This series of publications on Southeast Asia is designed to present significant research, translation, and opinion to area specialists and to a wide community of persons interested in world affairs. The editors seek manuscripts of quality in a wide range of disciplines.The editor works closely with authors to produce a high-quality book. The series appears in paperback format and is distributed worldwide.

All books in the series are published in association with the Center for International Studies at Ohio University.


Gillian Berchowitz, Executive Editor
Research in International Studies
Ohio University Press

Elizabeth Fuller

Viet Nam

Tradition and Change

By Hữu Ngọc
Edited by Lady Borton and Elizabeth F. Collins

An accessible and erudite primer on Vietnamese history and culture from one of Việt Nam’s finest minds.

Gongs and Pop Songs

Sounding Minangkabau in Indonesia

By Jennifer A. Fraser

Scholarship on the musical traditions of Indonesia has long focused on practices from Java and Bali, including famed gamelan traditions, at the expense of the wide diversity of other musical forms within the archipelago. Jennifer A. Fraser counters this tendency by exploring a little-known gong tradition from Sumatra called talempong, long associated with people who identify themselves as Minangkabau.

Land for the People

The State and Agrarian Conflict in Indonesia

Edited by Anton Lucas and Carol Warren

Half of Indonesia’s massive population still lives on farms, and for these tens of millions of people the revolutionary promise of land reform remains largely unfulfilled. The Basic Agrarian Law, enacted in the wake of the Indonesian revolution, was supposed to provide access to land and equitable returns for peasant farmers. But fifty years later, the law’s objectives of social justice have not been achieved.

Women’s status in rural Java can appear contradictory to those both inside and outside the culture. In some ways, women have high status and broad access to resources, but other situations suggest that Javanese women lack real power and autonomy. Javanese women have major responsibilities in supporting their families and controlling household finances. They may also own and manage their own property.

The Return of the Galon King

History, Law, and Rebellion in Colonial Burma

By Maitrii Aung–Thwin

In late 1930, on a secluded mountain overlooking the rural paddy fields of British Burma, a peasant leader named Saya San crowned himself King and inaugurated a series of uprisings that would later erupt into one of the largest anti-colonial rebellions in Southeast Asian history.

Resistance on the National Stage

Theater and Politics in Late New Order Indonesia

By Michael H. Bodden

Resistance on the National Stage analyzes the ways in which, between 1985 and 1998, modern theater prac­titioners in Indonesia contributed to a rising movement of social protest against the long-governing New Order regime of President Suharto.

Between Frontiers

Nation and Identity in a Southeast Asian Borderland

By Noboru Ishikawa

A staple of postwar academic writing, “nationalism” is a contentious and often unanalyzed abstraction. It is generally treated as something “imagined,” “fashioned,” and “disseminated,” as an idea located in the mind, in printed matter, on maps, in symbols such as flags and anthems, and in collective memory.

China has been an important player in the international economy for two thousand years and has historically exerted enormous influence over the development and nature of political and economic affairs in the regions beyond its borders, especially its neighbors.

Wartime in Burma

A Diary, January to June 1942

By Theippan Maung Wa
Edited by L. E. Bagshawe and Anna J. Allott

This diary, begun after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and covering the invasion of Burma up to June 1942, is a moving account of the dilemmas faced by the well-loved and prolific Burmese author Theippan Maung Wa (a pseudonym of U Sein Tin) and his family. At the time of the Japanese invasion, U Sein Tin was deputy secretary in the Ministry of Home and Defense Affairs.

Silenced Voices

Uncovering a Family’s Colonial History in Indonesia

By Inez Hollander

Like a number of Netherlanders in the post–World War II era, Inez Hollander only gradually became aware of her family’s connections with its Dutch colonial past, including a Creole great-grandmother. For the most part, such personal stories have been, if not entirely silenced, at least only whispered about in Holland, where society has remained uncomfortable with many aspects of the country’s relationship with its colonial empire.

