Confucianism as a World Religion takes home the 2014 Best Book Award, Sociology of Religion Section of the American Sociological Association

j10017[1]We are delighted to learn that Anna Sun’s book Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities has been named winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, Sociology of Religion Section of the American Sociological Association.

The book was earlier reviewed by Andrew Stuart Abel in the American Journal of Sociology: “Confucianism as a World Religion is destined to become a classic, especially in Confucian studies and comparative religion. . . . [T]his text is likely to be very popular in graduate seminars on comparative religion, Confucianism, and the sociology of religion. More of an introduction to Confucianism may be necessary for a full understanding of what Sun is up to, but this book is certainly one of the most important English-language texts on Confucianism.”

This award “honors a book that makes an outstanding contribution to the sociology of religion.” You can read more about this award and others given by the Sociology of Religion Section of ASA here: http://www.asanet.org/sections/religion_awards.cfm

Anna Suns’ Confucianism as a World Religion wins award at 2014 American Academy of Religion Book Awards

Every year the American Academy of Religion (AAR) recognizes “new scholarly publications that make significant contributions to the study of religion,” and awards “books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.”

We are proud to announce that Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities by Anna Sun has won the 2014 AAR Best First Book in the History of Religions award.  Sun will receive this award at the AAR Annual Meeting on November 23rd.

Again, congratulations to Anna Sun on a remarkable achievement!


bookjacket

Confucianism as a World Religion:
Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities
Anna Sun
Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, Sociology of Religion Section of the American Sociological Association
Winner of the 2014 Best First Book in the History of Religions Award, American Academy of Religion
One of Choice‘s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013

 

Quick Questions for David Gordon White

drishti-detailDavid Gordon White is the J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he focuses on “delineating the parameters of Tantra as the most perennial and pervasive ‘great tradition’ of South Asia.”

His books include Yoga in Practice (Princeton), Sinister Yogis, and, most recently, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography, which Library Journal calls “a fascinating presentation of the rise, fall, and rediscovery of the Yoga Sutra [that] will appeal to those looking to expand their knowledge.”

Now, on to the questions!

What inspired you to get into your field?

A high school history teacher who had been to India showed us slides of the country and spoke with great emotion about the people and culture there. At about the same time, the Beatles began sporting beads and Nehru collars, picked up during their stay with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh.


These non-fiction subjects have been as magical and wondrous as anything that surrealist or magical realist authors have ever produced.


What would you have been if not a professor of comparative religion?

I long fancied myself as a novelist, and do have a completed novel, written in the 1980s, sitting in a drawer. Graduate school stifled my creative writing mojo, although I do work very hard at making my academic writing readable and enjoyable for a non-specialist readership. I hope to get back to writing fiction at some point, although it must be said that the non-fiction subjects I have written on over the past decades (Hindu alchemy, the lives of yogis, the mythology of dog-headed men, tantric sex, etc.) have been as magical and wondrous as anything that surrealist or magical realist authors have ever produced.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from writing a biography of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali?

Apart from the period between about 700 and 1200 CE, no one in South Asia was interested in the Yoga Sutra until the twentieth century. Other works, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Yajnavalkya, and Yoga Vasistha, were the principal guides to yoga.

Who do you see as the audience for the book?

Any practitioner of yoga who is curious about the origins and history of their practice.

What is your next project?

A book on the spread of demonology along the Silk Road, in which one finds Buddhist demons in Manichean sources, Roman demons in Indian sources, and so forth. Demons and the spells and charms used against them were far more portable than gods or theological doctrines. Working title: Demons are Forever.

