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Unformatted text preview: FIGURES OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN MODERNITY Edited by JOSHUA BARKER, ERIK HARMS, and JOHAN LINDQUIST FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY figures of southeast asian modernity FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY figures of southeast asian modernity Edited by Joshua Barker, Erik Harms, and Johan Lindquist UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I PRESS Honolulu FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY © 2014 University of Hawai‘i Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 18   17   16   15   14   13     6   5   4   3   2   1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Figures of Southeast Asian modernity / edited by Joshua Barker, Erik Harms, and Johan Lindquist. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8248-3646-7 (alk. paper)―ISBN 978-08248-3741-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Southeast Asia―Social conditions―21st century. 2. Southeast Asia―Social life and customs―21st century. 3. Southeast Asia―Biography. I. Barker, Joshua, editor of compilation. II. Harms, Erik, Ph. D., editor of compilation. III. Lindquist, Johan, editor of compilation. HN690.8.A8F54 2013 305.800959―dc23 2012029391 University of Hawai‘i Press books are printed on acidfree paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Council on Library Resources. Designed by Julie Matsuo-Chun Printed by Sheridan Books, Inc. FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY contents cknowledgments A rologue P Ulf Hannerz ix xi Introduction Joshua Barker, Erik Harms, and Johan Lindquist 1 The Philippines Smita Lahiri and Deirdre de la Cruz 1 19 Domestic Helper Chinese Mestizo Filipino Seaman Public Manager Lawless Element Agriculturalist Bakla Returnee Call Center Agent Community Health Worker Beauty Contestant 2 Vietnam Petty Trader Prostitute Domestic Investor Enterprising Cadre Soviet-Trained Scientist Aspiring Overseas Student Cham H’Roi Girl Mountain Village Head Photo Retoucher José B. Capino 23 Richard T. Chu 25 Kale Bantigue Fajardo 27 Anna Romina Guevarra 29 Orlando de Guzman 32 Adam Lukasiewicz 34 Martin F. Manalansan 36 Jan M. Padios 38 Mai M. Taqueban 41 T. Ruanni F. Tupas 43 Erik Harms 46 Ann Marie Leshkowich 49 Christophe Robert 52 Allison Truitt 54 Ken MacLean 56 Christina Schwenkel 59 Erik Harms 61 Truong Huyen Chi 63 Christian C. Lentz 65 Nina Hien 67 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY vi Contents Cultural Expert Vietnamese Transnational(s) 3 Cambodia Cham Modernizer World Musician Village Police Chief Broken Woman (Buddhist) Ascetic Government Official 4 Laos Miss Beer Lao Mobile Phone Monk Mitigation Expert Hippie, Interrupted Beleaguered Village Leader 5 Thailand Grassroots Woman Leader Bangkok Slum Leader Transnational Farmworker Thai Airways Flight Attendant Kickboxer Single Woman Rural DJ Spirit Medium Hmong-Thai Schoolgirl 6 Indonesia Multimedia Expert Muslim Television Preacher Spiritual Trainer Person with HIV/AIDS Activist Ex-Combatant NGO Worker Overseas Female Labor Migrant Field Agent Street Vendor Street Kid(s) Mr. Hajj Rich Person Career Woman 7 Malaysia National Leader Reactionary Lauren Meeker 70 Ivan Small 72 Jonathan Padwe 75 Alberto Pérez-Pereiro 78 Stephen Mamula 80 Eve Zucker 82 Annuska Derks 84 Erik Davis 86 Jenna Grant 89 Jerome Whitington 91 Holly High 95 Patrice Ladwig 97 Michael Dwyer 99 N. J. Enfield 101 Jerome Whitington 104 Jane M. Ferguson 107 LeeRay Costa 110 Pilapa Esara 113 Sudarat Musikawong 115 Jane M. Ferguson 117 Pattana Kitiarsa 119 Emily Zeamer 121 Julia Cassaniti 123 Andrew Johnson 125 Tracy Pilar Johnson 127 Joshua Barker and Johan Lindquist 130 Karen Strassler 133 James Hoesterey 136 Daromir Rudnyckyj 138 Tom Boellstorff 141 Doreen Lee 143 Jesse Grayman 146 Aryo Danusiri 148 Rachel Silvey 152 Johan Lindquist 154 Sheri Gibbings 156 Chris Brown 159 Dadi Darmadi 162 Joshua Barker 165 Carla Jones 167 Yeoh Seng Guan 170 Sven Alexander Schottmann 174 Gerhard Hoffstaedter 176 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY Contents vii Scholar-Musician Hang Tuah, Revisited Supra-Ethnic Malaysian Political Satirist Squatter Returning Urbanite Timber Entrepreneur 8 Singapore Malay Gangster Bangladeshi Worker Woman Activist The Peri-Urban Tenant The People’s Filmmaker Schoolteacher Social Entrepreneur 9 Burma Urban Dumsa Journalist Political Prisoner Exile Sex Worker in Thailand Tatmadaw Officer Korean Soap Opera Junkie Entrepreneur Indie Musician Epilogue Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied 179 Rusaslina Idrus 181 Julian C. H. Lee 183 Khoo Gaik Cheng 185 Yeoh Seng Guan 188 Matthew Amster 190 Michael Eilenberg 192 Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied 195 Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir 198 Md Mizanur Rahman 200 Yu-Mei Balasingamchow 203 Loh Kah Seng 205 Liew Kai Khiun 207 Adeline Koh 209 Erik Holmberg 211 Nicholas Farrelly 214 Mandy Sadan Aung Naing Thu (pseudonym) 218 220 222 225 227 229 232 234 236 Benedict Anderson 240 Thomas Kean David Scott