1-10 of 34 Results  for:

Clear all

Article

Tibetan Exiles in India  

Sonika Gupta

Since 1959, after the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet, thousands of Tibetans have lived in protracted exile in India. India hosts the largest number of Tibetan exiles in the world and is also the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration (formerly known as the Tibetan Government in Exile) and the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. The Indian government has made a long-term commitment to Tibetan rehabilitation by setting up tens of designated Tibetan settlements in different parts of the country. These settlements are grouped into agricultural, handcraft-based, and cluster communities. While there has been definite economic and educational progress for the exile community in India, Tibetans continue to be stateless. Since 2000, there has been increased migration from Tibetan settlements in India to North America, Europe, and Australia as people search for a more stable legal status and better life opportunities. The Tibetan settlements in India, with their network of monasteries, schools, and other cultural institutions, remain the primary site of the Tibetan struggle for the homeland that is focused on the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet under conditions of genuine autonomy. Therefore, sustaining these settlements is becoming a critical issue for the Central Tibetan Administration. As the Tibetan struggle for its homeland reaches its seventh decade in exile, it is undergoing parallel processes of institutionalized democratization and political fragmentation along regional and other lines.

Article

The Line of Control in Kashmir  

Mato Bouzas

The ceasefire line that has divided the disputed formerly princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (1846–1947) since 1949, following the involvement of the United Nations (UN) to end the first India–Pakistan war for the control of that state, was renamed in 1972 the Line of Control (LoC). The LoC is the result of the Simla Agreement that ended the 1971 war between India and Pakistan and marked the diminishing role of the UN in the conflict. Although the LoC is formally referred to as a border, it is very much contested, not only by the states of India, Pakistan, and the wide spectrum of Kashmiri nationalism but also, more broadly, by those living in the nearby areas on both sides who have been affected by this construct in multiple ways. As an ambivalent border, the LoC not only divides people, land, and resources—separates several political-administrative spatial units—but is also on its own a producer of a space, the symbolic and material meaning of which varies over time. From an initial (thin) line formed to delineate an end of hostilities as part of the Karachi Agreement of 1949, and, presumably, invite further negotiation, the LoC has turned in the two first decades of the 21st century into a (thick) fortress due to technological and military advances that allow a more effective control of territory. India’s fencing of the side it controls after the 2000s, initially to stop cross-border terrorism, re-creates an illusion of state spatiality that also justifies further compartmentalization and incorporation of the space under its control, as has been exemplified in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The limited cross-LoC mobility for people and goods established after 2005, following the India–Pakistan dialogue, is a highly bureaucratized process. As a result of this monitoring of mobility, the LoC is becoming more border-like.

Article

Turkey: A Historical Overview  

Gavin Brockett

That history reflects the moment in which it is written is no more apparent than in the case of Turkey. To write the history of Turkey at a time when the Middle East is roiling in the complex set of expectations and events associated with the Arab uprisings is to attempt to explain a country profoundly impacted by regional turmoil yet also engulfed in its own strife, the outcomes of which are far from clear. At first, Turkey appeared to escape the tumult that began in 2011, and its prime minister—now president—Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—even trumpeted Turkey as the paragon of political stability among countries seeking to integrate a Muslim population and democratic political order. However, in 2013 the alliance of forces that had brought about Erdoğan’s decade-long dominance and apparent Turkish economic prosperity began to unravel. The government became enmeshed not only in its own internal struggle, but also in an intensifying civil war with Kurdish groups in the southeast and in the catastrophic war in Syria. Then, on July 15, 2016, the country—and the world—was startled by a failed, but nonetheless violent, military coup. Shocked by such drastic action, Turks across the country flocked to Erdoğan’s defense. Then, once he had secured his position as president, he declared a state of emergency and embarked on a countrywide purge, arresting and/or firing from public employment tens of thousands of suspected opponents, not the least of whom were academics, some of whom had publicly challenged his growing authoritarianism and erratic rule. Erdoğan is accused by his critics variously of either attempting to establish his own revived Ottoman “sultanate” or seeking to replicate the power and prestige once claimed by Turkey’s founding president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He is president of a Turkey undergoing only the latest in successive waves of dramatic change and transformation that have been ongoing for more than a century. Formally established in 1923, Turkey’s history is that of a country whose ties with its immediate past are debated and defined according to competing ideologies and agendas of the moment. Turkey came into a paradoxical world, one defined according to the ideal of independent nation-states, while in fact the pressure to integrate and conform to transnational systems leading to increasing interdependence, lately as a result of globalization, has been enormous. While capitalist economics and democratic, representative politics indeed emerged dominant in the world in the late 20th century, their force no longer seems unassailable or certain. For almost a century, Turkey has had a conflicted relationship with the countries of “the West” that tirelessly promoted this system. Now that the authenticity of this system itself faces increasingly intense scrutiny in Europe and North America, Turkey seeks to redefine itself politically and to assert its role both regionally and globally, even as it deals with deepening crises at home.

