Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory

By Valerie Stoker, author of Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory: Vyasatirtha, Hindu Sectarianism, and the Sixteenth-Century Vijayanagara Court

This guest post is published in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies conference in Toronto. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on March 19th.

The fall of 2016 was an interesting time to publish a book on the relationship between religion, identity, and politics. As we know, the United States elected a president in November who ran on an openly Islamophobic platform and who, within the first weeks of his administration, has made dramatic changes to American immigration policy.

Trump’s election is part of a general 21st-century wave of resurgent nationalism, populism, militarism, and religious and ideological conflict that are responses to broader social and economic change. My book, Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory, looks at a time and place quite removed from our contemporary lives: the South Indian empire of Vijayanagara in the early 1500s. But, not unlike recent reality, this empire was marked by high levels of immigration, foreign trade, a rapidly changing economy, and new patterns of religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Much as in today’s world, these changes generated both anxiety and opportunity. I wrote this book in part to elucidate how Vijayanagara’s leaders managed these changes and what impact this management had on traditional social units like Hindu monasteries. How did people understand the differences between themselves and others and how did the machinations of the state affect these processes of identity formation?

To explore these issues, my research focused on the relationship between the Vijayanagara Empire’s most famous king, Kṛṣṇadevarāya, and the Hindu monastic leader, Vyāsatīrtha. In the field of Indian religious history, Vyāsatīrtha is best known as a sectarian polemicist who wrote several texts devoted solely to criticizing the views of rival religious traditions. But my work shows that he was also an agent of the Vijayanagara state who worked closely with rival religious communities on projects that helped Kṛṣṇadevarāya expand the state’s functional apparatus. This type of collaboration between religious rivals, who were often also linguistically and regionally distinct, was something the Vijayanagara court actively patronized for many reasons. Such collaboration created cosmopolitan nodes throughout the empire that became hot-beds of economic activity as well as cultural and intellectual exchange. My book re-reads Vyāsatīrtha’s polemical works as an attempt, not solely to criticize other systems of thought, but to engage with them in order to clarify both the boundaries and commonalities between different religious traditions. I argue that this very clarity provided the basis for successful collaboration in daily life.

Thus, by creating a religious cosmopolitanism that was inextricably linked to a variety of practical endeavors, Kṛṣṇadevarāya and his agents shaped a social environment that not only avoided religiously based conflict but supported socio-economic mobility in highly diverse settings. Of course, not everyone flourished within this framework. Because the Vijayanagara court’s patronage was selective, it was also exclusive. And there was plenty of militarism in Vijayanagara statecraft, directed both at rival polities to the north and recalcitrant groups within the empire. Nevertheless, the approach of the sixteenth-century Vijayanagara court to ideological and other differences provides a striking contrast to today’s political rhetoric and reminds us of the value in studying India’s past.


Valerie Stoker is Associate Professor of South Asian Religions and Director of the Master of Humanities Program at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory is currently available as a free, open access eBook as part of our Luminos program. Read it online now.


Challenging the Notion of “Globalization” as a 21st Century Phenomenon

by George Dutton, author of A Vietnamese Moses: Philiphê Binh and the Geographies of Early Modern Catholicism

This guest post is published in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies conference in Toronto. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on March 19th.

In the second decade of the twenty-first century it has become a truism that we have finally entered the era of the “globalized.” It takes little effort for historians to produce a wide range of evidence to suggest that this is not the case, and that the phenomenon of “globalization” is one found already in the ancient worlds. This is particularly true with respect to the various “world religions” that emerged between the 5th century BCE and the 7th century CE, each of which gradually, and occasionally rapidly, travelled to distant corners of the globe. A particularly good example is Roman Catholicism, whose initial spread was relatively modest, but which then took advantage of the sailing ships of the “Age of Discovery” to span the globe. Unlike the other world religions, Catholicism has developed an elaborated ecclesiastical hierarchy that reaches around the world with implications for local Christian communities.