Mathieson David Gilbert and Violet Cho Ikuko Okamoto Jacqueline Menager Aung Si Nicholas Farrelly Notes Further Reading Contributors Thematic Index FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY 247 279 285 295 FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY acknowledgments This book is the product of a set of dialogues that began at Stockholm University in 2006, continued on a panel at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in 2008, and reached fruition at a workshop at Yale University in 2010. We are grateful to all the people who contributed to these dialogues. We are especially thankful to Rosalind Morris, Xiang Biao, Joe Errington, and Ben Kiernan, all of whom provided incisive comments that shaped our thinking just as our plans for the book were beginning to take shape. Mike McGovern provided invaluable comments on the introduction, and Andrew Carruthers and two anonymous reviewers gave us many helpful suggestions for improving the entire manuscript. At the University of Hawai‘i Press we would like to thank Pamela Kelley for her ongoing enthusiasm and support for the project, Cheri Dunn for managing the transformation of the manuscript into a book, and Lee S. Motteler for careful copyediting. The dialogues that underpin the book were made possible through the support of a number of funding agencies and institutions, including the Swedish School of Advanced Asia Pacific Studies, the Yale University Council on Southeast Asian Studies, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education, and the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund administered by the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale. We thank Quang Phu Van, Indriyo K. Sukmono, Michael Dove, Kristine Mooseker, and Yale graduate students for helping to make the Yale Workshop the success that it was. We are also grateful to Behzad FOR PERSONAL ix USE ONLY x Acknowledgments Sarmadi and Jean Chia, who worked on the index and helped prepare the final manuscript for submission.­ Finally, we are indebted to Cornell Southeast Asia Publications for permission to republish portions of an earlier article that helped set the stage for this book: Joshua Barker, Johan Lindquist, et al., “Figures of Indonesian Modernity,” Indonesia 87 (April 2009): 35–72. FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY prologue Ulf Hannerz My visits to Southeast Asia have been rather few and far between, but as the manuscript of Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity comes into my hands, I am reminded of some particular moments and experiences. My first encounter with the region was in early May 1975, when I arrived in Bangkok—and it was only a few days after Saigon had (as the common term had it) “fallen,” and the long war in Vietnam was finally over. According to the widely accepted “domino theory,” it would be Bangkok next. That prospect was anxiously debated in at least some quarters of the city those days. A little later, in Penang, I made my first acquaintance with an important Southeast Asian institution, the food court—at the time not yet so common elsewhere in the world, but to my mind a sort of tropical megaversion of a smorgasbord—and I also had my first taste of the durian fruit. Then in 1987, I happened to arrive in Manila just a few days after a coup attempt by a dashing young colonel, “Gringo” Honasan. It was not yet quite clear whether the attempt was really over. There were soldiers behind sandbags here and there in the streets. Nobody seemed quite sure where “Gringo” was: still in the city? In the forest? On an American gunboat, outside the harbor? The so-called mosquito press, tabloids in black-and-red print that had emerged after the fall of the Marcos regime, seemed to spread rumors and speculations efficiently. And then Corazon Aquino, still president despite “Gringo’s” endeavor, went on television to speak to the nation. She started out, spectacles on, speaking in English, reading from a manuscript. Then she made a very brief pause, took her glasses off, looked straight into FOR PERSONAL xi USE ONLY xii Prologue the camera, and continued speaking in Pilipino—at which point, of course, I was lost. A couple of months later, when I was in Kuala Lumpur, there was the moment when Prime Minister Mohathir Mohamad targeted a varied set of people whom he defined as adversaries, placing them in detention, in what became known as Operation Lalang. (In Khoo Gaik Cheng’s account of Malaysian political satire in this volume, we are reminded in passing of this event.) Recently in Singapore (2011), I found public attention focused on a new book featuring an interview with Lee Kuan Yew, father of the city-state, by a set of local journalists. Lee, now in his late eighties, still with a unique official­ position as minister mentor (abbreviated MM in the media), apparently as self-confident as ever and still a man of strong opinions, had offered some views on the place of Muslims (in this context, basically meaning Malays) in society, and then the current prime minister, who also happens to be the minister mentor’s son, had to display his capacity for