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Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce.

BARBARA WATSON ANDAYA University of Hawai'i

The first volume of Anthony Reid's Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce appeared in 1988, and the second and concluding volume in 1993. The republication of both volumes by Silkworm Press (Chiang Mai, 1995) provides a welcome opportunity to evaluate the contribution of these works to Southeast Asian studies and to consider the questions they pose for future research. There can be little doubt that Reid's wide-ranging and ambitious studies have heightened the attention accorded Southeast Asia among scholars outside the field. More importantly, they have been a major stimulus to individuals working on the region itself. While helping to generate interest in a period that has been generally understudied and overlooked, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce has also challenged the small band of "early modern" specialists to re-think their own approaches and re-examine their materials. The seriousness with which both books have been reviewed and the fact that they are already widely cited provides convincing evidence of the impact they have made.

Volume One, The Lands below the Winds, was intended to deal with the "deep-seated structures" (II, 2) of Southeast Asian societies during a period stretching from about 1450 to 1680. For Reid this was a time of particular significance in the region's history, primarily because of an unprecedented participation in international trade. In this volume Reid explores what he considers regionally unifying features that arose because of linguistic links, adaptations to a similar physical environment, and extensive commercial interaction. These features are grouped by chapter into four broad areas - physical well-being, material culture, social organization and festivals and amusements. Because his concern lies with "obvious dally things" (I, xv), any subject thus becomes worthy of attention, from attitudes toward the boiling of water to illnesses, hairstyles and the implications of female literacy. One can confidently affirm that no previous work on Southeast Asia has accorded the lives of ordinary men and women this kind of attention. The Silkworm edition highlights the range of subjects covered by including a more detailed table of contents than did the original version.

But The Lands below the Winds is more than an attempt to present the cultural unity of a region, for in Reid's view this period was one of "enormous change" (I, 235). Despite underlying continuities, the expansion of international trade helped to transform local societies because it led to the growth of cities where urban elites were attracted by new religious and technological ideas fostered by mercantile activities. In two brief concluding paragraphs the arguments contained in the second volume are foreshadowed. The cities which flourished during the age of commerce may have helped to refashion many social and political patterns, but the late seventeenth century also witnessed a fundamental restructuring of Southeast Asia's economic environment. As a result, the peoples of the region lost the advantage they had once had in world commerce, and were thus ill prepared to face a new onslaught from European imperialism in the nineteenth century.

The second volume develops this argument more forcefully. In contrast to its predecessor, Expansion and Crisis is more of a "history" in the sense that it moves through time and focuses more specifically on the economic and religious changes which the region experienced during the "long sixteenth century". The first chapter, explaining Southeast Asia's growing involvement in international trade, provides a well-researched and convincing survey which teachers seeking to integrate Southeast Asia into "world history" courses could profitably assign. The focus of the second chapter is the large maritime cities of Southeast Asia and the operation of commerce under royal patronage. The third considers the complex interaction between the economic environment and the world religions (especially Islam and Christianity), and the ways in which an increasing "rationalization" of local beliefs also helped foster the commercial spirit. Chapter Four discusses what Reid sees as basic and persistent tensions which arose as a result of this impressive economic success. The position of "absolute" rulers who controlled the large ports was strengthened because of their ability to monopolize local trade and their access to European military technology. Nonetheless, the way in which royal authority evolved created fundamental problems, for the age of commerce "failed to create any satisfactory model of how government could be strong, but also ruled by law" (II, 262, 266). Chapter Five continues this argument as part of a larger exploration of "the origins of Southeast Asian poverty". European control of the dominant cities of insular Southeast Asia, political upheavals, unfavourable climatic patterns, and a general retreat from international commerce helped create a "seventeenth-century crisis" to which can be traced the "underdevelopment" with which Southeast Asia has been associated until very recent times. Reid ends his two-volume work with a message for Southeast Asians themselves; as their region once again assumes an important role in world commerce, they should not be deterred by the "political diffusion, social stratification and resignation to others" that characterized the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, since "an earlier period offers abundant evidence of a variety of creative responses to rapid economic change, a variety of social forms, a variety of political and intellectual possibilities" (II, 330).

