50th Anniversary Special Issue

2020 is JCA’s 50th anniversary. As part of the celebrations for the Journal, with our publisher, we are creating several free-access virtual special issues. The first of these is a collection of 40 articles by former and current editors of the Journal.

This special issue allows readers to journey through the history of the journal in a collection of articles published by the editors over this 50 years.

From co-founding editor Malcolm Caldwell’s “The role of the peasantry in the revolution” in Volume 1, Issue 1, to current editor-in-chief Kevin Hewison’s recent studies on Thailand, the depth and breadth of JCA’s editorial contributions offer unique insight into Asia’s economic, political and social development. Also included are Bruce McFarlane’s political economy and Peter Limqueco’s interviews with significant leaders in the region, Prince Souphanouvong and Pridi Banomyong.

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On Hong Kong

JCA co-editor Toby Carroll has an op-ed with The Conversation. In “Hong Kong is one of the most unequal cities in the world. So why aren’t the protesters angry at the rich and powerful?” he observes that much of the commentary on Hong Kong has ignored “the powerful links between the economic and political elites in the city and the grossly inadequate system of governance they preside…”.

Writing of a “city [that] has actually been in decay for decades,” he points to the “hollowing out” of industry, “an inability of those at the top end of town to recognise the vast inequalities…” and lives that are “experienced in the form of stalling or declining social mobility, sky-high housing prices…, dire air quality, crumbling infrastructure…, highly uneven education and health services…, and lack of decent public spaces.”

There a lot more to his structural account and why young protesters have failed to grasp the economic foundations of inequality and anti-democracy. His conclusion:

The fact that young people are grappling with forging a more positive future is to be admired. However, for Hong Kong to have any reasonable future, the city requires nothing short of large-scale economic and political transformation.

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Alec Gordon’s Last Interview

Readers will be interested in Alec Gordon’s last interview.

Conducted with Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux, and available in French and English, Elsa spoke with Alec in Kuala Lumpur, just a couple of weeks before his passing.

The discussion was about colonial surplus.

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Populism: Europe and Asia Compared

Moving Beyond European and Latin American Typologies: The Peculiarities of AKP’s Populism in Turkey” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1665196) is a new article by Yaprak Gürsoy of the Department of Politics and International Relations, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

The abstract states:

Despite the growing literature on Turkish populism, there is yet no consensus on how best to categorise the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AKP). This article argues that this lack of consensus is due to a selective focus on the attributes of AKP’s populism. Indeed, when the party’s features are examined holistically, it does not neatly conform to the dominant typologies of populism, which were conceived mostly for European and Latin American examples. For historical reasons, AKP’s populist discourse defines “the people” versus “the elite” in civilisational terms and combines this with strategies of neo-liberalism, strong party organisation and grassroots mobilisation. This blend of populism distinguishes the AKP case from the exclusionary/inclusionary and classical/neo-liberal/radical typologies previously identified by the literature. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party in India and the Thai Rak Thai Party in Thailand have similar attributes to the AKP, drawing attention to the need to move beyond the existing ideological and strategic approaches to populism and towards a more comprehensive socio-cultural approach. The article contributes to the literature on populism by highlighting possible avenues for further research based on such a comprehensive understanding of populism based also on cases from Asia.

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The Chinese Game Industry

Windows of Opportunity, Capability and Catch-Up: The Chinese Game Industry” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1656761) is a new article by Jun Youn Kim and Song Hee Kang of the Software Policy & Research Institute in Seoul, Korea.

The abstract for the paper states:

This study examines the catch-up experiences of the Chinese game industry from a neo-Schumpeterian perspective. It determines that Chinese indigenous firms succeeded in catch-up by strategically responding to favourable policy changes, such as a quota system that limited the import of overseas games and content inspection by the government. It is found that China has established its capabilities in a quite different manner than the experience of advanced countries during the dynamic catch-up process. This verdict shows that the order of capability development of late-comer countries can be different from that of advanced countries. Despite numerous studies that emphasise the role of government, we argue that, even when the market is unsegmented, if foreign knowledge is accessible, then the necessary intervention can involve little more than the protection of the initial market in the form of exclusive licensing, import restriction, not sharing R&D costs or promoting marketing activity. Despite exclusive licensing, import restriction and piracy, overseas game firms continued co-operating with China in the form of a publishing contract and IP sales due to massive market opportunities in China. This indicates that a large country with an immense domestic market can differentiate its catch-up strategies from those of small-market countries.

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A Biography of Thailand’s Anand Panyarachun

In a new book review, Journal editor Kevin Hewison looks at Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand, a biography authored by Bangkok-based journalist Dominic Faulder.

Anand was “twice unelected Prime Minister of Thailand” and is quoted as “lamenting that biography is not part of Thailand’s literary tradition and, those produced ‘tend to lack critical and analytical content’.” The Thai ruling class’s preferred publisher, Editions Didier Millet and Faulder have produced a book of 576 pages that, Hewison says, has “[s]everal chapters [that]  are mind-numbingly boring while the book is too kind to Anand, allowing too few critical voices.”

Hewison concludes: “Faulder has produced a huge book that carries too little weight. Readers may find the odd nugget, but that requires rather too much effort.”

Free50 copies of the review can be downloaded for free. Click here.

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Neo-Liberal Labour Repression

Neo-Liberal Methods of Labour Repression: Privatised Violence and Dispossessive Litigation in Korea” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1663552) is a new article for JCA by Yoonkyung Lee of the Department of Sociology, University of Toronto in Canada.

The paper is a significant contribution to the ways in which capital and state repress labour organisation in the neo-liberal era. The abstract of the paper is:

This article begins by asking what lies behind the rise of extreme methods of labour repression in Korea in the 2000s. The answer goes beyond the common neo-liberal conditions of intensified competition, insecurity and precariousness in the labour market. This study focuses on how market logic, emboldened by neo-liberal restructuring, guides the state and corporations to reconfigure methods of disempowering organised labour. The examination of Korea shows the government and employers have actively used newly emergent commercial security firms and public labour attorney offices to exercise private violence and file damage compensation lawsuits against unions and workers who resist neo-liberal employment conditions. The systematic deployment of commercial violence and dispossessive litigation to constrain workers’ mobilisation deepens our understanding of the complexity of state and corporate coercion in the neo-liberal era. The state–capital relation in these circumstances also raises questions about the authority of legal institutions under democratic governments encroached by heightened power of corporate interests.

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