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An Anthropology of Intellectual Exchange
Interactions, Transactions and Ethics in Asia and Beyond
Copeman, J., Long, N. J., Chau, L. M., Cook, J. & Marsden, M.(eds)
Dialogues, encounters and interactions through which particular ways of knowing, understanding and thinking about the world are forged lie at the centre of anthropology. Such ‘intellectual exchange’ is also central to anthropologists’ own professional practice: from their interactions with research participants and modes of pedagogy to their engagements with each other and scholars from adjacent disciplines. This collection of essays explores how such processes might best be studied cross-culturally. Foregrounding the diverse interactions, ethical reasoning, and intellectual lives of people from across the continent of Asia, the volume develops an anthropology of intellectual exchange itself.
The Art of Fate Calculation
Practicing Divination in Taipei, Beijing, and Kaifeng
From housewives to students and high-ranking officials, people from all social backgrounds in China and Taiwan visit fate calculation masters to learn about their destiny. How do clients assess the diviner’s skills? How does one become a fortune-teller? How is a person’s fate calculated? The Art of Fate Calculation explores how conceptions of fate circulate in Chinese and Taiwanese societies while resisting uniformization and institutionalization. This is not only due to the stigma of “superstition” but also to the internal dynamic of fate calculation practice and learning.
Aspirations of Young Adults in Urban Asia
Values, Family, and Identity
Westendorp, M., Remmert, D. & Finis, K. (eds)
Comparing first-person ethnographic accounts of young people living, working, and creating relationships in cities across Asia, this volume explores their contemporary lives, pressures, ideals, and aspirations. Delving into topical issues such as education, social inequality, family pressures, changing values, precarious employment, and political discontent, the book explores how young people are pushing boundaries and imagining their future. In this way, they explore and create the identities of their local and global surroundings.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Urban Studies
Areas: Asia Asia-Pacific
Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries
Naraindas, H., Quack, J., & Sax, W. S. (eds)
Ideas about health are reinforced by institutions and their corresponding practices, such as donning a patient's gown in a hospital or prostrating before a healing shrine. Even though we are socialized into regarding such ideologies as "natural" and unproblematic, we sometimes seek to bypass, circumvent, or even transcend the dominant ideologies of our cultures as they are manifested in the institutions of health care. The contributors to this volume describe such contestations and circumventions of health ideologies, and the blurring of therapeutic boundaries, on the basis of case studies from India, the South Asian Diaspora, and Europe, focusing on relations between body, mind, and spirit in a variety of situations. The result is not always the "live and let live" medical pluralism that is described in the literature.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City centers on a growing multinational community of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) devotees in Mayapur, West Bengal. While ISKCON’s history is often presented in terms of an Indian guru ‘transplanting’ Indian spirituality to the West, this book focusses on the efforts to bring ISKCON back to India. Paying particular attention to devotees’ failure to consistently live up to ISKCON’s ideals and the ongoing struggle to realize the utopian vision of an ‘ideal Vedic city’, this book argues that the anthropology of ethics must account for how moral systems accommodate the problem of moral failure.
Big Capital in an Unequal World
The Micropolitics of Wealth in Pakistan
Inside the hidden lives of the global “1%”, this book examines the networks, social practices, marriages, and machinations of Pakistan’s elite.
Benefitting from rare access and keen analytical insight, Rosita Armytage’s rich study reveals the daily, even mundane, ways in which elites contribute to and shape the inequality that characterizes the modern world. Operating in a rapidly developing economic environment, the experience of Pakistan’s wealthiest and most powerful members contradicts widely held assumptions that economic growth is leading to increasingly impersonalized and globally standardized economic and political structures.
Neighbourhood Youth and Urban Change in Kyrgyzstan’s Capital
In this pioneering ethnographic study of identity and integration, author Philipp Schröder explores urban change in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek from the vantage point of the male youth living in one neighbourhood. Touching on topics including authority, violence, social and imaginary geographies, interethnic relations, friendship, and competing notions of belonging to the city, Bishkek Boys offers unique insights into how post-Socialist economic liberalization, rural-urban migration and ethnic nationalism have reshaped social relations among young males who come of age in this Central Asian urban environment.
