New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

Volume 5, No. 1, June 2003

Table of Contents


Honour, Violence and Conflicting Narratives: A Study of Myth and Reality, pp. 5 - 24
In the predominantly agrarian patriarchial societies of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that are still trapped between tradition and modernity, even today the moral values projected through Manusmriti and other ancient Brahminical religious texts of the Hindus heavily influence the mindset of the people. In these societies, marriage, negotiated strictly within the caste configurations and symbolised by the vermillion mark in the parting of the hair of women, is the only situation which legitimises the relationship between an unrelated man and a woman. In no other situation is a relationship between a man and a woman who do not belong to the same family, tolerated. Even today asymmetrical love relationships between members of the upper castes and those belonging to castes and communities in the lower socio-economic strata, and also narratives about such relationships, produce violence at various levels. This paper deals with the phenomenon of violence that took place around such an asymetrical love relationship and tries to analyse the relationship between the myths and realities centering around this story. The fractured nature of folk society is reflected in the various contesting versions of this myth

An Accord of Cautious Distance: Muslims in New Zealand, Ethnic Relations, and Image Management, pp. 24 - 50
The terrorist attacks in the USA of 11th September 2001 have tended to problematise the presence of Muslims in Western society. In the aftermath of these events media and popular press have re-evaluated Western Muslims and Islam per se in terms of whether these pose an inherent threat. This paper discusses the presence of Muslims in New Zealand, the policies the major Muslim organisations pursue in terms of encouraging a particular Islamic and Muslim identity within the Muslim community and projecting an acceptable image of Islam vis-à-vis the host society. It also discusses the host society's reaction to the presence of a Muslim minority, which appears, so far, to be noticeably different to the situation in other Western countries.

The Myth of Multiracialism in Post-9/11 Singapore: The Tudung Incident, pp. 51 - 72
In early 2002, the easily neglected Muslim headscarf incident in Singapore has triggered a rare but fiery and continuous debate within the country, which widely involves her neighbors. Through the incident, this article reveals the plight of Singapore's Malay Muslims, who have been marginalized for a long time from the state's commitment to social mobility and ethnic integration. The article queries the Singaporean government's commitment to both multiracialism and shared values is self-contradictory, as well as the country's possible miscarriage of political openness since late 1980s. The situation seems to be getting worse in the international context of Post-Asian Economic Crisis and Post-September 11 anti-terrorism.

Interpreting Chinese Tradition: A Clansmen Organization in Singapore, pp. 72 - 90
This paper takes the case of a Pang clansmen organization in Singapore and examines how its activities objectify Chinese tradition and negotiate identity and nationalism. I argue that these activities celebrated within the national boundaries contribute to the reinforcement of Chinese tradition and celebration of Singaporean Chinese identity within Singapore's multi-ethnic society. In addition, joint activities and other linkages to the Pangs in their homeland in China further bind the Pangs from different places together, forming a larger imagined community in a post-national world. These connections between the Pangs in different localities reveal how the Chinese identity has extended beyond the borders of the nation state. Meanwhile, the activities in the 'homeland' have also led the Singaporean Pangs to realize the differences between themselves and their counterparts living in mainland China and thus further asserted their identity of being a Singaporean Chinese.

Deconstructing 'Japanisation': Reflections from the "Learn from Japan" Campaign in Singapore, pp. 91 - 106
In the late 1970s, like many countries dazzled by Japan's post WW2 economic success, Singapore embarked on a 'Learn from Japan' effort in the hope that Japanese success would provide a model to help the country succeed in its economic restructuring. This paper traces the developments of several initiatives during the 'learn from Japan' movement. It argues that despite the apparent zealousness towards Japan, Singapore still 'looks West' in general'. In this context, admiration towards Japan stems from its ideology of wakon yosai (Japanese spirit, Western technology), where Western practices and models are 're-conditioned' to suite an Asian context. The paper concludes with a glimpse at developments in the 1990s; although the 'learn from Japan' movement in Singapore has officially ended with Japan's economic recession, the Japanese experience is still examined. In the recent years, Japanese pop-cultural influences in Singapore and Asia have further revived the debates on 'Japanization'.