Over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, agents of the Christian church reached the farthest corners of Asia and slowly built up communities of local Catholics. One of these groupings was founded in the coastal reaches of the Red River in the northern part of what is today Vietnam, and was then often called Tonkin. Initiated by Portuguese Jesuits, this community of Catholics grew to several hundred thousand in less than half a century. These mission fields soon drew the attention of other orders – Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and secular mission societies – and priests from a range of nations – Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, among others.

The Christians in coastal Tonkin found themselves both served by the European priests that were in their midst, and profoundly shaped by ecclesiastical conflicts and decisions emanating from the Catholic centers of power in Rome and the Iberian Peninsula. While local Christians experienced a substantial measure of autonomy imparted by distance and the logistics of communication, they were still subject to church politics in Europe. Thus, the papal recall of all Jesuits priests in Tonkin in 1678 sent shockwaves through the community. The order to divide Tonkin into two vicariates that same year further shook the local Catholic communities, who found themselves now experiencing elements of their faith in ways shaped by differentiated approaches to ritual and emphasis. A century later the formal dissolution of the entire Jesuit Order in 1773 further rattled Tonkinese Catholics, now finding themselves subject to new ecclesiastical leadership whose dictates and expectations were often at variance with their long-standing traditions.

While those loyal to the deep rooted Portuguese Jesuit tradition defied their new overseers, this was not sustainable and in 1796 they dispatched one of their own, the recently ordained Vietnamese priest, Father Philiphê Binh, to Portugal on their behalf. This community understood the global forces of Catholicism, and the nuances of its politics. They became active participants in defense of their traditions and sending their emissary to Europe was an indication of their engagement in the church politics of the period. Vietnamese Catholics recognized, far more than most Vietnamese, the degree to which they themselves lived in an era of “globalization.” What happened beyond their borders in remote political capitals had profound and measurable impacts upon both their material and spiritual lives.

Father Binh’s emergence as a priest and representative of his community on a journey half way around the world to defend its spiritual traditions is the subject of my book. While in substantial measure it is the story of a particular man and the complex contours of his life, it is also very much a tale of the ways in which eighteenth-century religious globalization had profound repercussions for Catholics in Tonkin. It is thus a reminder that peoples in seemingly remote corners of the globe were already then active participants in a world where the reach of ideas and politics was no less extensive than in the twenty-first century, even if it travelled at the speed of sailing ships rather than fiber optics.


George E. Dutton is Professor of Vietnamese History in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

A Vietnamese Moses is currently available as a free, open access eBook as part of our Luminos program. Read it online now.


What Mozart and Super Mario Have in Common

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.

This post is also in honor of International Open Access Week, October 24–30, 2016. At publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.


by Roger Moseley, author of Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo

Keys to Play cover MoseleyIn languages ranging from French to Turkish and German to Japanese, the verb “to play” is applicable to both games and instrumental music. But what kinds of games might we be playing when we play music? Johan Huizinga, the founder of modern play studies, remarked in 1939 that “it seems probable that the link between play and instrumental skill is to be sought in the nimble and orderly movements of the fingers.” Growing up, I was vaguely aware of parallels between the hours I spent at the piano keyboard and the computer keyboard, or with Nintendo gamepad in hand. Exercises of dexterous timing and the navigation of obstacles in the form of double thirds or Goombas occupied me throughout my childhood. Decades later, when writing Keys to Play, I found myself articulating my sense of what exactly these activities have in common and how they might illuminate one another.

I was particularly intrigued by how Huizinga’s focus on “the nimble and orderly movements of the fingers” hints at a genealogy of digitality that links fingers to numbers and fortepianos to game controllers. Since its earliest musical incarnations, the keyboard has materialized and arrayed bits of information, making them available for processing by both humans and machines. Keys and buttons represent bits as spatially divergent entities that are configured and mapped according to cultural memory, the elements of which are stored and retrieved by recourse to notes, letters, numbers, tunings, and temperaments. Temporally, the keyboard enables these bits to be processed in sequence, configuring strings of events that can be programmed (composed), executed in real time (performed), or both at once (improvised).

