In December 2016, the element titled “Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms” was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Under Vietnam’s socialist government, rituals and festivals related to the beliefs in Mother Goddesses had been prohibited as superstition before the Doi Moi period. Even though these beliefs and related practices were reevaluated and revived as a beautiful tradition, especially after the 1990s, there has been constant debate over whether beliefs in Mother Goddesses can be categorized as superstition. The question here is why Vietnam’s government applied for the inscription of this element while it had not yet concluded the debate. In this article, by considering this question we examine how Vietnam’s government intends to increase control over this element through naming, protecting, and avoiding its transformation. We also demonstrate that the framework for the heritagization of this element has been changed from theaterization to purization as beliefs, so that the government can criticize and prevent stage adaptation or theaterized rituals as an unintended transformation of heritage.
This paper aims to clarify the early contact between Japan and Vietnam—both Tonkin and Cochinchina—during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by investigating letters sent from Vietnam to Japan. In order to better understand the letters and their background, a paleographical approach is adopted. The oldest letter was sent from Tonkin by Nguyễn Cảnh Đoan, a high-ranking military officer residing in Nghệ An Province. The addressee, “King of Japan,” is a fictitious person, which indicates that Vietnamese officials did not understand contemporary Japan. Two entrepreneurs took advantage of this gap in knowledge to deceive Nguyễn Cảnh Đoan into sending the letter to a nonexistent King. The second and third letters were sent from Nguyễn Hoàng to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Terasawa Masanari (a chief officer of Nagasaki), not to Tokugawa Ieyasu.From investigations of the format and terminology of these three as well as other letters, it is clear that both the Trịnh King and Nguyễn lords aimed to relativize the authority of the Lê emperor and to promote their status by arrogating the title of “An Nam Quốc vương (King of Annam).” The Tokugawa Shogun also utilized the exchange of letters with a foreign monarch to enhance his authority.
In August and September 2013 Thai rubber farmers blockaded a main road in Khuan Nong Hong Junction, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand, demanding that the government guarantee the price of rubber. From there the movement spread to other places in the region. This article examines the development of the movement with special attention to participants’ reasons and affect. Interviews with farmers who initiated or participated in the movement revealed multiple reasons for their involvement, ranging from events that took place during the course of the movement to the insincere attitude of the government. An observation of the blockade revealed that participants’ gestures and expressions reflected emotions that coalesced in the form of physical anger, which finally led to the blockade. The government’s misunderstanding of the role of emotion complicated the situation.
This paper provides a comparative reexamination of the cultural revitalization that occurred alongside nation building in Thailand from the 1930s to the 1980s in the context of local performances of the traditional Northeastern Thailand performing art molam. The Introduction gives an overview of how Thai nation building gave cultural revitalization a unique meaning to counter colonial Western influence. Chapter 2 provides a brief history of cultural revitalization in Northeastern Thailand and describes how treatment of molam performers evolved from the nation-building period around the end of the nineteenth century to the 1980s. Chapter 3 discusses the Ministry of Culture’s National Artist Award Project (Sinlapin Haeng Chat) and how the cultural evaluation system is applied in Thai society. Chapter 4 shifts the focus to rural areas, and how regional arts participants—e.g., molam performers—in Northeastern Thailand gain public recognition and inclusion through institutional cultural revitalization. Chapter 5 details how regional molam artists perform and react while being aware of the National Artist awards, as part of cultural revitalization in Northeastern Thailand (fuenfu watthanatham isan) as well as the greater context of globalization. The Conclusion outlines the effects of cultural revitalization on the lives of molam performers in the social context.