'City of the Future'
Built Space, Modernity and Urban Change in Astana
Astana, the capital city of the post-Soviet Kazakhstan, has often been admired for the design and planning of its futuristic cityscape. This anthropological study of the development of the city focuses on every-day practices, official ideologies and representations alongside the memories and dreams of the city’s longstanding residents and recent migrants. Critically examining a range of approaches to place and space in anthropology, geography and other disciplines, the book argues for an understanding of space as inextricably material-and-imaginary, and unceasingly dynamic – allowing for a plurality of incompatible pasts and futures materialized in spatial form.
Subjects: Urban Studies Anthropology (General)
Infertility and Procreative Technologies in India
Infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in India lie at the confluence of multiple cultural conceptions. These ‘conceptions’ are key to understanding the burgeoning spread of assisted reproductive technologies and the social implications of infertility and childlessness in India. This longitudinal study is situated in a number of diverse locales which, when taken together, unravel the complex nature of infertility and assisted conception in contemporary India.
Subject: Medical Anthropology
A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination
Humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. This book is about the role of cognition in creating cosmologies, and explores this through the ethnography and history of Yijing divination in China. Diviners explain the cosmos in terms of a single substance, qi, unfolding across scales of increasing complexity to create natural phenomena and human experience. Combined with an understanding of human cognition, it shows how this conception of scale offers a new way for anthropologists and other social scientists to think about cosmology, comparison and cultural difference.
Crafting Chinese Memories
The Art and Materiality of Storytelling
Swancutt, K. (ed)
Through an interdisciplinary conversation with contributors from social anthropology, religious studies, film studies, literary studies, cultural studies, and history, Crafting Chinese Memories is a novel book which addresses how works of art shape memories, and offers new ways of conceptualising storytelling, memory-making, art, and materiality. It explores the memories of artists, filmmakers, novelists, storytellers, and persons who come to terms with their own histories even as they reveal the social memories of watershed events in modern China.
Creole Identity in Postcolonial Indonesia
Contributing to identity formation in ethnically and religiously diverse postcolonial societies, this book examines the role played by creole identity in Indonesia, and in particular its capital, Jakarta. While, on the one hand, it facilitates transethnic integration and promotes a specifically postcolonial sense of common nationhood due to its heterogeneous origins, creole groups of people are often perceived ambivalently in the wake of colonialism and its demise, on the other. In this book, Jacqueline Knörr analyzes the social, historical, and political contexts of creoleness both at the grassroots and the State level, showing how different sections of society engage with creole identity in order to promote collective identification transcending ethnic and religious boundaries, as well as for reasons of self-interest and ideological projects.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Colonial History
Youth Bulges and their Socio-political Implications in Tajikistan
Most of the Muslim societies of the world have entered a demographic transition from high to low fertility, and this process is accompanied by an increase in youth vis-à-vis other age groups. Political scientists and historians have debated whether such a “youth bulge” increases the potential for conflict or whether it represents a chance to accumulate wealth and push forward social and technological developments. This book introduces the discussion about youth bulge into social anthropology using Tajikistan, a post-Soviet country that experienced civil war in the 1990s, which is in the middle of such a demographic transition. Sophie Roche develops a social anthropological approach to analyze demographic and political dynamics, and suggests a new way of thinking about social change in youth bulge societies.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Sociology
Living with Reindeer and Hunting among Spirits in South Siberia
Examining human-animal relations among the reindeer hunting and herding Dukha community in northern Mongolia, this book focuses on concepts such as domestication and wildness from an indigenous perspective. By looking into hunting rituals and herding techniques, the ethnography questions the dynamics between people, domesticated reindeer, and wild animals. It focuses on the role of the spirited landscape which embraces all living creatures and acts as a unifying concept at the center of the human and non-human relations.
The Cultural Ecology of the Dal Lake in Kashmir, India
Casimir, M. J.