At the same time, keyboards afford analogical modes of play. From the clavichord’s infinite sensitivity to the Guitar Hero controller’s cheerful fakery, both the isomorphism and the discrepancy between digital action and sonic outcome activates the logic of mimesis, revealing the senses in which play unfolds in a subjunctive mood. Under the rubric of make-believe or fantasy, we play as if things might be otherwise.

To alight on another point of linguistic contact between music and games, in both cases the “score” is indicative of a need to objectify and quantify the outcome of a playful process. To score, etymologically, is to mark: to tally, in the case of games, and to prescribe, in the case of music. In this sense, a score describes and constitutes the ludic rules according to which the music is to be played. Throughout Keys to Play, I wanted to conceive of figures such as Mozart and Beethoven not as composers in the traditional sense, but as game designers, creators who engineered playful adventures for themselves and others to act out.

These connections help explain why Keys to Play considers the playing of Mozart’s keyboard concertos and Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii side by side (and even goes so far as to mash them up). Shuttling between the digital and the analog, between the concrete and the fantastical, between the nimbleness of eighteenth-century fingers and the wanderings of the twenty-first-century imagination, musical play enables us to act as if the world were—or might yet become—a more wondrous place.


Roger Moseley is Assistant Professor of Music at Cornell University. Active as a collaborative pianist on modern and historical instruments, he has published essays on the interface of the keyboard, the performativity of digital games, the practice of eighteenth-century improvisation, and the music of Brahms.


Classical Music Month: Open Access Music Titles Available for Free Download

This post is part of a series celebrating #ClassicalMusicMonth. We’re pleased to profile some of the Music titles available for free download through our Open Access program, Luminos—and there’s also one last day of free access to curated Classical Music articles!


Last year the University of California Press launched Luminos, a new Open Access publishing program for monographs. With the same high standards for selection, peer review, production and marketing as our traditional program, Luminos is a transformative model, built as a partnership where costs and benefits are shared.

Our first title was a reissue of a classic music text, The Art of Fugue: Bach Fugues for Keyboard, 1715–1750 by eminent musicologist Joseph Kerman.

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While the original print edition of The Art of Fugue included a CD with recordings, the digital product released on the Luminos platform features embedded sound files, providing a seamless reading/listening experience. In a series of elegantly written essays, Kerman discusses his favorite Bach keyboard fugues—some of them among the best-known fugues and others much less familiar. The book also features scores including preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier.

Forthcoming in early October, Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo by Roger Moseley looks at how keyboards make music playable. By remapping the keyboard’s topography by way of Mozart and Super Mario, Keys to Play invites readers to unlock ludic dimensions of music that are at once old and new.

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Browse other Luminos titles available for free download including Instruments for New Music: Sound, Technology, and Modernism by Thomas Patteson.


101st Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Author Joachim Savelsberg was invited by the President of the Republic of Armenia to present a talk on the occasion of the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Savelsberg delivered his lecture on April 23, 2016, at the Global Forum against the Crime of Genocide in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. The event was introduced by a speech by President Serzh Sargsyan and concluded with an address by Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Nalbandian. Other speakers included genocide survivors, several ambassadors, other scholars and activist-actor George Clooney. Savelsberg’s lecture addressed the relationship between human rights and humanitarian aid in the context of genocide. It was based on materials from his recent book Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur, available as open access online. Savelsberg also participated in the official wreath laying ceremony at the Armenian Genocide Memorial on April 24, the official day of commemoration, and at the inaugural award ceremony for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Upon his return Savelsberg reported about his experiences to the Armenian community of Minnesota.


