Politics and Remembering in Hong Kong

Memories of Tiananmen: Politics and Processes of Collective Remembering in Hong Kong, 1989–2019 is authored by Francis L. F. Lee and Joseph M. Chan and published by Amsterdam University Press.

The book is reviewed for JCA by Joseph Cheng, formerly of the City University of Hong Kong and a democracy advocate for Hong Kong.

This volume provides an account of Hong Kong’s commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen student movement in China, considering the period from 1989 to  2019, and discusses the developments after 2019 in an epilogue.

Lee and Chan on broader discussions of collective memories about historical events. In looking at Hong Kong and Tiananmen, Cheng believes “their work … contributes to a
better understanding of the local political developments over three decades.” Over time, there was a development of a strong memory of resistance.

As “a space of exception within China,” the Tienanmen commemoration became a “significant marker” of the “one country, two systems” model after 1997. As Cheng observes, there’s now changed circumstances: “Today, the Chinese leadership obviously accords the top priority to national security…”. Rallies considered to “threaten” China’s authoritarian narratives and practices are now forbidden.

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Compressed Development

Compressed Development: Time and Timing in Economic Development is a collaboration between D. Hugh Whittaker, Timothy Sturgeon, Toshie Okita, and Tianbiao Zhu, published by Oxford University Press. The book is reviewed for JCA by Nahee Kang of the Department of International Development, King’s College London.

Kang suggests that an important question development scholarship is:

to what extent do the economic and social development experiences derived through the East Asian Tiger’s experience speak to “the rest”…. Compressed Development explores this question by comparing the “early” compressed developers (Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) with the “late” compressed developers (China, Brazil, and India). The key argument of the book is that the challenges faced by late compressed developers are significantly different because of the “time” factor.

She considers the book, despite an ambitious framework, is an “impressive” and “original” study of “globalisation and development that offers a framework for bringing the building major blocks of political economy – states, markets, organisations, and technology – into a mutually constitutive relationship rather than in opposition, all the while accommodating for changes over time.”

Kang applauds the authors for taking “the time factor seriously, grounding their research in the classical traditions of both Leon Trotsky and Alexander Gerschenkron on ‘late’ development.” In doing this, “the authors take into consideration not only ‘timing’ of early and late industrial take-off, but also ‘speed’ of growth, underscoring that industrial processes…”.

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Wealth Inequality and Uneven and Combined Development In India

Closed Loop, Open Borders: Wealth Inequality and Uneven and Combined Development in India” (DOI: 10.1080/ 00472336.2022.2079548) is a new article for JCA by Anthony P. D’Costa of the College of Business, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama, USA and Anthropology and Development Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.

The abstract for the article states:

The purpose of this article is to offer an alternative perspective to worsening wealth disparity in India. It does so by critically applying the framework of uneven and combined development in a novel way. It develops two analytical constructs based on internal and external forces that collectively contribute to increasing wealth inequality. The internal force is a closed loop in which the state privileges rent-seeking activities as a response to uneven development in the first place. The external force comprises open borders that not only facilitate wealth and capital flight, which is linked to rent-seeking activities but also deprives the economy of critical resources for development. Together, the specific institutional arrangements associated with the closed loop and the siphoning off of wealth under open borders in the form of capital flight to the global economy exacerbate wealth inequality.

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10,000 download milestone

David Bourchier’s 2019 article on Indonesian politics and nationalism has just ticked over 10,000 downloads.

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Issue 3 for 2022 published

Volume 52, No. 3 is now available electronically at the publisher’s site. This issue includes six research articles and six book reviews.

The research articles are:

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Love and the Death of King Ananda

Love and Death of King Ananda Mahidol of Thailand is a new book by By Pavin Chachavalpongpun and published by Palgrave MacMillan. It is reviewed for JCA by Mark S. Cogan of the College of Foreign Studies, Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan.

One of the secrets kept by Thailand’s royals is the death of King Ananda, who was shot in the head in 1946. Pavin’s book seeks to shed some light on this royal death by examining the life of the young king, particularly the years spent in Switzerland. Cogan says that Pavin “has opened a window into Ananda’s private life.” In particular, the book shines a light on Ananda’s “hitherto unexplored and somewhat forgotten love, Marileine Ferrari, the daughter of a pastor in affluent Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland which neighbours Lausanne, where Ananda grew up and went to university.”

In one chapter, Pavin considers “King Ananda’s death and its decades-long cover up…”. Cogan argues that “Pavin’s account departs immediately from the official and Palace view that it was an accidental death, although nine years later in 1955, scapegoats, in the form of two pages and a royal secretary were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death in an alleged conspiracy to kill the young king .” He “explores alternative death theories.”

Cogan concludes:

The book is no doubt controversial, if not for its subject matter, but for the fact that it was written by Pavin, a critic of the monarchy. It is also provocative, insofar as it invites additional attention on the “colourful” life of the reigning Thai monarch, King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) and the anti-monarchy protests of recent years. In this new era of shattered taboos, nothing is off limits, and Pavin’s exploration of the life and death of a young monarch opens the door for more.