damage control. In a study I did of news media foreign correspondents some time ago, I noted that there is a type known in the trade as “parachutists” or “firemen.”1 These are the newspeople who hurry in to a place briefly, mostly to report on some crisis, and then depart just as quickly. This is in contrast to the correspondents who are based for some considerable time in a single place or region and have a chance to acquire a great deal of local knowledge. With regard to Southeast Asia, I have been if anything a sort of parachute anthropologist, showing up very occasionally and briefly. (But then, these visits are mostly not in moments of real crisis, so there the parallel with the newspeople breaks down; and in fact I have tended not to do much reporting on these occasions either.) As with these other parachutists, however, it may turn out that when I come back to a place, it is after a fairly long time. (Parachutists are often veterans.) And so I notice the changes. Consequently when I read this book, which is very much a document of early twenty-first-century Southeast Asia, I am struck by one thing: Even though Southeast Asia includes metropoles exhibiting great affluence as well as pockets of both urban and rural misery, it has now become a single region in a single world. We are reminded occasionally, by those with a sense of history, that the notion of “Southeast Asia” was in large part a strategically useful product of the period after World War II. Mostly, before then, Western scholarship had tended to keep the area divided into the parts belonging to three—or even four—European empires. But then as it began to turn into that entity with one regional identity, Southeast Asia was again dramatically divided. Those days of my first visit to Bangkok, the times of domino theory, were in the climactic period of that divide. What some now refer to as World FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY Prologue xiii War III was, in much of the world, only a Cold War. For a long stretch of time, it was particularly in Southeast Asia that it was a real hot war. And the Bamboo Curtain may have sounded rather more idyllic than an Iron Curtain, but it was nonetheless a matter of a real divide. Now, as these portrayals of twenty-first-century Southeast Asians show us, there is a lively flux of people—or at least of ideas—across boundaries­ in an interconnected region, as well as beyond. You can read in this book about Huong, aka Kat, a student in Hanoi, with her e-mail address [email protected]­yeehaw.com, and her ambition to seek higher education somewhere in one of the best universities of the United States (although she cannot even afford the postage to send in her application). I see this for myself on a Sunday afternoon at the Lucky Plaza shopping center, Orchard Road, Singapore, when Filipina domestic workers congregate to have a snack, chat, and send their remittances to their families at home. Then too, of course, in response to globalization rhetoric with too shallow a time perspective, scholars remind us that certain things are really not so new. This is a region with very old transnational connections, not least across the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.2 It is also true that the political allegiances of the fairly recent past can occasionally be glimpsed and brought into the present, as in the story of a Soviet-trained Vietnamese veterinary scientist. As an ingredient of continuity, moreover, I notice here and there in republican Southeast Asia the durable,­or at least on-and-off, prominence of members of political families—not only Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong. In the chapters that follow, we also encounter Cory Aquino’s son Benigno Aquino III, “Noynoy,” president like his mother; and Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of a Burmese independence hero and martyr. (Fairly briefly, there was also Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia’s founding father and then herself president.) Over the years, there has been much in Southeast Asia to nourish the anthropological imagination—“involution,” “cultural brokers,” and “moral economy” are among the key concepts that have been intimately although not always uniquely connected with Southeast Asian studies. As the editors note in their introduction to this book, around the mid-twentieth century, in the late colonial period, the British colonial civil servant Furnivall set the idea of the “plural society” in circulation, based on his experience in this region. Then, crossing into anthropology, it became a traveling concept, employed not least in Africa and in the Caribbean.3 Here was an ambitious macroconcept, aiming at capturing the nature of an entire social order. In its Southeast Asian version, it typically depicted a colonial society that was also a plantation society, to a fairly great extent made up of populations with long-distance migrations in their history. The theoretical point to which plural society thinkers were inclined FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY xiv Prologue to return was that this was not, as