With both volumes available in a paperback edition, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce is well suited for classroom use. Aside from the intrusive parenthetical bibliographic references, the prose is clear and uncluttered, with supporting material provided by maps, tables, glossaries and numerous illustrations from contemporary sources. Although The Lands Below the Winds will be more widely used by non-specialists owing to its descriptive character, Expansion and Crisis will probably generate greater response among early modern historians because its arguments, clearly expressed and extremely interesting, are also provocative and debatable. But regardless of whether they are used separately or together, both volumes have a most welcome capacity to stimulate discussion on a range of issues relating not only to the study of Southeast Asia but to the nature of historical inquiry.

One obvious question concerns the place of Reid's work in the process by which an academic field we call "Southeast Asian history" has developed. Although Reid invokes a "primitive" era of scholarship which produced "total histories" like those of William Marsden, Stamford Raffles and Simon de La Loubere (I, xiii-xiv), his immediate inspiration comes from Fernand Braudel's work on the Mediterranean world. Contemporary specialists, however, will also be ready to see Reid's work in terms of a conversation with other scholars who have attempted to present the "Southeast Asian" past. Most have, like Reid (1, 7) been concerned with the geographic boundaries within which their research should be placed. In the past, however, there has been rather less unanimity than now. In 1944 the first synthesis of the region's history by the doyen of Southeast Asian studies, Georges Coedes, defined "Southeast Asia" in relation to Indian influence, and for this reason excluded the Philippines and northern Vietnam.(1) Reid is thus not alone in seeing Chinese influence in Vietnam as a "problem" when considering a shared Southeast Asian heritage (I, 7). Paul Mus, by contrast, encountered no such difficulties because he conceived of a "Monsoon Asia", a broad area similar in climate and geography which stretched from southern China across Southeast Asia to southern India.(2) And despite the contemporary formulation which many of us regard as a given, there is still room for the application of different criteria. World Bank economists, for example, refer to an "East Asia" which incorporates Southeast Asia as well.(3)

In helping to popularize the notion of an "early modern" Southeast Asia defined largely by a rise and decline of international trade,(4) Reid's study raises a second and much-debated question regarding the identification of historical periods in the framing of regional surveys. Even after fifty years, the writings of J.C. van Leur, one of the first to address the issue of periodization, remain remarkably relevant to Reid's study.(5) And there are numerous other voices as well. D.G.E. Hall, a founding father of the field, saw a divide not in the mid-fifteenth but the sixteenth century because of Southeast Asia's deepening association with Europeans.(6) In another contrast to Reid, the authors of In Search of Southeast Asia proposed the mid-eighteenth rather than the seventeenth century as the end of a period because it marked a reshaping of "traditional" society.(7) Others might argue that a regional periodization may create an artificial and even misleading framework when applied to individual politics. In Burma, for example, there appears to be no obvious break in political, economic and religious patterns until the nineteenth century.(8)

A third question that resurfaces in this implicit scholarly discussion addresses a more fundamental issue; is the kind of overview and historical interpretation which Reid has attempted premature given our current knowledge of Southeast Asia's many pasts? The perceived needs of the field are important issues in a subject area where historians are so few, where research funding is limited, and where there is constant pressure to address contemporary concerns. In a work which has become a standard citation, O.W. Wolters, while describing what he considers common "Southeast Asian" features, stresses that research priority should be given to detailed studies of local societies. Only thus, he believes, can we begin to understand the historical implications of the much-touted phrase "cultural diversity".(9)

