Bookshelf Spotlight: Pilgrimage, Reflections, and Intersections

Featured Books

* After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist
* Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
* Southeast Asia: A Testament
* The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia
* Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia

After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist


by Clifford Geertz
Harvard University Press, 1996

“Suppose,” Clifford Geertz suggests, “having entangled yourself every now and again over four decades or so in the goings-on in two provincial towns, one a Southeast Asian bend in the road, one a North African outpost and passage point, you wished to say something about how those goings-on had changed.” A narrative presents itself, a tour of indices and trends, perhaps a memoir? None, however, will suffice, because in forty years more has changed than those two towns–the anthropologist, for instance, anthropology itself, even the intellectual and moral world in which the discipline exists. And so, in looking back on four decades of anthropology in the field, Geertz has created a work that is characteristically unclassifiable, a personal history that is also a retrospective reflection on developments in the human sciences amid political, social, and cultural changes in the world. An elegant summation of one of the most remarkable careers in anthropology, it is at the same time an eloquent statement of the purposes and possibilities of anthropology’s interpretive powers.

To view his two towns in time, Pare in Indonesia and Sefrou in Morocco, Geertz adopts various perspectives on anthropological research and analysis during the post-colonial period, the Cold War, and the emergence of the new states of Asia and Africa. Throughout, he clarifies his own position on a broad series of issues at once empirical, methodological, theoretical, and personal. The result is a truly original book, one that displays a particular way of practicing the human sciences and thus a particular–and particularly efficacious–view of what these sciences are, have been, and should become.

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Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism


by Benedict Anderson
Verso Books, 1983

A view of Islamic civilization that runs counter to that provided by 19th-century Western Orientalists and 20th-century Islamic fundamentalists. The novels cover a vast period, beginning with the conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century, via the liberation of Jerusalem by the armies of Saladin in the 12th century, to the rise and decline of the Ottoman Empire.

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Southeast Asia: A Testament


by George McTurnan Kahin
Routledge, 2002

Southeast Asia: A Testament covers the tragic history of post war Indonesia from its successful struggle against the Dutch to Suharto’s bloody overthrow of Sukarno in 1965. It also gives a personal account of the US involvement in Indochina, where George Kahin was an early critic of the Vietnam war and struggled to open the eyes of policy makers to the historical, political and military realities of the Vietnamese situation. Kahin also witnessed the reluctant involvement of Cambodia in the conflict, and the 1970 coup against Prince Sihanouk which paved the way for the Communist accession to power.

This book will be of interest to students of American diplomatic and foreign policy, Asian studies, and international relations. It is an engagingly written, often poignant personal account of George Kahin’s experiences in Southeast Asia, ad as such will also appeal to the general reader.

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The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia


by Barbara Watson Andaya
University of Hawai’i Press, 2006

“The Princess of the Flaming Womb,” the Javanese legend that introduces this pioneering study, symbolizes the many ambiguities attached to femaleness in Southeast Asian societies. Yet despite these ambiguities, the relatively egalitarian nature of male-female relations in Southeast Asia is central to arguments claiming a coherent identity for the region. This challenging work by senior scholar Barbara Watson Andaya considers such contradictions while offering a thought-provoking view of Southeast Asian history that focuses on women’s roles and perceptions. Andaya explores the broad themes of the early modern era (1500-1800)–the introduction of new religions, major economic shifts, changing patterns of state control, the impact of elite lifestyles and behaviors–drawing on an extraordinary range of sources and citing numerous examples from Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Philippine, and Malay societies.

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Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia


by Benedict Anderson
Solstice Publishing, 1990

In this lively book, Benedict R. O’G. Anderson explores the cultural and political contradictions that have arisen from two critical facts in Indonesian history: that while the Indonesian nation is young, the Indonesian nation is ancient originating in the early seventeenth-century Dutch conquests; and that contemporary politics are conducted in a new language. Bahasa Indonesia, by peoples (especially the Javanese) whose cultures are rooted in medieval times. Analyzing a spectrum of examples from classical poetry to public monuments and cartoons, Anderson deepens our understanding of the interaction between modern and traditional notions of power, the mediation of power by language, and the development of national consciousness. Language and Power, now republished as part of Equinox Publishing’s Classic Indonesia series, brings together eight of Anderson’s most influential essays over the past two decades and is essential reading for anyone studying the Indonesian country, people or language. Benedict Anderson is one of the world’s leading authorities on Southeast Asian nationalism and particularly on Indonesia. He is Professor of International Studies and Director of the Modern Indonesia Project at Cornell University, New York. His other works include Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism and The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World.

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