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Xinjiang Year Zero »

Edited by: Darren Byler, Ivan Franceschini, Nicholas Loubere
Publication date: 2021
Since 2017, the Chinese authorities have detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in ‘reeducation camps’ in China’s northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region. While the official reason for this mass detention was to prevent terrorism, the campaign has since become a wholesale attempt to remould the ways of life of these peoples—an experiment in social engineering aimed at erasing their cultures and traditions in order to transform them into ‘civilised’ citizens as construed by the Chinese state. Through a collection of essays penned by scholars who have conducted extensive research in the region, this volume sets itself three goals: first, to document the reality of the emerging surveillance state and coercive assimilation unfolding in Xinjiang in recent years and continuing today; second, to describe the workings and analyse the causes of these policies, highlighting how these developments insert themselves not only in domestic Chinese trends, but also in broader global dynamics; and, third, to propose action, to heed the progressive Left's call since Marx to change the world and not just analyse it.

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The Federated States of Micronesia’s Engagement with the Outside World »

Control, Self-Preservation and Continuity

Authored by: Gonzaga Puas
Publication date: September 2021
This study addresses the neglected history of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) engagement with the outside world. Situated in the northwest Pacific, FSM’s strategic location has led to four colonial rulers. Histories of FSM to date have been largely written by sympathetic outsiders. Indigenous perspectives of FSM history have been largely absent from the main corpus of historical literature. A new generation of Micronesian scholars are starting to write their own history from Micronesian perspectives and using Micronesian forms of history. This book argues that Micronesians have been dealing successfully with the outside world throughout the colonial era in ways colonial authorities were often unaware of. This argument is sustained by examination of oral histories, secondary sources, interviews, field research and the personal experience of a person raised in the Mortlock Islands of Chuuk State. It reconstructs how Micronesian internal processes for social stability and mutual support endured, rather than succumbing to the different waves of colonisation. This study argues that colonisation did not destroy Micronesian cultures and identities, but that Micronesians recontextualised the changing conditions to suit their own circumstances. Their success rested on the indigenous doctrines of adaptation, assimilation and accommodation deeply rooted in the kinship doctrine of eaea fengen (sharing) and alilis fengen (assisting each other). These values pervade the Constitution of the FSM, which formally defines the modern identity of its indigenous peoples, reasserting and perpetuating Micronesian values and future continuity.

Finding the Enemy Within »

Blasphemy Accusations and Subsequent Violence in Pakistan

Authored by: Sana Ashraf
Publication date: September 2021
In the past decade, Pakistan has witnessed incidents such as the public lynching of a student on a university campus, a Christian couple being torched alive, attacks on entire neighbourhoods by angry mobs and the assassination of a provincial governor by his own security guard over allegations of blasphemy. Finding the Enemy Within unpacks the meanings and motivations behind accusations of blasphemy and subsequent violence in Pakistan. This is the first ethnographic study of its kind analysing the perspectives of a range of different actors including accusers, religious scholars and lawyers involved in blasphemy-related incidents in Pakistan. Bringing together anthropological perspectives on religion, violence and law, this book reworks prevalent analytical dichotomies of reason/emotion, culture/religion, traditional/Western, state/nonstate and legal/extralegal to extend our understanding of the upsurge of blasphemy-related violence in Pakistan. Through the case study of blasphemy accusations in Pakistan, this book addresses broader questions of difference, individual and collective identities, social and symbolic boundaries, and conflict and violence in modern nation-states.

