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Showing Rating details. Sort order. Nov 11, Nick rated it liked it. Gerald L. Posner published the edition I read of this book in the late eighties. For me, reading it was a pleasure.
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Not that the Triads are blameless; Posner tracks the whole modern heroin manufacturing and transportation system from its origins in the Golden Triangle of Nothern Burm Gerald L. Not that the Triads are blameless; Posner tracks the whole modern heroin manufacturing and transportation system from its origins in the Golden Triangle of Nothern Burma among the traders were remnants of Chiang Kai-Shek's army through the money networks of Hong Kong then under British control to Holland or the U.
He wrote at a time when the Afghans were still busy fighting the Russians, and the Colombians, not the Mexicans, were hemispheric enemy number one, so the Golden Triangle has been basically underbid by concerns closer to the big markets. Still, Posner has a lot to talk about. He pinpoints the origin of the Triads as patriotic resistance groups against the foreign Qing dynasty that lost their purpose when that dynasty fell.
He also pinpoints the origins of the opium trade among the British in India and the French in Southeast Asia--he argues that Dien Bien Phu, the French Waterloo in Viet Nam, was the result of hill tribes dissatisfied what they earned from French intelligence. He notes the protection and support that the U.
He teases out the role that American GIs had not only in making addicts out of fellow soldiers but in flooding the market at home some of the drugs came home in military coffins.
He visits the Walled City of Hong Kong, probably the densest place on earth, where 50, poor people lived in largely subterranean conditions. Originally the fort of a long-vanshed dynasty, it finally fell victim to Hong Kong's real estate boom and was razed. He teases out the relations with the U. Tongs, and the flow of money everywhere, along with the ancillary vices, more devoted to gambling that prostitution, although Posner doesn't dwell much on human trafficking.
Jul 02, Pablo Fandango rated it it was amazing. Great read on Chinese Secret Societys. This term rather refers to the birthplace, the Strait of Malacca, rather than the culture of a person.
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But among the Straits-born Chinese some were still untouched by foreign cultural influence and therefore called sinkeh , or newcomers. But, to make things more complicated, the Malacca Chinese were anything but untouched by foreign influence. They were in fact heavily Malayinized, but not British educated. It might stem from the Middle East and came into being during Dutch and British colonial times. However, the term was not used beyond West Java. Its usage is rather loose. One might consider calling an ethnic Chinese who speaks Malay as his first language a Baba, but actually every family where at least one female member wears a traditional sarong or konde is seen as Baba .
Concerning the usage of language one must also acknowledge the fact that for instance Penang Babas are undoubtedly to be seen as cultural Baba, nevertheless they do not speak Malay as a first language, but rather Hokkien a South-Chinese dialect with Malay vocabulary while the Malacca Babas speak Malay with some Hokkien vocabulary.
Suryadinata states that at least in West Malaysia the distinction today is not Baba or Chinese, but rather Malay-educated and Chinese-educated. We shall use the term Baba for any person of Chinese background who adopted the use of Malay language, dress, cuisine and social conduct. Chinese appear to have settled on the Malay Peninsula from quite early times on. By the middle of the 17th century most Chinese men in Malacca, then a Dutch colony, appear to have been settled in households with indigenous women. Clammer  argued vigorously against the popular view, that all Chinese men married indigenous women.
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He stresses the fact that daughters in Malacca-Chinese society were indeed a precious good and were married very carefully to Chinese men, preferably non-Straits-born, to keep the Chinese heritage alive. This fact manifested a system of matriarchy within Baba society, which brought with it a system of matrilocal marriage and female heads of household. According to Clammer, the sex ratio among the Chinese in Malacca was always quite balanced and few indigenes would have been allowed into this society.
He argues that:. Marriage was either intra-communal or new spouses were acquired from migrants from China. Thirdly, an examination of the gravestones in the great Chinese cemetery at Bukit Cina in Malacca revealed that few burial sites went back to earlier than the eighteenth century, and that most of the lineages represented there either are not peranakan ones, if they have continued to this day, or have died out.
