Lynette J. ChuaMobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State

Temple University Press, 2014

by Nick Cheesman on October 15, 2014

Lynette J. Chua

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Singapore has a well-deserved reputation as a state that stifles dissent and polices activism. But as Lynette Chua shows in Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State (Temple University Press, 2014), repressive government nowhere goes unchallenged, even if the forms that resistance takes are not manifest. Turning away from social movement theory that tends to valorize public protest and other forms of highly visible contentious politics, Chua tells another story: a story of contingent, incremental gains through strategic adaptation; a story of “pragmatic resistance” to authoritarianism.

Mobilizing Gay Singapore is a highly readable and finely researched account of how a contemporary political movement has emerged and grown in a small Asian state, yet it is a book with a bigger story to tell about the beginnings and progress of social movements in difficult circumstances.


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In a foreword to Tyrell Haberkorn’s first book, Revolution Interrupted: Farmers, Students, Law and Violence in Northern Thailand (Wisconsin University Press, 2011), Thongchai Winichakul observes, “Haberkorn writes to prevent the fading of life to oblivion, recounting stories that bring the forgotten back to life.” She does this and more. By recalling the forgotten story of [...]

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Tine M. GammeltoftHaunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

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Rachel RinaldoMobilizing Piety: Islam and Feminism in Indonesia

June 23, 2014

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Peter Maguire and Mike RitterThai Stick: Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade

March 29, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] Reading Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter‘s book Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade (Columbia Press, 2013) is the most fun I have had doing this podcast. Maguire makes a point during the interview that police officers preferred to arrest marijuana smugglers because they were so laid back and [...]

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October 30, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Book in Asian American Studies] While it has become typical to see Filipina/o migrants working in nursing or domestic work in the United States, many are surprised to see Filipina/os doing the same work in Hong Kong, Israel, and Dubai. Indeed, Filipina/o workers are ubiquitous around the globe, and may be the world’s first truly [...]

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Eric JenningsImperial Heights: Dalat and the Making and Undoing of French Indochina

October 29, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in French Studies] There is a city in the Southern hills of Vietnam where honeymooners travel each year to affirm their love at high altitude, breathing in the alpine air and soaking in the legacies of French colonialism. Developed by the French in the nineteenth century, Dalat remains a contemporary tourist destination fully [...]

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Deborah Mayersen and Annie PohlmanGenocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia: Legacies and Prevention

October 27, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] Genocide studies has been a growth field for a couple of decades.  Books and articles have appeared steadily, universities have created programs and centers and the broader public has become increasingly interested in the subject. Nevertheless, there remain some aspects of the field and some geographic regions that remain dramatically understudied. [...]

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[Cross-posted from New Book in Islamic Studies] Indonesia is often highlighted as having the right kind of Islam, ‘moderate’ and ‘peaceful.’ Whether that remains true (if it ever was a reality) will be tested in the future but what about the past? How did we end up with this picture of Islam in Indonesia? Michael Laffan, Professor [...]

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Noboru IshikawaBetween Frontiers: Nation and Identity in a South East Asian Borderland

June 6, 2011

[Crossposted from New Books in South Asian Studies] Borneo (Indonesian: Kalimantan) is an island where three very different nation-states meet: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The Indonesian province of Kalimantan occupies most of the island; of the rest, all except one percent is taken up by the Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak. The tiny but [...]

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