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A History of Southeast Asia


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Table of Contents

List of Tables xi

List of Maps xii

List of Illustrations xiii

Series Editor’s Preface xiv

Preface xvii

Glossary xxii

Abbreviations xxv

1 People in the Humid Tropics 1

Benign Climate, Dangerous Environment 1

Forests, Water, and People 4

Why a Low but Diverse Population? 6

Agriculture and Modern Language Families 10

The Rice Revolution and Population Concentration 13

The Agricultural Basis of State and Society 16

Food and Clothes 18

Women and Men 21

Not China, not India 26

2 Buddha and Shiva Below the Winds 30

Debates about Indic States 30

Bronze, Iron, and Earthenware in the Archaeological Record 32

The Buddhist Ecumene and Sanskritization 34

Shiva and Nagara in the “Charter Era,” 900–1300 39

Austronesian Gateway Ports – the Negeri 45

Dai Viet and the Border with China 47

The Stateless Majority in the Charter Era 49

Thirteenth/Fourteenth‐Century Crisis 53

3 Trade and Its Networks 57

Land and Sea Routes 57

Specialized Production 59

Integration of the Asian Maritime Markets 62

Austronesian and Indian Pioneers 63

The East Asian Trading System of 1280–1500 65

The Islamic Network 69

The Europeans 71

4 Cities and Production for the World, 1490–1640 74

Southeast Asia’s “Age of Commerce” 74

Crops for the World Market 76

Ships and Traders 80

Cities as Centers of Innovation 81

Trade, Guns, and New State Forms 85

Asian Commercial Organization 91

5 Religious Revolution and Early Modernity, 1350–1630 96

Southeast Asian Religion 97

Theravada Cosmopolis and the Mainland States 98

Islamic Beginnings: Traders and Mystics 101

Polarizations of the First Global War, 1530–1610 106

Rival Universalisms 111

Pluralities, Religious Boundaries, and the “Highland Savage” 114

6 Asian European Encounters, 1509–1688 120

The Euro‐Chinese Cities 120

Women as Cultural Mediators 125

Cultural Hybridities 130

Islam’s “Age of Discovery” 133

Southeast Asian Enlightenments – Makassar and Ayutthaya 135

Gunpowder Kings as an Early Modern Form 139

7 The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century 142

The Great Divergence Debate 142

Southeast Asians Lose the Profits of Long‐Distance Trade 144

Global Climate and Local Crises 149

Political Consequences of the Crisis 152

8 Vernacular Identities, 1660–1820 157

Eighteenth‐Century Consolidation 157

Religious Syncretism and Localization 158

Performance in Palace, Pagoda, and Village 167

History, Myth, and Identity 172

Consolidation and its Limitations 175

9 Expansion of the Sinicized World 177

Fifteenth‐Century Revolution in Dai Viet 177

Viet Expansion, Nam Tien 179

Cochin‐China’s Plural Southern Frontier 183

The Greater Viet Nam of the Nguyen 185

The Commercial Expansion of a “Chinese Century,” 1740–1840 188

Chinese on Southern Economic Frontiers 191

10 Becoming a Tropical Plantation, 1780–1900 196

Pepper and Coffee 197

Commercialization of Staple Crops 198

The New Monopolies: Opium and Tobacco 200

Java’s Coerced Colonial Agriculture 204

Plantations and Haciendas 207

Mono‐crop Rice Economies of the Mainland Deltas 209

Pre‐colonial and Colonial Growth Compared 211

11 The Last Stand of Asian Autonomies, 1820–1910 213

Siam as “Civilized” Survivor 214

Konbaung Burma – a Doomed Modernization 219

High Confucian Fundamentalism – Nguyen Viet Nam 224

“Protected” Negeri 227

Muslim Alternatives in Sumatra 230

Bali Apocalypse 233

Mobile “Big Men” in the Eastern Islands 235

The Last State Evaders 237

12 Making States, 1824–1940 240

European Nationalisms and Demarcations 240

From Many to Two Polities in Nusantara 241

Maximal Burma, Viable Siam 246

Westphalia and the Middle Kingdom 250

Building State Infrastructures 251

How Many States in Indochina? 255

Ethnic Construction in the New Sovereign Spaces 256

States, not Nations 260

13 Population, Peasantization, and Poverty, 1830–1940 261

