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Samantha B. Meyer, Paul R. Ward and Raymond K. H. Chan

It gives us great pleasure to introduce this special issue of the International Journal of Social Quality. This special issue features empirical papers from Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. The data presented in this special issue originate from a large cross-cultural research project investigating social quality across six Asia-Pacific societies: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.

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“I Want to Ride My Bicycle”

The 11th Annual Bicycle Film Festival

Sønke Myrda

The Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) has grown from a minor grassroots event to a global “Fest” staging urban cycling events in over two dozen cities worldwide. In its 11th year in New York City, the “BFF” New York (June 22–26, 2011) intends to provide its participants with a “weekend full of bike movies, music, art, street party and after parties,”1 before going on tour around the globe. Festival cities include Amsterdam, Athens, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris, Sao Paolo, Sydney, Taiwan, Tokyo, Vienna.

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Amy Jane Barnes, Chia-Li Chen, Chun-Hung Lin, Shih-Ku Lin, Tak-Cheung Lau, Joanna Besley, Adele Chynoweth, Savina Sirik, Pechet Men, Kunthy Seng, Patrick Allegaert, Catharine Coleborne and Colin Gale

For this edition of Museum Worlds: Advances in Research, we have asked a group of museum practitioners to respond to a thought-provoking article about a Taiwanese project that explored the particular needs of visitors diagnosed with schizophrenia. Allegaert, Besley, Coleborne, Chynoweth, Gale, and Sirik have used Chen et al.’s article as a jumping off point from which to write on the broader topic of mental health provision in museums’ engagement programs from their own international perspectives. Th e forum was convened by Sandra Dudley and curated by Amy Jane Barnes.

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Tangki War Magic

The Virtuality of Spirit Warfare and the Actuality of Peace

Margaret Chan

Tangki spirit-medium worship is practiced in the Hokkien communities of Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Tangkis are exorcists who perform war magic using the ritual theater of self-mortification. A tangki pierces his body with rods and swords in order to be supercharged with the spirit-power of the weapons for the battle with evil. Self-mortification can also enact a bodhisattva sacrifice of the body on behalf of devotees. The virtuality of the ritual theater convinces believers of the actuality of exorcism, which will ensure peace and safety in the reality of the everyday.

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Md Saidul Islam and Si Hui Lim

Home to 60 percent of the world's population, Asia accounts for 85 percent of those killed and affected globally by disaster events in 2011. Using an integrated sociological framework comprised of the pressure and release (PAR) model and the double-risk society hypothesis, and drawing on data obtained from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), PreventionWeb, and the IPCC special report on extreme events, this article offers a sociological understanding of disaster development and recovery in Asia. The particular focus is on seven Asian countries, namely, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Rather than treating disasters entirely as “natural” events caused by “violent forces of nature”, we emphasize various ways in which social systems create disaster vulnerability. We argue that existing disaster mitigation and adaptation strategies in Asia that focus almost entirely on the natural and technological aspects of hazards have serious limitations, as they ignore the root causes of disaster vulnerabilities, such as limited access to power and resources. This article therefore recommends a holistic approach to disaster management and mitigation that takes into consideration the various larger social, political, and economic conditions and contexts.

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Global Dissonances—Bringing Class and Culture Back In

Allen Chun

The essays presented here stem for the most part from the conference New Cultural Formations in an Era of Transnational Globalization, held on October 6-7, 2001 at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Globalization is a phenomenon maybe as old as human history (especially if one reads Eric Wolf’s “History” religiously); if not, it is certainly synonymous with the rise of capitalism itself, exemplified by “the modern world system,” a term made famous by Immanuel Wallerstein. Yet, judging from the recent flurry of social scientific writing and academic debate on the topic, it might appear that globalization is a new phenomenon, rather than in the literature,3 just a misunderstood one. Whether globalization has just accelerated in recent years, as though as the result of increased time-space compression in David Harvey’s terms, or has mutated into a new form is a worthy topic of debate that has generated heated discussion.4 But in this regard, I think that there is currency for viewing contemporary globalization more constructively as a process of transnationalism. Thus, one is without doubt dealing here with a new or different kind of phenomenon, regardless of whether one regards it literally as a transcendent phenomenon predicated on nation-stateism or as a function of underlying systemic processes that have prompted coalescence of nations toward increased global integration or transparent fluidity. Time-space compression may have blurred our ability to capture the rapid nature of changes that have taken place globally, but this should not blind us from seeing that transnationalism is, in the first instance, less a continuation of an older globalization than a fundamental change in its systemic practices.