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[ Vol. 27, No. 2, 2020 ]




The Asian Journal of Humanities

Published by
Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia

Past Issue - Volume 27, No. 2, 2020

  • Editorial
    Hajar Abdul Rahim

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  • The Salafis and the Preservation of Isnād Tradition
    Umar Muhammad Noor and Mohd Nizam Sahad

    Abstract: Transmitting Hadith with full isnād (chain of transmitters) connecting back to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has been considered as an exclusive privilege for Muslims and one of the significant traditions of past Ahl al-Hadith (scholars of Hadith). In modern times, when isnād are no longer examined to determine the authenticity of Hadiths, the tradition is still preserved by the scholars with Sufi inclination whose credentials and works have been widely renowned. On the other hand, an indifference shown by some of modern Salafis has been used by their opponents to question their qualification and expertise in Hadith criticism. This article aims to examine how Salafis assess the importance of isnād tradition in modern times. This research is qualitative in nature. The data was mainly collected from modern and pre-modern biographical dictionaries. The research finds that pre-modern Salafis showed equal interest in preserving the living isnād tradition to their Sufi peers albeit a minority of them did ignore its importance. A more careful examination suggests that this minority opinion was not a total rejection of isnād tradition, instead, it should be seen as contention over excessive remarks regarding the importance of isnād, as well as a prevention from endorsing Sufism.

    Keywords and phrases: Salafi, Sufi, thabat, ijāza, isnād
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  • The Arabic /dˤ/ Revisited: A Critical Review
    Jihad M Hamdan and Rose Fowler Al-Hawamdeh

    Abstract: The aims of this article are to revisit the controversy surrounding the Arabic emphatic consonant daad (/dˤ/) and to examine which Arabic speakers are more likely to pronounce /dˤ/ correctly when reading from a Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) text. These objectives are fulfilled by: (1) examining /dˤ/ from a historical perspective by addressing ideas which previous scholars such as Sībawayhi and Ibn Ya’ish proposed, as well as examining various suggestions put forward by modern linguists and (2) analysing recordings of news bulletins delivered in MSA by newsreaders who are native speakers of different Arabic dialects. The article concludes that to make broad generalisations relating to /dˤ/ and apply them to all Arabic speaking communities is a far-fetched attempt to say the least, if not strongly based on solid empirical evidence. Further, the fact that even numerous native Arabic speaking adult professionals make errors when reading daad from a formal text heightens the controversy. It also has pedagogical implications for the way children and adults are taught MSA across the Arab world. The story goes beyond pedagogy to include the persistent fossilisation of the vernacular pronunciations of daad.

    Keywords and phrases: Arabic, daad, controversy, emphatic, vernaculars
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  • The Emergence and Development of Indigenous Tea Plantations in West Java, 1875–1941
    Alwi Alatas and Wan Suhana Wan Sulong

    Abstract: Indigenous people in Java in the colonial era were often portrayed as a communal society, socially oriented and not in line with the market economy dominated by the Dutch administration. However, this over-simplifies the picture, especially with regard to the late colonial era, when a number of indigenous people voluntarily participated in the market economy, such as in the cultivation of export crops. This article examines the involvement of local farmers in West Java in tea cultivation for export. While this was mediated by their engagement with the colonial government and the European tea estates and infrastructure, the active willingness of local farmers to embrace market economy was also crucial for the emergence of local tea plantations in the region. Throughout the early 20th century until the end of the Dutch colonial era local tea production tended to continuously increase. In addition, several tea enterprises belonging to indigenous people emerged in the region and at least one of them had considerably expanded by the end of the period. This study shows that the indigenous people were actually willing and able to actively participate in the market economy when they had the chance to do so.