 


David is the author of:

bookjacket The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography
David Gordon WhiteHardcover | 2014 | $24.95 / £16.95 | ISBN: 9780691143774
296 pp. | 4 1/2 x 7 1/2 | 1 table.
eBook | ISBN: 9781400850051
Reviews
Table of Contents
Chapter 1[PDF]
Bibliography
Notes

Quick Questions for Ellen D. Wu, author of The Color of Success

7W8A1140Ellen D. Wu is assistant professor of history at Indiana University where she conducts research on issues of race, immigration, citizenship, and nation through the lens of Asian American history. She is also author of The Color of Success:Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, a recent book that tells of the astonishing transformation of Asians in the United States from the “yellow peril” to “model minorities”–peoples distinct from the white majority but lauded as well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, and exemplars of traditional family values–in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

Now, on to the questions!

 

What inspired you to get into your field?

As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I was originally drawn to Asian American history as a way to understand my own place in the world. (I always felt a little bit freakish, growing up in Indiana.) But I soon learned that it is much more than that. The founders of Asian American Studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s emphasized the importance of research and education relevant to Asian American communities. They also believed that it was possible not only to fight oppression, but to end it completely.

The original, radical vision of Asian American Studies continues to invigorate me. I strive to tell new stories in such a way that is meaningful to Asian Americans from all walks of life.  I aim to highlight the diversity of Asian America. And I am interested in the actions that ordinary people have taken in the face of racism and other dehumanizing challenges.

What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about what you do?


The reigning misconception of Asians in the United States is that we are “model minorities.”


People often think that history is just a string of dates and facts about “great” white men.  (Is it a coincidence that many of those who believe this also tell me that they think history is boring?)  I would also say that most non-historians have no idea how historians actually go about doing what they do (i.e. archival research)—probably because it’s pretty bizarre from an outsider’s perspective! A friend of mine explains it this way: we read other people’s mail. While that makes us sound like NSA employees, that description works for me.

What would you have been if not a historian?

I have fantasies about being/becoming a documentary filmmaker, a food writer, and an independently wealthy lady of leisure.

What are you reading right now?

This summer I plan to dig in to some of my favorite literary writers: Jhumpa Lahiri, Monique Troung, and Junot Diaz. I can’t wait to be inspired by their words, sentences, and storytelling. Meanwhile, I’m reading lots of things via my Twitter feed.

What was the most influential book you’ve read?

Ummmm… The Bible?

Why did you write The Color of Success?

It was a book that I wished had already existed.

What was the biggest challenge involved with bringing this book to life?


[Book] titles are so hard! They’re akin to naming one’s child.


Conceptually it was quite difficult for me to figure out how to move from dissertation to book. It’s the kind of thing (at least in my experience) that one doesn’t really know how to do until one has done it, if that makes sense. But now I can say the process has been demystified and hopefully all the pieces will fall into place much faster with the next book.

What do you think is the book’s most important contribution?

Today the reigning misconception of Asians in the United States is that we are “model minorities”—people of color who are naturally smart and hardworking, socio-economically mobile, etc. Observers often attribute the putative “success” of Asian Americans to “culture.”  By excavating the origins of the “model minority” image (it’s a relatively recent creation, dating back only to the 1940s-60s), The Color of Success shows that it is an invented fiction rather than timeless truth. Certain Asian American spokespersons, government officials, social scientists, journalists, and others conjured up the “model minority” for various political purposes. For those invested in delegitimizing the African American freedom movement, the “model minority” stereotype served as handy “evidence” that the United States was indeed a land of opportunity for all, including racial minorities. People are often surprised to hear that the “model minority” stereotype, while ostensibly positive, is actually highly problematic and pernicious.

The value of tracing the relatively recent emergence of a stereotype that is prevalent today is that it drives home the point that race is a social process rather than a fact of nature. That gives me hope that racial stereotypes and categories can be “unmade” as well as “made.”

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

My goal with The Color of Success was to generate something empirically-rich and stimulating for professional scholars, but also significant and accessible in a broader way. I wanted to write for “lay” Asian Americans and others interested in historical and present-day conditions and consequences of race in the United States. Additionally, I tried to produce something that my friends and relatives might actually read. (A shout out to my cousin Denise in Logan, Utah for being my first family member to finish it!) I’m crossing my fingers that the book will speak to this these disparate audiences.

k10134[1]How did you come up with the title or jacket?

