A Celebration of Books – the inaugural FASS Bookshare

A/P Ho Kong Chong introducing the speakers

This week’s inaugural FASS Bookshare was a great occasion for the whole faculty to recognize books and the crucial part they play in our research output. On Monday 6th of February, authors and bibliophiles alike filled the Faculty Lounge to celebrate the many self-authored, academic books published this last year, 15 of which had an Asian focus. Three authors in particular talked about their work and the different and often long jouneys they had undertaken in the process of writing their books.

First up was Assistant Professor Tim Amos (Japanese Studies) whose book Embodying Difference: The Making of Burakumin in Modern Japan analyzes the burakumin, Japan’s largest minority group, and their perceived place in premodern Japanese society compared to modern interpretations of their identity. Tim shared how his book came to be using an extensive array of original archival material, ethnographical research, and critical historiographical work. 

Next up was Assistant Professor Koh Khee Heong (Chinese Studies) who engaged the audience with the making of his book A Northern Alternative: Xue Xuan (1389-1464) and the Hedong School.  Khee Heong explained that conventional portraits of Neo-Confucianism in China are built on studies of scholars active in the south, yet Xue Xuan (1389–1464), the first Ming Neo-Confucian to be enshrined in the Temple to Confucius, was a northerner. Northern Neo-Confucians tended to be more reliant on the state as an institutional actor compared to their more localized southern intellectual peers, hence their history has been greatly under-researched which has proven a great opportunity for scholars like Khee Heong to share the historical and philosophical nuances of the northern chinese intellectual tradition.

Last up was Associate Professor Vineeta Sinha (Sociology) who spoke about her book  Religion State Encounters in Hindu Domains; From the Straits Settlements to Singapore. Vineeta shared how the idea for the book literally fell into her lap when she was approached to look through some dusty old files which turned out to be the minutes of the Singapore Mohammedan and Hindu Endowments Fund board meetings dating from 1907 onwards. The historical and empirical project of the book is really grounded in a desire to theorise ‘religion-state’ relations in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, secular city-state of Singapore. Taking that state intervention in religious affairs in Singapore is a given, the book reveals the creative solutions to Hindu temple management and observance of Hindu festivals and processions as they were enacted within administrative and bureaucratic frames over the period.

There then followed a lively discussion and lunch while attendees had an opportunity to browse the all the books on display. For the brochure with all fifteen books and their abstracts, please see here: booksharebrochure

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