Issue 77/4 – 2009

30/12/2009 Tana Dluhosova


Contents

Articles

Philippe Bourmaud
The Political and Religious Dynamics of the Mawlid al-nabawī in Mandatory Palestine ………………………………………………………. 317–329

The politicization of the Nabī Mūsā festival during the Palestine Mandate is a well-established and publicized fact, yet other Arab Palestinian festivals experienced a similar transformation in the same context. Such was the case of the Mawlid al-nabawī (the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad). The intention of Arab nationalists was that it should evolve into a communal festival for all the Palestinian Arabs. However, for mainly denominational, geographical and political reasons, the attempt met with varied success throughout the territory of the Palestine Mandate. Attendance at public festivities remained decidedly Muslim in character. Repeated appeals for Christian participation were to little avail. Yet the attempts to include Christian Arabs in the festival throw light on the Arab nationalist ideologies in Palestine at the time – from that point of view, the celebrations linked to the birth of the Prophet Muhammad stand out as an axiological inspiration, regardless of denominational boundaries. In 1937, the political mobilization on the occasion of the Mawlid al-nabawī reached a peak but, even then, attendance was greatest in Gaza and Acre, places where the festival was traditionally important. Furthermore, the degree of mobilization, varying as it did from place to place, seems to be a reflection of the influence of the main Arab Palestinian factions, whose rivalry was reaching a climax in the late 1930s.

 Keywords: Mandatory Palestine – Mawlid al-nabawi – Middle East-history

About the Author

Dr. Philippe Bourmaud is an associate professor of contemporary history at the Jean Moulin University-Lyon 3. Dr. Bourmaud holds a Ph.D. in history and is a specialist on the history of Palestine in the 19th and 20th centuries. He has authored numerous articles on the topic. Dr. Bourmaud is currently working on the publication of a book inspired by his doctoral dissertation, focusing on the training and careers of physicians in the late period of the Ottoman Near East.
e-mail: pbourmaud@free.fr

 

Magdalena Zaborowska
Man in the Dynamic World: Reflections of Iranian Intellectuals ……………………………………. 331–347

This paper deals with contemporary Iranian philosophical and religious thought. It focuses on the reflections of a few of the most famous and highly regarded contemporary Persian intellectuals and philosophers, as well as on theologians such as Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari and also Mohsen Kadivar and Mostafa Malekian. Inmodern Iran, intellectuals play a key role in shaping and developing various debates and disputes concerning present-day problems and issues. Among the many ideas that have emerged in Iran in recent years, we can observe an attempt to reconcile the sacred with the humane. Persian thinkers try to define what in the world can be considered as being sacred, and which elements no longer belong to the sphere of the sacred and should, therefore, be considered as being humane and temporary. It appears to us that one of the main problems here lies in the separation of what is everlasting and eternal and what can be changed and modified by people. An analysis of the discussions that take place among Persian philosophers and religious thinkers reveals that the keynote which underlies the current Iranian debate is deeply rooted in the idea of the dynamic nature of the world. The idea of a constant movement leading to evolution can be found in mystical poetry as well as in philosophical works and is also a characteristic element of the Iranian outlook on life. It implies, therefore, a particular way of understanding: what changes and develops and what remains immutable.

Keywords: Iran – Philosophy and religious thought – Middle East

About the Author

Dr. Magdalena Zaborowska currently serves as a lecturer in the Department of Iranian Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, the University of Warsaw. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in October 2009 at the Department of Iranian Studies in the University of Warsaw (Ph.D. dissertation: “Aql (reason) as a Fundamental Concept in Contemporary Iranian Philosophical and Religious Thought”). Her main academic and research interests are concentrated, therefore, on modern Persian philosophical and theological discourse ( including the problems associated with the comprehension of key terms and notions in Persian traditions). Dr. Zaborowska is the author of several articles concerning issues such as religious democracy, secularism in modern Iranian thought and contemporary Persian Qur’an interpretations.
e-mail: mmzaborowska@gmail.com

 

Michael Beníšek
References to the Ḍombas in Rājataraṅgiṇī ………………………… 349–366

This paper analyzes references to an untouchable caste, namely the ḍomba-, which appear in the Sanskrit chronicle of the Kashmiri kings, Rājataraṅgiṇī. Its author, Kalhaṇa, depicts the Ḍombas as itinerant people, living by music and dance and having a liking for rich adornments. Although he regards any association with them as ritually polluting, he records that in the year 936 AD a Ḍomba family was given an audience at the court of King Cakravarman, following which the ruler married one of the Ḍomba singers. In spite of this, the same king is also displayed as a supporter of the Brāḥmaṇas and Brāhmaṇas, as receivers of the king’s favor, even though there is a sharp condemnation of Kalhaṇa. Thus, it seems that the untouchable status of the lowest castes was not too strict in the Kashmir of the 10th century. This is confirmed by evidence that indicates that the Brāhmaṇical King Yaśaskara retained the functionaries who had previously served the Ḍombas. There is also evidence of one other ruler, Kṣemagupta, specifically seeking out Ḍomba company. Only at the end of the 11th century is there evidence of a certain degree of segregation, when King Harṣa was to reject the inclusion of Ḍomba women in his harem. The paper shows how the Rājataraṅgiṇī can be utilized as a valuable source of knowledge relating to the ethnography and social history of pre-Islamic Kashmir.

