Trans-Colonial Modernities in South Asia (Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia)
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Sign In or Create an Account. Advanced Search. User Tools. Sign In. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article navigation. Volume 12, Issue 4. Issue Editors. Connor Graham Connor Graham. This Site. Alfred Montoya Alfred Montoya. Eric Kerr Eric Kerr. Previous Article Next Article. Research Article December 01 East Asian Science, Technology and Society 12 4 : Article history Received:. Abstract This article offers an overview of science and technology studies STS in Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on historical formations of science, technology, and medicine in the region, loosely defined, though research using social science approaches comes within its scope.
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You do not currently have access to this content. Sign in. You could not be signed in. Client Account. Research emphasises considerable variations in quality and nature of the artefacts, influenced by region-specific environmental conditions and proximity and access to local resources.
Remarkable is nonetheless that the Hoabinhian culture accounts for the first verified ritual burials in Southeast Asia. The descendants of these earliest Homo sapiens immigrants, loosely identified as " Australo-Melanesians ", include the Negritos , Papuans , Indigenous Australians and Hill Tribes most of them have Austronesian admixture in modern times.
They are associated with the occupation of caves, rock shelters and isolated upland regions in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines or on remote islands, such as the Andaman Islands and although displaced from the coasts and plains they are present in all regions for at least 30, years. The most widespread migration event, was the Austronesian expansion , which began at around 5, BP BC from Taiwan and coastal southern China.
Due to their early invention of ocean-going outrigger boats and voyaging catamarans , Austronesians rapidly colonized Island Southeast Asia , before spreading further into Micronesia , Melanesia , Polynesia , Madagascar , and the Comoros. They dominated the lowlands and coasts of Island Southeast Asia, intermarrying with the indigenous Negrito and Papuan peoples to varying degrees, giving rise to modern Islander Southeast Asians , Micronesians , Polynesians , Melanesians , and Malagasy.
The Austroasiatic migration wave centred around the Mon and the Khmer, who originate in North-Eastern India arrive around BP and are identified with the settlement on the broad riverine floodplains of Burma, Indochina and Malaysia. Territorial principalities in both Insular and Mainland Southeast Asia, characterised as Agrarian kingdoms  had by around BCE developed an economy based on surplus crop cultivation and moderate coastal trade of domestic natural products. Several states of the Malayan-Indonesian "thalassian" zone  shared these characteristics with Indochinese polities like the Pyu city-states in the Irrawaddy river valley, Van Lang in the Red River delta and Funan around the lower Mekong.
Intensive wet-rice cultivation in an ideal climate enabled the farming communities to produce a regular crop surplus, that was used by the ruling elite to raise, command and pay work forces for public construction and maintenance projects such as canals and fortifications. Though millet and rice cultivation was introduced around BCE, hunting and gathering remained an important aspect of food provision, in particular in forested and mountainous inland areas. Many tribal communities of the aboriginal Australo-Melanesian settlers continued the lifestyle of mixed sustenance until the modern era.
Between around 1, and 1, BC people settled in the Southeast Asian lowlands as wet-rice and millet farming techniques from the Yangtze River valley were adopted. Author and archaeologist Charles Higham suggests in his work "Hunter-Gatherers in Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to the Present" "the indigenous hunter-gatherers integrated with intrusive Neolithic communities and, while losing their cultural identity, contributed their genes to the present population of Southeast Asia.
The Dong Son culture established a tradition of bronze production and the manufacture of ever more refined bronze and iron objects, such as plows, axes and sickles with shaft holes, socketed arrow and spearheads and small ornamented items. This industry of highly sophisticated metal processing has been developed locally bare of Chinese or Indian influence. Historians relate these achievements to the presence of well organised, centralised and hierarchical communities and a large population.
Among large, thin-walled, terracotta jars, ornamented and colourised cooking pots, glass items, jade earrings and metal objects had been deposited near the rivers and at the coast. The Buni culture is the name given to another early independent centre of refined pottery production that has been well documented on the basis of excavated burial gifts, deposited between BCE and CE in coastal north-western Java. Since around B. Asia's expanding land and maritime trade had led to socio-economic interaction and cultural stimulation and diffusion of mainly Hindu beliefs into the regional cosmology of Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia was now situated in the central area of convergence of the Indian and the East Asian maritime trade routes, the basis for economic and cultural growth. The earliest Hindu kingdoms emerged in Sumatra and Java, followed by mainland polities such as Funan and Champa. Selective adoption of Indian civilisation elements and individual suitable adaption stimulated the emergence of centralised states and development of highly organised societies.