Titles are so hard! They’re akin to naming one’s child: it’s a heavy decision because it seems that it will seal the fate of the book forever. I definitely wanted something that conveyed the main themes of the book, but I didn’t want it to sound too boring or “academic-y” (hopefully I succeeded?). I went through about a million titles before my husband came up with The Color of Success at the eleventh hour.

On the other hand, the cover image (a photograph of the 1956 San Francisco Chinese basketball team, clad in “USA” jackets and holding “USA”-stamped balls), was something that I had kept in mind for years.  I first spotted it in a 1956 issue of San Francisco’s bilingual Chinese World newspaper when I started my research.  It was one of those ah-ha! moments. Like other notable American artists and athletes at the time, the team had been tapped by the US State Department to tour Asia as “goodwill” ambassadors—essentially Cold War cultural diplomats. It’s a great double-take image that plays with the tenacious notion that Asians remain “forever foreigners” in the United States, that Asian Americans have never truly been seen by others as “real” Americans.  And like Linsanity, it also messes with assumptions that Asian Americans make good scientists or violinists or whatever, but not good basketball players.

Several years after I initially ran across the photo, I wrote to a senior Asian American historian to ask if she knew how I might get a hold of it for the book. She forwarded my message to her contacts in San Francisco Chinatown, and, voila!, I tracked down Percy Chu, the 80-something coach of the basketball team. Mr. Chu not only kindly sent me the photo, but now he’s also my penpal. Every Chinese holiday, he sends me little gifts in the mail—zongzi (Chinese tamales) for the Dragon Boat festival, mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, red envelopes for Lunar New Year. (Maybe he feels sorry for me for living in Bloomington, so far removed from the epicenters of Chinese America?) So that’s been unexpected and fun!

 

Ellen is the author of:

bookjacket

The Color of Success:
Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority
Ellen D. Wu
Hardcover | $39.50 / £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691157825
376 pp. | 6 x 9 | 19 halftones.eBook | ISBN: 9781400848874
Endorsements | Table of Contents
Introduction pdf-iconThe Color of Success embodies exciting developments in Asian American history. Through the lens of racial liberalism and cultural diplomacy, Ellen Wu offers a historically grounded analysis of the Asian American model minority in the contexts of domestic race politics and geopolitics, and she unveils the complexities of wartime and postwar national inclusion.”–Eiichiro Azuma, University of Pennsylvania

50 Shades of the Golden Vase?

http://press.princeton.edu/images/k10120.gifWhen someone thinks of Princeton University Press, “sexy” probably isn’t one of the first adjectives that come to mind. And yet, one of our most recently published books is the fifth and final volume of a series translated from an ancient Chinese novel that has a certain, ahem, erotic nature.

Translated by David Tod Roy, The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P’ing Mei focuses on the domestic life of Hsi-men Ch’ing, a corrupt, upwardly mobile merchant in a provincial town, who maintains a harem of six wives and concubines. This work, known primarily for its erotic realism, is also a landmark in the development of the narrative art form–not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context.

In a recent New York Times review, Jennifer Schuessler called it “the first long Chinese narrative to focus not on mythical heroes or military adventures, but on ordinary people and everyday life, chronicled down to the minutest details of food, clothing, household customs, medicine, games and funeral rites, with exact prices given for just about everything, including the favor of bribe-hungry officials up and down the hierarchy.”

This might not be quite the same as the raunchy love between Anastasia and Christian in 50 Shades of Grey, but I’ve heard some pretty risque things about Chapter 27, so watch out!

Taner Akçam Announced Co-Winner of 2013 Albert Hourani Book Award

Taner Akçam – The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire
Co-Winner of the 2013 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association

The Albert Hourani Book Award was established in 1991 to recognize outstanding publishing in Middle East studies. To see all of the winners from the Middle East Studies Association, click here.