Georges River Blues »

Swamps, Mangroves and Resident Action, 1945–1980

Authored by: Heather Goodall
Publication date: 2021
The lower Georges River, on Dharawal and Dharug lands, was a place of fishing grounds, swimming holes and picnics in the early twentieth century. But this all changed after World War II, when rapidly expanding industry and increasing population fell heaviest on this river, polluting its waters and destroying its bush. Local people campaigned to defend their river. They battled municipal councils, who were themselves struggling against an explosion of garbage as population and economy changed. In these blues (an Australian term for conflict), it was mangroves and swamps that became the focus of the fight. Mangroves were expanding because of increasing pollution and early climate change. Councils wanted to solve their garbage problems by bulldozing mangroves and bushland, dumping garbage and, eventually, building playing fields. So they attacked mangroves as useless swamps that harboured disease. Residents defended mangroves by mobilising ecological science to show that these plants nurtured immature fish and protected the river’s health. These suburban resident action campaigns have been ignored by histories of the Australian environmental movement, which have instead focused on campaigns to save distant ‘wilderness’ or inner-city built environments. The Georges River environmental conflicts may have been less theatrical, but they were fought out just as bitterly. And local Georges River campaigners – men, women and often children – were just as tenacious. They struggled to ‘keep bushland in our suburbs’, laying the foundation for today’s widespread urban environmental consciousness. Cover: Ruth Staples was a courageous Georges River campaigner who lived all her life around Lime Kiln Bay at Oatley West. She kept on fighting to regenerate the river until her death, aged 90, in 2020.

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Island Encounters »

Timor-Leste from the outside in

Authored by: Lisa Palmer
Publication date: July 2021
Island Encounters is a narrative of Timor shaped by a journey from the outside in. Incorporating the author’s experiences from more than two decades of involvement with Timor-Leste and, more particularly, the months she spent travelling with her family from west to east in 2018, Palmer traces paths redolent in longing and learning, belonging and bewilderment, courage and conviction to tell of an island divided by colonialism and conflict. The book’s themes shuttle back and forth across the island, weaving together the past, present and future in deeply felt histories and personal stories that create the shared fabric of Timorese people’s lives. Offering a counterpoint to modernising development narratives, Island Encounters tells of people’s quiet determination to maintain their relationships between their lands, waters, traditions and each other. By foregrounding the ways in which ancestral pathways and cultural politics inform and course through everyday life on island Timor, Palmer reveals the richness of the rituals and customary practices that underpin Timorese lives and the lives of those entwined with them. And, all along the way, Island Encounters shows how Timor and its diverse peoples are working with, and re-working, confounding and being confounded by, the ever-desirous heart of development. ‘A poignant, at times heart-wrenching, honest account of life in Timor-Leste.’ — José Ramos-Horta ‘Island Encounters is a shimmery blend of anthropology, memoir and reportage. Palmer journeys her way across the island of Timor and uncovers human stories of pasts not yet passed and of an uncertain present. Island Encounters will be the definitive contemporary explainer of why things work the way they do on both sides of the border, in West Timor and Timor-Leste. Not only is Palmer a deeply knowledgeable scholar, she is an absolute dream of a writer.’ — Gordon Peake, author of Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles, and Secrets from Timor-Leste ‘Palmer is the best kind of insider-outsider to translate a culture from the inside so outsiders can understand. Living with Timorese family, Palmer has had access to levels of cultural knowledge not usually shared with outsiders and she takes readers on a journey into the Timorese psyche. Island Encounters is a great intellectual gift to everyone wanting to better understand the complex new nation of Timor-Leste.’ — Sara Niner, author of Xanana: Leader of the Struggle for Independent Timor-Leste

The Viṣṇu Purāṇa »

Ancient Annals of the God with Lotus Eyes

Authored by: McComas Taylor
Publication date: June 2021
Viṣṇu is a central deity in the Hindu pantheon, especially in his manifestation as the seductive cattle-herding youth, Kṛṣṇa. The purāṇas are sacred texts, which, as the Sanskrit name implies, are collections of narratives from ‘long ago’. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa is thus an ancient account of the universe and guide to life, which places Viṣṇu-Kṛṣṇa at the centre of creation, theology and reality itself. This text, composed about 1,500 years ago, provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the most important themes and narratives that constitute the Hindu imagination: the creation and destruction of the universe, the origin of gods and mortals, the peopling of the world, and the structure and conduct of ideal brahminical society. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa describes the trials of exemplary devotees, the existential struggles between gods and demons, and the exploits of legendary cultural heroes. It also contains many ecstatic songs of praise for the deity. The ever-popular accounts of Kṛṣṇa’s love games with the cattle-herding girls of Vṛṇdāvana, which have proliferated in literature, dance, song and visual arts over the millennia, are found here in authoritative form. This faithful yet fluent blank-verse rendering of this great Hindu classic is the first new English translation in nearly 200 years. It will be welcomed by the scholarly community, while remaining readily accessible to a general readership.