May Day for Media Workers

May Day, “International Worker’s Day,” is a curiously un-American holiday. Celebrated by labor groups and political parties outside the United States, it began in 1890 as a global day of solidarity to commemorate those who lost their lives in Chicago’s Haymarket Square while demonstrating for an eight-hour workday. Haymarket, a symbol of labor’s rising activism, also sparked America’s first major “red scare,” a political backlash that created tensions within the U.S. labor movement and hived it off from its counterparts around the world. That legacy is still with us, as most American labor organizations 9780520290853continue to frame issues through the prism of national interest. Even in Hollywood, labor groups describe their most pressing challenges in terms of “runaway production,” which is industry parlance for out-sourcing. Consequently, many workers fail to grasp the larger set of forces that is killing jobs, intensifying workplace pressures, and undermining creativity. They also have a hard time making connections between the challenges they face and those confronted by counterparts overseas. Interestingly, the situation isn’t so different in Bollywood (Mumbai), Nollywood (Lagos), and Prague, as demonstrated by two dozen scholars in Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor, a newly released UC Press volume that’s also available through the Luminos open access platform.

As these scholars show, motion picture production practices in cities around the world are growing more closely aligned under the pressures of media globalization and corporate conglomeration. Distribution protocols and audience behaviors are also converging. Although these transformations offer fresh opportunities for media makers and their fans, they also open the door to managerial strategies that exact a heavy toll on workers and make it difficult for them to organize and respond. Interestingly, one of the most widely shared complaints is about the long workdays that run well past the eight-hour limit advocated by Haymarket demonstrators more than a hundred years ago!

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A demonstration by VFX workers outside the 2013 Oscars when “Life of Pi” was winning the special effects award only two weeks after the company that made the effects went bankrupt and the workers were fired. Learn more here.

Precarious Creativity provides a window into the everyday lives of film, television, and video game workers, while also offering a critical perspective that makes connections and comparisons across the globe. Essays also reflect on the prospects for labor activism and transnational organizing. We are therefore delighted to have the opportunity to release it on the Luminos open access platform where it is already reaching a global audience. Only weeks after publication Precarious Creativity has been accessed by readers in Nigeria, India, and the Czech Republic; and it has generated a bit of buzz stateside as well, even in Hollywood.

So here’s to May Day, and to greater awareness of the diverse yet interwoven challenges facing media workers around the world!


curtin_photoMichael Curtin is the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Professor of Global Studies in the Department of Film and Media Studies and cofounder of the Media Industries Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His previous books include The American Television Industry; Reorienting Global Communication: Indian and Chinese Media Beyond Borders; Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV; andDistribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digitial Future of Film and Television.

 

eca5eb6b9121c94762157af75cda5077-bpfullKevin Sanson is a Lecturer in Entertainment Industries at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. He is coeditor of Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television and Connected Viewing: Selling, Streaming, & Sharing Media in the Digital Era and is part of the founding editorial collective of Media Industries, the first peer-reviewed open-access journal for media industries research.

 


Join us at the 2016 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia

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University of California Press is exhibiting at the 2016 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference! The meeting convenes this week: March 30 – April 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Please visit our booth in the exhibit hall at the Hilton Atlanta for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for course adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

In addition, come by the booth to meet our new acquisitions editor, Raina Polivka. If she is in a meeting, she’d be happy to hear from you via email. You can also catch Raina talking about Luminos, our new Open Access program, at the ‘Audiovisual Aids: Producing Media Adjuncts to Scholarly Publications’ workshop on Thursday, March 31st from 5–6:45 pm. {see SCMS program for room details}

Follow SCMS’s Facebook, @scmstudies, and hashtag #SCMS16 for current meeting news. Catch up on our recent blog posts on Cinema and Media here.


The Cultural Consequences of International Criminal Justice Intervention

by Joachim J. Savelsberg, author of Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur. A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s new open access publishing program for monographs.

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This guest post is published as part of a series in relation to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences conference occurring at the end of March in Denver, CO .

How can international criminal justice contribute to fighting mass atrocities?

