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This article examines Buddhist nationalism as an effort to resist the intrusion of globalizing forces into local religious and cultural heritage. By analyzing the discourse, persona, and life of Venerable Gangodawila Soma (1948–2003), a renowned and controversial Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, the author demonstrates that Buddhist nationalism is largely a discursive formation that affirms an essential relationship between Buddhism and nation over against external forces that threaten their existence. A charismatic and skillful preacher, Venerable Soma employed a variety of media to reverse the perceived decline of Buddhism and the nation in the face of what he saw as immoral and hostile interests—including corrupt politicians, Tamil separatists, Evangelical Christians, and nongovernmental organizations. Venerable Soma's discourse, which privileges local forms of knowledge and morality, shows how globalization stimulates both new possibilities and new contradictions in contemporary forms of Buddhist nationalism.
Malaysia's plans to become a transnational hub for Islamic finance represent an effort to mobilize religion to create new global networks for the circulation of capital. This article first contextualizes such efforts within the broader contours of Malaysia's political history, addressing the classification of ethnicity and religion by both the colonial and postcolonial states. The article describes how Islamic finance is defined by practitioners in Malaysia and explains the key features they invoke to distinguish it from what they call “conventional finance”. Finally, it identifies the steps undertaken by the state to make the country a global center of Islamic finance. As the recent financial crises have shaken confidence in North Atlantic financial systems, Malaysia is geographically and culturally well-positioned between two emergent economic regions currently at the forefront of global economic growth.
This article traces the intellectual evolution of Zhang Chengzhi (b. 1948), a contemporary Chinese poet, novelist, essayist, archaeologist, and ethnographer, from Mao-era radicalism to Islamic internationalism. Allegedly the inventor of the term “Red Guard” in the context of the Cultural Revolution, he has remained an unapologetic defender of Mao and of the “Red Guard spirit” since the 1960s. In 1987, meanwhile, Zhang converted to an impoverished and ascetic sect of Chinese Islam, the Jahriyya, and since the 2000s he has become one of China's most prominent spokesmen for global Islam. This article explores how Zhang has reconciled his zeal for Cultural Revolution Maoism, on the one hand, with Pan-Islamist positions on the other. Although Zhang's stance suffers from undoubted contradictions and inconsistencies, his career and beliefs illuminate the complexities of the legacy of Mao's and the Cultural Revolutions, of Chinese intellectual dissidence, and of the contemporary trajectories of Chinese internationalism and global Islam.
JAS at AAS: The Market, the Media, and the State in Asia II
In Apple CEO Tim Cook's keynote speech at the Chinese government's 2017 World Internet Conference, he extolled the values of “Privacy. Security. Decency” (Apple Newsroom 2017). The last two terms, “security” and “decency,” have long been closely associated with Chinese government efforts to control the Internet. Indeed, in 2017 Apple agreed to turn over user data to Chinese government servers and start a Chinese provincial government-run data storage center. Yet in 2015, Apple refused to turn over the passcode for one user in the United States during the FBI investigation following the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. The company's different policies in the United States and China relate directly back to Apple's concern for market share and access.
The history of “area studies” as an academic discipline remains to be written. When it is, it will have to begin with a little known, historically important Japanese institution in China. That institution, Tōa Dōbun Shoin (East Asia Common Culture Academy or, after 1939, College) in Shanghai, 1900–1945, was established to train young Japanese for business and government service related to China. The author focuses upon the area studies dimensions of this pioneering institution's training and research program. After identifying five requisites of area studies training and research, he moves on to examine the origins, raison d'être, and meaning of Tōa Dōbun Shoin's program and to chart the phases of that program's development through each of the five requisites. In important ways, the center's curriculum, facilities, research, and publications equalled or surpassed the best American post–World War II language and area programs.