Keywords: Ḍomba caste – pre-Islamic Kashmir – Social history of Kashmir

About the Author

Michael Beníšek obtained his M.A. degree in Indian Studies (with a specialization in Sanskrit) and Romani Studies at Charles University in Prague. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the development of case marking from Middle Indo- Aryan to Romani. He specializes in historical and descriptive linguistics in the field of Indo-Aryan languages (particularly Sanskrit, Prākrits, and Romani) and is also interested in questions relating to the underprivileged section of ancient Indian society. He delivers lectures on the anthropology of ancient India at the University of Pardubice and on the Indian historical background for students of Romani Studies at Charles University Prague.
e-mail: michael.benisek@gmail.com

 

Jan Bečka, Jr.
A Changing Relationship: The Impact of World War II on American Foreign Policy toward Thailand ……………………… 367–389

The article focuses on the relationship between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand before and after World War II. The author first seeks to show how this relationship developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries and what the salient characteristics of it were. The second part of the article describes the American attitude toward Thailand during the war and the importance of wartime events for the future of the Thai-American relationship. Finally, the closing section deals mainly with the postwar developments and the reasons for the emergence of the strategic partnership between Bangkok and Washington. Attention is paid to the motivations and expectations of both sides, as it relates to their cooperation. The aim of the article is mainly to show the changed nature of this bilateral relationship, resulting from World War II and events that followed closely in its wake. It also seeks to point out that the common struggle against communism, although important in later years, was neither the sole nor the prevalent reason for the newly emerging American interest in Thailand in the immediate postwar period.

Keywords: United States – Thailand – Foreign policy – World War II – Sovereignty

About the Author

Jan Bečka, Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University Prague. His research interests include American foreign policy after World War II, the Cold War in Asia and modern history and political developments in Southeast Asian countries.
e-mail: becka@fsv.cuni.cz

 

Jana Benešová
From the Quest for Love / Knowledge towards the Magic of Alternative Worlds: The Change of the Dominant in the Works of Su Weizhen 蘇偉貞? …………………………………………………….. 391–414

This article uses Brian McHale’s interpretative model of postmodern change as a dominant shift, i.e. as a transition from epistemological to ontological poetics, to explore trends and developments in the fiction by Su Weizhen, one of the most prominent Taiwanese women writers to appear on the Taiwanese literary scene at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, a period which witnessed the revival of women’s fiction in Taiwan. Firstly, I reexamine some of the basic characteristics of Su Weizhen’s earlier work and try to demonstrate what might possibly have directed it to the epistemological dominant of modernist literature. In the second part of the article, I trace the subsequent shift towards ontological poetics, described by Brian McHale as being a characteristic of postmodernist fiction in general, something which has been partly realized in Su Weizhen’s more recent works. This, however, is not to say that I wish to argue that Su Weizhen should be placed among the pantheon of modernist or postmodernist writers; rather, I would like to point out that by using McHale’s model to (re)interpret her works, we can arrive at some new elucidations and interesting insights into the development of Su Weizhen’s fiction (including both form and content), especially as regards her more recent works.

Keywords: Su Weizhen – Taiwanese women’s literature – Modernism – Postmodernism

About the Author

Jana Benešová is a Ph.D. student at the National Chengchi University, Taiwan. She obtained her M.A. in English language and Chinese philology at the Palacky University, Olomouc in 2005. She has published several scholarly articles as well as some translations from Chinese.
e-mail: klubko@gmail.com

 

Book Reviews and Notes

 

Fran J. Weatherhead, Amarna Palace Paintings. (Břetislav Vachala)………………………………………………………………….. 415–418

François Leclère, Les villes de Basse Égypte au Ier millénaire av. J.-C. Analyse archéologique et historique de la topographie urbaine. (Květa Smoláriková) ………………………………………………………………… 418–422

Hiltrud Rüstau und Katja Eichner, Schatzkammer Indiens Chhattisgarh. Ein kultur-historisches Reisebuch. (Dagmar Marková) …………………………………………………………………. 423

 

Our Contributors …………………………………………………………………………. 425–426

Contents of Volume 77 (2009) ………………………………………………………. 427–428

ORIENTAL ARCHIVE 77, 2