The Indonesian economy, like the Indonesian nation state, took shape as part of the colonial transformation of the archipelago by the Dutch in the mid-nineteenth century. The agricultural sector of the economy provided food and labor to the export sector, which was firmly incorporated into the world economy through international trade. This economic pattern survived several shifts and persisted even after Indonesia became independent in the mid-twentieth century.


The Memoir of a Chinese Indonesian Family in the Twentieth Century

By Stuart Pearson

Millions of Chinese have left the mainland over the last two centuries in search of new beginnings. The majority went to Southeast Asia, and the single largest destination was the colony of the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. Wherever the Chinese landed they prospered, but in Indonesia, even though some families made fortunes, they never felt they quite belonged.

Being “Dutch” in the Indies

A History of Creolisation and Empire, 1500–1920

By Ulbe Bosma and Remco Raben

Being “Dutch” in the Indies portrays Dutch colonial territories in Asia not as mere societies under foreign occupation but rather as a “Creole empire.” In telling the story of the Creole empire, the authors draw on government archives, newspapers, and literary works as well as genealogical studies that follow the fortunes of individual families over several generations. They also critically analyze theories relating to culturally and racially mixed communities.

Burma’s Mass Lay Meditation Movement

Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power

By Ingrid Jordt

Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power describes a transformation in Buddhist practice in contemporary Burma. This revitalization movement has had real consequences for how the oppressive military junta, in power since the early 1960s, governs the country.

Realizing the Dream of R. A. Kartini

Her Sisters’ Letters from Colonial Java

Edited by Joost J. Coté

Realizing the Dream of R. A. Kartini: Her Sisters’ Letters from Colonial Java presents a unique collection of documents reflecting the lives, attitudes, and politics of four Javanese women in the early twentieth century. Joost J. Coté translates the correspondence between Raden Ajeng Kartini, Indonesia’s first feminist, and her sisters, revealing for the first time her sisters’ contributions in defining and carrying out her ideals.

Southeast Asian Lives

Personal Narratives and Historical Experience

Edited by Roxana Waterson

As news accounts report almost daily, the social, political, and economic atmosphere of Southeast Asia makes it one of the most dynamic and quickly developing regions of the world. Southeast Asian Lives: Personal Narratives and Historical Experience presents extraordinary life stories of ordinary people in a rapidly changing Southeast Asia.

The Komedie Stamboel

Popular Theater in Colonial Indonesia, 1891–1903

By Matthew Isaac Cohen

Originating in 1891 in the port city of Surabaya, the Komedie Stamboel, or Istanbul-style theater, toured colonial Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia by rail and steamship. The company performed musical versions of the Arabian Nights and European fairy tales and operas such as Sleeping Beauty and Aida, as well as Indian and Persian romances, Southeast Asian chronicles, true crime stories, and political allegories.

Locating Southeast Asia

Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space

Edited by Paul H. Kratoska, Remco Raben, and Henk Schulte Nordholt

Southeast Asia summons images of tropical forests and mountains, islands and seas, and a multitude of languages, cultures, and religions. Yet the area has never formed a unified political vision nor has it developed cultural unity. Academics have defined Southeast Asia over the years as what is left over after subtracting Australia, the South Pacific islands, China and India.

Power Plays

Wayang Golek Puppet Theater of West Java

By Andrew N. Weintraub

Based on ethnographic fieldwork spanning twenty years, Power Plays is the first scholarly book in English on wayang golek, the Sundanese rod-puppet theater of West Java. It is a detailed and lively account of the ways in which performers of this major Asian theatrical form have engaged with political discourses in Indonesia. Wayang golek has shaped, as well, the technological and commercial conditions of art and performance in a modernizing society.

Since the unraveling of Western colonialism in the mid-twentieth century, Muslim nations have struggled to reconcile Islamic ideas and political movements with the state. In Indonesia, in particular, Islam and the state have long been at an impasse. While the ritual dimension of Islam has been allowed to flourish, political Islam has been defeated by various means.