In the Himalayas of the Indian part of Kashmir three communities depend on the ecology of the Dal lake: market gardeners, houseboat owners and fishers. Floating Economies describes for the first time the complex intermeshing economy, social structure and ecology of the area against the background of history and the present volatile socio-political situation. Using a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, the author deals with the socioeconomic strategies of the communities whose livelihoods are embedded here and analyses the ecological condition of the Dal, and the reasons for its progressive degradation.
From Village Commons to Public Goods
Graduated Provision in Urbanizing China
Illuminating the complex processes of China’s uneven urbanization through the lens of the transition from village commons to public goods, this book is set in three urbanized villages in Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Xi’an, which have experienced similar demographic explosions and dramatic changes to their landscapes, the livelihoods of its inhabitants, and the power structures governing their residents. Graduated provision is the delivery of public goods informed by the teleological ideology of urbanization, and by neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics, and has been employed as an answer to the challenges of making public goods, such as welfare provisions, public parks, education, and senior care, equally accessible to all in recently urbanized communities.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Urban Studies Sociology
Glimpses of Hope
The Rise of Industrial Labor at the Urban Margins of Nepal
Over the last decade, Nepal has witnessed significant urban growth and an expanding urban middle class. Glimpses of Hope tells the story of the people who enable some of the middle-class consumer practices in urban Nepal. The book focuses on workers in areas such as modern food-processing, water-bottling, housebuilding, and sand-mining industries and explores how workers see such forms of work, where union organization can help, and how work opportunities emerge along lines of gender and ethnicity. Although global labor relations have been mostly in decline for decades, this ethnography offers insights and glimpses of hope in terms of labor dynamics and the opportunities various jobs may afford.
Grace after Genocide
Cambodians in the United States
Mortland, C. A.
Grace after Genocide is the first comprehensive ethnography of Cambodian refugees, charting their struggle to transition from life in agrarian Cambodia to survival in post-industrial America, while maintaining their identities as Cambodians. The ethnography contrasts the lives of refugees who arrived in America after 1975, with their focus on Khmer traditions, values, and relations, with those of their children who, as descendants of the Khmer Rouge catastrophe, have struggled to become Americans in a society that defines them as different. The ethnography explores America’s mid-twentieth-century involvement in Southeast Asia and its enormous consequences on multiple generations of Khmer refugees.
Areas: North America Asia
Heritage Movements in Asia
Cultural Heritage Activism, Politics, and Identity
Mozaffari, A. & Jones, T. (eds)
Heritage processes vary according to cultural, national, geographical, and historical contexts. This volume is unique in that it is dedicated to approaching the analysis of heritage through the concepts of social movements. Adapting the latest developments in the field of social movements, the chapters examine the formation, use and contestation of heritage by various official, non-official and activist players and the spaces where such ongoing negotiations and contestation take place. By bringing social movements into heritage studies, the book advocates a shift of perspective in understanding heritage, one that is no longer bound by (at times arbitrary) divisions such as those assumed between the state and people or between experts and non-experts.
Areas: Asia Asia-Pacific
Hindi Is Our Ground, English Is Our Sky
Education, Language, and Social Class in Contemporary India
A sea change has occurred in the Indian economy in the last three decades, spurring the desire to learn English. Most scholars and media venues have focused on English exclusively for its ties to processes of globalization and the rise of new employment opportunities. The pursuit of class mobility, however, involves Hindi as much as English in the vast Hindi-Belt of northern India. Schools are institutions on which class mobility depends, and they are divided by Hindi and English in the rubric of “medium,” the primary language of pedagogy. This book demonstrates that the school division allows for different visions of what it means to belong to the nation and what is central and peripheral in the nation. It also shows how the language-medium division reverberates unevenly and unequally through the nation, and that schools illustrate the tensions brought on by economic liberalization and middle-class status.
Subjects: Educational Studies Anthropology (General)
Towards a Global Ethnography of Afghanistan
Afghan society has been marked in a lasting way by war and the exodus of part of its population. While many have emigrated to countries across the world, they have been matched by the flow of experts who arrive in Afghanistan after having been in other war-torn countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine or East Timor. This book builds on more than two decades of ethnographic travels in some twenty countries, bringing the readers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to Europe, North America and Australia. It describes the everyday life and transnational circulations of Afghan refugees and expatriates.
