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Typewriters, Slogans, and Sewing Machines—From SFO to Seoul and Back with the Journal of Asian Studies on My Mind

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom As Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, as I prepare to go to the AAS Annual Conference (when our editorial board meets) or AAS-in-ASIA (where I hold “meet-the-editor” sessions), I spend some time thinking about the articles we have published recently and have in the pipeline. I did this before heading to Asia last month on a trip that began with a short stopover in Hong Kong and ended in Seoul at the AAS-in-ASIA meetings that Korea University did so well in hosting.   One thing that was different this time, though, was how often during the trip I saw things that made me think of JAS articles. In five dissimilar places, I was reminded of the following: an article from last year on the Umbrella Movement; two “Asia Beyond the Headlines” commentaries on recent events in South Korea that are coming out in November; and the two lead pieces in a forum on machines in East Asia that appeared in the same August 2016 issue as the essay on Hong Kong. Here’s ...

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Buddhism in Decline: Media Narratives in Thailand

By Brooke Schedneck “In deeply religious Thailand, monks have long been revered. But badly behaved clergy, corruption scandals, and the vast wealth amassed by some temples has many asking if something is rotten at the heart of Thai Buddhism. From selfies on private jets to multimillion dollar donations from allegedly crooked businessmen, Thailand’s monks are coming under increasing fire for their embrace of commercialism.” This quote from Delphine Thouvenot and Thanaporn Promyamyai’s Bangkok Post article from 2015 titled “Chequebook Buddhism: Threat to Buddhism in Thailand?” exemplifies the ways the media, both foreign and Thai, frequently constructs Buddhism in Thailand as existing in a state of collapse. In many opinion pieces, Buddhism is portrayed as a religion in dire need of transformation, reform, or even an entire overhaul. The highest-ranking monks, called the Sangha Council, are criticized for their weak actions and lack of power. Editorials often state th ...

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A Lexicon of Repression in Thailand

By Tyrell Haberkorn In an essay for the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies (“The Anniversary of a Massacre and the Death of a Monarch,” currently free to download), I reflect on the fortieth anniversary of the 6 October 1976 massacre, when state and para-state forces brutally murdered unarmed students at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Unresolved questions about the possible role of the institution of the monarchy in the massacre have been a primary factor both ensuring impunity for the perpetrators and constricting public discussion about the massacre. The anniversary events, held under the military regime of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and marked by calls for recognition of the humanity of those killed, directly challenged the ongoing impunity of the perpetrators of the massacre. One week after the anniversary, Rama IX, Bhumipol Adulyadej, died and the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, was named his successor as Rama X. One of the primary features of the NCPO ...

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A Brief History of the North Korean-Myanmar Friendship

By Maria Rosaria Coduti “Dangerous bedfellows,” “rogue brothers in arms,” and “friends in need” are some of the expressions experts and journalists have used to describe North Korea-Myanmar [Burma] relations in the past. In 2005, then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled Myanmar an “outpost of tyranny,” a feature that saw the country enter the club of the “pariah states” along with Cuba, Iran, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and North Korea. However, just four years later, the newly elected Obama administration reviewed American policy toward Myanmar and shifted to one based on the pragmatic engagement of Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, which inaugurated a new era of the Southeast Asian country’s relations with the U.S. and with both Western and Asian actors as a consequence. According to some political analysts, this new policy was either a tile of a broader U.S. rebalancing strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region, the so-called ...

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Introducing Asia Mediated: Interdisciplinary Curriculum Innovation at Arizona State University

I was first alerted to the existence of Dr. Juliane Schober and Dr. Pauline Hope Cheong’s project, “Asia Mediated: Interdisciplinary Curriculum Innovation at Arizona State University,” by the sudden increase in undergraduate students roaming the halls near my office. I ran into one of the undergraduate interns in the elevator and asked what was going on; she replied that they were working on the Twitter and Facebook accounts of something called “Asia Mediated.” My interest was additionally piqued when the program announced its first invited speaker, Dr. Wenhong Chen, who would talk on the topic of “Big Data in China: Big Dreams and Big Brother.” After browsing some of the Asia Mediated literature following the announcement of this first talk, it seemed that the project’s push to uncover the multiplicity of assemblages that are transforming and are being transformed by the interplay of new media and the Asian context promised to reveal some important aspects ...

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