By acknowledging the risk that the "broad approach" will lead to "the superficial or the obvious" (I, xiv), Reid himself indirectly opens up this area for further discussion. A review of recent literature will demonstrate that several scholars are less confident than he about presenting "Southeast Asia" as a relatively unified region which shared fundamentally similar historical experiences. There can be no doubt that such an overall view makes this complex region more comprehensible. It is also in keeping with a growing academic promotion of "transnational" studies that by their very nature encourage regional generalization. But some historians whose research has concentrated on specific areas during the pre-modern period have been concerned that the "Southeast Asia as unity" approach may minimize very real differences in historical processes and in local responses to social and economic change. In this regard Reid's work has in fact served the field well by encouraging a more forthright debate of such issues; indeed, he himself has edited collections which provide a forum for colleagues whose interpretation of this period differs from his own.(10) Recently Victor Lieherman has reiterated his thoughtful disagreement with the idea of an inclusive Southeast Asian "age of commerce". In Lieherman's view, many generalizations which Reid proposes, such as the decline of trade, decreasing urbanization, and territorial fragmentation, cannot apply in the mainland, where political and economic patterns reflect, albeit weakly, trends in Europe, Japan, and in the developing Dutch and Spanish colonial structures. Another specialist of the region's early history, John Miksic, is also cautious about minimizing mainland-island differences; for example, he suggests that indigenous female literacy may have been a product of Austronesian rather than Southeast Asian traditions, and thus less evident on the mainland. Both scholars are essentially arguing that Malay and Indonesian history should not establish the framework in which the Southeast Asian past is placed.(11)

Research specialization will certainly represent a problem for most scholars who attempt to survey Southeast Asia, however defined. Reid is careful to point out (I: xvi) that his own academic background means he is more familiar with Malay-Indonesian cultures than with the mainland or other parts of the archipelago. In this situation, the source material is not helpful. The bulk of the published European documents and books available for this period come from Spanish and Portuguese missionaries, from employees of the various East India Companies, and from the corpus of travel accounts that were popular reading in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was the island world and their port cities with which Europeans were most familiar and it is these areas which are accorded the most attention in their writings. The tendency to privilege maritime Southeast Asia is an understandable outcome in a general study of the period.

The problems involved in conceptualizing the region in terms of a maritime perspective are particularly evident in Chapter III, which Reid entitled "The Religious Revolution". Few would argue with the view that the early modern period saw a significant advance of Islam and Christianity, or that these faiths introduced teachings which were to bring about permanent changes in many aspects of social and cultural life. There are certainly grounds for arguing that in some areas of insular Southeast Asia the "age of commerce" witnessed a "great change" in religious attitudes and a sharpening of criteria that identified adherents to a particular faith. However, such arguments are not easily transposed to the mainland and Reid's attempt to see developments in island Southeast Asia as indicative of a more inclusive pattern is problematic (II, 192-201). In the Buddhist areas one has the sense of a continuing process rather that any kind of "major shift" in religious orientation. The merit-earning practices of Buddhist kings who ruled between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries were essentially the same as those of their predecessors, and evidence that royal efforts were effective in furthering "religious uniformity" is not convincing (c.f. II, 197). Burma, for instance, "tolerated an amazing degree of doctrinal variance" and non-Theravadin Buddhist beliefs "even under the strongest purifying kings".(12) Reconstructing the history of areas outside the major centres will remain difficult because of the lack of written source material, but scholarly research continues to emphasize the ability of local communities to maintain their own beliefs and to reinterpret or resist political and religious ideas emanating from royal capitals.(13) Reid's own recognition of the persistence of local diversity sits uneasily with his depiction of a Southeast Asia where religious direction was increasingly concentrated in powerful centres. The tendency of historians to regard royal decrees and law codes as indicative of effective action probably exaggerates the differences between the mentalite of the court and that of the village, encouraging a distinction between "popular" and "orthodox" religious beliefs. Although Vietnam receives only summary treatment in this chapter, the ideas of magic and supernatural power that infused court Buddhism may thus help explain the seventeenth-century Buddhist revival and its appeal both to ordinary people and influential members of the ruling elite.(14)

While words such as "transformed" and "revolution" are hardly appropriate in the religious context of mainland Southeast Asia, even in island Southeast Asia the changes were probably less extensive than Reid suggests. The conclusions of historians who have worked on Europe, where cities played a dynamic role in reshaping rural values, may have encouraged him to over-estimate the influence of a commercialized, urban-based culture in promoting a "rationalization" of Southeast Asian religious beliefs (II, 200). The "surprisingly widespread evidence" which he cites for the application of strict Islamic law is drawn from limited examples, and we know that the tension between local interpretations of religious teachings and ideas brought from outside remains a dominant and continuing theme. Reid's suggestion that spirit-worship was rejuvenated by the "retreat" of urban cosmopolitanism towards the end of the seventeenth century itself indicates that the "mental world of many insular Southeast Asians" did not change as profoundly as he would have us believe (II, 161 150).