In this paper I examine the interaction between the practice of cash cropping and villagers’ daily lives in a local community, from a case study of Karen people in Northern Thailand. By focusing on the transition from subsistence rice farming to cash-oriented strawberry cropping, I discuss how the demands specific to strawberry production intersect with changes in labor allocation and the agricultural calendar. Shan laborers from Myanmar are employed seasonally, socioeconomic disparity among villagers is widening, and new leadership and patron-client relationships are emerging. By describing the historical process of this interaction, I will demonstrate (1) the logic whereby Karen, who have hitherto been known as subsistence rice farmers, have accepted cash cropping; and (2) how cash cropping redefines the forms of labor and villagers’ socioeconomic relationships within and outside the village, including ethnic relationships.This paper avoids previous discussions that associate an ethnic group with the independent choice of a specific type of subsistence activity deriving from their own cultural background or as a social strategy to flee from state control. Rather, I try to figure out how specific crops with evolving cropping management and the local community have interacted within a historical and social-cultural context to formulate labor forms and allocations as well as villagers’ socioeconomic relationships in their daily lives.
Teodoro Agoncillo's classic work on Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan revolt of 1896 is framed by the tumultuous events of the 1940s such as the Japanese occupation, nominal independence in 1943, Liberation, independence from the United States, and the onset of the Cold War. Was independence in 1946 really a culmination of the revolution of 1896? Was the revolution spearheaded by the Communist-led Huk movement legitimate ? Agoncillo's book was written in 1947 in order to hook the present onto the past. The 1890s themes of exploitation and betrayal bythe propertied class, the rise of a plebeian leader, and the revolt of the masses against Spain, are implicitly being played out in the late 1940s. The politics of hooking the present onto past events and heroic figures led to the prize-winning manuscript's suppression from 1948 to 1955. Finallyseeing print in 1956, it provided a novel and timely reading of Bonifacio at a time when Rizal's legacy was being debated in the Senate and as the Church hierarchy, priests, intellectuals, students, and even general public were getting caught up in heated controversies over national heroes. The circumstances of how Agoncillo's work came to the attention of the author in the 1960s are also discussed.
On the Outer Islands of Indonesia the plantation sector, especially the oil palm plantation sector, has expanded dramatically in the past 40 years. One of the main factors affecting the industrial organization of the plantation sector is the government’s policy and institutional framework. Among the laws and regulations determining plantation development and activities, the regulations on plantation business permits have functioned as the policy instrument to directly govern the activities of the plantation business and shape the direction of the sector’s industrial organization. Between 1996 and 2013, five regulations on plantation business permits were enacted. This paper discusses the changing nature of the regulations from the viewpoint of policy intervention in the organization of the plantation sector.Ministerial Decree of Agriculture No. 786/1996, which was enacted in the last years of Suharto’s regime, focused on creating an institutional environment conducive to the development of estates by plantation companies. Ministerial Decree of Forestry and Plantation No. 107/1999 and the succeeding Ministerial Decree of Agriculture No. 357/2002, which were enacted in the early period of the reform era, in a sudden reversal of policy emphasized the interests of the masses and promoted cooperatives as new operating bodies of the plantation business. However, such cooperatives did not really come into being as intended by the policies. Ministerial Regulation of Agriculture No. 26/2007 and the succeeding Ministerial Regulation of Agriculture No. 98/2013 encouraged the involvement of plantation companies as the main operating bodies of the plantation business, under the condition that they fully considered the interests of local people, including facilitating the development of smallholdings.
Periodical swarming of the polychaete species, named palolo in English, has been known as socially, culturally, and spiritually important event in Islands Southeast Asia and South Pacific. This study aims at exploring (1) taxonomy and ecology of the palolo and (2) mechanisms of traditional calendars in Indonesia, based on cross-cultural and transdisciplinary analyses of previous studies which have been published since the early 18th Century and the author’s fieldwork data. As the results, cultural events relevant to the palolo swarming geographically existed only in Lesser Sunda Islands, Moluccas, and New Guinea Island in Indonesia. It was also found that the swarming mostly occurred in February or March in these regions, but in October or November in South Pacific (e.g, Samoa). Local people predicted the time of the palolo swarming by observing celestial and lunar movements. Indigenous calendars were also based on these movements, especially heliacal rising of Pleiades or Antares. In case of Lombok Island, the palolo swarming corresponded to 20th day of 10th month in the indigenous system and people stopped counting next month after this month in waiting for the next heliacal rising. In the author’s analyses, this is a sophisticated intercalation system under low astronomical technology. It is concluded that the non-conscious intercalation is the key technology and the palolo swarming is the best fitted natural phenomenon for traditional lunisolar calendrical systems in Eastern Indonesia.
