What Does Southeast Asian History Really Mean?
Southeast Asian History practice is weak in institutional and economic history since the 1950s. The field has produced few intellectual histories and biographies of importance. However, it has strong points in explicating cultural diversity and interdisciplinarity. Indeed, some of the best Southeast Asianists were trained in disciplines other than history. Clifford Geertz compared the task to reading foreign manuscripts. The question then becomes: what does Southeast Asian history really mean?
The first known Asian migration to the Americas was about 15,000 years ago. From Taiwan, they migrated south through the northern Philippines and central and eastern Indonesia in the third millennium bce. In the second millennium, they expanded eastward into the Pacific, reaching the Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand. Between 500 and 700 ce, Filipinos began to settle in Louisiana and eventually settled in St. Malo. Between 1500 and 1300 ce, they spread to other American cities, including Los Angeles.
There are three main divisions of Asian ancestry. In Central Asia, there are original peoples of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbek. East Asia is composed of the Chinese and Korean peoples. The Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders, and other Pacific Islanders are of Asian ancestry. Each of these groups has distinct languages and cultures. These groups developed their own distinct cultures through the centuries.
Holcombe paints a picture of East Asia in broad strokes and gives a clear picture of the people who lived during that time. An aboriginal from the south named Lu Fahe started out as a Buddhist monk and was a master of Daoist arts and served as an official for two different dynasties. Holcombe also examines special topics in Asian history. If you're looking for a well-researched, accessible book about the history of East Asia, look no further.
The spread of Austronesian languages across the globe occurred over the course of about 5,000 years. This expansion was a result of societal preferences for small, close-knit groups, and the tendency for groups to hive off from each other. As such, the rise of Asian civilizations provided powerful metaphors of change and the spread of the language. For centuries, the region was ruled by one or more dynasties.
Historians from Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand took the lead in the ambitious experiment to teach Asian history. This reflected a significant shift in the last two decades. Asian history became more mainstream as Asian studies gained a foothold in the U.S. and elsewhere. However, indigenous historians were discouraged from studying the larger patterns of Southeast Asian history. Eventually, a Vietnamese scholar named Nguyen Van Huyen emerged from his academic background and became the country's Education Minister.
Although Southeast Asian historians studied at U.S. universities, their work had significant impact on Southeast Asia. For example, Reynaldo Ileto pioneered a new kind of history from below, showing how popular Christianity provided an idiom for resistance in the Philippines. And Nidhi Aeusrivongse, who wrote almost entirely in Thai, rewrote Thai historiography, shifting it away from Westerners and toward the origins of Southeast Asia's cultural identity.
While Westerners have long looked to the East for inspiration, the Asian idea has always been bound up in a complex set of conflicting historical processes. Japanese colonialism was opposed to Asian nationalist-socialist liberation movements. In the 1960s, Western observers viewed socialism as the apex of Asian coherence, while Gunnar Myrdal saw it as the confirmation of despotism throughout the region. In fact, socialism in Asia tempered the revolutionary potential of many nationalists, as Western ignorance and colonialism often do.
A key element of Asian history is its geography. The Fertile Crescent, a series of river-based watersheds that connected Asia with the Mediterranean Sea, was the birthplace of agriculture. As a result, civilizations were born along watersheds such as the Nile River valley, the Mediterranean coast, and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In other words, Asian civilizations shaped the world. In addition to its geographical location, Asia has influenced world culture.
For centuries, the understanding of Asian history has been based on a neoclassical view, in which the region is viewed as a single unit, and its development is closely intertwined with that of the West. But in the twentieth century, a variety of perspectives have come into view, including those that emphasize the importance of cultural diversity and interdependence. The recent past has provided an important case study in this regard.
While the approach to historical materialism is often agnostic, a classically educated historian like Arnold Toynbee sees no fundamental problem in integrating Asian traditions with an environmental ethic. He believes that the worldview of the pantheistic traditions of nature-worship, which were the original religion of humankind, is inextricably interrelated. It has been overlaid by the opaque veneer of Christianity and Islam.
In the United States, Asians and Asian Americans share a common history. Their stories are intertwined with the history of race and immigration in the United States. Neither community is exempt from the other's struggles, which were both exacerbated by the Asian-American experience. For example, Asians and Asian Americans shared the same fate as immigrants and laborers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both Asians and Asian Americans were subjected to the same discrimination and cultural marginalization.
The historical concept of Asia is shaped by two opposing historical processes. Japanese colonialism is a historical fact that stands in opposition to the Asian nationalist-socialist liberation movements. Western observers perceived socialism as Asian coherence during the 1960s, while many Asian nationalists tempered their revolutionary potential through the ignorance of Europeans. The notion of Asia being outside of history, for example, was deemed impossible to reconcile with the Marxist concept of Marxism.
The ANU Religion Conference explores the socio-religious transformations of Asia. It will examine how the religiosity of Asian people has influenced modernization in the region. Professor Thomas David DuBois will demonstrate the evolution of foreign religions in Japan and China and the role of religion as an engine of modernization in East Asia. In this way, we will understand the changing nature of these societies. But what is religion and how does it relate to other forms of culture?
The official orthodox faith system of China was panentheism, which centered on the worship of an omnipotent force. It predated the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity. Its worship of an omnipotent being led to many manifestations of the omnipresent Heaven, including erected shrines and offerings of prayers. This system was also widespread across southeast Asia and the Asian continent. However, it was never the primary religion in these countries.
The evolution of the world's major religions can be traced back to a single line just north of the tropic of Cancer. While the arc spanned the globe, the origin of major religions in the region can be traced back to this single line. For example, the early Buddhists of China, Muslims of India, and Hindus of South Asia are all descendants of the same line. The changes that occurred in South Asia's religious landscape in the twentieth century are reflected in the diversity of their practices and beliefs.
The oldest major religions in Asia are dharmic. The Arab Peninsula was the first to practice Islam. It spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and into parts of Central and South Asia. Eventually, the faith was brought across the Bay of Bengal and spread to Indonesia and Malaysia. Islam has been the most widely practiced religion in Asia for more than three thousand years, and has many followers throughout the world. Hinduism, for instance, is a hybrid of several different religious traditions, incorporating tribal deities and Sramana traditions, including Buddhism, Jainism, and others.
The role of governments in Asian industrialization and development is important, but differs considerably between countries. During the transition from 'hard states' to market economies, governments played a central role in building collective beliefs in national development. This led to the formation of 'developmental states' in many countries such as China and Vietnam. While the emergence of China as an economic hegemon created challenges for both governments and industries, it helped to shape Asian economies.
In the early modern period, Asian countries engaged in trade with neighbouring countries, often competing for similar markets. By seeking complementarity, countries could increase their regional growth potential. For these countries, trade was an important prime mover, but China was slow to enter these dynamics. In contrast, countries such as India and China had long histories of regional trade. However, China did not join in until the twentieth century, after which its economic development became highly resource-intensive.
The book describes four main competing market systems in contemporary Asia. Each one has distinct performance characteristics, humanist properties, and development potential. The four core alternatives to democratic free enterprise include communist states in China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, Confucian market systems in Japan, and Theravada Buddhist systems in Thailand and Sri Lanka. This book offers a useful framework for understanding the economic and social development of the diverse nations in Asia.
The total wealth of Asian countries is concentrated in India, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. The rest of Asia remains poor - countries such as Myanmar, South Korea, and Laos are still relatively poor. Their GDP per capita is below eight thousand dollars. In contrast, the economic development of these countries is concentrated in the coastal regions of China and India. The two largest economies in terms of nominal GDP are China and Japan. There are a number of notable exceptions in this pattern.