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Ambitious local leaders realised the benefits of Hindu worship. Rule in accord with universal moral principles represented in the concept of the devaraja was more appealing than the Chinese concept of intermediaries. The exact nature, process and extent of Indian influence upon the civilisations of the region is still fiercely debated by contemporary scholars. Debated are most claims over whether it was Indian merchants, Brahmins, nobles or Southeast Asian mariner-merchants who played a central role in bringing Indian conceptions to Southeast Asia.
Debated is the depth of the influence of traditions for the people. Whereas early 20th-century scholars emphasised the thorough Indianisation of Southeast Asia, more recent authors argued that this influence was very limited and affected only a small section of the elite. Sea trade from China to India passed Champa , Funan at the Mekong Delta , proceeded along the coast to the Isthmus of Kra , portaged across the narrow and transhipped for distribution in India.
This trading link boosted the development of Funan, its successor Chenla and the Malayan states of Langkasuka on the eastern and Kedah on the western coast. Numerous coastal communities in maritime Southeast Asia adopted Hindu and Buddhist cultural and religious elements from India and developed complex polities ruled by native dynasties. Although knowledge about port localities and shipping lanes is very limited, it is assumed that most of this exchange took place on land routes and only a small percentage was shipped "on coastal vessels crewed by Malay and Yue traders".
Military conquests during the short lived Han dynasty brought a number of foreign peoples within the Chinese empire when the Imperial Chinese tributary system began to evolve under Han rule. Local rulers have most benefited from the introduction of Hinduism during the early common era as it greatly enhanced the legitimacy of their reign. Historians increasingly argue, that the process of Hindu religious diffusion must be attributed to the initiative of the local chieftains.
Buddhist teachings, that almost simultaneously arrived in Southeast Asia developed during the subsequent centuries an exalted distinction and eventually came to be perceived as more appealing to the demands of the general population, a belief system and philosophy that addresses concrete human affairs.
Modern Times in Southeast Asia, 1920s–1970s
Emperor Ashoka initiated the tradition to send trained monks and missionaries abroad who spread Buddhism, that includes a sizeable body of literature, oral traditions, iconography, art and offers guidance as it seeks to solve central existential questions with emphasis on individual effort and conduct. Between the 5th and the 13th century Buddhism flourished in Southeast Asia. By the 8th century the Buddhist Srivijaya kingdom emerged as a major trading power in central Maritime Southeast Asia and around the same period the Shailendra dynasty of Java extensively promoted Buddhist art that found its strongest expression in the vast Borobudur monument.
However, a pure form of Theravada Buddhist teachings had been preserved in Sri Lanka since the 3rd century. Srivijaya on Sumatra island had developed into the dominant power of Maritime Southeast Asia by the 5th century. Its capital Palembang became a major seaport and functioned as an entrepot on the Spice Route between India and China. Srivijaya was also a notable centre of Vajrayana Buddhist learning and influence.
The third system involved direct trade between the Indian and Chinese coasts during the Southwest Monsoon season. Srivijaya's wealth and influence faded when changes in nautical technology in the 10th century enabled Chinese and Indian merchants to ship cargo directly between their countries and also enabled the Chola state in southern India to carry out a series of destructive attacks on Srivijaya's possessions, ending Palembang's entrepot function.
From the 7th to 15th centuries Sumatra was ruled by kaleidoscope of Buddhist kingdoms, from Kantoli , Srivijaya , Malayu , Pannai and Dharmasraya kingdom. Most of its history from the 6th to 13th centuries, Sumatra was dominated by Srivijaya empire. While Central and Eastern Java was dominated by a kaleidoscope of competing agrarian kingdoms including the Sailendras , Mataram , Kediri , Singhasari , and finally Majapahit. In the 8th to 9th centuries, the Sailendra dynasty that ruled Medang i Bhumi Mataram kingdom built numbers of massive monuments in Central Java, includes Sewu and Borobudur temple.
In the Philippines , the Laguna Copperplate Inscription dating from CE relates a granted debt from a Maginoo caste nobleman named Namwaran who lived in the historic Tondo which is now part of Manila area. This document mentions a leader of Medang in Java. The Khmer Empire effectively dominated all Mainland Southeast Asia from the early 9th until the 15th century, during which time they developed a sophisticated monumental architecture of most exquisite expression and mastery of composition at Angkor.
