This paper discusses the decolonization process of Taiwanese aborigines. China, which governed Taiwan after World War II, was unaware of the existence of Taiwanese aborigines. Thus, they merely acted on the understanding that the people of the plains in Taiwan welcomed the government officials of the mother country. While a few aborigines had started a movement for decolonization after the 228 Incident of 1947, the movement was quickly suppressed. The following then happened in the 1950s. The administrator excluded all of the Chinese Communist Party, which was considered to be an “enemy.” Furthermore, unitary policies evolved in Taiwan, such as national language education and the policy to make the mountains like the plains. Additionally, the aborigines’ traditional religion began to be replaced by Christianity. Taiwanese aborigines were minorities, and the Han race was predominant in Taiwan. Because of these religious and policy-related changes, it became difficult to maintain and pass on the aborigines’ original culture.
When French colonial rule came to an end in the middle of the 20th Century, the Khmers of the Mekong Delta had no choice but to negotiate relations with two different states, South Vietnam and Cambodia. In the period of French colonial rule, during which the two regions were integrated as a super-national colonial space, the Khmers lived in a social environment connected by the Khmer language and Theravāda Buddhism, which was formed over a wide area extending from the Mekong Delta to Cambodia. However, this social environment was gradually forced to change under the Ngô Đình Diệm government of South Vietnam, which gained control of the Mekong Delta as the French withdrew. The Diệm regime carried out nationality change, abolished Khmer language education at public schools, restructured existing Khmer and Buddhist organizations, and sought to sever ties between the Khmers of the Mekong Delta and Cambodian society through the national border. Discontent with the Diệm regime grew among local people and in the Theravāda Buddhist community, which regarded the existing relationship with Cambodian society as valuable and meaningful, and before long, some people began participating in anti-government movements. This article focuses on the problems of language, Buddhism, and belonging in a community in the Mekong Delta province of Sóc Trăng and examines the friction that arose between local people and the emerging South Vietnamese state in the process of creating a new nation-state.
The leadership of the Iban people, who mostly live in Borneo, has been one of the most controversial topics in Iban studies. However, most of the previous studies on the leadership of Ibans consider the “Iban society” as a closed coherent system. This paper aims to reconsider the leadership of the Iban by firstly overviewing several important ethnographies of Borneo from Austronesian comparative studies. The leadership of the Iban people in Borneo can be explained from the perspective of “precedence.” Secondly, several significant previous studies related to the leadership of Iban are reviewed that tend to essentialize the “traditional Iban society” based on the consideration that either the Iban society is a coherent whole or that some Iban people are more traditional than the others. To overcome the problem of essentialism, it is presupposed that contradictory norms or inconsistent practices can coexist in “society.” It is also necessary to consider the leadership of Iban people in the historical context, which, in long-settled areas, leaned towards “precedentialism” because of the existing piracy and close relations with Malay leaders. In contrast, the Iban leadership of pioneers tends to be “egalitarianism” mainly because of the policies of the colonial government, sporadic warfare, and increasing trade. The conclusions suggest that on the basis of particular historical contexts, Iban people could be compared to people living in insular Southeast Asia, who expanded during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Nahdlatul Ulama (Revival of the Religious Scholars: NU), the largest Muslim association in Indonesia, held its national congress (muktamar) in early August 2015 in its birthplace, Jombang, East Java. It was rather turbulent and chaotic, and almost all energy was devoted to the AHWA (ahlul hali wal aqdi) problem, the question of how to elect the supreme leader (rais aam). AHWA is a team of respected ulama with powers to decide on important matters. Since 1989 (the 29th congress), a voting system had been applied to choose the two top leaders, rais aam and ketua umum (chair of the central executive board). However, a proposal was made to introduce, AHWA as a new system for the rais aam election in order to avoid slander and vote buying. This proposal caused furious opposition in many local branches. Behind this problem, there was a conflict between the incumbent chair Said Aqil Siroj and the former chair Hasyim Muzadi. Said’s group tried to introduce the AHWA system in order to stop Hasyim becoming rais aam. Besides this internal power struggle, external interference played a part. The central board led by Said had poor communication with local branch elites, many of whom still supported Hasyim. The congress was disordered from the outset and faced deadlock. In the midst of the crisis, senior ulama elaborated a solution that could be accepted by both sides. The acting rais aam, Gus Mus, gave an impassioned speech that changed the course of the congress, and the AHWA chose Gus Mus as rais aam. However, he declined the position, stating that the AHWA system was made just as a tool by one of the competing groups. By doing so, he showed the moral of the ulama and reasserted the weakened presence of senior ulama.