The author conducted a series of studies in a Malay village in Kelantan, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, in 1970/71, 1977, 1984, 1991, and 1992. The present paper is a report of the most recent research in the same village in 2000. Here, the author describes the changes that have taken place in the past thirty years, focusing on economic activities, population, and household composition. The village was established around 1890 on the left bank of the Kelantan River. People engaged in paddy cultivation in the rain-fed fields and in small-scale rubber tapping in the early days, and later they turned successively to tobacco cultivation, migratory labor in Singapore, and paid work outside the village. With these changes in the means of subsistence, the population of the village seems to have reached its maximum. Household composition, which formerly adapted flexibly to the life-style of a frontier settlement, has now become more standardized, affected by a rise in the age at marriage, a decrease in divorce, and the introduction of urban ways of thinking.
This study is based on field survey conducted in a Mossi village located about 110 km north-west of the capital city of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou. Out of 90 household heads in the village, 32 were interviewed. All were peasant farmers who produce millet, sorghum, maize and minor crops, such as yams, sweet potatoes and groundnuts. Even in a good harvest season, about a quarter of households can not meet their consumption needs. In a bad harvest, more than 80% of households experience grain deficits. Of the 131 married male members of these 32 households, 71 or 54% are migrants living in the Ivory Coast. About 90% of these migrants are farmers. Two-thirds of the farmers have their own farm land on which they cultivate cocoa and/or coffee, and the rest are farm labourers. Many of these migrants send home remittances, which constitute indispensable income for the villagers, not only for covering deficiencies in food supply but also for agricultural investment, such as the purchase of fertilizers. Until the end of the 1960s, people migrated to the Ivory Coast as forced labour or as a consequence of the government’s labour recruitment policy. Since then, however, circumstances have changed. People have migrated in search of more stable and prosperous conditions for engaging in agricultural production, while abandoning unsustainable production under precarious weather conditions back in Burkina Faso. They have purchased land and started to cultivate commercial crops. But this effort to strengthen their access to land and more sustainable agricultural income has exposed them to unexpected risks. The abrupt emergence of an anti-Burkinabe (Burkina people) movement since last year’s presidential election has shown that the vulnerability of land-holding migrants in the Ivory Coast is more serious than that of farm labourers. The vulnerability of the Mossi village as a consequence also increased.
For the last sixteen years, I have been carrying out a longitudinal fieldwork at a Minangkabau community, which mainly relies on rice cultivation and rubber tapping for livelihood, in the Kuantan area of the province of Riau, Indonesia. Starting in late 1984, I have visited Koto Dalam (pseudonym) practically every year, sometimes for one and a half months at any given visit but oftentimes for a shorter stay. The research project, if it can be called that, has haphazardly and gradually taken its present form despite the facade of premeditation and good planning. Koto Dalam has a current population of about 3200 and consists of seven administrative villages. I have spent a total of over eleven months in the community from 1984 to the end of 2000. Tentatively, the fieldwork is expected to be continued until 2003 so that I will be able to observe and follow, as a more or less contemporary and in situ eye-witness, social changes in Koto Dalam over the twenty years during the turn of the century and at the same time conduct an oral-history-type research, above all, among village elders, in order to reconstruct a social history of the community which aims to cover the greater part of the twentieth century. In this attempt, it is my intention to always contextualize the community in the wider and multi-layered circles of “areas” such as Kuantan, Riau, Sumatra, Indonesia, and the world rubber market, and to understand Koto Dalam’s social processes in its shifting interconnectedness with these areas. It is proposed that longitudinal fieldwork is an important method in area studies, given the rapid and often drastic social changes now experienced by developing countries as well as developed countries.
Ecological area studies should focus on elucidating the dynamic relationships between environment and society, rather than describing human activities of a certain area on the basis of conventional knowledge of the environment, or conducting ecological studies within the framework of academic disciplines. A study of permanent banana gardens in the west of Lake Victoria, Tanzania, revealed that the land-use is controlled by both environmental settings and customary land tenure systems, thereby creating rather tight landscape in terms of utilization.
The joint reseach project between JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Tanzania focused on an integrated agro-ecological study of the indigenous agriculture of the Matengo people in southwestern Tanzania, especially their Matengo pit (ngolo) system, a cross-ridge system with numerous pits on steep mountainous slopes. The study revealed the multiple functions of the ngolo system: erosion control, maintenance of soil fertility, weed control, provision of underground drainage system and so forth. The agro-ecological significance of the ngolo system could best be understood as the result of mutual interactions among ecology, society and culture in the Matengo history. Through this joint study, Tanzanian and Japanese researchers acutely recognized the need for rural development based on the indigenous farming technology, knowlege, and wisdom. Thus efforts were mounted for the establishment in 1999 of the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development in SUA as a JICA project. This article discusses the role of international cooperative activities in African Area Studies through examining my experiences in the above projects.