The distinct culture of the kingdom of Dvaravati first appeares in records around the 6th century. By the 10th century, Dvaravati had come under the influence of the Khmer Empire and by the 12th century Thai tribes had conquered the Chao Phraya River valley of modern-day central Thailand and established the local Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th century and the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 14th century. According to the Nagarakertagama , around the 13th century, Majapahit 's vassal states spread throughout much of today's Indonesia, making it the largest empire ever to exist in Southeast Asia.
The empire declined in the 15th century after the rise of Islamic states in coastal Java, Malay peninsula and Sumatra. By the eight century, less than years after the establishment of Islam in Arabia , the first traders and merchants who adhered to Mohammad's prophecies reportedly appeared in Maritime Southeast Asia. Certain is also, that Islam did not play a notable role anywhere in the archipelago or Indochina before the 13th century. In addressing the issue of how Islam was introduced into Southeast Asia, most historians have elaborated various scenarios along an Arabia to India and India to Southeast Asia sequence.
Opinions vary on the identity and method of the agent. Either Arabian traders and scholars, who did not live or settle in India arrived directly in island Southeast Asia, or Arab traders, that had been settling in coastal India and Sri Lanka for generations. Muslim traders from India Gujarat , converts of South Asian descend and ethnicity are variously considered as to have played a major role. A number of sources propose the South China Sea as another "route" of Islam introduction.
Arguments for this hypothesis include:. In a EU publication of the European Commission Forum an inclusive attitude is being maintained: "Islam spread in Southeast Asia via Muslims of diverse ethnic and cultural origins, from Middle Easterners, Arabs and Persians, to Indians, and even Chinese, all of whom followed the great commercial routes of the epoch.
Research has several answers as to what caused the distinct syncretic its modern expression is cultural Islam , as opposed to Middle Eastern and North African political Islam Islam in Southeast Asia, that allowed the continuation and inclusion of elements and ritual practices of Hinduism , Buddhism and ancient Pan-East Asian Animism. Most principalities had developed highly distinctive cultures as a result of centuries of active participation in the cultural interchange and by borrowing from the flow of ideas that criss-crossed the archipelago, coming from across the Indian Ocean in the west and the South China Sea in the east.
Cultural and institutional adoption was a creative and selective process, in which foreign elements were incorporated into a local synthesis. Unlike some other "Islamised" regions like North Africa , Iberia , the Middle East and later northern India , Islamic faith in Southeast Asia was not enforced in the wake of victorious territorial conquests , but followed trade routes as with the Islamisation of Turkic Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, southern India, north west China. The idea of equality before God for the Ummat the people of God and a personal religious effort through regular prayer was more appealing to the average person than the perceived fatalism  of the Hindu pandemonium.
However, Islam also taught obedience and submission, which guaranteed that the social structure of a converted people or political entity hardly saw any fundamental changes. There are various records of lay Muslim missionaries, scholars and mystics, particularly Sufis who were most active in bringing about a peaceful proselytisation.
Java , for example "received Islam by nine very active men", who were referred to as "Wali Sanga" Nine Saints , although the historical identity of such people is almost impossible to determine. The foundation of the first Islamic kingdom in Sumatra, the Samudera Pasai Sultanate took place during the 13th century.
Nagore Shahul Hamid — , the "Qadir Wali" was a popular protector of sailors and seafarers.
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A simple ritual practice was maintained by Tamil Muslims in his shrine on the coast south of Madras. He attracted pilgrims from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and anyone else who sought his aid. Islam and its notion of exclusivity and finality is incompatible with all other religions and the Chinese concept of heavenly harmony and the Son of Heaven as the enforcer.
The integration in the traditional East Asian tributary system with China at the centre Muslim Malays and Indonesians exacted a pragmatic approach of cultural Islam in diplomatic relations with China. The conversion of the remnants of the Buddhist Srivijaya empire, that once controlled trade in much of Southeast Asia and in particular the Strait of Malacca , marked a strategic turning point as this act turned the Strait into an Islamic water. With the fall of Srivijaya the way was open for effective and widespread proselytisation and the establishment of Muslim trading centres.
