Thursday, March 10, 2011

This is a selection of books on the history of Southeast Asia region.

A New History of Southeast Asia by M.C. Ricklefs, Bruce Lockhart et al.. A new, comprehensive, one-volume history of Southeast Asia that spans prehistory to the present. Ricklefs brings together colleagues at the National University of Singapore whose expertise covers the entire region, encompassing political, social, economic, religious and cultural history. Opening with an account of the ethnic groups and initial cultural and social structures of Southeast Asia, the book moves through the early 'classical' states, the arrival of new global religions and the impact of non-indigenous actors. The history of early modern states and their colonial successors is followed by an analysis of World War II across the region. Offering a definitive account of decolonisation and early post-colonial nation-building, the text then transports us to modern-day Southeast Asia, exploring its place in a world recovering from the financial crisis. The distinguished author team provide an authoritative and accessible narrative, drawing upon the latest research and offering detailed guidance on further reading.

The Living Past: History of Ancient India, China and Southeast Asia by Andrew Major. This Singapore secondary school text may also interest the general reader. It looks at: the nature of history; the birth of civilisations in India, China, and Southeast Asia; government and the organisation of society in the three civilisations; culture and religions; scientific and artistic achievements; contact and interaction between the three civilisations; and internal and external threats. The holistic approach makes use of graphics, archival material, inset questions, maps, colourful illustrations and dramatic captions, and also draws connections between past and present situations.

Projections of Power: The United States and Europe in Colonial Southeast Asia, 1919-1941 by Ann L. Foster. Throughout its history, the United States has been both imperialistic and anticolonial: imperialistic in its expansion across the continent and across oceans to colonies such as the Philippines, and anticolonial in its rhetoric and ideology. How did this contradiction shape its interactions with European colonists and Southeast Asians after the United States joined the ranks of colonial powers in 1898? Anne L. Foster argues that the actions of the United States functioned primarily to uphold, and even strengthen, the colonial order in Southeast Asia. The United States participated in international agreements to track and suppress the region's communists and radical nationalists, and in economic agreements benefiting the colonial powers. Yet the American presence did not always serve colonial ends; American cultural products (including movies and consumer goods) and its economic practices (such as encouraging indigenous entrepreneurship) were appropriated by Southeast Asians for their own purposes. Scholars have rarely explored the interactions among the European colonies of Southeast Asia in the early twentieth century. Foster is the first to incorporate the United States into such an analysis. As she demonstrates, the presence of the United States as a colonial power in Southeast Asia after the First World War helps to explain the resiliency of colonialism in the region. It also highlights the inexorable and appealing changes that Southeast Asians perceived as possibilities for the region's future.

50 Years of Archaeology in Southeast Asia: Essays in Honour of Ian Glover edited by Berenice Bellina, Elisabeth Bacus et al. In 21 essays some 30 of Southeast Asia's leading archaeologists here honour the 50 years' achievement of Professor Ian Glover (b. 1934), pioneer of pre-historic archaeology in many areas of Southeast Asia. In five groupings, the essays focus on: Professor Glover's contributions to archaeological knowledge in Island and Mainland Southeast Asia; Hunter-gatherers and early agricultural subsistence; Social complexity and early states; Craft production and exchange; and Colonialism and Archaeology. With insets, illustrations, maps, photographs, bibliographies and index.

The Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century by Peter Borschberg. The Singapore and Melaka Straits are a place where regional and long-distance maritime trading networks converge, linking Europe, the Mediterranean, eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent with key centres of trade in Thailand, Indochina, insular Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Japan. The first half of the 17th century brought heightened political, commercial and diplomatic activity to this region. It has long been clear to both the Portuguese and the Dutch that whoever controlled the waters off modern Singapore gained a firm grip on regional as well as long-distance intra-Asian trade. By the early 1600s Portuguese power and prestige were waning and the arrival of the Dutch East India Company constituted a major threat. Moreover, the rapid expansion and growing power of the Acehnese Empire, and rivalry between Johor and Aceh, was creating a new context for European trade in Asia. Drawing on maps, rare printed works, and unpublished manuscripts written in Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and Latin, Peter Borschberg provides new information on the diplomatic activities of Asian powers, and shows how the Portuguese and Spanish attempted to restore their political fortunes by containing the rapid rise of Dutch Power in the region. Key documents, transcribed and translated into English for the first time, make up a series of appendices. The product of more than two decades of research in European libraries, archives, The Singapore and Melaka Straits will be of great interest to readers in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, where little is known about this pivotal pre-colonial period. It is also an invaluable resource for historians and other students of early modern Europe and of the European presence in Asia.

Southeast Asia: An Introductory History by Milton Osborne. The first edition of Southeast Asia: An Introductory History was published in 1979 and immediately filled a need for travellers and students interested in a tantalisingly different part of the world. Subsequent editions have continued to document with great perception the enormous changes and dramatic growth experienced in the region. Dr Milton Osborne has been a resident, student and fascinated observer of Southeast Asia for over 40 years. This familiarity has resulted in a highly readable and lively chronicle. While giving due regard to the early history of the region, Osborne concentrates on the changes that have taken place since the 18th century: the impact of colonial rule, economic transformations of the 19th and 20th centuries, the emergence and triumph of the independence movements, the impact of social change and the pivotal roles played by religion, ethnic minorities and immigrant groups. He also provides an introduction to the art of the region and a comprehensive guide to literature about Southeast Asia. Clearly written and extensively illustrated this tenth edition remains a classic in the field.

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