In order to understand frameworks of reference inherent in each region, or in each region’s culture, we ought to create models and schemes that reflect sets of ideas peculiar to the region. As a part of such efforts, I propose a unitary model of religion and economy as reflecting characteristic of the Islamic Middle East, and, by extention, of other Islamic areas. Similar to its non-dualist understanding of religion and politics, Islam provides a system of law that integrates religion and economy. While religion and politics are often intertwined, with or without the unity of religion and politics, the economy and market are more often considered independent of religions. This feature of Islam thus proves to be quite peculiar. It is not just religious ethics that regulate the economy in Islam, but it is the economy which provides importance metaphors for the Islamic faith, in which faith in God is considered a “good trade.” This Islamic feature was losing its prevalence under modernization and Westernization in the 20th century and until the advent of the Islamic revival. Attempts to recreate Islamic economics, including the Islamic banking system, arose as a part of such revival efforts in recent decades.
A nation’s economic development depends on institutions, as argued persuasively in the 1990 book by Douglass North. But what kinds of institutions are needed depends on the stages of economic development and also varies from country to country, as shown in Japanese institutional innovations such as keiretsu and Japanese management methods. Therefore, what a researcher needs to do is not to judge institutions by a certain fixed model but to observe how institutions are functioning and see where institutional improvements are needed for sustainable economic growth. New institutional economics, particularly the branch concerned with a nation’s economic development, evolved in close relation to neo-classical economics. This is probably because those who pioneered the field were mostly US-based economists, among whom neo-classical economics dominates. But neo-classical economics, which heavily depends on the deductive approach, is not an ideal discipline to go into new institutional economics, because the latter requires case studies and has to depend on the inductive approach. Although those who study the relations between institutions and economic development have to be familiar with the mechanism of productivity increase, if they go into the study from area studies, they do not have to be bound by the quantitative, mathematical requirements of neo-classical economics and can look closely at the relations between institutions and productivity increase. Such investigation is especially needed for developing countries, where the role of institutions is poorly understood. Therefore, the attention of area specialists to institutions is needed, and for them to go in that direction will be richly rewarded since they have a comparative advantage in studying institutions.
To recover the sense of holistic fulfillment that is noticeably lacking in communities and academic fields, area study may contribute to a resurgence of energy for rebuilding communities and recombining partitioned disciplines. The key is to abandon the belief in expertise, and to reconcile activism with the golden mean that founded classical scholarship in ancient China and Greece. On our path to this golden mean, we need to refine basic concepts and methods in area study. Above all, we need to reconsider the naive perception of area that refers implicitly to actualities in physical space and time, and to recognize three phases of area. The conventional area concept is specified as the phase of “natural area”, in which man and nature interact with each other and create active cultures and institutions. Onto this, other two phases are to be superposed, “meta-area” and “holistic area”. “Meta-area” is the phase that is reconstructed in man’s metaphysical recognition. “Holistic area”, which is comprised of these two phases, rests on the mutually sustaining balance between them. The processes of hegemonic expansion of European powers and the diffusion of the idea on man’s dominance over nature in modern times have deformed the balance of these phases, and created “parasitic meta-area” such as colonies and extravagant cities. Cloning and nuclear arms, which may endanger all life on earth, have generated fears about the appearance of new “parasitic meta-areas”. The aim of area study is the pursuit of the means to prevent the explosion of “parasitic meta-areas” by discovering the logic of “holistic area”. The conventional concept of the intrinsic nature of an area is also to be examined since the global dissemination of culture and natural elements have undoubtedly influenced the conditions of various areas. Pursuit of the golden mean in solving contemporary problems that an area faces is recommended to students with more emphasis than pursuit of differences among areas.
This article aims to investigate the ways in which the ontological question, “Who am I?”, has been answered by civilizations in history in different regions, mainly focusing on examples from Japan, India and Europe. This article suggests that the “second axial breakthrough” took place between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries, when the question of how to link one’s existence in this world to the transcendental was answered in different ways in different regions of the world. Subsequently, however, the ontological problem remained the public concern only in some areas such as India. In Western Europe and Japan, it was by removing the ontological question from the public and by concentrating social resources to this-worldly instrumental activities that these areas succeeded in achieving a major increase in productivity. In the contemporary world, our task seems to be to find out how to recreate the space to seek ontological meaning to our life in civil society. Comparative ontology is suggested as a means to understand and consider various possibilities of human existence historically and globally in order to provide ideas for the future redesigning of our world.