Modern Malays view the Sultanate of Malacca , which existed from the 15th to the early 16th century as the first political entity of contemporary Malaysia. By the end of the 14th century Ming China had conquered Yunnan in the South, yet had lost control of the Silk Road after the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty. The ruling Yongle Emperor resolved to focus on the Indian Ocean sea routes seeking to consolidate the ancient Imperial Tributary System , establish greater diplomatic and military presence and widen the Chinese sphere of influence.
He ordered the construction of a huge trade and representation fleet that, between and , undertook several voyages into Southeast Asia, to India, the Persian Gulf and as far as East Africa. Under the leadership of Zheng He hundreds of naval vessels of then unparalleled size, grandeur and technological advancement and manned by sizeable military contingents, ambassadors, merchants, artists and scholars repeatedly visited several major Southeast Asian principalities.
The individual fleets engaged in a number of clashes with pirates and occasionally supported various royal contenders. However, pro-expansionist voices at the court in Peking lost influence after the s and the voyages were discontinued. The protraction of the ritualistic ceremonies and scanty travels of emissaries in the Tributary System alone was not sufficient to develop firm and lasting Chinese commercial and political influence in the region especially during the impending onset of highly competitive global trade.
Regular and momentous voyages only began in the 16th century after the arrival of the Portuguese, who actively sought direct and competitive trade. They were usually accompanied by missionaries, who hoped to promote Christianity. Portugal was the first European power to establish a bridgehead on the lucrative maritime Southeast Asia trade route , with the conquest of the Sultanate of Malacca in The Netherlands and Spain followed and soon superseded Portugal as the main European powers in the region.
In , Spain began to colonise the Philippines. In , acting through the Dutch East India Company , the Dutch took the city of Sunda Kelapa , renamed it Batavia now Jakarta as a base for trading and expansion into the other parts of Java and the surrounding territory. In , the Dutch took Malacca from the Portuguese. In , the Lanfang Republic , possibly the first republic in the region, was established in West Kalimantan , Indonesia , as a tributary state of the Qing Empire ; the republic lasted until , when it fell under Dutch occupation as Qing influence waned.
Englishmen of the United Kingdom , in the guise of the Honourable East India Company led by Josiah Child , had little interest or impact in the region, and were effectively expelled following the Siam—England war During the conflicts, Britain had struggled for naval superiority with the French, and the need of good harbours became evident. In , the settlement of George Town was founded at the northeastern tip of Penang Island by Captain Francis Light , under the administration of Sir John Macpherson ; this marked the beginning of British expansion into the Malay Peninsula.
In , Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a key trading post for Britain in their rivalry with the Dutch. However, their rivalry cooled in when an Anglo-Dutch treaty demarcated their respective interests in Southeast Asia. British rule in Burma began with the first Anglo-Burmese War — Early United States entry into what was then called the East Indies usually in reference to the Malay Archipelago was low key.
In , a secret voyage for pepper set sail from Salem, Massachusetts on an month voyage that returned with a bulk cargo of pepper, the first to be so imported into the country, which sold at the extraordinary profit of seven hundred per cent. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of obligated the Dutch to ensure the safety of shipping and overland trade in and around Aceh, who accordingly sent the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on the punitive expedition of President Andrew Jackson also ordered America's first Sumatran punitive expedition of , which was followed by a punitive expedition in The Friendship incident thus afforded the Dutch a reason to take over Ache; and Jackson, to dispatch diplomatist Edmund Roberts ,  who in secured the Roberts Treaty with Siam.
In negotiations for amendment of this treaty, Townsend Harris stated the position of the United States:. The United States does not hold any possessions in the East, nor does it desire any. The form of government forbids the holding of colonies. The United States therefore cannot be an object of jealousy to any Eastern Power.
Peaceful commercial relations, which give as well as receive benefits, is what the President wishes to establish with Siam, and such is the object of my mission. From the end of the s onwards, while the attention of the United States shifted to maintaining their union, the pace of European colonisation shifted to a significantly higher gear. This phenomenon, denoted New Imperialism , saw the conquest of nearly all Southeast Asian territories by the colonial powers. The Dutch East India Company and British East India Company were dissolved by their respective governments, who took over the direct administration of the colonies.
Only Thailand was spared the experience of foreign rule, though Thailand, too, was greatly affected by the power politics of the Western powers. The Monthon reforms of the late 19th Century continuing up till around , imposed a Westernised form of government on the country's partially independent cities called Mueang , such that the country could be said to have successfully colonised itself.
