Recalling Local Pasts: Autonomous History in Southeast Asiaby Silkworm Books
Edited by Sunait Chutintaranond and Chris Baker
The history of Southeast Asia, especially mainland Southeast Asia, has been written as a history of kings and states. The modern states of Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam thread their way back into the past, and the emergence of these states, the importance of their capitals, and the power of their dynasties have been the dominant themes of the history of the region.
Recalling Local Pasts challenges this perspective. The six essays, taken together, question how powerful the great centers and their rulers really were. The authors shift the focus to smaller settlements and more peripheral communities, looking at the capitals and the central authority from this viewpoint. They react against the modern impulse to look at the commonalities of the region and concentrate on the variety instead.
Essays consider Pegu, Arakan, Phuket, the Vietnamese port city of Hoi An, the eastern Martaban bay port cities, and the Orang Laut and the Malay kingdoms of Melaka and Johor. The resulting collection offers an intimate and unusual view of historical Southeast Asia as a society of cosmopolitan cities, mobile communities, and fluid local polities.
Dr SUNAIT CHUTINTARANOND is a lecturer in history at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, and director of the Thai Studies Center. He has published, with Than Tun, On Both Sides of the Tenasserim Range: History of Siamese-Burmese Relations. Dr CHRIS BAKER is an independent researcher based in Bangkok. He has published, with Pasuk Phongpaichit, several titles including Thailand: Economy and Politics.