UH Press Authors Presenting at ASAO Annual Meeting

Jan Rensel at ASAO 2011UH Press authors Elfriede Hermann, Niko Besnier, Margeret Jolly, Susanne Kuehling, Glenn Petersen, Julianna Flinn, and Jan Rensel, among others, will be among the scholars presenting at this year’s ASAO (Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania) meeting in Portland, February 7–11. The Press will have on display about two dozen titles, order forms, book flyers, and a new PIMS (Pacific Islands Monograph Series) brochure.

Mahalo to Jan Rensel, shown here at last year’s meeting, for lending a hand at the book exhibit.

Forests and State Authority in Contemporary Laos

Natural PotencyForests, as physical entities, have received considerable scholarly attention in political studies of Asia and beyond. Much less notice has been paid to the significance of forests as symbols that enable commentary on identity, aspirations, and authority. Natural Potency and Political Power: Forests and State Authority in Contemporary Laos, by Sarinda Singh, is an innovative exploration of the social and political importance of forests in contemporary Laos. It challenges common views of the rural countryside as isolated and disconnected from national social debates and politics under an authoritarian regime. The work offers instead a novel understanding of local perspectives under authoritarianism, demonstrating that Lao people make implicit political statements in their commentary on forests and wildlife; and showing that, in addition to being vital material resources, forests (and their natural potency) are linked in the minds of many Lao to the social and political power of the state.

Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, & Memory
January 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3571-2 / $45.00 (CLOTH)

A Cultural History of Kanaky-New Calendonia

Nights of StorytellingNights of Storytelling: A Cultural History of New Caledonia, edited by Raylene Ramsay, is the first book to present and contextualize the founding texts of New Caledonia, a country sui generis in the relatively little-known French Pacific. Extracts from literary, ethnographic, and historical works in English translation introduce the many voices of a diverse culture as it moves toward “independence” or the “common destiny” framed by the 1998 Noumea Agreements. These texts reflect the coexistence of two major cultures, indigenous and European, shaped by the energies and shadows of empire and significantly influenced by one another.

Nights of Storytelling is a collaborative work complemented by La nuit des contes, a subtitled DVD of images and text, which features key works read or spoken, generally in the original French. It provides visual and aural access for the book’s Anglophone readers to the specific cultural, linguistic, and geographic contexts of these historical and literary works.

November 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3222-3 / $49.00 (CLOTH + DVD)

The Work of Early Hawaiian Artisans

Links to the PastThe work of Hawaiian artisans at the time of Western contact was woven seamlessly into their everyday lives and culture—the details of which are now lost. Although we can no longer comprehend the objects left to us with the same depth of understanding as early Hawaiians, we can appreciate their aesthetic qualities and the skill used in their construction, particularly when numerous pieces of the same type are viewed together. Links to the Past: The Work of Early Hawaiian Artisans, by Wendy S. Arbeit, makes this possible by reuniting more than a thousand eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Hawaiian artifacts from over seventy institutions and collections worldwide.

November 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3476-0 / $75.00 (CLOTH)

The Living World of Ainu Shinyoshu

Ainu Spirits SingingIndigenous peoples throughout the globe are custodians of a unique, priceless, and increasingly imperiled legacy of oral lore. Among them the Ainu, a people native to northeastern Asia, stand out for the exceptional scope and richness of their oral performance traditions. Yet despite this cultural wealth, nothing has appeared in English on the subject in over thirty years. Sarah Strong’s Ainu Spirits Singing: The Living World of Chiri Yukie’s Ainu Shin’yoshu breaks this decades-long silence with a nuanced study and English translation of the Ainu Shin’yoshu, the first written transcription of Ainu oral narratives by an ethnic Ainu.

Ainu Spirits Singing is a unique fusion of geography and literature that offers a contextual grounding and engaging translation of Ainu oral stories passed down from ancient times. The author devotes several chapters to a detailed description and evocation of the physical and spiritual geography and cultural landscape that form the horizon of the tales themselves. The book, particularly helpful for readers unfamiliar with Ainu lore, offers a rich and nuanced reading of the tales.” —J. Scott Miller, Brigham Young University

October 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3512-5 / $58.00 (CLOTH)

The Material Spirit of the Chinese Lifeworld

Burning MoneyFor a thousand years across the length and breadth of China and beyond, people have burned paper replicas of valuable things—most often money—for the spirits of deceased family members, ancestors, and myriads of demons and divinities. Although frequently denigrated as wasteful and vulgar and at times prohibited by governing elites, today this venerable custom is as popular as ever. Burning Money: The Material Spirit of the Chinese Lifeworld, by C. Fred Blake, explores the cultural logic of this common practice while addressing larger anthropological questions concerning the nature of value. The heart of the work integrates Chinese and Western thought and analytics to develop a theoretical framework that the author calls a “materialist aesthetics.” This includes consideration of how the burning of paper money meshes with other customs in China and around the world.

