East and Southeast Asia

Featured Interviews

Thinking Through Water: An Interview with Sunil S. Amrith
Interviews | June 22, 2020

Thinking Through Water: An Interview with Sunil S. Amrith

In his latest book, Unruly Waters, Sunil Amrith shows how “the schemes of empire builders, the visions of freedom fighters, the designs of engineers—and the cumulative, dispersed actions of hundreds of millions of people across generations—have transformed Asia’s waters over the past two hundred years.” It testifies to the dreams that societies have often pinned to water, as well as its unwieldy and turbulent nature. In his account of “the struggle for water” and control over the Asian monsoon, we come to understand how climate change exacerbates a problem both already in-progress and connected to histories of “reckless development and galloping inequality.”

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Thinking Global in Turkey: An Interview with Trustee Selçuk Esenbel
Interviews | May 30, 2019

Thinking Global in Turkey: An Interview with Trustee Selçuk Esenbel

Prof. Selçuk Esenbel is one of the trustees of the Toynbee Prize Foundation and a leading historian in Turkey. Prof. Esenbel has contributed greatly to the development of global history in Turkey, specifically in relation to Japanese and wider Eurasian history. We sat down with Esenbel in Istanbul to talk about the state of global history in Turkey today and her recent book, Japan on the Silk Road: Encounters and Perspectives of Politics and Culture in Eurasia (Brill's Japanese Studies Library, 2017).

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From Istanbul to Tokyo: An Interview with Eric Tagliacozzo
Interviews | April 24, 2019

From Istanbul to Tokyo: An Interview with Eric Tagliacozzo

In examining the annual movement of pilgrims from the opposite ends of the Indian Ocean, Prof. Eric Tagliacozzo taps in to a process that has been taking place for more than five hundred years: first by sail, then by steam, then by air. Connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East do not center solely on Islam. They are part of a far more complex network of trade, movement, and cross-cultural exchange. These connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East are part of a far wider set of connections between peoples along the entire Indian Ocean littoral from eastern Africa to the South China Sea. We talked with Tagliacozzo about his previous works and his contributions to scholarship on the Indian Ocean world as well as transnational and global history. We spoke about his days as a 22-year old college student interviewing spice traders from Japan to East Africa. Our discussion ranged from illicit trade in rhinoceros horns to itinerant peoples' methods of resistance to colonial rule. And we discussed how, often, those two things were one-and-the-same.

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Writing the Histories of People in Motion: An Interview with Laura Madokoro
Interviews | November 14, 2018

Writing the Histories of People in Motion: An Interview with Laura Madokoro

Laura Madokoro spotlights the history of migrants leaving the post-1949 People's Republic of China for the then-British colony of Hong Kong and beyond. This movement—and the millions of people who fled China—was largely ignored, especially when compared to displaced peoples in Europe. In addition to recovering these stories, Dr. Madokoro argues that framed in the context of the Cold War they can tell us much about humanitarianism, geopolitics and the shadow of settler colonialism, from the Antipodes to North America and South Africa. We met with Laura Madokoro in Montreal, where she works as a historian at McGill University, and discussed the politics of migration during the global Cold War, the revelatory nature of language when describing people in motion, and her current and future research plans.

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Negotiating Maritime Power in Early Modern East Asia: An Interview with Adam Clulow
Interviews | July 5, 2018

Negotiating Maritime Power in Early Modern East Asia: An Interview with Adam Clulow

Clulow's work on the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and its role in the turbulent political environment of East Asia challenges standard views of power relations in the diplomatic encounter between early modern Europe and East Asia. Looking at conflict and negotiation between a European overseas enterprise and a powerful military government in Japan, Clulow questions analytical categories such as state and company, piracy and privateering, diplomacy and violence. The VOC, he shows, was a master shapeshifter, altering its appearance whenever it needed to. When it came to Tokugawa Japan, the Company was in fact relatively small and weak. Clulow's work challenges widespread notions about early modern relationships between Europe and East Asia, and the evolution of modern state institutions.