the mainstream social theorists of the day usually had it, about “societies” generally, an entity based on consensus and shared values. Essentially, separate peoples met mostly in the market place; and at the top, over all that, was the colonial power. In the early twenty-first century, “plural society” is not a term so frequently heard anymore. In the general vocabulary in much of the world, “multiculturalism” does some of its work.4 At home in Southeast Asia, that is to a degree also true, but more importantly society has come half a century or more away from colonialism, and in very considerable part it has left the plantation behind as a main arena of economy and society. The present-day habitat is one of shopping malls, no-frills airlines, high-rise public housing, and expansive transnational knowledge industries, as well as of hill farms and paddy fields.5 Perhaps “modernity” is a term that can cover all this, but otherwise it would be difficult to find a single conceptual umbrella. Yet if the original “plural society” involved a particular colonial organization of ethnicity, it is clear that ethnic categories continue to be salient in Southeast Asian society. It is not only the old minister mentor, who could himself no doubt remember the times of old-style pluralism, who thinks and talks in such terms. In Singapore there are still Chinese, Malays, and Indians. There is, too, the assistant professor of accounting at the national university who chooses to return to his Yemeni family business heritage and becomes a restaurateur and community activist in Arab Street. The particular makeup of national populations varies from one country to the next. Yet here as elsewhere in the world, one may sense that top-down multiculturalism, depending on sharp, stable borders for large-scale policy and administrative measures, often works less than perfectly. In the Philippines, Richard Chu points out in his contribution to the book that it may not be widely understood how many important figures in the history of the country were actually “Chinese mestizos.” In Singapore, again, the Chinese are supposed to speak Mandarin, despite the fact that most of them arrived there speaking Hokkien; and it seems they respond in part by making up a “Singlish” patois. And one of the nicest museums in town is the Peranakan Museum, celebrating the cultural history of a group emerging from ethnic mixture. To capture the real, multifaceted, polyphonic diversity of contemporary Southeast Asia with its fluidity, transgressions, and collective reflexivity, the editors of this volume have chosen the format of presenting a rich gallery of figures—shifting smoothly between particular concrete individuals and ideas of social types. It is, again, a bit like a sizeable food court, providing food for thought about the varieties of the human condition, and it is a measure of the success of this strategy that it stimulates a reader’s appetite to think of FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY Prologue xv further types that might also have been there. But those who are portrayed in the pages that follow take us into all kinds of nooks and crannies in regional social life. To draw on one kind of anthropological vocabulary: They involve studying down, up, and sideways.6 We meet the gangster, the prostitute, and one transnational working man who has found a rather uncomfortable way of seeing the world (pineapples in Hawai‘i, building sites in Singapore, an Israeli kibbutz, oil drilling in the Middle East, and a Korean plastics factory), before returning as indebted as ever to his Thai village. There is the journalist, the schoolteacher, even an anthropologist-musician. And as far “up” as you can get, there is one of the region’s leading political figures, Malaysia’s Mohathir Mohamad, “Doctor M.” Several things can be said about this format of presentation. One is that it is clearly only possible because there is such a wealth of present-day scholarship­to draw on, devoted to so many aspects of Southeast Asian society. Another is that as far as I can see, it makes a remarkable contribution to ongoing experimentation in anthropological writing. (Not all the contributors to the book are anthropologists, but I believe most are, and so are all three editors.) If anthropology is itself basically a study of diversity, one might expect diversity in writing to come naturally. Yet despite tendencies toward renewal, a very large part of writing in the discipline is still one variety or other of “meand-my-ethnography.” As fieldwork in anthropology tends to be a lone-wolf pursuit, writing and publication have also mostly been individual activities. Undoubtedly the contributors to Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity are also capable of organizing their knowledge in the style of more conventional, specialized monographs, but here we see how well-orchestrated collaborative efforts can offer their own valuable insights and overviews. That is one pleasing conclusion, but there is also one more somber afterthought. Mostly, after all its twentieth...
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