Areas: Middle East & Israel Asia
Honour and Violence
Gender, Power and Law in Southern Pakistan
The practice of karo kari allows family, especially fathers, brothers and sons, to take the lives of their daughters, sisters and mothers if they are accused of adultery. This volume examines the central position of karo kari in the social, political and juridical structures in Upper Sindh, Pakistan. Drawing connections between local contests over marriage and resources, Nafisa Shah unearths deep historical processes and power relations. In particular, she explores how the state justice system and informal mediations inform each other in state responses to karo kari, and how modern law is implicated in this seemingly ancient cultural practice.
Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala
In Kerala, political activists with a background in Communism are now instead asserting political demands on the basis of indigenous identity. Why did a notion of indigenous belonging come to replace the discourse of class in subaltern struggles? Indigenist Mobilization answers this question through a detailed ethnographic study of the dynamics between the Communist party and indigenist activists, and the subtle ways in which global capitalist restructuring leads to a resonance of indigenist visions in the changing everyday working lives of subaltern groups in Kerala.
Madness, Bureaucracy and Gender in Mumbai, India
Narratives from a Psychiatric Hospital
Regional mental hospitals in India are perceived as colonial artefacts in need of reformation. In the last two decades, there has been discussion around the maltreatment of patients, corruption and poor quality of mental health treatment in these institutions. This ethnography scrutinizes the management of madness in one of these asylum-like institutions in the context of national change and the global mental health movement. The author explores the assembling and impact of psychiatric, bureaucratic, gendered and queer narratives in and around the hospital. Finally, the author attempts to reconcile social anthropology and psychiatry by scrutinising their divergent approaches towards ‘mad narratives’.
A Magpie’s Tale
Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives on the Kazakh of Western Mongolia
Portisch, A. O.
Telling the story of the author's time living with a Kazakh family in a small village in western Mongolia, this book contextualizes the family’s personal stories within the broader history of the region. It looks at the position of the Kazakh over time in relation to Tsarist Russian, Soviet, Chinese and Mongolian rule and influence. These are stories of migration across generations, bride kidnappings and marriage, domestic violence and alcoholism, adoption and family, and how people have coped in the face of political and economic crisis, poverty and loss, and, perhaps most enduringly, how love and family persist through all of this.
Making Things Happen
Community Participation and Disaster Reconstruction in Pakistan
Murphy Thomas, J.
Drawing on the Pakistan Earthquake Reconstruction and Recovery Project (PERRP), this volume explores the sociocultural side of post-disaster infrastructure reconstruction. As the latter is often fraught with delays and even abandonment—one cause being ineffective interactions between construction and local people—PERRP used anthropological and participatory approaches. Along with strong construction management, such approaches led to the rebuilding being completed on time. As disasters are increasing in number and intensity, so too will be the need for reconstruction, for which PERRP has lessons to offer.
Subjects: Applied Anthropology Development Studies
Get-Rich-Quick Schemes in Siberia
Multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes promote the idea that participants can easily become rich. These popular economies turn ordinary people into advocates of their interests and missionaries of the American Dream. Marketing Hope looks at how different types of get-rich-quick schemes manifest themselves in a Siberian town. By focusing on their social dynamics, Leonie Schiffauer provides insights into how capitalist logic is learned and negotiated, and how it affects local realities in a post-Soviet environment.
Memories of Migration to and from North Korea
In this unique and insightful book, Markus Bell explores the hidden histories of the men, women, and children who traveled from Japan to the world’s most secretive state—North Korea. Through vivid ethnographic details and interviews with North Korean escapees, Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea reveals the driving forces that propelled thousands of ordinary people to risk it all in Kim Il-Sung’s “Worker’s Paradise”, only to escape back to Japan half a century later.
