Sunday, January 4, 2009

More academic titles...

Emotions of Culture: A Malay Perspective, Edited by Wazir Jahan Karim (1990). Part of the Oxford University series of South-East Asian Social Science Monographs, this is a collection of five studies on the Malay psyche. Some of the topics included are the language of emotion in courtship and early marriage, the martial arts and Malay Superman, the amok phenomenon, and latah.

(Photo: Marriage is a community event; Malay colleague and husband.)

A Share of the Harvest: Kinship, Property, and Social History Among the Malays of Rembau, Michael Gates Peletz (1988). Dr. Peletz did his PhD. research in a Malay kampung in Negri Sembilan. This book presents the bulk of his doctoral research, I believe.

Reason and Passion: Representations of Gender in a Malay Society, Michael G. Peletz (1996). This book, again based upon his doctoral research, emphasises the role of gender in Malay society. His fieldwork covered parts of 1978-80 and 1987-88.

Bewitching Women, Pious Men, Editors Aihwa Ong and Michael G. Peletz (1995). A collection of studies from around Southeast Asia, it shows the similarities between the various ethnic groups in the region. The main thesis of the collection is that women tend to be ruled by emotion, while the men -supposedly guided by religion- are more in control of their emotions. Actually, one could use a title like: "Nurturing Women, Cheating Men" and be just as true to the mark. (Of course, not all SE Asian men cheat; there are many who are wonderful husbands and fathers.)

Taming the Wind of Desire: Psychology, Medicine, and Aesthetics in Malay Shamanistic Performance, Carol Laderman (1993). Another book based upon the author's PhD. research, Dr. Laderman spent part of the period 1975-77 in Malaysian state of Terengganu, researching Malay medicine and folk performance, particularly the Mak Yong. Fascinating study and well-written.

Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia, Aihwa Ong (1987). Ms. Ong is probably a Malaysian Chinese and spent parts of 1979-80 doing fieldwork in Kuala Langat, Selangor, amongst factory women. She documented the trouble that Japanese factory managers were having with mass hysteria amongst factory women, mostly young Malay ladies from local kampungs. Basically, her main thesis (question) was: "Why are Malay women workers periodically seized by spirit possession on the shopfloors of modern factories?"

That should be enough titles for now should one of you readers want to delve more deeply into Malay culture from an anthropological perspective.

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