In May 1992, a Thai premier backed by the military was forced to resign after a bloody crackdown on a large anti-government rally. Scholars and political observers regard this incident as a crucial conjuncture in the democratization of Thai politics. This essay argues that the Thai middle class stole the credit from Chamlong, who was—objectively speaking—the undisputed leader of the democratization movement. This political expropriation was possible for three reasons. First, the king’s neutral stance during the conflict did not favor Chamlong so much. Second, there was an orchestrated effort to blame Chamlong for the bloodshed. This campaign of vilification even involved members of the “democratic forces.” Finally, success of the movement led to the mounting assertiveness of the middle class and the mass media that represented this class. Their boldness brought about the political reform that found its mark in the 1997 constitution. Yet, there also emerged a curious discourse during the sturggle, wherein analysts assumed that the democratic movement was middle-class-dominated. These observers further took for granted that the middle class was inherently pro-democracy without providing evidence. Credit therefore had been overly focused on the middle class without any consideration of how the other classes figured in the movement. This essay suggests that the middle class also had a conservative element in it. This conservative faction regarded Chamlong as “too radical” in the sense that he resorted to street protests and politics outside the parliament—both of which they then regarded as taboo in Thai politics. As a result, Chamlong, whose political star rose in May 1992, was unable to maintain his high profile and moral standing. He was eventually forced to retire from politics, and his failure became a bitter lesson for those who sought to emulate him by mobilizing the mass in street politics. His withdrawal also further empowered his conservative and liberal opponents.
Post-Suharto Indonesia is in the process of decentralization institutionally. The power and authority over personnel and budgets will be delegated to the autonomous areas, especially to the regencies (kabupaten) and the cities (kota), and every area has a legally accepted right to ask for the establishment of its own kabupaten, kota or province (propinsi). The people in the Banten area, the western part of West Java province, began to ask for their own province after Suharto’s fall. In fact, Banten had wanted its own province since 1963, when President Sukarno was at the height of his political power. The demand was, however, continually, rejected by the central government, the West Java government, and the Siliwangi Military Division stationed in Banten. In the Reformasi period, the autonomous movement became part of the democratization movement. Banten successfully rode the movement and finally gained provinicial status on 4 October 2000. The support of the central government and the Siliwangi Division overcame the West Java government’s opposition. Many of the proponents and financial supporters of autonomy for Banten Province were not the newly rising elite but the old elite who had been locally influential and powerful since the New Order period. The New Order elite supported the creation of Banten Province and were thereby able to join the reformist group. They thereby retained the reins of political leadership in the newly-born Banten Province. The idea of old wine in a new bottle applies here in Banten and is also sometimes the case in other autonomous movements.
This paper briefly examines the dynamics of ethnic identificaiton of the Bajau through two related discourses: one is formulated by the authorities in an official manner, and the other is expressed orally by the Bajau themselves. Following Shamsul’s  discussion, the former is an authority-defined aspect and the latter is an everyday-defined aspect of an ethnic identity. Here I shall adopt this dual approach to understand changing identifications of the Bajau in the Malaysian context. The Bajau or Sama generally live in coastal parts of Sulu, the Philippines, Sabah of Malaysia and the eastern part of Indonesia. I limit the discussion here to the Bajau of Sabah, Malaysia. The paper first describes the changing images of the Bajau presented in such official publications as handbooks, censuses, and school textbooks by the authorities from colonial times through to those of independent Malaysia. It then presents several cases of the daily discourses of self-identification of the Sama Dilaut, or maritime Sama, a socially and economically marginalized group of Bajau. Finally, it points out that their way of self-identification is closely correlated with the authority-defined images shown in the former sections.
For Area Studies to be interdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary, it must go beyond the mere combination of achievements of different disciplines in relation to a particular case in a particular region. Research has to be conducted in such a manner that a new horizon emerges as a result of intellectual endeavour of a researcher who encompasses more than one discipline while he/she tries to penetrate into indigenous society and read its inherent logic. A case study, simply applying disciplinary methods to a particular region, is not a work of Area Studies, even it is a good work in the discipline. Equally, a work in Area Studies, lacking any disciplinary foundation or methodological perspective, could be quite unscientific. It goes without saying, therefore, that an Area specialist should strive to open a dimension where disciplinary-founded methodologies and area-specific / field-based knowledge can compliment each other. There are no easy roads to achieve it, and constant trial to merge the two is essential. The cooperation of the two is important both at personal and collective levels for academic works. The cooperation has been, however, largely absent between Comparative Politics (or, even Political Science in general) and Middle East Area Studies. As a part of efforts to overcome this unfortunate situation, this article proposes to set “Islamic political parties” as a field of study, which challenges the conventional wisdoms of comparative politics, such as presumed secularism of modern politics, while fills a gap in Middle Eastern politics. Survey on Islamic countries shows that there are a significant number of political parties that claim to be Islamic ones to are considered as such in their respective societies. At the analytical level, they can be categorized as a particular kind of political parties based on ideologies of Islamic politics, such as non-dualism of religion and politics. Prospects of “Islamic democracy” where these Islamic political parties compete with each other and with other (non-Islamic) parties seem quite important as a political phenomenon in Asia and Africa.