    Keywords and phrases: indigenous commercial activities, market economy, tea cooperatives, tea plantation, West Java
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  • Narrative on Nature Conservation: A Comparative Study of the Folktales of Bali Aga and Ainu
    Ida Ayu Laksmita Sari and I Nyoman Darma Putra

    Abstract: The Bali Aga community in northern Bali and the Ainu in northern Japan are indigenous peoples who share in utilising a wealth of folktales as a vehicle for passing down their respective local wisdom across generations. This study comparatively examines Bali Aga and Ainu discourses of local wisdom expressed implicitly and explicitly in these folktales. The focus of the study is to analyse discourses of local wisdom, in particular those relating to nature conservation as reflected in the folktales. The research data were taken from selected Bali Aga and Ainu folktales and analysed through the theoretical lenses of literary anthropology and comparative literature. The analysis shows that in addition to having an aesthetic narrative structure, the Bali Aga and Ainu folktales are also rich in depictions of life skills knowledge, farming methods, livelihoods and cultural values that are useful for fostering public awareness in conserving nature as a resource for cultural maintenance. This article concludes that the folktales of these two ethnic groups offer local wisdom useful for fostering awareness in society of the importance of conserving nature, with the message that despite its abundant resources, nature should not be exploited.

    Keywords and phrases: folktales, character building, nature conservation, Bali Aga, Ainu
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Themed articles
Theme: Change and Preservation in Language and Culture in Asia

The following articles discuss the relevance of “change and preservation” in the study of language, literature, and culture in Asia. Developed for the Fifth International Conference on Linguistics, Literature and Culture (ICLLIC) in 2019, this theme reflects and engages the changing social, cultural, economic, and political contexts of Asia. The collection of articles under this theme explores in various ways the notion of “change and preservation” and in so doing reflect current and dominant research trends and directions in language, literature, and culture in Asia.

  • Change and Preservation in Language, Literature and Culture in Southeast Asia: Trends and Directions
    Grace VS Chin and Kumaran Rajandran

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  • The Ethical Project of Cultural Translation
    Sharmani Patricia Gabriel

    Abstract: This article is a revised and expanded version of the author’s plenary address for the Fifth International Conference on Linguistics, Literature and Culture (ICLLIC 2019) convened by the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. It engages with the conference theme of globalisation and cultural change by reflecting on translation as an ethical project. It argues that the problematic of postcolonial translation is also a significant site to address issues of social justice and the unequal power relations between linguistic and cultural systems, especially in the context of the homogenising forces of globalisation. Disrupting normative views that one should aim for “sameness” between source and target texts, or between “original” and “translated” cultures, if translation is to be deemed a project of equal exchange between cultures and languages, the article asserts that the task of the postcolonial translator is not to preserve equivalence of meaning but to jolt the reader with moments of deep estrangement and unfamiliarity. Such a strategy will confront the reader with the reality of cultural difference. Indeed, the “global cultural consciousness” that ICLLIC 2019 called for demands that we go beyond the communicative model of translation to a more contemplative and contingent model of “carrying across” that affirms and respects difference. In short, the article argues that translation might provide the provocation for ethical ways of knowing the other.

    Keywords and phrases: cultural translation, ethics of translation, Walter Benjamin, Homi Bhabha, postcolonialism, Bangsa Malaysia
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  • Spaces of Change: Arab Women’s Reconfigurations of Selfhood through Heterotopias in Manal al-Sharif’s Daring to Drive
    Moussa Pourya Asl

    Abstract: Stereotypically depicted as unresisting and passive victims of oppressive power, Saudi women are generally considered as unable to effect changes to the patriarchal socio-political status quo. This article studies the Saudi woman life writer Manal al-Sharif’s Daring to Drive (2017) to demonstrate the various ways in which the subjugated women instigate social transformations by resisting against the prevailing male dominated system. To this end, Michel Foucault’s theories on “other spaces” are employed to examine the function of spatial modalities in the workings of the dynamics of power. It is argued that the portrayed female subjects re-construct, re-experience and re-utilise different spaces to re-invent new identities and galvanise alternative ways of life. The analysis reveals that within the emancipatory space of the Internet, Saudi women produce heterotopias of transgressions, resistance and utopianism to unsettle the prescribed boundaries of male-female relations, protest against the impositions of gender performance in public spheres and creatively re-imagine an alternative, desirable order of things. Hence, the study arrives at two conclusions: first, Saudi women’s individual urgency for self-transformation have generated major social changes and ideological reconfigurations, resulting in many of the recent democratic developments in the country; second, space is not merely a normalised and rationalised construct, but can function as a normalising and transformative force at the same time.

