China or India? India or China? Maybe Chindia? Anyone who has ever spent much time thinking about the future of the Asia or any particular country or company’s relationship to it, has probably asked this question, and more than once. Several terms, such as “Asia- Pacific” or the newly-launched “Indo-Pacific”, carry this question within it.

The history of Singapore before the foundation of the modern version of the city by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 has been largely ignored. This volume of eighteen articles (with a wide range of original publication dates) looks to rectify this and show that Singapore, because of its strategic location in the shipping route between East and West, was heavily involved in pre-British waves of global trade and colonization.

The Age of Aryamehr: Late Pahlavi Iran and its Global Entanglements, Roham Alvandi (ed) (Gingko, November 2018)
The Age of Aryamehr: Late Pahlavi Iran and its Global Entanglements, Roham Alvandi (ed) (Gingko, November 2018)

The history of Pahlavi Iran has traditionally been written as prologue to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and firmly located within a national historical context. However, the reign of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941-1979), in fact marked the high-point of Iran’s global interconnectedness. Never before had Iranians felt the impact of global political, social, economic, and cultural forces so intimately in their national and daily lives, nor had Iranian actors played such an important global role, on battlefields, barricades, and in board rooms far beyond Iran’s borders.

To imagine the Shanghai of the 1930s is to frame art-deco frontages on chiaroscuro streets, behind which noirish figures from a polyglot demi-monde sip whiskies and soda. The city in this era has an imaginative power in the Western mind beyond that of any other place in China, fuelled by an intoxicating cocktail of equal measures myth and reality. Paul French, a long-time resident of the city, now returned to London, offers two complimentary portraits of the place and those westerners pulled inexorably toward it in his new books, City of Devils and Destination Shanghai.

Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia, Vannessa Hearman (NUS Press, August 2018)
Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia, Vannessa Hearman (NUS Press, August 2018)

Drawing on interviews, archival records, and government and military reports, Vanessa Hearman traces the lives of a number of individuals, following their efforts to build a base for resistance in the South Blitar area of East Java, and their subsequent journeys into prisons and detention centres, or into hiding and a shadowy underground existence. She also provides a new understanding of relations between the army and its civilian supporters, many of whom belonged to Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.

One of the major casualties of the Asian financial crisis was President Suharto who had been in power for thirty-two years. The crisis was a key point in Indonesia’s history, at the time it was unclear if the nation would make the necessary reforms to move forward or fall into further chaos. In Resurgent Indonesia, Vasuki Shastry investigates the effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis on Indonesia and the subsequent fall of the authoritarian Suharto in 1998. He then deals with the process of building a democratic nation and the political environment in Indonesia in 2018. The book gives a detailed account of the crisis and recovery at the domestic level but also in the wider geopolitical context.

In the summer of 1792, the Qianlong Emperor was confronted with a uniquely Tibetan Buddhist problem: Qing authorities had discovered the Eighth Dalai Lama, Seventh Panchen Lama, the Fourth Jetsundamba, several other prominent reincarnate lineages, and a distinguished Tibetan statesman, were embedded in a web of kinship ties. “… How is it possible that the reincarnations of all the major kutuktus of Tibet have come to appear only in the noble households?” he remarked in a  letter to one of his most trusted generals.