Specialists in the island world may also be reluctant to accept wholeheartedly Reid's view of a pervasive economic decline in the late seventeenth century. Certainly many urban centres came under European control, but as in the past the weakening hold of such centres over their dependencies created new opportunities for those who sought to gain a greater share of international commerce. In much of the archipelago, therefore, alternative ports were able to act as loci for religious, cultural and economic life. Some of the more flourishing ports of this kind, like Kampar on the east coast of Sumatra, were largely unvisited by Europeans and have essentially dropped out of the historical record. Over 'fifty years ago van Leur pointed to the danger of constructing Indonesian history on the basis of Java and of assuming that the "outer quarters" declined in significance as European domination of Java increased.(15) Although a generation of scholarship has done much to reconstruct local histories outside the major centres, there is still a danger of allowing better documented areas to speak for the rest of the region.

In formulating the questions that lay behind his study, Reid was much influenced by historical theories developed in Europe, notably the concept of a "seventeenth-century crisis" which affected a number of countries. Suggestions that similar patterns could be found in non-European areas are especially attractive to those interested in tracing global trends in human development. Indeed, the sources relating to Southeast Asia do support the contention that in parts of the island world the rapidity of the European advance fed a sense of impending doom, and there can be little doubt that the economic well-being of ordinary people suffered in areas where the Dutch monopoly was effective.(16) On the other hand, by looking for material to support a direct question - in this case, "Is there evidence of a seventeenth century crisis in Southeast Asia?" (II, 286) - the process of any investigation may itself become selective. Even in maritime Southeast Asia, research on specific areas has pointed to the resilience of indigenous society and their ability to exploit apparently adverse circumstances to their own advantage. The extent of indigenous trading networks like that of the Bugis and the Minangkabau suggests a pragmatic adjustment to the economic impact of the Europeans rather than a "retreat" from international trade or a new disinclination among some groups for seafaring activities (II, 270, 283-85).

Scholarly assertions, especially when arguable, can play a significant role in encouraging further research. Revisionist work on seventeenth-century China, for instance, has questioned the view that the collapse of the Ming dynasty in 1644 was caused by China's dependency on silver imports. This in turn raises questions regarding Reid's view that Southeast Asia evinces parallel trends (II, 287).(17) Yet those who work in areas where the evidence is meagre must also be constantly aware of the temptation to make assertions on the basis of specific or isolated material. For example, in pursuing the notion of a seventeenth-century crisis, Reid has suggested that drought, crop failure and famine may have been not only widespread but part of a global pattern. Though the idea is certainly intriguing, specialists will probably be wary about accepting the contention that irregular climatic patterns in the northern hemisphere can also be identified in the tropics (II, 291). The evidence of dry periods supplied by tree rings from eastern Java does not necessarily apply to other regions because rainfall patterns can show marked local variation. And while the term "crisis" implies an absence of options, communities were often able to respond creatively in times of adversity. According to eighteenth-century reports, for instance, during periods of unusually dry weather Javanese farmers planted rice varieties that required less rain.(18) Furthermore, although Reid interprets mention of sickness and, epidemic as indicative of crop failures, this may not always have been the case; similarly, poor harvests were often caused by pests or disease and do not necessarily stand as an index of drought conditions. An authority on central Maluku, where Dutch records make detailed figures available, concludes that here at least it is difficult to establish "a direct link between climatic influences and population change".(19) In the absence of comparative material from earlier periods, it is simply not possible to know if the seventeenth century was abnormal in terms of climate, famine or epidemic. To invoke these factors as contributing to a widespread crisis in Southeast Asia during the seventeenth century remains an interesting but nonetheless debatable proposition rather than proven fact.

