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AAS Member Spotlight: Thomas Patton

Thomas Patton is Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian and International Studies, and Associate Director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre, at the City University of Hong Kong. A scholar of religious studies, Patton is a specialist in Buddhism in Southeast Asia—specifically Myanmar—and has been a member of the AAS since 2005. Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues? When I was a masters student living in Boston in 2003, a classmate asked me to drive him to New York City to visit his friend who was presenting at an AAS conference. While sitting in the lobby of the conference venue, I was beside myself to hear dozens of people talking casually about Asian Studies as if they were chatting about the weather. I immediately registered for the conference and spent the remaining 3 days enthralled by the conversations and interesting people I met, one of whom would later become my PhD advisor. How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Stud ...

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Excerpt: The Philippines — From Earliest Times to the Present

Key Issues in Asian Studies (KIAS) is an AAS book series of short, classroom-ready texts intended for high-school and undergraduate readers. Today, we are pleased to bring you an excerpt from the latest KIAS title, The Philippines: From Earliest Times to the Present, written by historian Damon L. Woods. In this brief volume, Woods provides readers with an overview of Philippine history, culture, and politics. Starting in the year 900CE, Woods traces the archipelago’s past, exploring the regional ties that connected its inhabitants with others in the Pacific Ocean long before the arrival of European ships in the 16th century. Woods then devotes chapters to the years of Spanish, American, and Japanese rule, followed by an in-depth discussion of political and social developments in the decades following Philippine independence in 1946. As Woods notes in the excerpt below, “This book is a story of the Philippines that depicts Filipinos as active participants in their own history rather than passive ac ...

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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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Photo of the Week: Hitting the Books in Khon Kaen

This summer, I've been learning more about what it means to be an area studies librarian. Among the most interesting of my experiences so far was searching for new books in Khon Kaen, Thailand (along with a little sightseeing on the side!).

—Zoë McLaughlin
University of Michigan

Submit your photo and it could be featured as #AsiaNow Photo of the Week—and you might win some free books from our Key Issues in Asian Studies series, too! Enter our "What I Did on My Summer 'Vacation' Photo Sweepstakes;" full details and information about entry are available here.

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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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