Tensions of Empire

Japan and Southeast Asia in the Colonial and Postcolonial World

By Ken’ichi Goto
Edited by Paul H. Kratoska

Beginning with the closing decade of European colonial rule in Southeast Asia and covering the wartime Japanese empire and its postwar disintegration, Tensions of Empire focuses on the Japanese in Southeast Asia, Indonesians in Japan, and the legacy of the war in Southeast Asia. It also examines Japanese perceptions of Southeast Asia and the lingering ambivalence toward Japanese involvement in Asia and toward the war in particular.

At a watershed moment in the scholarly approach to the history of this important region, New Terrains in Southeast Asian History captures the richness and diversity of historical discourse among Southeast Asian scholars. Through the perspectives of scholars who live and work within the region, the book offers readers a rare opportunity to enter into the world of Southeast Asian historiography.

Surabaya, City of Work

A Socioeconomic History, 1900–2000

By Howard Dick

Surabaya is Indonesia's second largest city but is not well known to the outside world. Yet in 1900, Surabaya was a bigger city than Jakarta and one of the main commercial centers of Asia. Collapse of sugar exports during the 1930s depression, followed by the Japanese occupation, revolution, and independence, brought on a long period of stagnation and retreat from the international economy.

Secrets Need Words

Indonesian Poetry, 1966-1998

Edited by Harry Aveling

The period from 1966 to 1999 represents a distinct era in Indonesian history. Throughout the “New Order” regime of President Suharto, the policies of economic development and political stability were dominant. However, the public opinion of personal expression was consistently under suspicion, and indeed dissent was severely punished. Secrets Need Words traces the development of Indonesian poetry throughout this entire period.

The culture of television in Indonesia began with its establishment in 1962 as a public broadcasting service. From that time, through the deregulation of television broadcasting in 1990 and the establishment of commercial channels, television can be understood, Philip Kitley argues, as a part of the New Order's national culture project, designed to legitimate an idealized Indonesian national cultural identity.

Theater and Martial Arts in West Sumatra

Randai and Silek of the Minangkabau

By Kirstin Pauka

Randai, the popular folk theater tradition of the Minangkabau ethnic group in West Sumatra, has evolved to include influences of martial arts, storytelling, and folk songs. Theater and Martial Arts in West Sumatra describes the origin, development, and cultural background of randai and highlights two recent developments: the emergence of female performers and modern staging techniques.

Myth and History in the Historiography of Early Burma

Paradigms, Primary Sources, and Prejudices

By Michael A. Aung-Thwin

After careful re-reading and analysis of original Old Burmese and other primary sources, the author discovered that four out of the five events considered to be the most important in the history of early Burma, and believed to have been historically accurate, are actually late-nineteenth and twentieth-century inventions of colonial historians caught in their own intellectual and political world.

Japanese Empire in the Tropics

Selected Documents and Reports of the Japanese Period in Sarawak, Northwest Borneo, 1941–1945

By Ooi Keat Gin

Although the Japanese interregnum was brief, its dramatic commencement and equally dramatic conclusion represented a watershed in the history of the young state of Sarawak. In recent years, there has been a groundswell of interest in the war years, culminating in an attempt at reassessment of the Japanese occupation in Southeast Asia by Western and Japanese scholars as well as by those from Southeast Asia.

The oil-rich sultanate of Brunei Darussalam is located on the northern coast of Borneo between the two Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Though the country is small in size and in population, the variety of language use there provides a veritable laboratory for linguists in the fields of Austronesian linguistics, bilingual studies, and sociolinguistic studies, particularly those dealing with language shift.

Contrary to modern theories of developing nations, Brunei Darussalam, which has a very high rate of literacy, is also one of the few countries where the traditional elite retains absolute political power.