Austronesian Paths and Journeys »

Edited by: James J. Fox
Publication date: May 2021
This is the eighth volume in the Comparative Austronesian series. The papers in this volume examine metaphors of path and journey among specific Austronesian societies located on islands from Taiwan to Timor and from Madagascar to Micronesia. These diverse local expressions define common cultural conceptions found throughout the Austronesian-speaking world.

Crisis »

Edited by: Jane Golley, Linda Jaivin, Sharon Strange
Publication date: April 2021
The year 2020 was marked by a series of rolling crises. The Australian wildfires at the start of the year were a catastrophic sign of the global climate crisis. Xi Jinping’s announcement in September that the People’s Republic of China would become carbon neutral by 2060 could help alleviate the crisis, but China has to fix its coal problem first. The big story was, of course, the global COVID-19 pandemic. Appearing to originate in a Wuhan wet market, by year’s end the pandemic had claimed nearly 2 million lives worldwide, put whole countries into lockdown, and sent economies around the world tumbling into recession. China itself successfully suppressed the disease at home and recorded positive economic growth for the year — proving, at least according to the Chinese Communist Party, the ‘superiority of the socialist system’. Not everyone was convinced, with persistent questions about the CCP’s initial cover up of the outbreak, and how the lack of transparency helped it become a pandemic in the first place. The China Story Yearbook 2020: Crisis surveys the multiple crises of the year of the Metal Rat, including the catastrophic mid-year floods that sparked fears about the stability of the Three Gorges Dam. It looks at how Chinese women fared through the pandemic, from the rise in domestic violence to portraits of female sacrifice on the medical front line to the trolling of a famous dancer for being childless. It also examines the downward-spiralling Sino-Australian relationship, the difficult ‘co-morbidities’ of China’s relations with the US, the end of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in Hong Kong, the simmering border conflict with India, and the rise of pandemic-related anti-Chinese racism. The Yearbook also explores the responses to crisis of, among others, Daoists, Buddhists, and humourists — because when all else fails, there’s always philosophy, prayer, and laughter.

Australian Travellers in the South Seas »

Authored by: Nicholas Halter
Publication date: February 2021
This book offers a wide-ranging survey of Australian engagement with the Pacific Islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through over 100 hitherto largely unexplored accounts of travel, the author explores how representations of the Pacific Islands in letters, diaries, reminiscences, books, newspapers and magazines contributed to popular ideas of the Pacific Islands in Australia. It offers a range of valuable insights into continuities and changes in Australian regional perspectives, showing that ordinary Australians were more closely connected to the Pacific Islands than has previously been acknowledged. Addressing the theme of travel as a historical, literary and imaginative process, this cultural history probes issues of nation and empire, race and science, commerce and tourism by focusing on significant episodes and encounters in history. This is a foundational text for future studies of Australia’s relations with the Pacific, and histories of travel generally.

How Local Art Made Australia’s National Capital »

Publication date: August 2020
Canberra’s dual status as national capital and local city dramatically affected the rise of a unique contemporary arts scene. This complex story, informed by rich archival material and interviews, details the triumph of local arts practice and community over the insistent cultural nation-building of Australia’s capital. It exposes local arts as a vital force in Canberra’s development and uncovers the influence of women in the growth of its visual arts culture. A broad illumination of the city-wide development of arts and culture from the 1920s to 2001 is combined with the story of Bitumen River Gallery and its successor Canberra Contemporary Art Space from 1978 to 2001. This history traces the growth of the arts from a community-led endeavour, through a period of responses to social and cultural needs, and ultimately to a humanising local practice that transcended national and international boundaries.