The Partial Revolution
Labour, Social Movements and the Invisible Hand of Mao in Western Nepal
Located in the far-western Tarai region of Nepal, Kailali has been the site of dynamic social and political change in recent history. The Partial Revolution examines Kailali in the aftermath of Nepal’s Maoist insurgency, critically examining the ways in which revolutionary political mobilization changes social relations—often unexpectedly clashing with the movement’s ideological goals. Focusing primarily on the end of Kailali’s feudal system of bonded labor, Hoffmann explores the connection between politics, labor, and Mao’s legacy, documenting the impact of changing political contexts on labor relations among former debt-bonded laborers.
The Patient Multiple
An Ethnography of Healthcare and Decision-Making in Bhutan
In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, medical patients engage a variety of healing practices to seek cures for their ailments. Patients use the expanding biomedical network and a growing number of traditional healthcare units, while also seeking alternative practices, such as shamanism and other religious healing, or even more provocative practices. The Patient Multiple delves into this healthcare complexity in the context of patients’ daily lives and decision-making processes, showing how these unique mountain cultures are finding new paths to good health among a changing and multifaceted medical topography.
The Return of Polyandry
Kinship and Marriage in Central Tibet
Fjeld, H. E.
Tibet is known for its broad range of marriage practices, particularly polyandry, where two or more brothers share one wife. With economic development and massive Chinese social and political reforms, including new marriage laws prohibiting plural marriages, polyandry was expected to disappear from Tibetan social lives. This book takes as its starting point the surprising increase in polyandry in Panam valley from the 1980s. It explores married lives in polyandrous houses and develops a theory of a flexible kinship of potentiality through the lens of a farming village in Tibet Autonomous Region.
Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces
Religious Pluralism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus
Darieva, T., Mühlfried, F., & Tuite, K. (eds)
Though long-associated with violence, the Caucasus is a region rich with religious conviviality. Based on fresh ethnographies in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation, Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces discusses vanishing and emerging sacred places in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious post-Soviet Caucasus. In exploring the effects of de-secularization, growing institutional control over hybrid sacred sites, and attempts to review social boundaries between the religious and the secular, these essays give way to an emergent Caucasus viewed from the ground up: dynamic, continually remaking itself, within shifting and indefinite frontiers.
Areas: Asia Central/Eastern Europe
A Sea of Transience
Poetics, Politics and Aesthetics along the Black Sea Coast
Khalvashi, T. & Demant Frederiksen, M. (eds)
Transience is found in every meeting and form of coexistence between people and things that live and exist by, or move across or along, the Black Sea. It may come in various forms and guises, from de facto states, tourism, migration, trafficking or military troops, and it needs to be written and captured in sensuous, affective and imaginative ways. With particular attention to poetics, politics and aesthetics, this volume focuses on the scales of transient moments and histories, and enables readers to see and sense the many forms of transience that occur in a given landscape, sea or space.
Areas: Central/Eastern Europe Asia
Staying at Home
Identities, Memories and Social Networks of Kazakhstani Germans
Despite economic growth in Kazakhstan, more than 80 per cent of Kazakhstan’s ethnic Germans have emigrated to Germany to date. Disappointing experiences of the migrants, along with other aspects of life in Germany, have been transmitted through transnational networks to ethnic Germans still living in Kazakhstan. Consequently, Germans in Kazakhstan today feel more alienated than ever from their ‘historic homeland’. This book explores the interplay of those memories, social networks and state policies, which play a role in the ‘construction’ of a Kazakhstani German identity.
Thai in Vitro
Gender, Culture and Assisted Reproduction
In Thailand, infertility remains a source of stigma for those couples that combine a range of religious, traditional and high-tech interventions in their quest for a child. This book explores this experience of infertility and the pursuit and use of assisted reproductive technologies by Thai couples. Though using assisted reproductive technologies is becoming more acceptable in Thai society, access to and choices about such technologies are mediated by differences in class position. These stories of women and men in private and public infertility clinics reveal how local social and moral sensitivities influence the practices and meanings of treatment.
Secular Activism and the Politics of Difference in South India
Exploring lived atheism in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this book offers a unique insight into India’s rapidly transforming multi-religious society. It explores the social, cultural, and aesthetic challenges faced by a movement of secular activists in their endeavors to establish atheism as a practical and comprehensive way of life. On the basis of original ethnographic material and engaged conceptual analysis, Total Atheism develops an alternative to Eurocentric accounts of secularity and critically revisits central themes of South Asian scholarship from the hitherto marginalized vantage point of radically secular and explicitly irreligious atheists in India.