The apparent coincidence of population decline as evidence of unusual climatic patterns is also open to question because most figures are available for areas where there was extensive warfare or resettlement, such as Vietnam, Dutch-controlled areas of the archipelago, and the Philippines. Furthermore, the use of seventeenth-century sources, both European and local, as a basis for quantification introduces problems because the calculations they provide were so frequently impressionistic or were based on indigenous categories which are not always clear.(20) Several scholars have noted the unreliability of figures supplied by early travellers, which tends to undermine Reid's argument that more Southeast Asians lived in large cities than was the case in northern Europe (II: 75).(21) However, although Reid recognizes the hazards of attempting demographic estimations, the mere fact of providing a comparative table accords his figures a certain legitimacy (e.g. I: 13-14; II, 71-72).

A further issue raised by Reid's research is the extent to which the European sources have shaped the way he depicts the Southeast Asian past. Because written historical material is so sparse, historians have tended to accept gratefully whatever morsels they have been offered. Yet it is ironic that much academic energy has been expended in efforts to understand the cultural imperatives of indigenous texts, while European documentation is usually assumed to be unproblematic. This issue is directly relevant to Reid's work, since as he himself remarks, "we are especially reliant on the rich descriptions of the first generation of European visitors" for details regarding the life of ordinary people (I, xv). But that first generation brought with them specific attitudes and stereotypes which were often very different from those of later European observers on whom Reid also draws heavily. In the early sixteenth century, for example, Antonio Pigafetta faithfully reported rumours of an island "south of Java" inhabited only by women; nearly two hundred years later William Marsden judged stories of unions between an ape-man and a local woman in terms of "veracity", "truth" and "exaggeration".(22) More comparative work is necessary to better understand how the passing of time influenced the nuanced interplay between "fabulous tales", stereotypical descriptions and what are regarded as eye-witness reports.

The "travel genre" which developed in the seventeenth century deserves particular attention because these works provided Reid with his basic sources. Most of these writers did aim to provide a reliable account of what they had witnessed, and their general veracity was aided by the growing body of knowledgeable readers willing to call attention to perceived inaccuracies. Thomas Forrest's description of canapes and chocolate at the court of Magindanao, for example, did not go unchallenged.(23) Alexander Hamilton, by contrast, had no hesitation in referring his readers to William Dampier's book because he had never gone to Mindanao.(24) But because of the freedom with which these travel writers borrowed from each other, multiple references to a particular custom, incident or event do not necessarily provide cumulative support. In addition, most of these observers were preoccupied with making the "Indies" comprehensible to an intended audience, whether it comprised church officials, directors of a trading company, or a growing reading public. The means by which this was accomplished are particularly evident in Dutch accounts. As Marijke Barendvan Haeften has recently shown, there was a prescribed list of topics - trade, agriculture, houses, clothing, food and drink, child care, etc. - which provided a framework for organizing descriptive material about non-European societies.(25) Travel accounts were also commonly expanded or revised prior to publication to include or elaborate on topics thought to be of popular interest. It was thus possible for a writer to express his "astonished interest" at practices such as penis ornamentation which then as now seemed to have an irresistible fascination for Westerners, and indeed is accorded a good two pages (plus illustration) in Volume One (pp. 148-51). Historians, of course, are to a considerable extent creatures of their sources but we must also recognize that the lines of inquiry laid out by European observers covered predictable topics and tended to emphasize differences rather than similarities between their own societies and those they encountered.

This provision of a check-list, a formula for describing the non-Western world, meant that European writers in the early modern period could depict even the most unfamiliar community with confidence. The unchallenged status of Reid's sources as observers, interpreters, and inscribers gives them a powerful position in terms of representation. What one misses in Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce is the historian's interaction with his informants, a sense of Reid as interlocutor rather than master narrator. Unlike observers of earlier times, we to-day can draw on more than a hundred years of comparative anthropology and related disciplines. Seventeenth-century travellers would probably have agreed with Reid that a king of Aceh famed for staging contests that ended in death was "bloodthirsty" (I, 188), but the cultural weight of blood-letting in indigenous thinking may invest these references with a deeper significance. Although both volumes cite a number of local texts, the quotations are usually chosen to support an interpretation that has already been established by European sources. Is Reid, in effect, still viewing Southeast Asia from the deck of a trading ship? To what extent should we exercise caution in accepting foreign accounts of the ferocity and cruelty exercised by "absolute" rulers in asserting control over court nobles? (II, 257-58) How do we explain the transformation of so many of these "tyrants" into the heroes of local folklore? While there can be absolutely no doubt of the value of the rich bank of data Reid provides, one would have welcomed some recognition of the thoughtful and expanding literature on the role of Western scholarship in structuring a vision of the world, and the methodological problems inherent in any effort to convey images of the "other".(26)