Article

The Appropriation of Islam in the Maldives  

Boris Wille

The Maldives is one of four Muslim majority countries in South Asia. The contemporary Islamic Republic of the Maldives frames itself as a “100 percent Muslim nation.” The state religion is Islam, all 380,000 citizens are Muslims by law, and the practice of other religions is prohibited. Ever since the first Muslim exposure, probably in the 10th century, Islam has gradually evolved into a sociocultural configuration that affects most domains of archipelagic society and culture. It shapes foreign relations, informs legislation, and influences arts and architecture, as well as language and scripture. Scholarship of Islam and Islamization in the Maldives acknowledges the historical trajectories of the appropriation of Islam as well as its contemporary relevance in Maldivian identity and state politics.

Article

The Chagos Archipelago  

Marina Carter

The Chagos Archipelago comprises fifty-five Indian Ocean islands on five coral atolls, which were little known and uninhabited until the 18th century. Small exploratory settlements were set up by the French and British from the 1770s, but the archipelago was not permanently occupied until after the Napoleonic Wars. Collectively—with Agalega—known as the oil islands because of the exploitation of coconut plantations, the atolls were leased and later sold to Mauritian and Seychellois settlers who employed slaves and later nominally “free” laborers to collect, dehusk, and press the coconuts to produce oil. Economically in decline for most of the 20th century, the Chagos archipelago was controversially detached from Mauritius during independence negotiations in the 1960s and reconstituted as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Some 1,500 islanders were displaced and, as Chagossians, have engaged in a series of legal battles to reclaim their homeland. Currently only one island on the southernmost atoll—Diego Garcia—is occupied, utilized as an American military base; it was declared a Marine Protected Area in 2010. Mauritius has been internationally recognized to have the strongest claim to sovereignty of the archipelago but some Chagossians are calling for independent statehood.

Article

Colonialism, Nationalism, and Decolonization in Madagascar  

Solofo Randrianja

Madagascar’s colonization by France took place in the wake of rising nationalism. If its colonization corresponded with French strategic interests such as the establishment of an area of influence in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, then, except for the small colony of Réunion, France’s purely economic interest in Madagascar’s colonization remains questionable. Sparsely inhabited in spite of its large area, with no strategic resources such as gold or other important raw materials, Madagascar endured colonization efforts that focused on the constitution of a state capable of politically unifying the whole island through the recycling of what remained from a sovereign precolonial state before French conquest. The conquest itself and the process of colonization were initially met with violent resistance, mainly from the countryside, which was crushed on the eve of World War I. Later, resistance gave way to more modern political expressions, all treated as illegal by colonial legislation until the eve of World War II. The first political proposal called for equal rights and integration of Madagascar and its people into a French republic. Gradually, influenced by the memory of the former Malagasy regime but also under the influence of nationalism, which blew over the whole world during the interwar period, the anticolonialism movement became nationalist despite the existence of its relatively influential socialist component. The post–World War II liberal atmosphere and frustrations and deprivations endured during the war were among the causes of the March 1947 uprising. Its brutal crushing and subsequent repression excluded part of the political elite and the majority of the traumatized rural population from the decolonization process, which began by the mid-1950s. Decolonization was conducted without any actual hiatus from the previous colonial system in both institutions and political personnel.

