GLOBAL FUTURES IN EAST ASIA: YOUTH, NATION, AND THE NEW ECONOMY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES by Ann Anagnost, Andrea Arai, and Hai Ren (eds.)
The East Asian economic miracle of the twentieth century is now a fond memory. What does it mean to be living in post-miracle times? For the youth of China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, the opportunities and challenges of the neoliberal age, deeply shaped by global forces in labor markets, powerfully frame their life prospects in ways that are barely recognizable to their parents. Global Futures in East Asia gathers together ethnographic explorations of what its contributors call projects of "life-making." Here we see youth striving to understand themselves, their place in society, and their career opportunities in the nation, region, and world. While some express optimism, it is clear that many others dread their prospects in the competitive global system in which the failure to thrive is isolating, humiliating, and possibly even fatal. ROOTS OF THE STATE: NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION AND SOCIAL NETWORKS IN BEIJING AND TAIPEI by Benjamin L. Read
Most social science studies of local organizations tend to focus on "civil society" associations, voluntary groups independent from state control, whereas government-sponsored organizations tend to be theorized in totalitarian terms as "mass organizations" or manifestations of state corporatism. Roots of the State examines neighborhood-level structures in Beijing and Taipei that occupy a unique space that exists between these concepts. Benjamin L. Read views the work of such organizations in East and Southeast Asia as a form of "administrative grassroots engagement." States sponsor networks of organizations at the most local of levels, and the networks facilitate governance and policing by building personal relationships with members of society. Leaders serve as the state's designated liaisons within the neighborhood and perform administrative duties covering a wide range of government programs, from welfare to political mobilization. These partly state-controlled entities also provide a range of everyday services to their constituents. ON THE EDGE OF THE GLOBAL: MODERN ANXIETIES IN A PACIFIC ISLAND NATION by Niko Besnier
Niko Besnier's illuminating ethnography explores the malaise present in the postcolonial Global South, focused on the island kingdom of Tonga. His work highlights the ways in which segments of this small-scale society hold on to different understandings of what modernity is, how it should be made relevant to local contexts, and how it should mesh with practices and symbols of tradition. Adopting a wide-angled perspective that brings together political, economic, cultural, and social concerns, Besnier argues that life in twenty-first-century Tonga is rife with uncertainties at odds with the appearance of stability and order conveyed by traditionalism. In the political realm, these uncertainties adopt a vocabulary of neo-traditionalism, democracy, neo-liberal economics, and citizenship. In Tongans' everyday lives, they take on a shape of a more mundane nature: how to make ends meet, how to pay lip service to tradition, and how to present a modern self without opening oneself to ridicule. Engaging with key issues in contemporary, Besnier's work is ideal for introductory and upper-division courses in social and cultural anthropology.
CONSTRUCTING CHINA'S JERUSALEM: CHRISTIANS, POWER, AND PLACE IN CONTEMPORARY WENZHOU by Nanlai Cao
Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life history interviews, this illuminating book provides an intimate portrait of contemporary Chinese Christianity in the context of a modern, commercialized economy. In vivid detail, anthropologist Nanlai Cao explores the massive resurgence of Protestant Christianity in the southeastern coastal city of Wenzhou--popularly referred to by its residents as "China's Jerusalem"--a nationwide model for economic development and the largest urban Christian...
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