We thus return to the question raised earlier regarding the potentialities and problems inherent in any endeavor which seeks to consider Southeast Asia in broad terms. The linkages between regional cultures have become part of the academic canon, but perceptions of "sameness" have in part come about because descriptions of "Southeast Asia" have always been undertaken by outsiders who tended to homogenize local cultures rather than seeing them as different subregions.(27) It remains to be seen how Southeast Asian historians of Southeast Asia might formulate their own thematic regional history, and how they might interpret this period of their past.(28) Heartened by a greater confidence which has come with contemporary recognition of "Southeast Asia" as a global unit, they might be emboldened to press more strongly the view that Southeast Asia owes its regional identity as much to internal diversity as to cohesion.(29) In the past, nuances of language, dress, food, ritual which helped to define specific communities may well have attracted greater local attention than the commonalties on which outsiders remarked; indeed, the Hikayat Hang Tuah, one of the foremost collections of indigenous "traveller's tales" is preoccupied with describing cultural contrasts, even within what is often described as a "Malay world".(30) Some attention to scholarship on Africa, southern America and other parts of Asia could also lead to lively discussions on what should be considered the core cultural features of Southeast Asia. There is room for much greater co-operation between scholars of "East", "South" and "Southeast" Asia in order to explore cultural adaptations in areas like Arakan, with its economic and religious connections to India, Burma and Sri Lanka.(31) In this context one could make the obvious point that most contemporary borders had no status in earlier times. The linkages between highland groups in mainland Southeast Asia, eastern India and southwestern China, for example, often go unremarked because historical sources privilege literate lowlanders and the maritime environment. And while linguistic and ethnic categorizations render Reid's hesitation to include New Guinea explicable (1, 7), it is worth noting that in the seventeenth century trade and intermarriage firmly Integrated the coastal areas of contemporary Irian Jaya into the eastern Indonesia world.(32)

It is already clear that Reid's work will be an important stimulant to future research, whether to question his conclusions or explore their implications further. For example, one welcome feature of both volumes is the attention given to women and activities in which females played a significant role. Now is surely the time to try and move beyond generalizations and examine more closely the varied ways in which women of differing age, status and ethnicity were affected by the expansion of long distance trade, the increased use of money, the beginnings of a plantation culture, the penetration of the world religions, the growth of patriarchal state structures and legal systems. Another research area which has already thrown up several interesting studies is the changing social and economic relationships within urban populations. Seventeenth-century Batavia receives relatively little attention in Reid's study, presumably because it was under Dutch rather than indigenous control. But the sources for Batavia are particularly rich and recent studies of its ethnic composition and commercial life have shown that it was far from being an alien enclave.(33) Previously untapped archival documents have provided new insights into the reasons behind conversions to Protestantism that occurred under VOC auspices, providing an alternative story to the more familiar account of the Catholic advance in the Philippines.(34) At the same time, the reliance of Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce on European documentation underscores the field's continuing need for the preservation and publication of indigenous texts. One also hopes that the imbalance in the sources which has led Reid to depict early modern Southeast Asia as an "urban-centered" (II, 303) and "maritime region" (1, 7) may encourage work that gives a higher profile to peoples who lived in "out-of-the-way" places which were yet the focus of their own world.(35)

When Anthony Reid conceived this ambitious project, he intended the two volumes to be read as one, so that it would be possible to see the extent to which the changes described in the second volume affected the "deep seated structures" of the first. Despite periodic reminders that change was occurring, Volume I still leaves the impression of a "traditional" life style which barely altered over more than two centuries. The second volume, on the other hand, presents a picture in which a combination of forces both internal and external, were inexorably leading to the region's "decline" by the end of the seventeenth century. There is thus a certain tension between them, and one wonders if Volume I, with its descriptions of "the lands below the winds" would have been cast rather differently had it been written after Volume II. One can only emphasize that there remain other stories to be told and other viewpoints to be presented. Those working on indigenous societies face a particular challenge to identify the extent to which particular Southeast Asian communities were faced with change during the early modern period, and the creative ways in which they responded.

