History Without Borders: The Making of an Asian World Region, 1000-1800

Hong Kong University Press
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Astride the historical maritime silk routes linking India to China, premodern East and Southeast Asia can be viewed as a global region in the making over a long period. Intense Asian commerce in spices, silks, and ceramics placed the region in the forefront of global economic history prior to the age of imperialism. Alongside the correlated silver trade among Japanese, Europeans, Muslims, and others, China's age-old tributary trade networks provided the essential stability and continuity enabling a brilliant age of commerce. Though national perspectives stubbornly dominate the writing of Asian history, even powerful state-centric narratives have to be re-examined with respect to shifting identities and contested boundaries. This book situates itself in a new genre of writing on borderland zones between nations, especially prior to the emergence of the modern nation-state. It highlights the role of civilization that developed along with global trade in rare and everyday Asian commodities, raising a range of questions regarding unequal development, intraregional knowledge advances, the origins of globalization, and the emergence of new Asian hybridities beyond and within the conventional boundaries of the nation-state. Chapters range over the intra-Asian trade in silver and ceramics, the Chinese junk trade, the rise of European trading companies as well as diasporic communities including the historic Japan-towns of Southeast Asia, and many types of technology exchanges. While some readers will be drawn to thematic elements, this book can be read as the narrative history of the making of a coherent East-Southeast Asian world long before the modem period.
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About the author

Geoffrey C. Gunn is a graduate of Melbourne, Queensland, and Monash universities. He has published a number of dedicated country studies on East-Southeast Asia (Brunei, Laos, Macau, East Timor), which have been translated into Portuguese, Indonesian, and Chinese. He is also the author of a world history text, First Globalization: The Eurasian Exchange, 1500-1800. He has taught in universities in North Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia, and currently teaches international relations in the Faculty of Economics, Nagasaki University, Japan.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Hong Kong University Press
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Published on
Aug 1, 2011
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Pages
444
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ISBN
9789888083343
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / China
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This content is DRM protected.
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This book is a bold affirmation of the Asian "miracle" of development, an explanation of the reasons for its success, and a review of its implications. As McCord reminds us, understanding why and how these nations have propelled themselves so far, so fast, is a key to anticipating the destiny of much of the rest of the world.

Despite their interest, analysts have been confounded in attempts to explain Asian development-without resources and colonies, without internal violence, and broadly distributing wealth as they have grown. Existing theories of development offer little guidance. Even explanations that look to the special circumstances of Asian countries have their weaknesses. McCord considers some of these ideas, so as to draw from them common themes. These so-called explanations have ranged from the "culture" argument, which he generally discounts, to the more persuasive arguments positing that Asian social structures have enabled them to avoid some of the problems in the West, while wise political policies have fueled economic development Reviewing all of these explanations, McCord identifies a common group of socioeconomic values and policies shared by most of these nations. And these, he shows, tell us much.

"The Dawn of the Pacific Century "convincingly makes the case for a genuinely Asian model of development-one that must be understood, on its own terms, without reference to either Adam Smith or Karl Marx. McCord's is an optimistic vision. He acknowledges some very real perils that may lay ahead for these nations, but believes they will be overcome. On the critical question of whether the Asian model is applicable to other parts of the developing world McCord answers "Yes, if...," and outlines what non-Asian nations must do to achieve their own successes.

Engagingly written, displaying a commanding knowledge of a broad range of literature, and informed by deep personal experience in Asia and other parts of the world, "The Dawn of the Pacific Century "challenges conventional thinking. It should find a broad professional social science readership. In addition, those general readers who wish to learn from and understand the Asian challenge will find this book a good beginning.

It has intrigued many that, unlike Hong Kong, Macau avoided direct Japanese wartime occupation albeit being caught up in the vortex of the wider global conflict. Geoffrey Gunn and an international group of contributors come together in Wartime Macau: Under the Japanese Shadow to investigate how Macau escaped the fate of direct Japanese invasion and occupation. Exploring the broader diplomatic and strategic issues during that era, this volume reveals that the occupation of Macau was not in Japan’s best interest because the Portuguese administration in Macau posed no threat to Japan’s control over the China coast and acted as a listening post to monitor Allied activities.

Drawing upon archival materials in English, Japanese, Portuguese, and other languages, the contributors explain how, under the high duress of Japanese military agencies, the Portuguese administration coped with a tripling of its population and issues such as currency, food supply, disease, and survival. This volume presents contrasting views on wartime governance and shows how the different levels of Macau society survived the war.

“Wartime Macau deals with a fascinating and woefully understudied topic. The essays collected here show that there was no singular experience of World War II in Macau; how one experienced the war depended on a complex calculus of ethnicity, class, and connections. And yet, taken together, these experiences shaped the trajectory of the city’s political and social development for decades to come.”
—Cathryn H. Clayton, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

“This book represents a real breakthrough. Previous English-language accounts of Macau during the World War II have focused largely on the activities of the British in this neutral ‘Casablanca’. Drawing extensively on Portuguese, Japanese, and local Macanese sources, Geoffrey Gunn and his team have assembled a far broader picture, revealing the dilemmas and choices of Portugal’s beleaguered colonial government and placing Macau in a geopolitical context that stretched from the Azores to Australia.”
—Philip Snow, author of The Fall of Hong Kong
Studies on global metageography are enjoying a revival, and in no way is this better referenced than against the geo-world system bequeathed by Claudius Ptolemy almost two thousand years ago. This is all the more important when we consider the longevity of the Ptolemaic construct through and beyond the European age of discovery allowing as well for its eventual revision or refinement. Innovations in navigational science, cartographic representations, and textual description are all called upon to illustrate this theme. With its focus upon the macro-region termed India Extra Gangem, literally the space between India and China, the book unfolds a fourfold agenda. First, it explains the Ptolemaic world system back to classical points of reference as well as to its reception in late medieval Europe from Arabic sources. Second, it tracks the erosion of the Ptolemaic template especially in the light of new empirical data entering Europe from early travel accounts as well as the first voyages of discovery. Third, through selected examples, as with India, Southeast Asia, and China, it seeks to expose textual and cartographic adjustments to the classical models flowing from the scientific revolution. Fourth, through an examination of Jesuit astronomical observations conducted at various points in Asia, it demonstrates how Eurasia was actually measured and sized with respect to its true longitudinal coordinates such had deluded Columbus and even succeeding generations. In short, this work problematizes the creation of geographical knowledge, raises awareness as to the making of region in Asia over long historical time—the Ptolemaic world-in-motion—and, as a more latent agenda, sounds an alert as to the perils of overdetermination in the setting of modern boundaries whether upon land or sea.
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