Observers of Timorese culture have long maintained a preoccupation with the term Lulik. Its meanings have fluctuated in the past one-and-a-half centuries—with prominent associations including “idolatry,” “the sacred” or “prohibited,” “black magic,” “Timorese animist expression,” or “the core of Timorese culture.” But Timorese have also commonly used the word as an adjective. This paper attempts to trace the origin of the bifurcated usages of the word Lulik through a reading of early missionary efforts to translate Portuguese religious texts into Tetun since the 1870s. In the early European missionaries’ ethnographic reports, Lulik was identified as the Other of Catholicism, the opponent to be suppressed. It was adopted as the translation of “idolatry” in missionary Tetun texts. However, it was impossible to maintain the singular pejorative meaning of Lulik, as the Timorese preferred to call Catholic priests nai-lulik (Lord Lulik). A Timorese collaborator on Bible translation further took advantage of the missionaries’ ignorance of Timorese culture and language: Jesus was called Maromak Oan (the ritual ruler in Wehali) and liurai (the indigenous executive authority), while Caiaphas became the head sacerdote (the Portuguese word for “priest”) and Pontius Pilate was called Em-Boot (the title for a Portuguese governor). The upshot was that an attempt to present Catholicism as a European religion failed in Tetun, and the Passion became a story of an innocent native who was executed by the colonial and religious authorities. The missionaries’ Europe-centric mistranslation of Lulik and the Timorese cosmology, however, strongly influenced the way the academic discourse on Lulik has developed in the following generations.
The Perusahaan Inti Rakyat (PIR) scheme, a smallholder support scheme in collaboration with plantation companies, was developed in the late 1970s in Indonesia. The idea of the PIR scheme is to improve the socioeconomic condition of smallholders. One of the ways of doing so is by providing technical and economic support and capacity building to help them develop as modern self-owned farmers. The PIR scheme also aims to change the relationship between companies’ large-scale modern plantations and smallholders’ traditional estates from an antagonistic one to a mutually interdependent one, while recognizing the existence of a dualism between the two, as indicated by Boeke (1884–1956) in his theory on dual societies.This article shows the transition of the PIR scheme within the historical context of socioeconomic and political changes in Indonesia. The development of PIR-Bun, PIR-Trans, and PIR-KKPA during the authoritarian Suharto era (1966–98), the stagnation of the PIR scheme during the Reformation era (1999–2003), and the development of PIR-Revitalisasi in the democratic era (2004–) are reported and analyzed. Over time, the main companies participating in the programs of the PIR scheme changed from state-owned companies to private ones. The gap in productivity between companies’ large-scale plantations and smallholders’ estates was not resolved during the Reformation era. As a result, PIR-Revitalisasi has applied a united management system in which a company manages the whole process of smallholders’ estates, including planting, growing, harvesting, and marketing in order to enhance the latter’s productivity, effectiveness, and profitability. Smallholders are excluded from the management of their estates, while they receive benefits shared by the contracted company.It seems that the PIR scheme has given up the idea of developing smallholders as modern self-owned farmers. However, we may evaluate the result of the PIR scheme before the adoption of the united management system more positively as the scheme contributed to a generation of independent smallholders who regard oil palm as one of their diverse livelihood strategy options. It is also important to carefully evaluate the scheme’s impact on the harmonious existence of humans and the environment, as well as on the culture and customs of smallholders.