This article considers the curious case study of Thai literary networks in the late Ayutthaya, the networks’ adoption and adaptations of the Javanese Panji epic, and what these innovations reveal about the form of cosmopolitanism that existed until the late Bangkok period. While windows into what we refer to as Siamese cosmopolitanism have been reconstructed by historians in accounts of Persian, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Chinese, and Japanese mercantile networks, our treatment of this important topic expands the units of analysis to include Thai literary networks. Davisakd Puaksom’s excellent doctoral dissertation piqued our interest in Panji’s Siamese adoptions and adaptations, but we set ourselves the task of exploring the utility of Ronit Ricci’s Islam Translated, which analyzes Tamil, Javanese, and Malay sources for Thai studies. We pursue a comparative approach to Southeast Asian historiography in ways that increase the dialogue between Thai studies specialists and members of the Malay Studies Guild. Having described the most important Thai version of this Javanese epic produced by Siamese literary networks from the Ayutthaya through to the late Bangkok period, we consider the principal historical personalities and processes that brought Panji to cosmopolitan Ayutthaya. After providing details about the presence of Javanese individuals and influences in both Ayutthaya and Patani, we introduce insights provided by literary scholars and historians concerning the notoriously ambiguous terms “Java/Jawah/Javanese” and “Malay/Melayu.” These form the foundation for putting forward arguments about Ayutthaya having fostered forms of cosmopolitanism resembling the fluid linguistic and cultural milieu that flourished in other Southeast Asian port polities.
This paper focuses on irregularities as a result of the privatization of migrant worker recruitment and the unregulated activities of outsourcing companies, created by the institutionalization of the outsourcing system. Using Malaysia as its case study, this paper examines the strategies utilized by the government to de-commercialize the migration industry by phasing out intermediaries and turning to a government-to-government (G2G) approach. Eliminating the business aspect of the industry signifies a fundamental change in the government’s conceptualization, that is, labor migration should be framed as a long-term economic development issue rather than a national security threat. Enforced since 1995 and updated in 2010, the official policy to phase out agents has not eliminated employers’ and workers’ dependence on intermediaries, a historically rooted practice. The findings show that attempts to de-commercialize recruitment in Malaysia have led to monopolization of the industry and an increase in employers’ hiring costs and migrant workers’ application processing fees.
While armed conflict has occurred since around 1970 in the Southern Philippines, ordinary people of different faiths have cohabited as neighbors, lovers, and families. Why are ordinary Muslims and Christians able to create and maintain everyday peace although they have suffered from the conflicts and the state’s initiatives for peace have not yet been realized? After noting limitations of peacebuilding efforts by the state and nongovernment organizations, we analyze the arts of everyday peacebuilding practiced by ordinary people based on ethnographic research in Iligan City. First, Muslims and Christians have engaged in mutual assistance for everyday survival in the city where they live as diaspora or transients, who are relatively autonomous from their clan networks. Second, Muslim converts and many Christians regard those who practice other religions as companions who share the same “paths to happiness.” Third, when a multireligious family is pressed to choose one religion for its children’s faith or its ceremonial style, it avoids the rupture of family relationships by “implementing non-decision” to make the two religions obscurely coexist. Finally, even when Christian women married to Muslim men face polygamy without consent, they do not attribute the unfaithful behavior of their husbands to Islam but instead often blame the patriarchal culture of their ethnic group. Such a practice of “crossing divides” prevents religion from becoming an absolute point of conflict. Everyday peacebuilding of the ordinary can be a foundation of the state’s official peacebuilding, although there exists a tension between them.
In this article, I discuss cultural governmentality, its growth—as highlighted by multiple views in the past—and accretionary beliefs and religiosity that have emerged from the domestication of traditions in Southern Laos. In Champasak, visible ancient remains have long been indicators of the existence of guardian spirits, as well as religious beliefs, legends, and practices. The rites of worshipping the spirits have been demonstrated through staged ceremonial and ritual grandeur. This form of political art has been used to convey spiritual messages to the citizenry; however, such theatrical governmentality has not escaped the influence of scientific modernity. Thus, two phases of heritagization have occurred: French colonialization and the present periods of imposed scientific knowledge and politics that have created heritage sites and objects in the region. When modern knowledge dislocates spiritual worship and ambiguous memories of the past, the natives remember and craft legends and beliefs, or “unofficial” memories, in their pursuit of identity. By closely scrutinizing and recontextualizing these two encounters, this article elucidates how religious beliefs, legends, and memories redevelop as complex religious and political expressions of native selves.