The Young Turks' Crime against HumanityIntroducing new evidence from more than 600 secret Ottoman documents, this book demonstrates in unprecedented detail that the Armenian Genocide and the expulsion of Greeks from the late Ottoman Empire resulted from an official effort to rid the empire of its Christian subjects. Presenting these previously inaccessible documents along with expert context and analysis, Taner Akçam’s most authoritative work to date goes deep inside the bureaucratic machinery of Ottoman Turkey to show how a dying empire embraced genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Although the deportation and killing of Armenians was internationally condemned in 1915 as a “crime against humanity and civilization,” the Ottoman government initiated a policy of denial that is still maintained by the Turkish Republic. The case for Turkey’s “official history” rests on documents from the Ottoman imperial archives, to which access has been heavily restricted until recently. It is this very source that Akçam now uses to overturn the official narrative.

The documents presented here attest to a late-Ottoman policy of Turkification, the goal of which was no less than the radical demographic transformation of Anatolia. To that end, about one-third of Anatolia’s 15 million people were displaced, deported, expelled, or massacred, destroying the ethno-religious diversity of an ancient cultural crossroads of East and West, and paving the way for the Turkish Republic.

By uncovering the central roles played by demographic engineering and assimilation in the Armenian Genocide, this book will fundamentally change how this crime is understood and show that physical destruction is not the only aspect of the genocidal process.

Taner Akçam, the first scholar of Turkish origin to publicly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, holds the Kaloosdian and Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. His many books include A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (Metropolitan Books).

Thomas Blom Hansen a Finalist for the 2013 Herskovits Award

Thomas Blom Hansen - Melancholia of Freedom: Social Life in an Indian Township in South Africa
Finalist for the 2013 Melville J. Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

The African Studies Association presents the Herskovits Award to the author of the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English during the preceding year. The winner of the Herskovits Award is announced each year at the ASA Annual Meeting, where he or she receives an honorarium of $500.  The ceremony will take place in 2013 on November 23rd in Baltimore, MD.

For more information about the award, click here.

Melancholia of Freedom In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen offers an in-depth analysis of the uncertainties, dreams, and anxieties that have accompanied postapartheid freedoms in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban. Exploring five decades of township life, Hansen tells the stories of ordinary Indians whose lives were racialized and framed by the township, and how these residents domesticated and inhabited this urban space and its institutions, during apartheid and after.

Hansen demonstrates the complex and ambivalent nature of ordinary township life. While the ideology of apartheid was widely rejected, its practical institutions, from urban planning to houses, schools, and religious spaces, were embraced in order to remake the community. Hansen describes how the racial segmentation of South African society still informs daily life, notions of race, personhood, morality, and religious ethics. He also demonstrates the force of global religious imaginings that promise a universal and inclusive community amid uncertain lives and futures in the postapartheid nation-state.

Thomas Blom Hansen is professor of anthropology and the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of South Asian Studies at Stanford University, where he also directs the Center for South Asia. His books include The Saffron Wave and Wages of Violence.

Amartya Sen on the role of the State in the Indian economy (Live Mint video)

LiveMint posted this video of Amartya Sen addressing the role of the State in improving economic conditions in India. This video is from the launch of An Uncertain Glory, co-authored by Sen and Jean Drèze.

Amartya Sen on the Role of the Middle Class (Live Mint video)

LiveMint posted this video of Amartya Sen addressing the role of the Middle Class in the Indian Economy. This video is from the launch of An Uncertain Glory, co-authored by Sen and Jean Drèze.

Video from the Indian launch of An Uncertain Glory by Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze

k10175[1]

An Uncertain Glory
India and its Contradictions
Jean Drèze & Amartya Sen

Read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10175.pdf

 

40 years later, the Chagossians are still not home, writes David Vine

j9441[1]David Vine, author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, writes about the continuing saga of the Chagossians at the Huffington Post. Deported to pave the way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, the Chagossians still endure poverty and homesickness or sagren. To learn more about the history and current activities of Diego Garcia, read this sample from from Vine’s book.

