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#AsiaNow Speaks with Walter Hakala

Walter Hakala is Associate Professor in the Asian Studies Program and Department of English at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and author of Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia, published by Columbia University Press. He is the recipient of an Honorable Mention for the 2018 AAS Bernard Cohn Book Prize for a first book on South Asia. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Negotiating Languages explores the role of lexicographers (those who compile dictionaries) in the emergence of Urdu as a language of literature and state in South Asia. Modern Standard Hindi and Urdu are unusual in that they share the same grammar and, in ordinary spoken language, a common vocabulary. I argue that dictionaries were an important means through which elites were able to articulate and, occasionally, resist, the bifurcation of this single language on the basis of script (Arabic and Devanagari), vocabulary (Perso-Arabic and Sanskrit), and, increasingly, religion (Muslim an ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Nathaniel Roberts

Nate Roberts is Research Fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, and author of To Be Cared For: The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum, published by University of California Press and winner of the 2018 AAS Bernard S. Cohn Prize for a first book on South Asia. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book is about a community of women and men living under conditions of profound poverty and exclusion from the dominant national society. They were called Paraiyars (“Pariahs”), but they said this was just a label others had put on them, and that in reality that had no caste. I begin with their experience of rejection by their own countrymen, and the moral sense they try to make of it. For them, caste is the denial of common humanity and the refusal of care; against it they posed an alternative moral vision based on human vulnerability and the obligation to care for those in need. Yet even within the slum communit ...

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The Social Network: Lisu Use Digital Media to Find Each Other and Preserve Their Culture

Lisu (identified by patchwork bags, and man wearing blue shirt) wait in line for the bank to open on a very chilly morning in Fugong, China. Photo: Mark Goldschmidt By Michele Zack In the mid-1980s, I was a budget tourist on a hill tribe trek far from roads or electricity in Northern Thailand. There, I first encountered the Lisu—adaptable, egalitarian highlanders scattered in corners of China, Myanmar, and Thailand (tiny populations also live in India and Laos). I picked up with the group again in the 1990s when—by then based in Thailand—I wrote a popular ethnography of Lisu living in three nation-states with three different political systems. That book never saw print, but a new publisher 15 years later agreed to take up the project when still no book about Lisu had been published. I proposed to update the original work with a new longitudinal angle. Thirty years after first meeting members of the Lisu community, I have finally published The Lisu: Far from the Ruler (University Press of ...

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Drinking Bomb & Shooting Meth: An Interview with “Asia Shorts” Author Jeffrey W. Alexander

Last July, Hendrix College President and AAS Editorial Board Chair Bill Tsutsui introduced #AsiaNow readers to a new AAS book series, Asia Shorts. In these “small volumes with a big message,” Tsutsui explained, readers would find “rigorous, timely, and accessible work in our field,” written in concise, readable prose. We are happy to announce that the first Asia Shorts book is now available: Drinking Bomb & Shooting Meth: Alcohol and Drug Use in Japan, written by Pueblo (CO) Community College Dean of Arts and Sciences Jeffrey W. Alexander. Drinking Bomb & Shooting Meth relates the history of drug and alcohol production and sale in Japan between the late 19th century and the present day, using these substances as an entry point into an examination of the country’s cultural, social, and economic evolution over the decades. Here, Tsutsui interviews Alexander about his research, the challenges he faced in writing the book, and what’s most likely to be filling his own ...

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AAS 2018 Book Prize Winners

The AAS is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s book prize competitions and offer congratulations to the authors and presses. We encourage everyone to attend the Awards Ceremony at the upcoming AAS annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday, March 23, where the authors will be recognized and receive citations. Joseph Levenson Pre-1900 Book Prize (China) Li Chen, Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics, Columbia University Press Joseph Levenson Post-1900 Book Prize (China) Sigrid Schmalzer, Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China, University of Chicago Press E. Gene Smith Book Prize (Inner Asia) Tom Cliff, Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang, University of Chicago Press Honorable Mention: Daniel Hirshberg, Remembering the Lotus-Born: Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age, Wisdom Publications Patrick D. Hanan Book Prize for Translation (China and Inner Asia) Stephen Durrant, Wai-yee Li, Dav ...

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