Southeast Asia: From Antiquity to the Modern Era history 197 Stanford University, Winter 2009

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Southeast Asia: From Antiquity to the Modern Era


Stanford University, Winter 2009
Martin W. Lewis

226 Lane Hall (Building 200)


mwlewis@stanford. Edu

Office Hours: T-TH 1:00-3:00 and by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Keren Weitzberg

Course Overview

Historical investigations of Southeast Asia (the area comprising Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, East Timor, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos) are often overshadowed by those of its more populous neighbors, East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) and South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). Yet Southeast Asia, despite being historically influenced by India, China, and other countries, constitutes an important and distinctive world region in its own right, one marked by its own historical and geographical patterns and processes.

This course explores the full span of Southeast Asian history, from antiquity to the present day. We will begin with an examination of the region’s geography before moving on to consider pre-historical processes of settlement and socio-political development. Subsequent topics include the spread of Indian cultural influences, the rise of indigenous states, and the emergence of globally linked trade networks, European colonization, economic transformation, the formation of nationalism, the development of the modern state, and the impact of globalization.

Readings from the course are taken from three texts, all of which are required. The first, Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings (edited by D. R. SarDesai. Westview Press, 2006) is a compilation of important sources on the region’s history, both primary and secondary (designated SeAH in the course schedule below). The second text, SarDesai’s Southeast Asia: Past and Present (fifth edition) (SeA P&P; Westview Press, 2003), provides a brief overview of the region’s historical development from ancient times to the present day. Our third text, The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History (MSeA: edited by Norman G. Owens, University of Hawaii Press, 2005), offers much more extensive analysis of the modern period, beginning in the1700s. All three of these works shift back and forth between examining specific parts of Southeast Asia and the region as a whole.

Course Assignments

A mid-term and a final examination will be given. The mid-term focuses on short answers, identifications, and multiple-choice questions. The final will have two components. The first section will be similar to the midterm, covering the material from the second half of the course, while the second section will be essay-oriented, covering the entire course. Possible essay questions will be circulated during the last week of classes.

Students are also required to complete a book review of a major historical monograph on Southeast Asian history. A list of recommended books is appended to the end of the syllabus. If you would like to select a book that is not on the list, please clear your choice with the instructor by the end of January. Reviews are to be approximately six pages in length, and are due on February 26. Note that the reading load is much lighter during the first half of the class than it is during the second half. Please use this period to get a head start on your book reviews.

Participation in weekly discussion sections is also required.


Mid-Term Examination: 30%

Final Examination: 45%

Book Review: 15%

Section Participation: 10%
Course Schedule (preliminary; subject to change)

Date General Topic Readings

Jan. 6 Defining the Region, SeA P&P, Ch. 1; MSeA,

Geographical Patterns Introduction

Jan. 8 Prehistory MSeA, Part 1 (read over the next three weeks)

Jan. 13 Early Kingdoms and Cultures SeA P&P, Ch. 2; SeAH, Ch. 1, 3


Jan. 15 Early Kingdoms and Cultures SeA P&P, Ch.3; SeAH, Ch. 4


Jan. 20 Mainland SE Asia in the Classical SeA P&P, Ch.4

Age, 800-1300 CE

Jan. 22 Insular SE Asia, 1000-1500 SeAH, Ch. 5, 6

Jan. 27 Vietnam to 1700 SeA P&P, Ch. 5; SeAH, Ch. 2

Jan. 29 Philippines to 1750 SeAH, Ch. 8, 9
Feb. 3 Thailand and Burma SeA P&P, Ch. 6,


Feb. 5 European Impact, 1500-1800 SeA P&P, Ch. 5; SeAH, Ch. 7,10


Feb. 12 Mainland SEA to the 1930s SeA P&P, Ch. 11, 15 16;

MSeA, Ch. 5, 6

Feb. 17 Dutch Indonesia to the 1930s SeA P&P, Ch. 7, 14; MSeA, Ch. 9
Feb. 24 British Malaya to the 1930s SeA P&P, Ch. 8, 18; MSeA, Ch. 10

Feb. 26 French Colonialism and Resistance SeA P&P, 10, 17; MSeA, Ch. 7,8

March 3 The Philippines, late 1700s-1930s MSeA, Ch. 11; SeA P&P, Ch. 13. 19; SeAH, Ch. 11

March 5 Depression and War SeA P&P, Ch. 12, 14-18; MSeA, Ch.


March 10 Southeast Asia from

1945 to 1960s SeAH, Ch. 13-18; MSeA, Ch. Part 4

March 12 Southeast Asia from MSeA, Ch. Part 5.

1960 to 1980

Possible Books for Review

Every year, the Association for Asian Studies gives an award (the Harry J. Benda Prize) for the best book published the previous year in Southeast Asian history; below is a list of recent winners. Please choose one of these books to review; alternatively, if you would like to make a different selection, please clear your choice with the instructor. All of these books should be available in the Stanford Library.

2008: Matthew Cohen: The Komedie Stamboel: Popular Theatre in Colonial Indonesia, 1891-1903 (Center for International Studies, Ohio University, 2006)
2007: Eric Tagliacozzo: Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States along a Southeast Asian Frontier; 1865–1915 (Yale University Press, 2005)

2006: Mary Callahan: Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma (Cornell University Press, 2003; Singapore University Press, 2004).

2005: Andrew Hardy: Red Hills: Migrants and the State in the Highlands of Vietnam (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press/University of Hawaii Press, 2003).

2004: William Cummings: Making Blood White: Historical Transformations in Early Modern Makassar (University of Hawaii Press, 2002)

2003: Peter Zinoman: The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam, 1862–1940 (University of California Press, 2001)

2002: Mark Bradley: Imagining Vietnam and America (University of North Carolina Press, 2000)

2001: Fanella Cannell: Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

2000: Suzanne April Brenner: The Domestication of Desire: Women, Wealth, and Modernity in Java (Princeton University Press, 1998)

1999: Laurie Sears: Shadows of Empire: Colonial Discourse and Javanese Tales (Duke University Press, 1997)

1998: Kenneth George: Showing Signs of Violence (University of California Press, 1996)

1997: Nancy Florida: Writing the Past, Inscribing the Future: History as Prophecy in Colonial Java (Duke University Press, 1995)

1996: Janet Hoskins: The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectives on Calendars, History, and Exchange (University of California Press, 1993)

1995: Thongchai Winichakul: Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation (Hawaii, 1994)

1994: Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing: In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place (Princeton, 1993)

1992: Ann Laura Stoler: Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumatra’s Plantation Belt, 1870–1979 (New Haven, 1985)

1991: Ward Keeler: Javenese Shadow Play, Javanese Selves (Princeton, 1987)

1989: Chandra Muzzafar (selected for several books; please choose one)

1987: Victor B. Lieberman (selected for several books; please choose one)

1985: Reynaldo C. Ileto (selected for several books; please choose one)

1983. Renato Rosaldo, Ilongot Headhunting (Stanford)
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