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The modern states of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and East Timor were once a tapestry of kingdoms, colonies, and smaller polities linked by sporadic trade and occasional war. Their societies shared many elements but also centered on traditions as diverse as Buddhism, Islam,...
The modern states of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and East Timor were once a tapestry of kingdoms, colonies, and smaller polities linked by sporadic trade and occasional war. Their societies shared many elements but also centered on traditions as diverse as Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, and Christianity. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the United States and several European powers had come to control almost the entire region—only to depart dramatically in the decades following World War II. The emergence of modern Southeast Asia raises many questions, specific and general. Why were the great royal capitals—Hue, Ava, Ayutthaya, Yogyakarta—relegated to obscurity? What led the Vietnamese, at great cost in human suffering, to fight the French, the Americans, and each other for thirty years, and what did the revolutionaries do when they won? How did Southeast Asians live together and how were their lives—and dreams—changed by new forms of authority and new modes of production? What are the region’s economic resources, who controls them and benefits from them, and how have they and their distribution changed over time? The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia offers a new and up-to-date perspective on this complex region. Although it does not neglect nation-building (the central theme of its popular and long-lived predecessor, In Search of Southeast Asia), the present work focuses on economic and social history, gender, and ecology. It describes the long-term impact of global forces on the region and traces the spread and interplay of capitalism, nationalism, and socialism. It acknowledges that modernization has produced substantial gains in such areas as life expectancy and education but has also spread dislocation and misery. Technology means helicopter gun ships and government surveillance as well as jet travel and the Internet. As the region’s economies have grown, the environment has become polluted and natural resources have been savagely exploited. Organizationally, the book shifts between thematic chapters that describe social, economic, and cultural change, and "country" chapters emphasizing developments within specific areas. Enhanced by scores of illustrations, The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia will establish a new standard for the history of this dynamic and radically transformed region of the world.
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