Article

The Imperial State and the Ruling Elite  

Song Chen

The ruling elite of imperial China was composed of diverse groups, including imperial clansmen and in-laws, eunuchs and other palace attendants, as well as incumbents of a vast civil and military bureaucracy who had hailed, in some historical periods, from different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. The distribution of power among these groups shifted constantly in tandem with the vagaries of political situations. Of these groups, the most prominent and best documented were the shi, who derived their status from a confluence of economic, social, political, and cultural resources. What it meant to be a shi and who qualified as a shi varied greatly over time. The first shi were men of talent who were recruited into government on account of their administrative, military, and diplomatic abilities, regardless of their family or regional origin. The rise of these shi was itself a corollary of China’s transition into the imperial era, which was marked by a persistent endeavor by warring states to build an effective bureaucratic administration staffed by capable men. Within a few centuries, however, the shi had become a semi-hereditary elite, comprising a relatively small number of families that monopolized high offices in government, resided in the capital, and married almost exclusively among themselves. This superelite dissipated in the 10th and 11th centuries, in the midst of a series of economic, social, and political changes that profoundly transformed the character of the shi as well as their relationship to the imperial state and local society. In the subsequent millennium, learning took precedent over pedigree and officeholding in defining shi status. Hence, the shi became a more inclusive epithet and was adopted by all men who had the education that qualified them for government service, thus blurring the distinction between government officials and a more diffuse stratum of local leaders. These transformations took place in the context of longue-durée economic and social changes from Song times onwards, including the growth of private wealth, the spread of printing, the expansion of the educated population, and the development of various local social institutions.

Article

The Soviet Legacy in Central Asian Politics and Society  

Vincent Artman

To trace the Soviet legacy in Central Asia is to trace the contours of a complex, multifaceted, and in many ways unfinished process. Between the advent of Russian imperial rule in the late 19th century and the collapse of Soviet power in 1991, the dynastic monarchies and nomadic federations of Central Asia were subdued, and the region was refashioned first into a European settler colony and then into industrialized national republics. Everything from political geography and institutions, economic patterns, urban patterns, and normative identities were indelibly shaped by the Soviet experience. Despite the legacies of the Soviet period, however, each of the states of Central Asia has also followed its own distinct trajectory since 1991, complicating the search for a coherent regional narrative. All of the post-Soviet states of Central Asia share certain common political, economic, and cultural “inheritances,” but their divergent histories since 1991 highlight not only the enduring significance of this shared patrimony, but also their remarkably different responses and trajectories since 1991.

Article

History of Shanghai  

Lena Scheen

Over the past millennium, Shanghai transformed from a relatively insignificant market town and county capital into a major global metropolis. A combination of technical advances in agriculture, waterway management, and the natural changes in the course of some rivers and the silting of others led, in 1292, to the founding of the county capital Shanghai. The town went through alternate periods of growth and stagnation, but by the mid-19th century, it was an international trading hub with a population of a quarter of a million people. One of the turning points in its history came in 1842, the year that the Treaty of Nanking was signed by the Qing Empire and the United Kingdom and the Treaty Port of Shanghai opened up. Over the following century, Shanghai was divided into three main sections, each operating under its own laws and regulations: the International Settlement, the French Concession, and the Chinese city. In the 1930s, the fate of the city fell into the hands of yet another foreign power: Japan. After Japan’s surrender on 15 August 1945, Chinese nationalists and communists continued their struggle for control of the city for another four years until the People’s Liberation Army “liberated” Shanghai on 25 May 1949.

Article

“National Races” in Myanmar  

Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung

It has been conventional wisdom to attribute Myanmar’s entrenched military rule and civil war to the presence of more than a hundred ethnic groups and the near-exclusive political and economic monopoly enjoyed by the central government. While the presence of multiple ethnic groups has made it difficult to negotiate a settlement that satisfies all parties, the conflict that has occurred in Myanmar since the late 1940s originated in the colonial period and is perpetuated by the policies and practices of political and military elites since independence. Cultural identities remained fluid in precolonial Myanmar, but the British colonial government’s attempt to categorize groups based on their languages and to favor some groups at the expense of others reified and rigidified ethnic identities, creating political and economic divisions along these lines. The postcolonial government’s inability and unwillingness to accommodate demands for greater political and territorial autonomy by minority groups, as well as military repression of these aspirations, have further intensified conflict. This has resulted in the death or displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and has sharpened ethnic divisions. However, while minority ethnic and linguistic groups share common grievances against the Bamar-dominated central government, they disagree on how best to promote group interests and interethnic peace. Political reforms in 2011–2020 saw a reduced military role in politics, greater willingness of a semi-democratic government to negotiate an end to civil war, and greater space and opportunities for minorities to promote their language and culture and to push for greater political autonomy. These prospects were crushed by a military coup in February 2021 that has transformed the nature of civil conflict in Myanmar and perpetuated a cycle of violence.