Comparative State/Regional Formation Seminar(2014/1/16)

Date: 16 January 2014, 10:00-12:00

Venue: National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, 4th floor, Seminar room 4A

Speaker: Dr. Geoffrey Wade (Visiting Fellow, ANU)

Title: China and Southeast Asia: Interactions Through Time

Language: English


  Since the end of the Cold War, nation-state histories have in various ways been increasingly challenged by broader regional (and inter-regional) perspectives of the past. This is as true of Asia as elsewhere and we are now seeing great changes in the ways in which Asia is studied, with regional rather than nation-state foci assuming greater prominence. As such, historical interactions and connections between the polities, societies, and indeed regions of Asia, are attracting more attention from historians, giving rise to new ways of seeing Asian pasts. Concurrently this process is calling into question some of the area studies divisions, which still condition (if not determine) what is studied and in which ways. Throughout much of the 20th century, for example, Chinese studies and Southeast Asian studies were two discrete fields of enquiry and the boundaries between them were quite firm. The processes noted above are now beginning to undermine these boundaries.

  While the Northeast Asia/Southeast Asia divide has been nominally diminished by the emergence of the contemporary international relations category ‘East Asia’ — which includes both regions – this name change has done little to reveal the historical links which have long tied these regions together. Historians are now beginning to explore the ways in which these two huge parts of Asia have interacted over time, and it is these interactions and connections which this lecture will address.

  Through a series of vignettes — extending from 2,000 years ago to the most recent times – the lecture will explore Sino-Southeast Asian interactions in four main spheres: political/military; economic; cultural; and human movement. The examples drawn and the linkages demonstrated will underline why we need to study  both China and Southeast Asia not only as discrete societies and polities, but also in terms of  their larger and more complex connections and systems.