In closing, it is probably worthwhile stressing that the material for such reconstructions will come mainly from European archival documents and a variety of indigenous sources, ranging from written documents to artifacts and oral memories. While difficult of access and problematic to use, exploitation of this primary material is critical if historians are to penetrate beyond the more familiar world of the court and the port city. In attempting to reconstruct the many pasts of Southeast Asia, we need to acknowledge that only painstaking, detailed and local studies can help establish the basis on which generalizations can be built. Such studies will serve as a reminder that the diversity of Southeast Asia remains one of its identifying features. An important means of understanding the region's history is still an exploration of the intriguing differences underlying a "unity" that the international academic community has both identified and promoted.(36) In providing another sounding board for this exploration, both volumes of Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce have made a lasting contribution to the field.

1 G. Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, trans. Susan B. Cowing, 3rd ed. (Honolulu: East West Center Press, 1968), pp. v, xv.

2 Paul Mus, India Seen from the East: Indian and Indigenous Cults in Champa, trans. and ed. David Chandler and Ian Mabbett (Melbourne: Monash Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, 1975).

3 World Bank, The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

4 On this topic, see further Anthony Reid, ed., Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Period: Trade, Power and Belief (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 6-19.

5 See especially J.C. van Leur, "On the Eighteenth Century as a Category in Indonesian History", in Indonesian Trade and Society (The Hague and Bandung: W. van Hoeve, 1955), pp. 261-67.

6 D.G.E. Hall, A History of South-East Asia, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1964).

7 D.J. Steinberg et al., In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History (Praeger: New York, 1971), p. 1.

8 Victor Lieberman, "Was the Seventeenth Century a Watershed in Burmese History", in Reid, Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Period, pp. 214-49.

9 O.W. Wolters, History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1982), pp. 44-46; see also O.W. Wolters, "Southeast Asia as a Southeast Asian Field of Study", Indonesia 58 (Oct. 1994): 3.

10 For example, the essays by Victor Lieberman and Dhiravat na Pombejra in Reid, Southeast Asian in the Early Modern Period. Several essays resulting from another conference organized by Professor Reid also describe local innovation and initiatives in the eighteenth century. See Anthony Reid, ed., The Last Stand of Asian Autonomies: Responses to Modernity in the Diverse States of Southeast Asia and Korea (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997). Forthcoming.

11 Victor Lieberman, "An Age of Commerce in Southeast Asia? Problems of Regional Coherence - A Review Article", Journal of Asian Studies 54, 3 (Aug. 1995): 796-807; John N. Miksic, "Archeology, Ceramics and Coins; A Review of A. Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce. Volume Two. Expansion and Crisis", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 39, 3 (August 1996): 294.

12 John P. Ferguson and E. Michael Mendelson, "Masters of the Buddhist Occult: The Burmese Weikzas", Contributions to Asian Studies 16 (1981): 62.

13 See, for example, John S. Strong, The Legend and Cult of Upagupta. Sanskrit Buddhism in North India and Southeast Asia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 171-83; Lorraine M. Gesick, In the Land of the Lady White Blood. Southern Thailand and the Meaning of History (Ithaca: Southeast Asia Program, 1995); Deborah E. Tooker, "Putting the Mandala in its Place: A Practice-based Approach to the Spatialization of Power on the Southeast Asia 'Periphery' - The Case of the Akha", Journal of Asian Studies 55, 2 (May 1996): 323-58.