“Although focused on the topic of paper money, this study is in fact a much more ambitious consideration of Chinese life and civilization. Employing a distinctive mix of philosophical meditation, ethnographic vignette, historical narrative, folk tales, and more conventional anthropological analysis, Blake has constructed an impressively literate picture of what he clearly and persuasively views as the elusive ‘spirit’ of Chinese culture. This is a unique, highly original, and wide-ranging book.” —P. Steven Sangren, Cornell University

September 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3532-3 / $52.00 (CLOTH)

The Making of Burakumin in Modern Japan

Embodying DifferenceThe burakumin, Japan’s largest minority group, have been the focus of an extensive yet strikingly homogenous body of Japanese language research. The master narrative in much of this work typically links burakumin to premodern occupational groups which engaged in a number of socially polluting tasks like tanning and leatherwork. This master narrative, however, when subjected to close scrutiny, tends to raise more questions than it answers, particularly for the historian. Is there really firm historical continuity between premodern outcaste and modern burakumin communities? Is the discrimination experienced by historic and contemporary outcaste communities actually the same? Does the way burakumin frame their own experience significantly affect mainstream understandings of their plight? Embodying Difference: The Making of Burakumin in Modern Japan, by Timothy D. Amos, is the result of a decade-and-a-half-long search for answers to these questions.

September 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3579-8 / $33.00 (PAPER)

Prahus, Timber, and Illegality on the Margins of the Indonesian State

Madurese SeafarersThe Madurese are one of the great maritime and trading peoples of the Indonesian Archipelago. Madurese Seafarers: Prahus, Timber and Illegality on the Margins of the Indonesian State, by Kurt Stenross, takes readers into the trading villages of Madura, with their remarkable traditional vessels (perahu) that were powered by sail until the late twentieth century, and examines their informal-sector economic niches, notably the cattle, salt, and timber trades and the carriage of people. The book argues that the nature of village society, the physical characteristics of the island’s coast, cultural traditions of frugality and self-reliance, and an appetite for risk all contributed to the enduring success of Madurese traders.

ASAA Southeast Asia Publications
August 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3555-2 / $32.00 (PAPER)
For sale only in the U.S., its dependencies, Canada, and Mexico

Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia

Powers of ExclusionQuestions of who can access land and who is excluded from it underlie many recent social and political conflicts in Southeast Asia. Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia, by Derek Hall, Philip Hirsch, and Tania Murray Li, examines the key processes through which shifts in land relations are taking place, notably state land allocation and provision of property rights, the dramatic expansion of areas zoned for conservation, booms in the production of export-oriented crops, the conversion of farmland to post-agrarian uses, “intimate” exclusions involving kin and co-villagers, and mobilizations around land framed in terms of identity and belonging. In case studies drawn from seven countries, the authors find that four “powers of exclusion”—regulation, the market, force and legitimation—have combined to shape land relations in new and often surprising ways.

August 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3603-0 / $35.00 (PAPER)
For sale only in the U.S., its dependencies, Canada, and Mexico

“The Human Fallout for Japan” and “Godzilla: Symbol of Japan’s Post WWII Nuclear Anxiety”

The nuclear crisis has rallied a weary Japan, but also risks spurring discrimination against the contaminated. Read Peter Wynn Kirby, author of the recently published Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, on the test the disaster poses for Japanese society at The Daily Beast.

Professor Kirby was also recently interviewed at WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate, on the changes to the Godzilla movies over the years and corresponding Japanese attitudes toward nuclear energy. Listen to the interview here.

“Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film”

Peter Wynn Kirby, author of Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, recently contributed to the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. His March 14 post, “Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film,” looks at the original 1954 Gojira (Godzilla) and other kaiju (monster) films that followed to provide some cultural background on Japan’s reaction to the ongoing crisis in Fukushima.

Kirby points out a little-known fact about the first Godzilla: The film was inspired by the events following the U.S.’ March 1954 “Bravo” nuclear test near Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. A distant Japanese tuna trawler, the Lucky Dragon No. 5, was outside the official no-sail zone but was nevertheless showered with radioactive ash. A translation of crew member Oishi Matashichi’s memoir, The Day the Sun Rose in the West: Bikini, the Lucky Dragon, and I, will be published by UH Press in September 2011.

Nature’s Embrace Now in Paperback

Nature's Embrace
Nature’s Embrace: Japan’s Aging Urbanites and New Death Rites, by Satsuki Kawano, is now available in paperback. The work offers insightful discussion on the rise of new death rites and ideologies, older adults’ views of their death rites, and Japan’s changing society through the eyes of aging urbanites. It will engage a wide range of readers interested in death and culture, mortuary ritual, and changes in age relations in postindustrial societies.

March 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3413-5 / $27.00 (PAPER)