Love and the Culture of Dementia Care in India
As life expectancy increases in India, the number of people living with dementia will also rise. Yet little is known about how people in India cope with dementia, how relationships and identities change through illness and loss. In addressing this question, this book offers a rich ethnographic account of how middle-class families in urban India care for their relatives with dementia. From the husband who wakes up at 3 am to feed his wife ice-cream to the daughters who gave up employment for seven years to care for their mother with dementia, this book illuminates the local idioms on dementia and aging, the personal experience of care-giving, the functioning of stigma in daily life, and the social and cultural barriers in accessing support.
Subject: Medical Anthropology
Variations on Uzbek Identity
Strategic Choices, Cognitive Schemas and Political Constraints in Identification Processes
Throughout its history the concept of “Uzbekness,” or more generally of a Turkic-speaking sedentary population, has continuously attracted members of other groups to join, as being Uzbek promises opportunities to enlarge ones social network. Accession is comparatively easy, as Uzbekness is grounded in a cultural model of territoriality, rather than genealogy, as the basis for social attachments. It acknowledges regional variation and the possibility of membership by voluntary decision. Therefore, the boundaries of being Uzbek vary almost by definition, incorporating elements of local languages, cultural patterns and social organization. This book combines an historical analysis with thorough ethnographic field research, looking at differences in the conceptualization of group boundaries and the social practices they entail. It does so by analysing decision-making processes by Uzbeks on the individual as well as cognitive level and the political configurations that surround them.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) History (General) Sociology
Visions of Marriage
Politics and Family on Kinmen, 1920-2020
Grounded in multi-generational stories from Kinmen in Taiwan, Visions of Marriage explores the historical entanglements between the pursuit of new personal and national futures. Focusing on the relational and future-making aspects of marriage, the ethnography highlights the intersection of transformations across familial generations and shifting political economies in Taiwan, and more globally. While theories of modernity often treat marriage as an index of social change, without adequate attention to its transformative capacities generated through personal and familial agency, this volume provides comparative insights on family change and demographic shifts in Asia.
When Things Become Property
Land Reform, Authority and Value in Postsocialist Europe and Asia
Sikor, T., Dorondel, S., Stahl, J. & Xuan To, P.
Governments have conferred ownership titles to many citizens throughout the world in an effort to turn things into property. Almost all elements of nature have become the target of property laws, from the classic preoccupation with land to more ephemeral material, such as air and genetic resources. When Things Become Property interrogates the mixed outcomes of conferring ownership by examining postsocialist land and forest reforms in Albania, Romania and Vietnam, and finds that property reforms are no longer, if they ever were, miracle tools available to governments for refashioning economies, politics or environments.
Where Are All Our Sheep?
Kyrgyzstan, A Global Political Arena
After the collapse of the USSR, Kyrgyzstan chose a path of economic and political liberalization. Only a few years later, however, the country ceased producing anything of worth and developed a dependence on the outside world, particularly on international aid. Its principal industry, sheep breeding, was decimated by reforms suggested by international institutions providing assistance. Virtually annihilated by privatization of the economy and deserted by Moscow, the Kyrgyz have turned this economic “opening up” into a subtle strategy to capture all manner of resources from abroad. In this study, the author describes the encounters, sometimes comical and tinged with incomprehension, between the local population and the well-meaning foreigners who came to reform them.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Development Studies
World Heritage Craze in China
Universal Discourse, National Culture, and Local Memory
There is a World Heritage Craze in China. China claims to have the longest continuous civilization in the world and is seeking recognition from UNESCO. This book explores three dimensions of the UNESCO World Heritage initiative with particular relevance for China: the universal agenda, the national practices, and the local responses. With a sociological lens, this book offers comprehensive insights into World Heritage, as well as China’s deep social, cultural, and political structures.
Areas: Asia Asia-Pacific