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Identity in Crossroad Civilisations

Identity in Crossroad Civilisations: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Globalism in Asia

Erich Kolig
Vivienne SM. Angeles
Sam Wong
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Identity in Crossroad Civilisations
    Book Description:

    Based on multi-disciplinary studies conducted in Asia (India, Bhutan, China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand), this volume on Identity in Crossroad Civilisations: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Globalism in Asia demonstrates how identity is defined, negotiated and conceptualised in response to increasing globalisation in the region. Asian expressions of identity reflect, in many ways, their adaptability to the changing economic, political and social climates and at the same time question Samuel Huntington's popular yet controversial thesis on the clash of civilisations. This book also engages Benedict Anderson's idea of 'imagined communities' and shows how its operation impacts on both community and individual identity in an environment that is increasingly characterised by border crossings and transnationalism. Contemporary Asian realities, as examined in the essays, demonstrate the need to rethink previous notions of identity and nationalism. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1051-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. List of Tables and Plates
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. 1 Introduction: Crossroad Civilisations and Bricolage Identities
    (pp. 9-20)
    Erich Kolig, Sam Wong and Vivienne SM. Angeles

    Globalisation seems to be taking an unexpected turn: the hegemon that has driven it so far appears to be weakening, succumbing to the competition emanating from elsewhere. The process of decentring of Europe and North America is rapidly advancing, shifting the focus of economic and socio-political dynamic perceptibly ‘eastwards’. As the pathos of Western hegemonic reproduction withers, a new hegemon appears to be descending the cultural and technological birth canal. Combined with its traditional diligence and sheer force of numbers, if ‘Asia’ had the energy resources of the Middle East and the technologies and missionary zeal of the West, humankind...

  5. 2 Asia and the Global World: Identities, Values, Rights
    (pp. 21-42)
    Elena Asciutti

    Asia has rejected the universality of human rights on the grounds that human rights, as they are conceived in the West, do not fit the Asian condition. The concept of Asian values has been launched instead, placing the universality of human rights under critical attack because they do not take into account Asia’s history and culture. This view was presented and supported during the Regional Meeting for Asia of the World Conference on Human Rights and translated into the Bangkok Declaration (1993). Since then, a highly politicised debate on the antithesis between the universality of human rights and Asian values...

  6. 3 Creating ‘Malaysians’: A Case Study of an Urban kampung in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
    (pp. 43-54)
    Toru Ueda

    This chapter analyses how a government-generated national culture is practised in an actual social context in Malaysia. It is based on anthropological research, which focused on identity formation in a newly builtkampung, an urban community in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. By looking at the way a cultural event,Tadao Kaamatan, is narrated, it seeks to clarify the impact of the project of creating ‘Malaysians’ in the daily life of thekampungresidents as they appropriate and redefine the national culture. The analysis of these dynamics reveals the national enterprise of creating ‘Malaysians”.

    Nationalism, especially the state-sponsored variety, is a modern...

  7. 4 Ethnic Mosaic and the Cultural Nationalism of Bhutan
    (pp. 55-64)
    Rup Kumar Barman

    Bhutan, a landlocked multi-ethnic country, situated in the lap of the Himalayas, has drawn the attention of social scientists around the world mainly because of its ongoing developmental activities, cultural nationalism and the process of democratisation. Democratisation in Bhutan was initiated by the monarchy itself in the second half of the twentieth century when its neighbours initiated the policies for socio-economic and political modernisation. India’s independence in 1947 and its planned development strategy plus the emergence of the communist People’s Republic of China in 1949 and its move towards a new identity induced King Dorji Wangchuk (1952-1972) to initiate a...

  8. 5 Religion and Cultural Nationalism: Socio-Political Dynamism of Communal Violence in India
    (pp. 65-84)
    Sali Augustine

    Communal violence (especially between Hindus and Muslims, and Hindus and Christians) has shocked India, particularly in the last two decades – despite its post-independence efforts towards democratisation and development. The emerging cultural nationalistic hegemony in India plays an important role in this. The element of identity politics that is emerging in the developing economy, combined with religious sentiments, brings new issues and conflicts in a democratic situation. India’s democratic institutions have encouraged mixing religion with politics so as to utilise minority votes to gain political power. This mixing, pursued by politicians as a means of deriving advantages in elections, has...

  9. 6 Is Identity Clash Inevitable? Identity and Network Building amongst mainland Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong
    (pp. 85-96)
    Sam Wong

    Migration and identity, two closely linked concepts, have sparked much interest, especially in relation to diaspora studies (Benmayor and Skotnes 1994; Vertovec and Cohen 1999). Two interesting scenarios are displayed in the context of Hong Kong: first, research on identity has been predominantly focused upon local populations. This is obviously connected with an identity crisis and the massive wave of emigration resulting from the Handover Question and the worry about the future of Hong Kong. Second, studies on new arrivals from mainland China have been preoccupied with social adjustment. But the issue of identity change happening in the process of...