14 Strong, The Legend and Cult of Upagupta, p. 173; J.C. Cleary, "Buddhism and Popular Religion in Medieval Vietnam", Journal of the American Academy of Religion 59, 1 (Spring 1991): 93-118; K.W. Taylor, "The Literati Revival in Seventeenth century Vietnam", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 18, 1 (March 1987): 1-23.

15 Van Leur, "On the Eighteenth Century as a Category in Indonesian History", p. 275.

16 See, for example, M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1300 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 73-74.

17 Richard von Glahn, "Myth and Reality of China's Seventeenth Century Monetary Crisis", Journal of Economic History 56, 2 (1996): 429-54.

18 Anon., "De rijstcultuur op Java, vijftig jaar geleden", Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indie 2 (1854): 2, 11.

19 Gerrit Knaap, "The Demography of Ambon in the Seventeenth Century. Evidence from Colonial Proto-Censuses", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 26, 2 (Sep. 1995): 239.

20 See Mason C. Hoadley, Towards Feudal Mode of Production: West Java, 1680-1800 (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies/Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994), pp. 38-41.

21 Luc Nagtegaal, "The Pre-Modern City in Indonesia and Its Fall from Grace with the Gods", in Economic and Social History in the Netherlands (Amsterdam: Netherlands Economic History Archives, 1993), V: 49; J. Wisseman Christie, "States without Cities. Demographic Trends in Early Java", Indonesia 52 (1991): 24.

22 Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's Voyage Around the World, ed. and trans. James A. Robertson (Clark: Cleveland, Ohio, 1906), II: 169; William Marsden, The History of Sumatra (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1975. Reprint of 1811 edition), p. 41.

23 Adolph Eschels-Kroon, Beschreibung der Inset Sumatra (Hamburg: C.E. Bohn, 1781), p. xii.

24 Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies (Reprinted; London: Argonaut Press, 1930) II: 157.

25 Marijke Barend-van Haeften, Oost-Indie Gespiegeld. Nicolaas de Graaf, een Schrijvend Chirurgijn in Dienst van de VOC (Zutphen: Walburg Press, 1992), pp. 64-65.

26 Some consideration of these problems can be found in Leonard Y. Andaya, The World of Moluku: Eastern Indonesia in the Early Modern Period (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1993), pp. 1-46. See also Micheline Lessard, "Curious Relations: Jesuit Perceptions of the Vietnamese", in Essays into Vietnamese Pasts, ed. K.W. Taylor and John Whitmore (Ithaca: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1995), pp. 137-56.

27 Wolters, History, Culture and Region, p. x.

28 Wolters, "Southeast Asia as a Southeast Asian Field of Study", p. 16.

29 As stressed by Jonathan Rigg, Southeast Asia: A Region in Transition (London: Unwin, 1991), p. 17.

30 Kassim Ahmad, Hikayat Hang Tuah (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1971), pp. 175, 389.

31 New evidence in this area has been offered by C. Raymond, "Etude des relations religieuses entre le Sri Lanka et l'Arakan du [XII.sup.e] au [XVIII.sup.e] siecle: documentation historique et evidences archaeologiques", Journal Asiatique 283, 2 (1995): 469-501.

32 P. A. Leupe, "De reizen der Nederlanders naar Nieuw Guinea en de Papoesche eilanden in de 17e en 18e eeuw", Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indie 22 (1875): 74, 104.

33 Remco Raben, "Batavia and Colombo: the ethnic and spatial order of two colonial cities 16001800" (Ph.D. diss., Leiden University, 1996); Nagtegaal, "The Pre-modern City in Indonesia", p. 53.

34 H.E. Niemeijer, "Calvinisme en koloniale stadscultuur Batavia 1619-1725" (Ph.D. diss., Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1996).

35 To cite Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing's appealing phrase. See In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

36 Shamsul A.B., "A Comment on Recent Trends and the Future Direction of Southeast Asian Studies", in Taufik Abdullah and Tekti Maunati (eds.), Toward the Promotion of Southeast Asian Studies in Southeast Asia (Jakarta: Indonesian Institute of Sciences, 1994), pp. 277-98.
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Author:Andaya, Barbara Watson
Publication:Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1997
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