Bookshelf Spotlight: Religions of Southeast Asia

Featured Books

* Hinduism in Modern Indonesia: A Minority Religion Between Local, National and Global Interests
* Islam in Southeast Asia (Southeast Asia Background Series)
* Old Catholic and Philippine Independent Ecclesiologies in History (Brill’s Series in Church History)
* Print and Power: Confucianism, Communism, and Buddhism in the Making of Modern Vietnam (Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, and Memory)
* The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religious Studies)

Hinduism in Modern Indonesia: A Minority Religion Between Local, National and Global Interests


by Martin Ramstedt
RoutledgeCurzon, 2003

This book provides new data and perspectives on the development of ‘world religion’ in post-colonial societies through an analysis of the development of ‘Hinduism’ in various parts of Indonesia from the early twentieth century to the present. This development has been largely driven by the religious and cultural policy of the Indonesian central government, although the process began during the colonial period as an indigenous response to the introduction of modernity.

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Islam in Southeast Asia (Southeast Asia Background Series)


by Hussin Mutalib
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008

Islam is a major religion in Southeast Asia, with Indonesian Muslims comprising the largest Muslim population in the world. Events and developments since 11 September 2001 have added greater attention to Islam and its adherents in this part of the world. This general survey of Islam in Southeast Asia is intended to inform, explain and update readers about the more significant aspects of Islam in Southeast Asia, then and now. These include the following: the geographical origins and sources by which the faith spread in this region; the social, economic and political profiles of the Muslim communities; relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and between Muslims and the State; the strands and trends that shapes the role of Islam and the Muslims in the national body politic; and the challenges confronting Muslims in confronting the vicissitudes of their lives in this era of rapid change, characterized by modernization, capitalism, secularization and globalization. The discussion will begin with an overview of the broad picture of Islam and the Muslims in the region as a whole, covering both Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries. This will be followed by case-study analysis of Islam and the Muslims in individual countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Given the difficulty of writing on such a complex and contentious topic, this book attempts to present the subject matter in a manner that is sufficiently objective to scholars and yet simple and accessible enough to be readily understood by ordinary readers.

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Old Catholic and Philippine Independent Ecclesiologies in History (Brill’s Series in Church History)


by Peter-Ben Smit
Brill Publishing, 2011

This study researches the historical development of the self-understanding of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Throughout the 20th century, both churches have been in a developing relationship with each other, resulting in full communion in 1965. In the same time period, both churches developed an ecclesiological self-understanding in which an ecclesiology of the national church gradually gave way to an ecclesiology of the local church. By outlining this development for each of these two churches and comparing the developments, the study gives insight both into the individual development of the two churches involved and shows how these developments relate to each other. In this way, the study presents a new historical portrait of these churches and their self-understanding.

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Print and Power: Confucianism, Communism, and Buddhism in the Making of Modern Vietnam (Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, and Memory)


edited by Shawn Frederick McHale
University of Hawaii Press, 2008

In this ambitious and path-breaking book, Shawn McHale challenges long held views that define modern Vietnamese history in terms of anticolonial nationalism and revolution. McHale argues instead for a historiography that does not overstress either the role of politics in general or Communism in particular. Using a wide range of sources from Vietnam, France, and the United States, many of them previously unexploited, he shows how the use of printed matter soared between 1920 and 1945 and in the process transformed Vietnamese public life and shaped the modern Vietnamese consciousness.
Print and Power begins with an overview of Vietnam’s lively public spheres, bringing debates from Europe and the rest of Asia to Vietnamese studies with nuance and sophistication. It examines the impact of the French colonial state on Vietnamese society as well as Vietnamese and East Asian understandings of public discourse and public space. Popular taste, rather than revolutionary or national ideology, determined to a large extent what was published, with limited intervention by the French authorities. A vibrant but hierarchical public realm of debate existed in Vietnam under authoritarian colonial rule.

The work goes on to contest the impact of Confucianism on premodern and modern Vietnam and, based on materials never before used, provides a radically new perspective on the rise of Vietnamese communism from 1929 to 1945. Novel interpretations of the Nghe Tinh soviets (1930-1931), the first major communist uprising in Vietnam, and Vietnamese communist successes in World War II built an audience for their views and made an extremely alien ideology comprehensible to growing numbers of Vietnamese. In what is by far the most thorough examination in English of modern Vietnamese Buddhism and its transformations, McHale argues that, contrary to received wisdom, Buddhism was not in decline during the 1920-1945 period; in fact, more Buddhist texts were produced in Vietnam at that time than at any other in its history. This finding suggests that the heritage of the Vietnamese past played a crucial role in the late colonial period.

Print and Power makes a significant contribution to Vietnamese and Asian studies and will be of compelling interest to those in the fields of comparative religion and European colonialism.

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The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religious Studies)>


by Donald Swearer
State University of New York Press, 2010

An unparalleled portrait, Donald K. Swearer’s The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia has been a key source for all those interested in the Theravada homelands since the work’s publication in 1995. Expanded and updated, the second edition offers this wide-ranging account for readers at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Swearer shows Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia to be a dynamic, complex system of thought and practice embedded in the cultures, societies, and histories of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. The work focuses on three distinct yet interrelated aspects of this milieu. The first is the popular tradition of life models personified in myths and legends, rites of passage, festival celebrations, and ritual occasions. The second deals with Buddhism and the state, illustrating how King Asoka serves as the paradigmatic Buddhist monarch, discussing the relationship of cosmology and kingship, and detailing the rise of charismatic Buddhist political leaders in the postcolonial period. The third is the modern transformation of Buddhism: the changing roles of monks and laity, modern reform movements, the role of women, and Buddhism in the West.

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