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Hesitant Hegemony for China and the US? An Interview with Lixin Wang
Interviews | December 6, 2017

Hesitant Hegemony for China and the US? An Interview with Lixin Wang

Speculation is mounting that the United States, with Donald Trump cast in the role of president, will step back from the world stage, and China will increasingly lead. But what would China face if it decided to assume international leadership and advance its own ideas and agendas for global order? Drawing lessons from the American experience, Prof. Lixin Wang's new book A Hesitant Hegemony (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2015) indicates that China should not hastily seek world leadership and that the burden of leading the world is too heavy for China to bear. In the book, Lixin Wang incorporated both a cultural perspective and an international history approach to examine American identity and its search for international order in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Chinese, Christian, Global: Discussing Chinese Popular Histories with Dr. Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye
Interviews | October 3, 2015

Chinese, Christian, Global: Discussing Chinese Popular Histories with Dr. Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye

Scholars often study Chinese church leaders, and their institutional structure, but we know little about Chinese Christians' life experience at an everyday level. That's where the research of our latest featured scholar on the Global History Forum comes in. Based at the University of Auckland, Dr. Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye seeks to enhance our understanding of social and cultural histories of China by studying Chinese ordinary people and in particular Chinese Christians in the first half of the twentieth century. Her research suggests that many Chinese Christians were increasingly aware of the global affairs and China's position in the world during this early twentieth century conjuncture. How, then, did Chinese converts view the place of the Chinese nation in the world? How did they perceive events like the Great War? Like the partial disintegration of European empires following that conflict? And how were the egalitarian ideals of Christianity reconcilable with a world that still spoke the language of "yellow perils" and which often limited the circulation of Chinese into the "white man's world" of European, North American, and Oceanian spaces?

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Featured Articles

Archival Reflections—Dewi Sukarno Goes to London, or How to Handle an Indonesian VIP during Konfrontasi
Article | June 22, 2020

Archival Reflections—Dewi Sukarno Goes to London, or How to Handle an Indonesian VIP during Konfrontasi

Archival Reflections

A single folder of British Foreign Office records (FO 371/180366) held at the National Archives in Kew details the private visit to the UK by the third wife of Indonesian President Sukarno, Dewi, in June 1965. British officers, determined to make a good first impression on Dewi to soften her bellicose husband, quickly found themselves attending to out-of-the-ordinary tasks: scrambling to find a “young enough” companion for having tea with Dewi, infiltrating a wedding reception to gather information on her, and even disposing of an unwanted gift that Dewi brought for none other than Queen Elizabeth II.

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The Philippine Revolution constructs ‘Asia’ and Civilization from the periphery
Article | June 12, 2020

The Philippine Revolution constructs ‘Asia’ and Civilization from the periphery

In tracing the intellectual genealogy of the Philippine nation, Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz excavated what turned out to be far more complex theoretical and historical bases to the construction not only of the Filipino, but also of Asia, race, and a concept of place that could challenge imperial claims of rightful sovereignty. Her book Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887-1912 investigates precisely what ground the Philippine nation built itself upon intellectually, excavating its neglected cosmopolitan and transnational Asian moorings in particular, in order to reconnect Philippine history to that of Southeast and East Asia. It also recovers the “periphery” of the discourse of Pan-Asianism, which was built on material aid and the fantasy and affect of transnational anti-colonial Asian solidarity. The book seeks to make that periphery legible to the center and to expand our discursive, East Asia-centric understanding of Pan-Asianism more generally.

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INTERVIEW—Toynbee Coronavirus Series: Dominic Sachsenmaier on China, geopolitics, and global history post-COVID-19
Article | June 22, 2020

INTERVIEW—Toynbee Coronavirus Series: Dominic Sachsenmaier on China, geopolitics, and global history post-COVID-19

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—A global historical view of the coronavirus pandemic: Interview with Dominic Sachsenmaier.

"The concept of ‘deglobalization’ has been gaining currency during the past five years, and already before 2020 there was a corresponding pressure on some aspects of international academic life, particularly the humanities. For instance, Sino-Western collaborations in the academic sector came under much pressure—both from an increasingly authoritarian government in China and from a Western public that increasingly felt threatened by greater Chinese academic influence. What I observe right now is that there are a growing number of voices that see any kind of collaboration with China as highly problematic, if not altogether endangering the academic ethos and a supposedly intact academic community. What I am concerned about is that if this type of deglobalization—of which Sino-Western collaboration patterns are only one element among several—continues, we could potentially witness a return to regionalism in the humanities." Toynbee Prize Foundation President Dominic Sachsenmaier on China's global role, the academy, and deglobalization trends post-COVID-19.

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