In Turkey where secularism is one of the most important constitutive principles of the state, an “Islamic party” that insists on the introduction of Islamic jurisprudence or the establishment of some sort of Islamic state cannot legally exist. Why then, has a series of political parties, from the National Order Party to the Welfare Party, been regarded as “Islamic” and banned despite their official stance of defending secularism? An analysis of the nature of secularism in Turkey and the parties’ programs and discourse suggests that the conflict is not just over secularism, but rather over the state ideology of modernization as Westernization. Westernizing and secularizing policies, implemented from above under military tutelage, have led to the establishment of vested interests related to both political and economic power, which are an outgrowth of and intertwined with the cultural bias that regards what is Western and secular as superior and “progressive.” In consequence, the “Islamic parties” in Turkey have emerged as forces confronting the repressive secularist regime and its vested interests.
Secularisation and Westernisation/modernisation of the 1930-40 period affected the Muslim society in the Middle East and caused two types of reaction. One is popularisation of the crisis of Islam, i.e., the spread of the consciousness of the fear for losing the existing value system. It was a rather general phenomenon in the entire Middle Eastern Muslim society. The second reaction was from the narrower community of ‘ulamā’ al-dīn, who feared the loss of their traditional position in society. This was more apparent in academic hierarchy among Shi‘i ‘ulamā’. Muḥammad Bāqir al-Ṣadr developed his Islamic thought reflecting on these two waves. His aims were (1) to activate Islamic political movements in the framework of the modern-type of political parties (institutionalising political movement), and (2) to modernise and institutionalise marja‘īya instead of individual marja‘īya. The first aim was pursued in the context of the enlargement of the broader Islamic political activities including laymen. The second aim, on the other hand, involved regulation and systematisation of the intervention of ‘ulamā’ in politics, which had been observed in a sporadic and individual way through out the history of Shi‘i marja‘īya. al-Da‘wa was designed to achieve both purposes. Though it was established parallel to marja‘īya and most of its founding members were from ḥawza, political circumstances forced them to withdraw from the party. Consequently, supremacy of the laymen was established in the leadership of al-Da‘wa in the 1970s, and they introduced the organisational set-up, election system and internal regulation after loss of their sole marja‘. This process led the party to the separation of political leadership from marja‘īya. We may consider the feature of al-Da‘wa as a symbol of modernity, and that it represents the ideological aspect of marja‘īya. In contrast to political development of al-Da‘wa, other Islamic organisations such as ‘Amal and SCIRI are rather inclined to depend on social networks of marja‘īya in their activities. This is a part of the reason why they do not name themselves as a “party”; indeed for them it is rather important to enter the political sphere without using a name of “party” which carries with it imported Western images. This pattern in the Islamic movement emphases the effectiveness of the traditional network of ‘ulamā’ or sayyids based on their sacredness, nobility of origin, or salvation of the soul. It can be acknowledged as an extension of the traditional social welfare network of marja‘īya. To conclude from what al-Da‘wa and SCIRI could achieved, it is clear that the effort to institutionalise the political party was successfully accomplished but the institutionalisation of marja‘īya is yet to be achieved. This does not mean, however, that the attempt for institutionalisation of marja‘īya has abandoned. If we believe what is reported on the assassination of Sadiq al-Sadr, there remain still some forces to proceed with the reform movements of marja‘īya inside Iraq. Shubbar suggests that the delay of political movements among Shi‘i is because of the presence of marja‘īya, and that after 40 years of experimentation with the political party idea we again see marja‘īya working as an alternative to the immobilised political parties.
This research note explores an innovative methodological approach to the study of Shakib Arslan. Often perceived as a redoubtable anti-colonial activist, Arslan also earned a place in the pantheon of Arab nationalism, and has recently been rediscovered as the central figure of interwar Europe’s transnational Islamic movements. This research seeks to integrate these multiple fractionalized images of Arslan within an integrative approach. It begins by placing Arslan within the context of a unified Islamic consciousness unconcerned with national, regional and cultural frontiers. Although this vision of a united Islamic umma permeated Arslan’s self-consciousness, the relationship between Arslan’s Islamic revivalist thought and his Arab nationalist thought has all too often been understood within the context of the nationalist paradigm. Rather than understanding religion as one element of the nationalist consciousness, this research proposes a three-vectored approach uniting Arab nationalism, the Islamic Revival, and Westernization-modernization within a dynamically integrated system of mutually interactive vectors. This tripartite system both analyzes Arslan’s thought along these three axes, and makes each strand of thought dependent on the two others. Depending on time, place, and a multiplicity of factors in Arslan’s existence, each intellectual current evolves in dynamic relation with the other intellectual currents, resulting in a unique symbiosis integrating elements of Arab nationalism, Westernization-modernization, and the Islamic revival within a single world view.