When the Spanish—American War began in Cuba in , Filipino revolutionaries declared Philippine independence and established the First Philippine Republic the following year. In the Treaty of Paris of that ended the war with Spain, the United States gained the Philippines and other territories; in refusing to recognise the nascent republic, America effectively reversed her position of This led directly to the Philippine—American War , in which the First Republic was defeated; wars followed with the Republic of Zamboanga , the Republic of Negros and the Republic of Katagalugan , all of which were also defeated.
Colonial rule had had a profound effect on Southeast Asia. While the colonial powers profited much from the region's vast resources and large market, colonial rule did develop the region to a varying extent. Commercial agriculture, mining and an export based economy developed rapidly during this period. The introduction Christianity bought by the colonist also have profound effect in the societal change. Increased labour demand resulted in mass immigration, especially from British India and China , which brought about massive demographic change.
The institutions for a modern nation state like a state bureaucracy, courts of law, print media and to a smaller extent, modern education, sowed the seeds of the fledgling nationalist movements in the colonial territories.
In the inter-war years, these nationalist movements grew and often clashed with the colonial authorities when they demanded self-determination. From until war's end, Japanese occupied Cambodia , Malaya , and the Philippines, which ended in independence movements. Japanese occupation of the Philippines led to the forming of the Second Philippine Republic , formally dissolved in Tokyo on 17 August Also on 17 August, a proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read at the conclusion of Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies since March Indonesia declared independence on 17 August and subsequently fought a bitter war against the returning Dutch; the Philippines was granted independence by the United States in ; Burma secured their independence from Britain in , and the French were driven from Indochina in after a bitterly fought war the Indochina War against the Vietnamese nationalists.
The United Nations provided a forum for nationalism, post-independent self-definition, nation-building and the acquisition of territorial integrity for many newly independent nations. During the Cold War , countering the threat of communism was a major theme in the decolonisation process. After suppressing the communist insurrection during the Malayan Emergency from to , Britain granted independence to Malaya and later, Singapore , Sabah and Sarawak in and respectively within the framework of the Federation of Malaysia.
In one of the most bloody single incidents of violence in Cold War Southeast Asia, General Suharto seized power in Indonesia in and initiated a massacre of approximately , alleged members of the Communist Party of Indonesia PKI. The conflict spread to Laos and Cambodia and heavy intervention from the United States. By the war's end in , all these countries were controlled by communist parties. After the communist victory, two wars between communist states—the Cambodian—Vietnamese War of —89 and the Sino-Vietnamese War of —were fought in the region.
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The victory of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia resulted in the Cambodian genocide. In , Portuguese rule ended in East Timor. However, independence was short-lived as Indonesia annexed the territory soon after. However, after more than 20 years of fighting Indonesia , East Timor won its independence and was recognised by the UN in Finally, Britain ended its protectorate of the Sultanate of Brunei in , marking the end of European rule in Southeast Asia.
Modern Southeast Asia has been characterised by high economic growth by most countries and closer regional integration. Indonesia , Malaysia , the Philippines , Singapore and Thailand have traditionally experienced high growth and are commonly recognised as the more developed countries of the region.
As of late, Vietnam too had been experiencing an economic boom. However, Myanmar , Cambodia , Laos and the newly independent East Timor are still lagging economically. The association aims to enhance co-operation among Southeast Asian community. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Aspect of Asian history. Part of a series on the. Africa North America South America. Oceania East Asia South Asia. Southeast Asia West Asia. Africa Americas. Oceania East Asia. South Asia. Early modern Late modern. Contemporary Modernity Futurology. Further information: Genetic history of Southeast Asia. See also: Peopling of Southeast Asia and Negrito. See also: Domesticated plants and animals of Austronesia and Domestication of rice.
Further information: Greater India. Main article: Buddhism in Southeast Asia.
Main article: Ming treasure voyages. Main article: European colonisation of Southeast Asia. In , and again in , the Chinese government offered to make Macao the emporium for all foreign trade, and to receive all duties on imports; but, by a strange infatuation, the Portuguese government refused, and its decline is dated from that period.
Roberts, PDF image p. They are all from the two provinces of Canton and Fo-kien, and three-fourths of them from the latter. Crawfurd image Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia. King NIAS Press. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association. Retrieved 12 February University of Amsterdam.
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