Living Kinship, Fearing Spirits is an ambitious but sophisticated engagement with some of the fundamentals of anthropology. An investigation of kinship in a contemporary upland community could easily fall into the established channels that have supported the field for generations. Such a study in Laos could also get mired in the local ideological articulations of national community in a development state. This book is instead a deliberate and thoughtful response to the recent tendency toward “taking for granted” (p. 3) the dynamic complexity of kinship. Stolz undertakes to examine the role of agency amongst all the structures of kinship, searching for empirically derived elaborations of how these structures are not just “miraculously” reproduced by themselves (p. 5). To do this, she observes the many meanings and workings of kinship as practiced in the village she calls Pliya. The result is a refreshing, enlightening, and enjoyable story that is told from the inside out and delivered with elegance and honesty.

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Continue ReadingLiving Kinship, Fearing Spirits is an ambitious but sophisticated engagement with some of the fundamentals of anthropology. An investigation of kinship in a contemporary upland community could easily fall into the established channels that have supported the field for generations. Such a study in Laos could also get mired in the local ideological articulations of national community in a development state. This book is instead a deliberate and thoughtful response to the recent tendency toward “taking for granted” (p. 3) the dynamic complexity of kinship. Stolz undertakes to examine the role of agency amongst all the structures of kinship, searching for empirically derived elaborations of how these structures are not just “miraculously” reproduced by themselves (p. 5). To do this, she observes the many meanings and workings of kinship as practiced in the village she calls Pliya. The result is a refreshing, enlightening, and enjoyable story that is told from the inside out and delivered with elegance and honesty.

The book must be commended for not only outlining the variation in participation, access, concerns and lived experiences of women within Myanmar, but also for its commitment to a feminist methodology to study conflict and International Relations (IR). The contributors include a variety of practitioners, academics and specialists, based in Myanmar as well as outside its borders. Each chapter offers a thoughtful reflection on the contributor’s positionality, providing a great example of how such reflexive practice can powerfully advance academic research. The book’s breadth of methodological approaches provides insight into the plurality of ways to engage, analyse and cooperate within research. From interviews with female political leaders to participatory photography projects, from focus groups to oral histories, these contributions offer a holistic window into the variations of lived experiences within Myanmar. Taken as a whole, the chapters illustrate the complex set of political realities, and also demonstrate the strengths of vigorous research within critical feminist IR.

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Continue ReadingThe book must be commended for not only outlining the variation in participation, access, concerns and lived experiences of women within Myanmar, but also for its commitment to a feminist methodology to study conflict and International Relations (IR). The contributors include a variety of practitioners, academics and specialists, based in Myanmar as well as outside its borders. Each chapter offers a thoughtful reflection on the contributor’s positionality, providing a great example of how such reflexive practice can powerfully advance academic research. The book’s breadth of methodological approaches provides insight into the plurality of ways to engage, analyse and cooperate within research. From interviews with female political leaders to participatory photography projects, from focus groups to oral histories, these contributions offer a holistic window into the variations of lived experiences within Myanmar. Taken as a whole, the chapters illustrate the complex set of political realities, and also demonstrate the strengths of vigorous research within critical feminist IR.

This is an original and engaging book. The editors have compiled a strong selection of thoughtful and detail-rich chapters. The book will be of interest to scholars of civil society and social movements in Southeast Asia, and those interested in the role of civil society in democratisation. Hopefully it prompts greater attention, among both academics and practitioners, to processes of elitisation in civil society and their consequences for democratic change, both positive and negative.

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Continue ReadingThis is an original and engaging book. The editors have compiled a strong selection of thoughtful and detail-rich chapters. The book will be of interest to scholars of civil society and social movements in Southeast Asia, and those interested in the role of civil society in democratisation. Hopefully it prompts greater attention, among both academics and practitioners, to processes of elitisation in civil society and their consequences for democratic change, both positive and negative.

[Giuseppe Bolotta’s] ‘historically-informed ethnographic investigation’ (p. 4) succeeds very well in unravelling the convergence and collisions between Thai state discourses, global humanitarian and human rights ideas, secular and religious child-saving ideologies, in the shaping of slum children’s daily lives and socioeconomic mobilities in the Thai capital city. He argues, convincingly and insightfully, that the slum children’s ‘marginal childhoods’ and the proliferation of institutions and organisations that intervened in their lives reflect ‘endemic inequalities in Thailand’s wider sociopolitical structure, as well as of transformations in the transnational governance of childhood that are related to globalisation’ (p. 5). […] This reveals the uneven and intimate ways globalisation has destabilised and challenged the Thai state’s power to discipline and order Thai childhoods and society. […] This is an excellent addition to the emerging body of scholarship on childhood and youth in Asia.