    Keywords and phrases: heterotopia, transformation, Saudi women, Michel Foucault, Manal al-Sharif
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  • Good Teachers: Visions of Values and Virtues in University Student Metaphors
    Martin Cortazzi and Lixian Jin

    Abstract: Good teachers in university education embody combinations of continuity and change. In the first part here, university teaching is considered in Western philosophies and educational discourse to suggest teacher characteristics and meta-functions, but this article proposes wider internationalised dialogues within humanities which crucially take student views into account. In the second part, we analyse a database of 863 metaphors about teachers given by 439 university students in Malaysia, adopting a socio-cultural approach based on cognitive linguistics. This elicited metaphor analysis explores student views of “good” teachers expressed in such metaphors as “a good teacher is a burning candle” or “a piece of chalk”. Our analysis of metaphor entailments reveals meta-functions and virtues of good teachers which though absent in some official discourses, cohere with the educational philosophy of part one: they include cognitive, social/cultural, affective, moral/spiritual and aesthetic meta-functions. These emphasise the purposes of what teachers “do” and the character of what teachers “are”, as models for what students “do” and what they “become”. This gives challenging insights for teachers (and students) to self-cultivate virtues if these participant visions are taken seriously for learner-centred approaches to humanities in new balances of continuity and change.

    Keywords and phrases: metaphor analysis, philosophy, good university teachers, meta-functions, journeys of learning
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  • Indigenous Languages and English in the Globalised Modern Era in Brunei Darussalam
    David Deterding

    Abstract: This article considers two aspects of the linguistic situation in Brunei Darussalam in the globalised modern era: the situation with regard to minority indigenous languages: and the emergent status of Brunei English. Minority languages are threatened with extinction throughout the world and those in Brunei are no exception. There are seven officially recognised indigenous groups, each with its own language, though these are sometimes all claimed to be dialects of Malay—Brunei Malay, Kedayan, Dusun, Bisaya, Tutong, Belait and Murut—but all these languages apart from Brunei Malay are under threat, even though some efforts are currently being undertaken to preserve them. English is also widely spoken in Brunei and Brunei English has features that make it distinct from other Englishes in the world. Some of these features are shared by other regional varieties of English and others are unique to Brunei. The article therefore, analyses the status of the minority languages of Brunei, describes efforts to preserve them and also evaluates the developing status of Brunei English as it evolves under the influences of globalisation; and it finally reflects on problems with neat classification into distinct languages.

    Keywords and phrases: indigenous languages, language death, language preservation, Brunei English
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  • Local Culture Preservation through Southern Thainess-Based English Lessons
    Budsaba Kanoksilapatham

    Abstract: Due to the existing trend of English as a global language, coupled with the emerging trend of regionalisation, individual national culture and identity have attenuated. Concerns regarding the increasing influx of foreign influence through a multitude of channels have been exacerbated by the augmented popularity of social media that permeates most aspects of people’s lives. As a consequence, particularly in the Thai context, Thai culture and identity is vulnerable. This presentation represents an attempt to avoid such imminent subjugation and simultaneously preserve the national identity of Thai learners. Specifically, this study highlights local cultural features pertaining to southern Thailand, manifested through a set of English lessons constructed and subsequently implemented to elementary students in southern Thailand for ten weeks. Based on the tests devised to measure the students’ southern Thailand knowledge and associated English vocabulary, the southern Thainess-based English lessons exert a significantly positive impact on English language learning and cultural awareness. As demonstrated, the local culture-based English lessons can be manipulated as a viable and legitimate channel to address learners’ local culture. By extension, English education can be deemed as an ideal and promising avenue to integrate other academic disciplines to empower learners to be equipped for the demands of the 21st century.

    Keywords and phrases: southern Thainess, local culture, preservation, young learners, English lessons
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Book Review

  • Discourses of Southeast Asia: A Social Semiotic Perspective, by Kumaran Rajandran and Shakila Abdul Manan (eds.). Singapore: Springer, 2019. xiv + 254 pp. ISBN 978-981-13-9883-4
    Ramesh Nair

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