mainly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Our intention is not only to highlight the path-breaking transformations taking place in today’s Vietnam, but also to contribute to the ‘Asianisation’ of urban studies’ paradigms through grounded analysis and interpretation, based on extensive fieldwork conducted with local colleagues in Vietnamese cities and neighbourhoods.
Perhaps a scholar who is, among others, responding to a developing Asia, to the evolving inclusiveness of Asian Studies, to the significance of language, and to the increasing demand for alternative scholarship. We put this question to our colleagues; their answers can be found in the pages of our Focus.
Even as borders are increasingly being bridged today through international cooperation, many border peoples across the world live precarious existences in military battle zones. Bringing together essays by anthropologists, historians, and ethnomusicologists, this Focus section refocuses the readers’ gaze on militarized borderlands in Asia. The articles portray the far-reaching impacts of militarization on those who live in the immediate proximity of the border, as well as on those who move away. All the articles share a concern for the travails of the people living in militarized borders, and their attempts to cope or overcome, in symbolic, material, and imagined forms.
The study of Central and Inner Asia faces a multitude of challenges, brought about by the break-up of the Soviet Union, the emergence of new states, the rise of China, the development of new national narratives, and a diminishing interest from Europe and the United States. This edition of the Focus addresses some of the problems, and proposes new policies to promote the proper understanding of a region that, to many, lies in a disregarded area on the map of the world.
In this edition of the Focus, guest editor Adele Esposito introduces the research perspective developed by a group of young scholars and heritage practitioners involved in the new MA Program ‘Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe’ (Leiden University). The first group of graduates, together with young scholars working on heritage in Asia, have collectively produced a ‘manifesto’ with the purpose of initiating a proactive and policy-oriented debate on the politics of heritage, to which all our readers are invited to contribute.
Can film directors be considered to be historians of some sort? Do documentaries capture the sign of the times? Do they act as agents of change? How do new generations of filmmakers deal with old histories? Scholars are familiar with close reading of texts, but do they similarly ‘close read’ images?
Through a dialogue on documentary film, Fridus Steijlen & Bart Barendregt spark the debate in this issue’s pullout section of the Focus.
Although the issue of violence against women (VAW) has received much attention, the scourge of violence in homes is far from being diminished. Though a universal phenomenon, VAW is also contextspecific. For the Focus in this issue of The Newsletter, seven scholars explore the question of family ambiguity within a comparative Asian context, especially as to how family norms and state laws in diverse national, cultural and religious settings interact to address or worsen the problem. By dealing with family ambiguity as a central critique of the domestic violence debate, they interrogate the gaps between concept, law and process.
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