Commodifying labour power in China

JCA co-editor Richard Westra, from the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University in Japan, has a new Commentary available from the publisher’s website.

A Theoretical Note on Commodification of Labour Power in China and the Global Putting-Out System” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1324040) is an important contribution to Marxist theory and the analysis of China’s capitalist development.

The abstract is as follows:

This article captures China’s role in global manufacturing through the prism of conceptualisation of the commodification of labour power in Marxist theory. It argues that modalities of China’s labour force co-optation in assembly and lower value added production for export of consumer goods to advanced economies carries more of a family resemblance with putting-out systems of the pre-capitalist era than with the commodification of labour power sensu stricto marking the capitalist era from the mid-nineteenth century.

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How Myanmar’s “national races” trumped citizenship

In another piece at New Mandala, Nick Cheesman draws from his recent article for JCA, How in Myanmar “National Races” Came to Surpass Citizenship and Exclude Rohingya (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1297476).

*A version of this piece at New Mandala also appeared at East Asia Forum.*

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Peace processes in Mindanao

In a new review at the JCA publisher’s site (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1318412), Chiang Mai University’s Ashley South looks at Paul Hutchcroft’s edited collection, Mindanao: The Long Journey to Peace and Prosperity, published by Anvil Publishing in Manila.

Over several decades, the peace process on Mindanao has looked successful with bright prospects. At other times, it has been characterised by violence, frustration and despair.

This makes the new collection important. It “brings together many of the key analysts of, and some important stakeholders in, the Mindanao peace process. It does so at a critical juncture: the previous President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, came close, but ultimately failed to achieve a comprehensive legal-political settlement to decades of conflict.” South says:

This book is a fascinating guide to these complexities, and should be essential reading for anyone interested in peace, conflict and the challenges of reconstruction on Mindanao. It also provides useful lessons for other situations of long-standing inter-communal and state–society conflict.

He concludes the review observing:

Every chapter in this collection makes important contributions towards its particular subject area. In total, the essays constitute a significant and useful resource for understanding violent conflict on Mindanao, and prospects for peace and prosperity.

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Laos and the CIA

JCA editor Kevin Hewison has a new review at JCA (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1319643) that  looks at Joshua Kurlantzick’s A Great Place to Have a War. America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA, published by Simon and Schuster.

Hewison says that Kurlantzick “provides a lively account of the period,” but adds that he makes relatively little use of the vast amount of recently released archival material. The contribution of the book is in conducting a series of interviews with several of the key figures such as Bill Lair, Tony Poe, Vang Pao and Willis Bird Jr., all on the CIA’s payroll, and in “making an argument that the CIA’s operations in Laos were precursors for decades of covert actions.”

Kurlantzick argues that the CIA’s operations in Laos were the “first such secret, CIA-run war in American history” (12). In making this point, Kurlantzick shows that many in the CIA did not consider Laos as a “loss.” Directors Richard Helms and William Colby decided that Laos was a “superb job” and a “war we won” (245). Kurlantzick shows how agents with experience in Laos eventually occupied influential positions that saw covert and para-military operations rejuvenated under the Reagan administration (248).

That contribution is useful. However, Hewison concludes:

For those who don’t know a lot about the “secret war” in Laos, Kurlantzick’s account is a readable introduction. For those who are familiar with the CIA’s intervention, the book covers much familiar ground.

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Cheesman on Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar

Nick Cheesman is a Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University, and a 2016-17 a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

He has a post at New Mandala, which is extracted and adapted from “Introduction: Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1305121) the introduction to a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Asia (47, 3, 2017, 335-352).

Nick also acted as guest editor for that special issue

The full article is available for free download by clicking the link above.

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Malaysia, China and Services

Siew Yean Tham of the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore and the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia has a new article available from JCA.

Examining the Shift to Services: Malaysia and China Compared  (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1310273) is the first article in a special issue that is to be dedicated to the late Lee Poh Ping.

The abstract for the paper states:

When do countries that pursue industrialisation through the development of their manufacturing sector shift to services? Does the shift take place because manufacturing development has matured with the development of indigenous technology? What is the role of policy in this shift? Understanding this shift is crucial due to the changing nature and role of services in development and its association with deindustrialisation. This article seeks to compare Malaysia and China’s shift from manufacturing to services and the challenges and prospects of such a shift. The main findings indicate that Malaysia’s shift occurred earlier than China’s and was prompted by the failure of its manufacturing sector to deepen as it has not produced any world-class domestic technology firms. China’s more recent shift is associated with on-going upgrading in its manufacturing sector while some global domestic technology firms have also emerged. Both countries used similar policies to drive this shift in response to domestic and external changes. The services sectors of both countries are still dominated by domestic market orientated, labour-intensive services. Developing competitive knowledge-intensive services in both countries will need a reform of their state-owned enterprises and the production of more talents that are needed for these types of services.

At present, this paper is available for free download.


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Communal Violence in Myanmar

As previously posted, Issue 3 of Volume 47 (2017) has gone to print and is available electronically  at the publisher’s site.

This number is a special issue. Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar has been guest edited by Nick Cheesman from the Australian National University in Canberra.

The first article in the special issue is now available for free download. It is Introduction: Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1305121) by Nick Cheesman.

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