Mass atrocities, specifically genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, have cost manifold more human lives than all street crimes combined. New research, mostly conducted by political scientists, indicates that interventions by international institutions, including the new International Criminal Court, reduce such violence. But the mechanism is hidden in a black box. Some speculate that deterrence is at work. The current book instead examines the cultural consequences of interventions. Based on content analysis of well over three thousand news media reports and interviews with Africa correspondents, NGO experts and foreign ministry officials from eight countries, it depicts the changing collective representations of mass violence. Criminal justice interventions play a major role as they keep mass violence on the public radar and increase the likelihood that it will be depicted as state crime and genocide. The age old celebration of those responsible for mass violence as great state builders and decades of denial are thereby challenged. And such challenges are likely to affect international responses to mass violence.

Are there challenges to the representative function of criminal justice interventions?

Challenges to criminal justice framing of mass violence are numerous. They do not just emanate from the dark forces of perpetrating organizations and states. Competing representations are also generated by other social fields that seek to provide relief in the midst of devastation or to put an end to the violence. Humanitarian aid organizations tell stories about the violence that differ substantially from those told by the Court. Their accounts treat the perpetrating state cautiously. They focus on deprivations in refugee camps rather than on those victims who suffer directly from criminal violence. In the words of one humanitarian NGO worker: “Who is the devil? Good and bad – we don’t necessarily see the world in that way… We need [communication], because to be present in an area you need acceptance by the groups.” Also diplomats who work tirelessly to put an end to the violence provide a representation that competes with the criminal justice frame. And here too, actors in the diplomatic field provide their reasoning openly: “If you want to make peace in Darfur through negotiations, you have to deal with the Sudanese government… If you want justice through the ICC, well, then you should stigmatize someone who is indicted.” Media analysis shows that the humanitarian aid and armed conflict frames, promoted by aid NGOs and diplomats respectively, also affect media reporting. Yet, they do so less successfully than criminal justice interventions.

Can findings about the case of Darfur be generalized?

Representing Mass Violence focuses on the mass violence that unfolded in the Darfur region of Sudan during the first decade of the 21st century. The estimated death toll is 300,000. Millions have been driven from their homes. Tens of thousands have been raped. The livelihood of half of the population of Darfur has been destroyed. But Darfur is not a single case. The last two and a half decades saw mass violence in countries such as Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, the DRC, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and East Timor, continuing histories of horror of the 20th and of preceding centuries.

Today the ongoing mass violence in Syria and Iraq dominates news media headlines. To be sure, the geopolitical position of each of these countries differs, and so does their exposure to international criminal justice institutions. Yet, all of these situations have seen some form of criminal justice response. Many of the responding institutions are new and barely tested. Scholarship needs to pay close attention to their functioning and impact. The story of Darfur tells us, however, that they will likely contribute to a representation of those responsible for mass violence that will cast a shadow on the reputation of responsible actors. These state and military leaders are less likely to go down in history as heroes but as villains instead. The buildup of international justice institutions may generate some of the civilizing effect that the development of state institutions had over past centuries. Uncertainties are great, of course, but an opportunity lends itself, and continued observation is the order of the day.


Joachim J. Savelsberg is Professor of Sociology and Law and Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair at the University of Minnesota. He is the coauthor of American Memories: Atrocities and the Law and author of Crime and Human Rights: Criminology of Genocide and Atrocities.


In Memoriam: J.D.Y. Peel

John Peel
Professor J.D.Y. Peel, 1941–2015

Distinguished anthropologist and scholar of Africa, John Peel passed away in November. Two of Peel’s colleagues from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Paul Gifford and Richard Rathbone, have published moving accounts of Peel’s legacy as a scholar and friend, which can be read here.

He published widely, in development studies, sociological theory, and diverse aspects of African religion, including religious change, conversion and gender. His strength was to combine history, social anthropology and sociology. He was a beautiful stylist, and incapable of writing an unintelligible sentence. His thrust was generally Weberian, insisting that religion could not be reduced to material or class interests.

University of California Press is proud to be publishing Professor Peel’s final work, Christianity, Islam, and Orisa-Religion: Three Traditions in Comparison and Interaction, which will be available early next year.