  10. 7 Socio-Economic Crisis and Its Consequences on a Little Known Tribal Community in West Bengal, India
    (pp. 97-114)
    Samar Kumar Biswas

    Advanced communities have the privilege of enjoying a high living standard through their easy access to sophisticated technology, health facilities, educational infrastructure, communication facilities and other modern amenities. The Totos, a lesser-known tribal group from the northern part of West Bengal close to the Indo-Bhutan border, find themselves in very different circumstances. They practise mainly settled cultivation, growing maize and other grains, engage in animal husbandry, and collect fruit, roots, tubers, medicinal plants and other items of daily need from the forest. They often have to cross the border into Bhutan to earn a livelihood. At present, factors such as...

  11. 8 Post-Colonialism, Globalism, Nativism: Reinventing English in a Post-Colonial Space
    (pp. 115-132)
    Krishna Sen

    The English language and English Studies in India have a complicated history, and their present status is extremely contested. Having originated in the need to produce an English-speaking administrative cadre to run the business of the Empire, the discipline was instrumental in the formation of a new social group, the Indian middle class, whose very identity is intertwined with the worldview implicated in its knowledge of English. As in colonial times, so too in the contemporary post-colonial and globalised era, the affluence and social standing of the Indian middle class flow from its access to English. Hence, independent postcolonial India...

  12. 9 Occidentalism and Asian Middle-Class Identities: Notes on Birthday Cakes in an Indian Context
    (pp. 133-146)
    Minna Säävälä

    The birthday cake is a relatively recent import in Indian cultural life. The adoption of practices conceptualised as ‘Western’, such as eating cake, strengthens the new middle-class Indian’s national-cultural identity by making the difference palpable and discursive. New Indian middle-class identities are flexible, as they are able to incorporate seemingly contradictory cultural materials. For instance, Occidentalist ideas – stylised images of the West – are appropriated by the new Asian middle classes in their processes of national and class identification. The emergence of Occidentalism in India and in a number of other Asian countries derives from the historical realities of...

  13. 10 Ode to ‘Personal Challenge’: Reconsidering Japanese Groupism and the Role of Beethoven’s Ninth in Catering to Socio-Cultural Needs
    (pp. 147-172)
    Eddy Y.L. Chang

    Music is a means by which people can achieve self-understanding, express their individuality and even defy social restraints and prejudice, while facilitating the shaping of individual and collective identities. In Japan, this emerged in the form of personal challenge through what is known asdaiku genshō(第九 現 象) – a modern socio-cultural phenomenon with individuals coming together to sing theOde to Joyof Beethoven’sNinth Symphonyen masse and mostly in the form of annual year-end concerts throughout Japan.

    Althoughdaikuhas been featured in various media, most works on the subject present different origins of the phenomenon...

  14. 11 Performing Cosmopolitan Clash and Collage: Krishen Jit’s Stagings of the ‘Stranger’ in Malaysia
    (pp. 173-194)
    Charlene Rajendran

    The challenge for contemporary discourses on identity is to develop dialogic and open processes of reworking essentialised and fixed constructs that often stem from nationalist discourses whilst simultaneously engaging fluid and permeable aspects of identity aligned with cosmopolitan imaginings. Theatre as a site that deals with this duality is able to reflexively examine the multiplicity in society in a situated and imaginative frame, offering opportunities to participate in alternative embodiments of Self and Other that are open to the clash and collage of cultural difference. This paper discusses the theatre of Krishen Jit, Malaysian theatre director, critic and educator, whose...

  15. 12 Constructing Identity: Visual Expressions of Islam in the Predominantly Catholic Philippines
    (pp. 195-218)
    Vivienne SM. Angeles

    Government policies in response to Muslim agitation for independence as well as the increasing contacts between Muslim and non-Muslim Filipinos on the one hand and the Middle East on the other have impacted the way Philippine Muslims present themselves visually. From their perspective, their traditional status as members of ethnic groups has evolved into one of membership in a worldwideummathat looks to Saudi Arabia as the centre of Islam. There is, therefore, a de-emphasis on ethnic clothing, art and architecture and the acceptance and promotion of what they consider to be Islamic forms of dress, art and architecture...

  16. 13 Islam and Orientalism in New Zealand: The Challenges of Multiculturalism, Human Rights and National Security – and the Return of the Xenophobes
    (pp. 219-240)
    Erich Kolig

    New Zealand has a relatively small Muslim minority. Most are immigrants or descendants of relatively recent immigrants. Although officially bicultural, New Zealand is practically multicultural, as state and government like to proclaim with great vigour and conviction. In recognition of the nation’s increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition – the outcome of an ethnically largely unregulated immigration policy – statutes and legal instruments ensure the exercise of civil liberties in relation to freedom of belief and culture within a framework of generally applicable laws. In accord with the model of Western liberal democracies, this situation creates an atmosphere of tolerance and...

  17. Contributors
    (pp. 241-244)
  18. References
    (pp. 245-260)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-262)