Regionalism in Southeast Asia: To Foster the Political Will by Nicholas Tarling

By Nicholas Tarling

Regionalism in Southeast Asia provides the reader with an historic research of Southeast Asia from the distinct perspective of regionalism. Southeast Asian historical past is mostly written from a countrywide viewpoint, which underplays the hyperlinks among neighbouring states and international locations and the results of those bonds at the improvement of regionalism. This innovative book starts by means of defining the that means of 'region' and 'regionalism' after which applies it to classes in heritage in Southeast Asia, how styles of regionalism have shifted via time to the current day. by way of targeting the local standpoint Nicholas Tarling gives an unique therapy of Southeast Asian historical past, its political dynamics and its foreign realtions. Regionalism in Southeast Asia completes a trilogy of books on Southeast Asia via Nicholas Tarling released by means of Routledge, the opposite are Nationalism in Southeast Asia and Imperialism in Southeast Asia.

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None of these powers had a settlement on the mainland. There, under a new dynasty, Siam (Thailand) was recovering from the devastating Burmese attack of 1767 and reasserting its claims over parts of the Malay peninsula. The Vietnamese had expanded over Cham and Khmer territory to the south, but expansion had been promoted by both and itself promoted division and civil war. The Lao states and the remnant of Cambodia retained a somewhat precarious existence between Vietnam and Siam. At the time, the British held only two possessions in Southeast Asia, Benkulen on the west coast of Sumatra, a relic of the East India Company’s vain attempt in the later seventeenth century to contest the monopolistic tendencies of the then more powerful Dutch, and the island of Penang, acquired in 1786 from the sultan of Kedah, who was seeking support against the Siamese.

Within the frontiers of the world of empires, they sought to create ‘nation-states’ that, on the European model, could more fully modernise their society. By this indirect route a world of states, indeed of nation-states, would replace the world of empires, though imperialism might take new forms or the word be applied to new trends. The world wars speeded up the process, both by weakening the leading imperial power, Britain, and by advancing the US and Russia to the rank of super-powers: both of them were opposed to ‘imperialism’, though also rivals and offering rival critiques, set out, in the former case, in Wilson’s 14 Points of 1917 and, later, in the Atlantic Charter of 1941, and, in the latter, by Lenin’s theses on the colonial and undeveloped countries.

East and central Java is exceptional. Barriers – forest, mountain, swamp – stood in the way of demographic maturity. Geography prepared the way for political struggle but made it difficult to set up and maintain larger realms, let alone a state that could claim to control the region. None ever did, nor even tried. Water indeed invited contact with the ‘outside’ world, with China, with India and Arabia and, initially indirectly, with Europe, and, later on, with America and Australasia. Commercial contacts and cultural ‘borrowing’ worked, however, on the divisions of Southeast Asia, and indeed increased them.

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