Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Workshop on Asian Expansionisms
(National University of Singapore)

The abstracts for the "Workshop on Asian Expansionisms: The Historical Processes of Polity Expansion in Asia" at the National University of Singapore have been posted to the conference page and they make interesting reading.

Since his new book has finally reached Bangkok, I found the description of Perdue's paper the most exciting. Perdue's paper compares Qing expansion on it's northwestern frontier with expansion on its southern frontier bordering Southeast Asia. It builds on the analysis in his new book, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia, (Harvard, 2005) holding that, "Strategies that worked well in the steppes, oases, and deserts of Central Eurasia failed in the jungles and forests of Southeast Asia" and that the "environment play[ed] an important role as an inducer of or obstacle to expansion." It also says the role of the mosquito and frontier trade in in inhibiting or aiding expansion will be covered. "In the northwest, the Qing actively used Muslim, Turkic, and Han Chinese merchants to promote commercial ties between the newly conquered regions and the center. The Qing state worked together with merchants to ensure frontier stability. In the south, however, overseas Chinese merchants generally acted on their own, without state protection....the Qing elite drew a different line in this region when it came to protecting commercial interests...Exploration of two frontiers of Qing China should open the way to larger comparisons."

[I wonder how state sponsorship and protection of trade in the south and north during the Qing period compares with the Ming period.]