at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

2015 ICAS Book Prize – Humanities


International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) | Book Prize

The ICAS Book Prize (IBP) has been established by the International Convention of Asia Scholars in 2004. It aims to create an international focus for publications on Asia while increasing their worldwide visibility. The biennial ICAS Book Prize is awarded for outstanding English-language works in the field of Asian Studies.

Archiving the  Unspeakable: Silence, Memory, Photographic Record in Cambodia
Michelle Caswell
ICAS Book Prize 2015 ‘Humanities’ – Shortlisted Title

Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.

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Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea 1300 – 1800
John N. Miksic
ICAS Book Prize 2015 ‘Social Sciences’ – Shortlisted Title

Beneath the modern skyscrapers of Singapore lie the remains of a much older trading port, prosperous and cosmopolitan and a key node in the maritime Silk Road. This book synthesizes 25 years of archaeological research to reconstruct the 14th-century port of Singapore in greater detail than is possible for any other early Southeast Asian city.

The picture that emerges is of a port where people processed raw materials, used money, and had specialized occupations. Within its defensive wall, the city was well organized and prosperous, with a cosmopolitan population that included residents from China, other parts of Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Fully illustrated, with more than 300 maps and colour photos, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea presents Singapore’s history in the context of Asia’s long-distance maritime trade in the years between 1300 and 1800: it amounts to a dramatic new understanding of Singapore’s pre-colonial past.

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The Chuilia in Penang: Patronage and Place-Making around the Kapitan Kling Mosque
Khoo Salma Nasution

ICAS Book Prize 2015 ‘Social Sciences’ – Shortlisted Title
ICAS Book Prize 2015 ‘Social Sciences’ – Winner IBP Colleagues’ Choice Award

Winner of ICAS 2015 Colleageus’ Choice Award! Tamil Muslims once known as Chulias prospered as traders of pelikat cloth, pepper and local products in the Straits of Malacca. In the nineteenth century, they enriched the port town of Penang with endowments for mosques, Sufi shrines, burial grounds, a water tank and an ashurkhanah, holding religious feasts and processions. The most valuable endowment in the Straits Settlements was that for a mosque and burial ground in George Town, granted in 1801 by the English East India Company. On this site, a South Indian vernacular mosque was founded by the leader of the Chulias, Kapitan Kling Cauder Mohuddeen, a Marakkayar shipowner, merchant and progenitor of the Merican clan. In the early twentieth century, the colonial government enacted an ordinance to take back the lands and modernize the townscape. In the process, they co-opted the traditional leadership and refashioned the mosque into a grand Indo-Saracenic symbol of British patronage over its Muslim subjects. The Chulias excelled as Malay scribes, clerks and land surveyors, and also as ship chandlers, stevedores and lighter owners in the port industry. Educated in English, Malay and Islamic schools, the local-born Chulias, called Jawi Pekan or Jawi Peranakan, became part of the cosmopolitan Muslim elite. They innovated the performing arts of Boria and Bangsawan and pioneered early Malay and Tamil print media in Penang, which helped give birth to modern vernacular discourses. Influenced by the Khilafat and Self-Respect Movements in India, they strengthened Tamil identity and started Tamil schools. For economic and political reasons, they formed the Muslim Merchants Society, the Muslim Mahajana Sabha and then the Muslim League, the last of which competed in Penangs city and settlement elections in the 1950s. The book looks at how this diaspora community living under the East India Company, then in the Straits Settlements and British Malaya evolved in response to the changing terms of colonial patronage.[button url=’http://www.amazon.com/The-Chulia-Penang-Patronage-Place-Making/dp/967571915X’ size=’small’ style=’orange’] More Information [/button]

A History of the Vietnamese 
K.W. Taylor
ICAS Book Prize 2015 ‘Social Sciences’ – Best Teaching Tool Accolade

he history of Vietnam prior to the nineteenth century is rarely examined in any detail. In this groundbreaking work, K. W. Taylor takes up this challenge, addressing a wide array of topics from the earliest times to the present day – including language, literature, religion and warfare – and themes – including Sino-Vietnamese relations, the interactions of the peoples of different regions within the country, and the various forms of government adopted by Vietnam throughout its history. A History of the Vietnamese is based on primary source materials, combining a comprehensive narrative with an analysis which endeavours to see the Vietnamese past through the eyes of those who lived it. Taylor questions long-standing stereotypes and clichés about Vietnam, drawing attention to sharp discontinuities in Vietnam’s past. Fluently written and accessible to all readers, this highly original contribution to the study of South-East Asia is a landmark text for all students and scholars of Vietnam.

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The Palm Oil Controversy in Southeast Asia
Oliver Pye and Jayati Bhattacharya (Editors)

ICAS Book Prize 2015 ‘Social Sciences’ – Edited Volume Accolade

“This engaged and vital edited volume brings together the varied viewpoints of academics, consultants and activists all concerned with the astonishing expansion of palm oil as a globally traded commodity. It reveals how this complex, contested and controversial expression of globalization transcends narrow national and sectoral interests, stimulating a transnational exchange of goods, capital and labour, as well as laws, norms, values and even understanding. Compelling, readable and insightful, the study shows that corporate responses to civil societys concerns about palm oils role in global warming, human rights abuses, land grabbing and biodiversity loss, now need to be complemented by legal, regulatory and governance reforms to be effective.”

—Marcus Colchester, Director, Forest Peoples Programme

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