Press news

In With the New...
from Press News, posted 10/31/2012 - 10:59

They say that change is the only constant, right?  So in that spirit we announce a new edition to our team, Freek Jonker, who will be joining us as a student assistant for NIAS Press.  Freek is a Copenhagen University student, originally from Holland.

Freek (on the left) has an academic background in international law, and work experience with marketing and communication.  Welcome!



Arne Kalland is dead
from Press News, posted 10/22/2012 - 15:31

Today we heard with great shock that Arne Kalland is dead after a long illness. He was only 67 years old. Incredibly, it is 18 years since Arne left NIAS to make significant contributions to the study of modern Asia back home in Norway. But those of us who worked with him back in the early 1990s remember him well and with great fondness.

Besides putting in much work behind the scenes supporting other people’s research, Arne was a well-known scholar in his own right. Japan and fishing were his big focal areas, while whaling (and the politics thereof) was a great passion. (Being from New Zealand, a nation vehemently opposed to especially Japanese whaling fleets in our waters, we had our debates.)

Arne’s earliest work published in 1981 via NIAS was Shingu: A Study of a Japanese Fishing Community (available from Routledge as an expensive hardback; NIAS still has a few copies of the original paperback if you are interested). Whaling came to the fore in 1992 with Japanese Whaling: End of an Era? which I hear Arne and co-author Brian Moeran wrote in a marathon session, two giants crammed inside a tiny Japanese hotel room. They then infuriated anti-whaling activists by promoting the book outside the meeting of the International Whaling Commission (in Edinburgh, I think).

In the same year, together with Ole Bruun, Arne edited a volume on Asian Perceptions of Nature, first published as a proceedings by NIAS. A reworked edition was then published by Curzon Press to international acclaim, the volume being recognised as a breakthrough study of human interaction with the environment. In next year or so, we were amused to see quite a number of copycat titles from other publishers.

By then, however, Arne was on his way back to Norway where eventually he would end his days as Professor of Social Anthropology at Oslo University. In the meantime, however, he finalised what arguably was his most accomplished work, Fishing Villages in Tokugawa Japan, published by Curzon Press and the University of Hawai‘i Press in 1995.

More significant for NIAS, however, was that at the same time he initiated and ably edited a new NIAS book series, Man & Nature. By the time that NIAS Press was launched in 2002, the series had lost much of its impetus; the dominant discourses on the environment had shifted from Arne’s anthropologically based emphasis on human responses to nature to more policy-driven studies that failed to spark his enthusiasm (or so it seemed).

With Arne gone, the series is effectively dead in terms of future titles. (Recently, we announced a new NIAS title that in many ways should have been placed in the series but for various reasons wasn’t; I regret that now.) In their own terms, however, the eight titles published in the series are classic studies that will continue to be appreciated – just as Arne will be remembered and loved long after the time last Friday when he left us.


More Frankfurt
from Press News, posted 10/15/2012 - 15:21

Frankfurt Book Fair is huge, with an exhibition site that spans separate, multi-level buildings. As such, it is only fair it covers two blog postings.  

On the first 3 days, the fair is closed to the public and a "mere" 10,000 or so publishing professionals throng the halls. But which halls? So-called "international publishers" can be found on one of the 3 levels of Hall 5 but, as much of our business is transacted in Hall 8 -- presses from the US, UK and other Anglo-Saxon countries, plus Israel -- by a wee sleigh of hand NIAS Press has a booth there. See if you can spot the fiddle in the photo below.

As you can see by the smart suit our editor-in-chief is all business! Buying and selling rights is at the heart of doing business at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Here a potential Indian buyer for a new NIAS title -- All Religions Merge at Tranquebar -- assesses the work.

And so another book fair has passed, so until next year, Frankfurt.


Vacancy at NIAS Press
from Press News, posted 10/15/2012 - 12:11

 Academic knowledge is constantly changing, evolving, and improving, and these terms can also be used to describe NIAS Press.  As a part of this ongoing process of change, we are looking for a new part-time student assistant for our office in Copenhagen.

This person should be a cheery and motivated self starter, someone who has a passion for books and an interest in Asia.  Office experience is necessary, and publishing experience desired.  Fluency in Danish and English is also required.  The candidate must be a student currently enrolled at a Danish university, at a masters or undergraduate level.  

If you meet these qualifications and are interested in this position, please send a short cover letter and C.V. to Heather, reachable  at books "at"  Deadline is Friday, Oct 19th.




Frankfurt Book Fair
from Press News, posted 10/12/2012 - 13:10

Much of the business transacted at Frankfurt Book Fair takes place during meetings.  Typically these are of a half-hour duration and the changeover between meetings can see aisles clogged at times. Since the onset of the current economic meltdown in 2008, the aisle traffic has been much reduced. This year, however, the traffic jams are again more common. 

One of the meetings we had this year at Frankfurt was with the Lontar Foundation, which originated and managed the publication of "Plaited Arts".  That book is now published and out there attracting attention -- currently at an indigenous arts exhibition in Paris, for instance -- but what we discussed at the meeting with Kestity Pringgoharjono (pictured with Gerald Jackson) were new ideas for an enhanced relationship.  This was an unexpected opportunity, something only possible by attending Frankfurt.

Another successful year!