More People 261

Involution and Peasantization 263

Dual Economy and the Absent Bourgeoisie 266

Subordinating Women 268

Shared Poverty and Health Crises 272

14 Consuming Modernity, 1850–2000 276

Housing for a Fragile Environment 276

The Evolution of Foods 278

Fish, Salt, and Meat 279

Stimulants and Drinks 281

Cloth and Clothing 284

Modern Dress and Identity 286

Performance, from Festival to Film 289

15 Progress and Modernity, 1900–1940 295

From Despair to Hope 296

Education and a New Elite 302

Victory of the National Idea in the 1930s 306

Negotiating the Maleness of Modernity 314

16 Mid‐Twentieth‐Century Crisis, 1930–1954 319

Economic Crisis 319

Japanese Occupation 323

1945 – the Revolutionary Moment 331

Independence – Revolutionary or Negotiated? 341

17 The Military, Monarchy, and Marx: The Authoritarian Turn, 1950–1998 347

Democracy’s Brief Springtime 347

Guns Inherit the Revolutions 350

Dictatorship Philippine Style 358

Remaking “Protected” Monarchies 359

Twilight of the Indochina Kings 364

Reinventing a Thai Dhammaraja 367

Communist Authoritarianism 370

18 The Commercial Turnaround, 1965– 373

Economic Growth at Last 373

More Rice, Fewer Babies 376

Opening the Command Economies 378

Gains and Losses 380

Darker Costs – Environmental Degradation and Corruption 384

19 Making Nations, Making Minorities, 1945– 390

The High Modernist Moment, 1945–1980 390

Education and National Identity 394

Puritan Globalism 400

Joining an Integrated but Plural World 405

20 The Southeast Asian Region in the World 413

The Regional Idea 414

Global Comparisons 419

References 423

Further Reading 431

Index 436

About the Author

Anthony Reid is Professor Emeritus at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. He has taught and researched Southeast Asian history for 50 years, in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and the United States. He was Founding Director of the Asia Research Institute in Singapore. He has authored or edited numerous books on aspects of Southeast Asian history from the 14th to the 21st centuries, including explorations on slavery, freedom, Islam, gender, the Chinese minority and its Jewish analogy, population, and economic history.


"Among the book’s many virtues is Reid’s ability to break down the two thousand years he had to cover in order to guide the reader through space and time. ...Written in a straightforward, no-nonsense style, the book will be accessible to many, with judiciously chosen quotations to enliven the story."   (Australian Institute of International Affairs, 1 November 2015) “Understanding the region is therefore not just a matter of intellectual curiosity but also of considerable topical importance. Despite its textbook-like appearance, History is eminently readable. It succeeds at both providing a broad-brush overview of this complex region, presenting it from within, identifying and tracing major themes, while at the same time delivering a wealth of fascinating and intriguing detail.”  (Asian Review of Books, 25 November 2015) “Reid’s comprehensive survey covers all of the major societies and many of the minor ones from Burma to the Philippines throughout the centuries. The thematic approach, interpretative insights, useful bibliography, and almost encyclopaedic wealth of information will make Reid’s History of Southeast Asia an exceptionally valuable, even indispensable, resource and reference book for other scholars… this book is a splendid contribution that can and should be read and discussed with interest by scholars and teachers of Southeast Asian studies as well as world and Eurasian history.” (Asian Studies Review)

"A splendid contribution that can and should be read and discussed with interest by scholars and teachers of Southeast Asian studies as well as world and Eurasian history." - Craig A. Lockard, Asian History Review no. 41 (Nov. 2016, pp.167-8)

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