In Sir Raffles acquired the island of Singapore for the British crown. Obviously the Dutch failed to create a favourable business climate for the Chinese settlers in Malacca, because an influx of Baba Chinese into Singapore set in. Another large share of Baba went to the other British colony, Penang, where they mingled with genuine Chinese from the mainland to create a new distinct Penang Baba society.
Chinese and part-Chinese were seen as one by the authorities. This group happened to be into trading and commerce and more wealthy than the rest of the Malayan society. The colonial distinction set them apart from Malayan society in a way, which made complete assimilation impossible till this day.
Skinner even stresses that, in a way, colonial rule would have fostered the term of Masuk Melayu , of what makes a Malay a true Malay. By using religion as an indicator of ethnic affiliation it was made impossible for the Baba to be seen as Malay, if they refused to reject their ancestor worship and become Muslim.
On the other hand, such distinction encouraged the Chinese to see their Chinese traditions as essential to their identity, which leads away from Malay society towards sinification. Baba society managed to take advantage of the colonial rule. They preferred British education to any other, which made them valuable personnel for the colonial service and intermediaries between the British crown and the indigenous subjects.
By the end of British colonialism in the s they lost their position in the service of the authorities to Chinese-educated Chinese and a resinification of the Baba set in. Many of the British-educated Baba have lost all their affiliation to mainland China and do not speak a Chinese dialect. With the emergence of a Chinese nationalism and a larger influx of newly arrived Chinese, many Baba started to learn Mandarin rather than a dialect. Until today Chinese schools and Chinese education gains popularity among the Straits-Chinese; however, the upper strata of Chinese society in Malaysia still prefers British education.
The grouping together with Chinese with strong bonds to the motherland brought with it special problems for the Baba in post-war Malaya. Chinese were being stigmatised as communists and terrorists and a good deal of demonstration of their loyalty to Malaya was necessary, mostly in the form of generous funding. Today the Baba culture of the Penang and Malacca days appears to be dying out in Malaysia, but a distinctively Chinese society is very much alive.
Nevertheless they maintain a distinct Chinese identity, observe Chinese traditions, learn Mandarin and have mostly ethnically Chinese friends and partners. Other than in the Southeast Asian nations discussed here, Peranakan Chinese are actually a cultural group very much alive in Java. Prior to the arrival of the Dutch in the mid-eighteenth century, assimilation of Chinese, even into the Javanese elite-strata, was not uncommon.
But with Dutch colonization curbing the power of Javanese kingdoms along the north coast the Chinese merchant communities lived up to a new challenge. According to Skinner, assimilation or not assimilation depends on the desirability of local nationhood, in other words on the prestige of the local rulers.
Project MUSE - Chinese Secret Societies in the XIX-XX Centuries
Upon the arrival of the Dutch the Javanese kings enjoyed such a prestige in the eyes of the Chinese, but with the establishment of Dutch rule the Peranakan communities had a new ideal to look up to. What formed itself out of this situation was an intermediate society which merged in a unique way Javanese, Chinese and Dutch elements.
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Similarly to Malaya, many Peranakan worked in the colonial service and therefore enjoyed a prestigious position just below the Dutch themselves. But they too were threatened by the arrival of a new wave of mainland Chinese known as totok in Indonesia. Peranakan as well as Chinese in Indonesia are nevertheless willing to assimilate to a high degree. Mely G. Tan cites in her paper  Indonesian-Chinese of different backgrounds, saying that they think of themselves as Indonesians, that their children even do not know that they are considered Chinese, and that they always speak and think Indonesian.
Such a degree of integration or at least the will to integrate has a rather violent background in Indonesia. President Soekarno pledged to abandon all discriminations against ethnic Chinese and welcomed their contribution to the nation. In an environment of fear the Chinese community was split into two factions, one favouring the Chinese contribution to Indonesian nationalism and the other one advocating a self-denial policy of complete assimilation into Indonesian mainstream society by language, name, inter-marriage and culture.
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