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Asian Environmental Movements and Politics

Environmental Movements and Politics of the Asian Anthropocene is edited by Paul Jobin, Ming-sho Ho and Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, and published by ISEAS – Yosof Ishak Institute. It is reviewed for JCA by editor Kevin Hewison of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Centre for Macau Studies at the University of Macau.

With nine country chapters, a substantial Introduction and
useful Conclusion, the collection seeks to update the fates and fortunes of environmental activism in the region. In theoretical terms, it grapples with the contested notion of the Anthropocene, and reconsiders the relationship between environmentalism and democracy.

The focus is on the extent of human-induced change across the region over the past two decades. The data presented are, not unexpectedly, bleak and alarming. The authors offer case studies focused on developments in each country over this period, with each chapter
including cases of particular struggles and an account of recent environmental movement
development. With chapters on Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,
Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Reading across the chapters reveals the great variety of responses to environmental challenges.

Hewison observes that the close analysis of the cases and the diversity across the region reflects the greatest strength of areas studies approaches: the deep understanding provided by country experts as they engage in qualitative research and assessment.

He concludes that the chapters provide clearly written, classroom-ready accounts of the trials and tribulations of environmental movements in the region, along with some insightful case study material. In addition, the editors have done an excellent job of
bringing coherence to the collection. That coherence, however, does not over-simply a
complex and diverse set of issues and challenges for the environment, for politics,
and for environmental movements in the region.

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Capital Accumulation in the “Lucky Country”: The Commonwealth Period

Capital Accumulation in the ‘Lucky Country’: Australia from the ‘Sheep’s Back’ to the ‘Quarry Economy.’ Part II: The Commonwealth Period” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022.2065335) is the second part of an article by Nicolas Grinberg of CONICET, Buenos Aires, and UNSAM, San Martin, Argentina.

Part I is here.

The abstract for this article states:

The Australian economy went from being amongst the most promising areas of “new settlement,” to producing one of the most “mediocre” rich-country performances, only to later enjoy a “miraculous” revival. This is the second part of a two-part article that presents an account of this Australian trajectory that is critical of mainstream traditions. Drawing on key insights of Marx’s critique of political economy, this article argues that Australia’s role in the production of surplus-value on global scale has specifically determined its pattern of long-term economic and political development. Since its creation by British capital, the Australian economy became not only a source of cheap raw materials but also of ground-rent for appropriation by competing social subjects. Part I examined the colonial period. This second part analyses the Commonwealth period. It is argued that the process of inwards-oriented industrialisation, in place until the mid-1980s, was the state-mediated economic form through which capital invested in manufacturing managed to appropriate the largest share of the Australian ground-rent. It also argues that during the neo-liberal era that followed that process, manufacturing capital was increasingly displaced by industrial capital invested in mining and public services.


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Customary Land Tenure in Papua New Guinea: The Impotence of the Neo-Liberalism

Political Impotence of the Neo-Liberal Ideologues: The Continuing Primacy of Customary Land Tenure in Papua New Guinea” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022.2064328) is a new article for JCA by Scott MacWilliam of the Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

The abstract for the paper states:

Critics of neo-liberalism’s advance have not always paid sufficient attention to how the ideology came to be attached to class and state power, either internationally or in any country. “Land problems” remain central to the development of capitalism in Papua New Guinea. Proposals for reform of what is known as customary tenure have remained within the liberal tradition, as liberalism itself changed internationally. From the 1990s, one strand of that tradition, known internationally as neo-liberalism, became prominent among the tussles over reform. This article documents how prominence did not translate into the hold on political power necessary to move ideology into policy implementation. Instead of the favoured neo-liberal direction of individualised land tenure, in Papua New Guinea customary tenure remains the principal form of land occupation and ownership.


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Militias, Drugs, and Governance on the Myanmar-China Border


Brokered Rule: Militias, Drugs, and Borderland Governance in the Myanmar-China Borderlands” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022 .2064327 ) is a new open access article by Patrick Meehan of the Department of Development Studies, SOAS University of London and Seng Lawn Dan of the Kachinland Research Centre, a non-profit research organization headquartered in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar.

The abstract for the article states:

Seng Lawn Dan

This article develops the concept of brokerage to analyse the systems of borderland governance that have underpinned processes of state formation and capitalist development in the conflict-affected Myanmar-China borderland region of northern Shan State since the late 1980s. It focuses on the brokerage arrangements that have developed between the Myanmar Army and local militias, and how the illegal drug trade has become integral to these systems of brokered rule. This article draws particular attention to the inherent tensions and contradictions surrounding brokerage. In the short term, deploying militias as borderland brokers has provided an expedient mechanism through which the Myanmar Army has sought to extend and embed state authority, and has also provided the stability and coercive muscle needed to attract capital, expand trade, and intensify resource extraction. However, at the same time, militias have sought to use their position as brokers to aggrandise their own power and counter the extension of central state control. In the longer term, brokerage arrangements have thus had the effect of reinvigorating systems of strongman borderland governance, further fragmenting the means of violence and the proliferation of drugs and disempowering non-militarised forms of political negotiation.


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