 

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of the final deportations, when the last boatload of Chagossians arrived 1,200 miles from their homes, on the western Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. In those same forty years, the base on British-controlled Diego Garcia helped launch the Afghan and Iraq wars and was part of the CIA’s secret “rendition” program for captured terrorist suspects.

The history of the base, which the U.S. military calls the “Footprint of Freedom,” dates to the 1950s and 1960s. By then, Chagossians had been living in the previously uninhabited Chagos islands for almost 200 years, since their ancestors arrived as enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In 1965, after years of secret negotiations, Britain agreed to separate Chagos from colonial Mauritius (contravening UN decolonization rules) to create a new colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory. In a secret 1966 agreement, Britain gave U.S. officials base rights on Diego Garcia and agreed to take those “administrative measures” necessary to remove the nearly 2,000 Chagossians in exchange for $14 million in secret U.S. payments.

Beginning in 1968, any Chagossians who left Chagos for medical treatment or regular vacations in Mauritius were barred from returning home, marooning them often without family members and almost all their possessions. British officials soon began restricting food and medical supplies to Chagos. Anglo-American officials designed a public relations plan aimed at, as one British bureaucrat said, “maintaining the fiction” that Chagossians were migrant laborers rather than a people with roots in Chagos for five generations or more. Another British official called them “Tarzans” and “Man Fridays.”

In 1971, the U.S. Navy’s highest-ranking admiral, Elmo Zumwalt, issued the final deportation order in a three-word memo ringing of Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz:

“Absolutely must go.”

 

Read more at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-vine/forty-years-of-heartbreak_b_3344190.html

PUP Author Geoffrey Robinson in Documentary about East Timor

This weekend the acclaimed documentary Alias Ruby Blade will premiere at the Tribeca film festival. The documentary unravels the history behind the new nation in East Timor after its struggle for independence. The documentary features PUP author Geoffrey Robinson who has written a book about East Timor. Robinson authored “If you Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor. For showtime information click here.

Read a review for the documentary from This Week in New York below.

Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution is an intimate, involving documentary that goes behind the scenes of East Timor’s battle for independence, structured like a gripping thriller with a decidedly personal edge. In 1991, Australian Kirsty Sword went to East Timor as part of a team posing as tourists while actually making a secret film about the embattled Indonesian island. Almost immediately, the Australian teacher and activist found herself right in the middle of the violent struggle as bullets flew all around her and her team, but they kept the cameras rolling, compiling amazing footage that helped alert the world as to what was happening there. Sword soon became a courier for the revolution, adopting the spy name Ruby Blade and smuggling in notes and, eventually, electronic equipment to jailed resistance leader Kay Rala “Xanana” Gusmão, who was serving a life sentence in Jakarta’s Cipinang Prison. Armed with a camera, Sword took remarkable footage during those years, most of which has never before been shown to the public; she opened up her archives for husband-and-wife documentarians Tanya Ager Meillier and Alex Meillier and speaks extensively with them in the film, relating her involvement with the independence movement — which included falling in love with the charismatic Xanana. The Meilliers also talk with such key resistance fighters as Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta and diplomat Constancio Pinto as well as historian and human rights activist Geoffrey Robinson and Inside Indonesia editor Pat Walsh, who share their stories about the Indonesian occupation that lasted from 1975 to 1999, followed by a UN-sponsored referendum for independence that led to yet more horrors. But Sword, who narrates much of the film, and Xanana, who appears primarily in archival footage and photographs, never gave up their dream of a free, democratic East Timor while also considering a life together. As much as Alias Ruby Blade delves into the political situation in East Timor, it’s really about how a young, strong woman followed her heart and made a difference in a faraway part of the globe. Alias Ruby Blade will have its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it’s part of the Documentary Competition. (By the way, the less you know about how things turned out in East Timor, the more exciting the film is, so don’t read up on it before going to one of the four screenings.)

Learn more about the film here.