NIAS Press is moving
from Press News, posted 10/02/2012 - 05:04

After more than 17 years at Leifsgade 33 near Copenhagen University's southern (Humanities) campus, NIAS is moving across town to the city campus where we will be in far closer contact with our colleagues at the Social Sciences faculty.

It is of course a wrench to depart a place we know so well and - especially after over 40 years being together - to be located somewhere different than our colleagues at the Asian Studies Department. However, we are confident of a continued close working relationship not only because of shared ventures like the university's Asian Dynamics Initiative but also the many various personal relationships between colleagues.

And of course where NIAS moves, so does the Press.

From today, our new address is:

NIAS Press
Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
Øster Farimagsgade 5
DK-1353 Copenhagen K
(no change to phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.)

Note that the above (postal) address is the same for the entire city campus, which covers more than a city block. As such, until such time as a more official map is made, visitors to NIAS might find this hastily made map of use.

As can be seen, the institute can be approached in several directions but the two most common routes will be:

1) from the main entrance to the campus (bus stop outside on route #40 or a 5-10 minute walk from Nørreport metro station), or

2) directly from Øster Søgade (the physical street address being no. 18 but not the postal address - see above).

Note that there is plenty of space for bicycles outside the institute but we do not have a private car park such as we enjoyed at Leifsgade. There is some free, off-street parking available near the institute but visitors will need to arrange a parking permit in advance with the institute secretary (currently Natalie Wheeler, contact details on the NIAS website). Street parking is also possible but note this is central Copenhagen so it is not easy to find and definitely not cheap.

As can be seen on the map, physically we are located on the north-western (lakeside) edge of the city campus, the Press offices looking out on lakes that were once part of the old city defences. The view is quite lovely but we have yet to discover how bad the traffic noise is (moving from a quiet suburban street to a main central city traffic route could be "interesting").

This news item is written in the early hours of the first day of the physical shift (Tuesday, 2 October) and the whole moving process won't be over until the library is moved in over a week's time. It has been a long, hard slog these past few weeks deciding what to keep and what to throw out. (Here we have been confronted by the startling evidence of the move from paper to electronic communication in the past two decades.)

The premises are also a bit smaller and organised very differently so we have quite a bit of reorganisation and adjustment ahead of us. The long and short of it, then, is: expect the usual professional standards you normally receive from the Press and NIAS generally but please do realise that behind the scenes it will be something of a madhouse for a while.

It is of course great timing that the Frankfurt Book Fair starts next week.



A beautiful weekend to be stuck inside
from Press News, posted 09/12/2012 - 15:26
Once upon a time, an interesting publisher commented to us that he refused to exhibit books at conferences unless he could dominate/overshadow the other exhibitors. This sounded strange and arrogant but we have since found it works.
So it happened at the annual conference of the UK Association of South East Asian Studies in Durham, which took place from Friday through to Sunday last weekend. As well as hosting a giant exhibit with books on Southeast Asia from about 18 publishers, the Press participated in a panel on getting published aimed principally at emerging scholars. Both were a great success.
Scholars browsing the ASEASUK book exhibit in the quiet time
Just a pity that the weekend saw the best weather enjoyed by Durham folk this year. We of course were inside.


Monks and (Review) Magic
from Press News, posted 08/31/2012 - 10:42

As you may remember, a rather special book arrived at the NIAS Press office after a somewhat mysteriously long journey, as documented here.

In any case, Monks and Magic has now received its first review.  The original version of the book is praised as remaining an "ideal introduction" to rural Thai custom and religion, and a "superb ethnographic account... also a major contribution to the theoretical discourse on Thai religion."  The author of this review then describes how the new edition became "a constant source of inspiration" and an invaluable comparison guide in his own data collection in Northeastern Thailand.  

What particularly thrilled us at the office though, was the reference to the inclusion of Thai script throughout the entire book, described as "one of this new edition's major improvements."  The reviewer explains, "most publishers refuse to print Thai script due to cost considerations, and since no universally-accepted transcription system exists, the translation of key terms and bibliographic information sometimes becomes a time-consuming and frustrating endeavour."

As for the many other improvements, we'll leave you to discover those on your own.  In any case, it is always gratifying to see our titles (and hard work) appreciated.  At the Press, this work ethic and willingness to go the extra mile to create something special is our own little bit of (publishing) magic.


A Colourful Delivery
from Press News, posted 08/15/2012 - 13:46

Sometimes it feels like Christmas when the postman appears, and today was one of those days.  

The delivery was more copies of the recent title, "Plaited Arts from the Borneo Rainforest", edited by Bernard Sellato.  This beautiful and colourful illustrated volume is a window into both the unique crafts of Borneo, and into the fascinating lives of the people who create them.

It is always a pleasure to find something so nice inside a package, even if you ordered it yourself!



Airplane Reading
from Press News, posted 07/31/2012 - 10:45

 One of our authors sent in this shot of last year's title Asian Cities, for sale at the Singapore International Airport bookstore. Fitting that a book exploring urbanization and globalization is available here, one of Asia's highly cosmopolitan and diverse spots.

We are always happy to see one of our books out there in the world, and even happier to see two!  Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia is also visible on the right.  Between these two books, in-flight entertainment should be just about covered.



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