Electoral Systems, Representational Roles and Legislator Behaviour: Evidence from Hong Kong, pp. 107 - 120
This paper reports the results of a test of the relationship between electoral systems, role perceptions and legislator behaviour. The research is based on a study of Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo), whose members are elected by a variety of routes. A sample of LegCo members were interviewed about their own perceptions of their role and their behaviour, with reference both to the way they divide their time between legislative and constituency duties, and to their representational focus. It is thus possible to assess the impact of differing electoral systems on the way they behave, and to estimate the salience of electoral system compared with role perceptions in determining a legislator's behaviour. The findings confirm important electoral system effects, though role perception effects, mediated by party, are also significant.

Japanese Linguistics

Syncope in the Te-form with Auxiliary Verbs, pp. 121-138.
In Modern Japanese, deletion of 0a segment inside a word, or "syncope", is frequently observed in informal/casual speech or in fast speech, especially when the te-form of a verb, which roughly corresponds to the present participle in English, is followed by a vowel-initial auxiliary verb or by a consonant-initial auxiliary verb, /simaw/. In this paper, following a brief introduction of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993), I account for syncope observed in Modern Japanese by means of constraint interaction and constraint reranking. In formal speech, faithfulness constraint MAX-IO (i.e. no deletion of segments) is ranked higher than such markedness constraints as *LAB (i.e. no labials), ONSET (i.e. no onsetless syllables) and *V (i.e. no vowels), so that segments in the underlying representation are preserved in the surface form. In informal speech, on the other hand, context-free constraints MAX-C-IO (i.e. no deletion of consonants) and MAX-V-IO (i.e. no deletion of vowels) are demoted below *LAB and *V, respectively. This results in the deletion of labials and vowels from the place where such segments are not protected by highly-ranked constraints or where the deletion does not incur serious constraint violation, such as that of undominated CODACOND (i.e. coda consonants are placeless) or *COMPLEX (i.e. no complex onset or coda)

The Use of kare/kanojo in Japanese Society Today, pp. 139 - 155
This paper aims to discuss the use of kare/kanojo (he/she) in Japanese society today, in order to elucidate the socio-psychological significance of these terms. Based on questionnaires and interviews recently surveyed in Japan, the paper will discuss what categories of people are more likely referred to as kare/kanojo, what social factors affect the use of these terms. The paper finds that compared with the time when Hinds (1975) surveyed, the use of kare/kanojo has dramatically changed, and it is notable that these terms are more frequently used and refer to more varied types of people. However, they are not merely used at random, either. Some emotional detachment toward the person referred to is needed as a trigger of the occurrence of kare/kanojo.

Japanese and Non-Japanese Perception of Japanese Communication,pp. 156 - 177

Graduate Research Essay

A Mobile Phone of One's Own: Japan's "Generation M", pp. 178 - 194
Although the mobile phone has now become a symbol of globalization and is an indispensable item in our daily lives, it was Japanese youth who were amongst the first in the world to adapt this instrument and turn it into an icon. This paper examines the ways in which the youth of Japan have reappropriated the mobile phone (keitai-denwa) so that it is no longer a mere tool for "communication": unique innovations such as the attachment of straps, downloading of ring tones, and technology which incorporates e-mail, Internet, digital camera and video functions, mean that the mobile phone allows Japanese youth to express their "individuality." This paper explores the psychology behind their use of mobile phones, placing it in a larger cultural framework, and looks at claims by Japanese researchers that the mobile phone has led to changes in the way that young people relate to their friends and even their family. Contemporary media including advertising pamphlets, television campaigns, and magazine articles are analyzed in order to reveal the profound relationship between Japan's Generation "M" (mobile and moneyed) and their consumption of a tool that seems to embody all that is necessary for survival in the twenty-first century.

Review Article

History, Memory and the Nation: Remembering Partition
G. Pandey, Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India, pp.195-205