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Continue Reading[Giuseppe Bolotta’s] ‘historically-informed ethnographic investigation’ (p. 4) succeeds very well in unravelling the convergence and collisions between Thai state discourses, global humanitarian and human rights ideas, secular and religious child-saving ideologies, in the shaping of slum children’s daily lives and socioeconomic mobilities in the Thai capital city. He argues, convincingly and insightfully, that the slum children’s ‘marginal childhoods’ and the proliferation of institutions and organisations that intervened in their lives reflect ‘endemic inequalities in Thailand’s wider sociopolitical structure, as well as of transformations in the transnational governance of childhood that are related to globalisation’ (p. 5). […] This reveals the uneven and intimate ways globalisation has destabilised and challenged the Thai state’s power to discipline and order Thai childhoods and society. […] This is an excellent addition to the emerging body of scholarship on childhood and youth in Asia.

This edited book draws its great strength from the combined efforts of Myanmar and Danish scholars who share a deep commitment to better appreciating the local dynamics of peace-building, dispute resolution, law reform, policing and religious dialogue in many different corners of Myanmar […]. The substantial contributions by researchers from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Yangon are notable in this regard. Such international collaborations have helped to highlight the talent, ambition, technique and adaptability of Myanmar’s social scientists as they have published high-quality research outputs, often related to cultures, histories and places defined by their own family and personal stories.

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Continue ReadingThis edited book draws its great strength from the combined efforts of Myanmar and Danish scholars who share a deep commitment to better appreciating the local dynamics of peace-building, dispute resolution, law reform, policing and religious dialogue in many different corners of Myanmar […]. The substantial contributions by researchers from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Yangon are notable in this regard. Such international collaborations have helped to highlight the talent, ambition, technique and adaptability of Myanmar’s social scientists as they have published high-quality research outputs, often related to cultures, histories and places defined by their own family and personal stories.

…It includes seven articles written between 1983 and 2016, nearly all which have been translated from their original Thai language to English, a treasue trove for both casual observers of Thai politics and seasoned scholars.

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Continue Reading…It includes seven articles written between 1983 and 2016, nearly all which have been translated from their original Thai language to English, a treasue trove for both casual observers of Thai politics and seasoned scholars.

This edited volume pleasingly illuminates an area (North Vietnam and South China) and topic (3 spices) that I, and I suspect many others, knew little about. The three spices, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom are well known in culinary circles, but their production has not been well documented, especially at the interface of farmer, wholesalers, and traders in the regions under discussion here.

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Continue ReadingThis edited volume pleasingly illuminates an area (North Vietnam and South China) and topic (3 spices) that I, and I suspect many others, knew little about. The three spices, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom are well known in culinary circles, but their production has not been well documented, especially at the interface of farmer, wholesalers, and traders in the regions under discussion here.

As the book journeys through the commodity chains of […] three key spices across unique ethnographic contexts in Vietnam and China, the chapters help to demystify the multiple and complex entanglements that spices and the communities that grow them find themselves in as they are encroached on by state and capitalist market forces. The uniqueness of the spices themselves, the diverse comparative approach, and inclusion of more-than-textual modalities add greater depth to existing research on commodity chain analysis.

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Continue ReadingAs the book journeys through the commodity chains of […] three key spices across unique ethnographic contexts in Vietnam and China, the chapters help to demystify the multiple and complex entanglements that spices and the communities that grow them find themselves in as they are encroached on by state and capitalist market forces. The uniqueness of the spices themselves, the diverse comparative approach, and inclusion of more-than-textual modalities add greater depth to existing research on commodity chain analysis.

(…) this collection breaks new ground in several respects. First, it is a collection of essays, which provides readers a richer variety of workplaces and forms of work than would be possible in a single-authored volume. Second, the essays all feature post-industrial workplaces and workers: staff at a gay bar and at a crossdressing escort service, sex workers, street musicians, and male adult-film stars and their fans; even the notion of gender transitioning as work gets its due.’

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Continue Reading(…) this collection breaks new ground in several respects. First, it is a collection of essays, which provides readers a richer variety of workplaces and forms of work than would be possible in a single-authored volume. Second, the essays all feature post-industrial workplaces and workers: staff at a gay bar and at a crossdressing escort service, sex workers, street musicians, and male adult-film stars and their fans; even the notion of gender transitioning as work gets its due.’