Nola Cooke, Li Tana and James A. Anderson (eds), The Tongking Gulf through history. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011, x + 223 pp. [Encounters with Asia Series.] ISBN 9780812243369. Price: USD 59.95 (hardback).
Derek Heng, Sino-Malay trade and diplomacy from the tenth through the fourteenth century. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009, xiii + 286 pp. [Research in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series 121.] ISBN 9780896802711. Price: USD 28.00 (paperback).
Hermann Kulke, K. Kesavapany and Vijay Sakhuja (eds), Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola naval expeditions to Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009, xxv + 337 pp. [Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series.] ISBN 9789812509365, price: USD 39.90 (hardback); 9789812309372, USD 59.90 (paperback).
Pierre-Yves Manguin, A. Mani and Geoff Wade (eds), Early interactions between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on cross-cultural exchange. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011, xxxi + 514 pp. [Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series.] ISBN 9789814345101, price USD 49.90 (paperback); 9789814311168, USD 59.90 (hardback). [India Hardcover Edition co-published with Manohar Publishers and Distributors, India.]
Geoff Wade and Sun Laichen (eds), Southeast Asia in the fifteenth century: The China factor. Singapore: NUS Press; Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010, xii + 508 pp. ISBN 9789971694487. Price: USD 32.00.
This study is the substantial update to a journal article published in 1981, focal on the first northeast Sumatra fourteenth- and fifteenthcentury Islamic Sultanate Samudra-Pasai port-of-trade. In doing so the study represents the significant transitions in Indian Ocean history that were substantially influenced by Michael Pearson’s scholarship. Samudra-Pasai was a notable eastern Indian Ocean fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Straits of Melaka international maritime stopover that competed against the west-central Malay Peninsula-based Melaka emporium for regional commercial prominence prior to Portuguese seizure of Melaka in 1511. Past histories are based on the several surviving contemporary maritime sojourner accounts, Chinese dynastic records, and the local sixteenth-century Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai dynastic chronicle. Recent anthropological surveys of the Sumatra upstream pair with new archaeological recoveries, which include dated Arabic script inscribed dynastic tombstones, to mandate a re-evaluation of upstream downstream networking that was the basis of Samudra- Pasai’s over two-century sovereignty. This study moves beyond initially innovative 1970s conceptions of early Straits of Melaka upstreamdownstream networking in its incorporation of Michael Pearson’s adaptive characterizations of Indian Ocean port-of-trade coastline littorals, and introduces the importance of newly focal offshore communities as these are now prominent in the most recent Indian Ocean scholarship.
This exploratory study addresses the trading networks in the Bay of Bengal region of the Indian Ocean during the 1300-1500 era. In this case it is less about the exchange of products than the membership of trading communities, the relationships among the regionally networked ports-of-trade and their merchant communities, and the regional cultural and economic consequences. The focal issue here is the transitional nature of maritime trade and cultural identities in this sub-region of the international East-West maritime route immediately prior to the Portuguese seizure of Melaka in 1511 (see map 1). This article addresses the alternative understandings of this era’s Bay of Bengal regional trade relative to maritime diasporas and other networked relationships; in doing so it incorporates the latest discussions of early urbanization in this region by focusing on networking between secondary and primary centers.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="FN1">1</xref>Cette contribution s’adresse au Golfe de Bengale dans la période 1300-1500, notamment à l’ensemble de ses littoraux, et le considère comme une unité. Pour cette raison elle aborde à peine les ports individuels. Cet espace vit des Chinois, des Perses, et des Yéménites s’associants au visiteurs du Moyen-Orient, et les activités des diasporas issus de l’Inde du Sud et du Sri Lanka. Le maillage de ses réseaux régionaux étant fluides et perméables se modifiaient suivant les événements et s’adaptaient au fluctuations entre les diasporas euxmêmes. Ses communautés actives dans le Golfe de Bengale seront perçues au niveau conceptuels comme des espaces peuplés par des individus, des familles, et la multiplicité des leurs circuits politiques et socio-économiques dérivées, eux, de leurs pays d’origine ainsi que de leurs destinations.
Southeast Asian sources that report regional connection with the Majapahit and Angkor polities reflect upon a rapidly changing fourteenth and fifteenth century world order, the result of new trading opportunities as Europeans were becoming more direct participants in affairs beyond their Western home-lands. In the face of the individualistic and destructive tendencies of the wider global community circa 1500, in the Strait of Melaka region there was less dislocation and isolation than is supposed by many twentieth century scholars. Despite the number of political and religious transitions underway, in the Southeast Asian archipelago and mainland there was a sense of regional self-confidence and progress among societies who had enjoyed over two hundred years of widespread socio-economic success. These successes were the product of the functional international, regional, and local networks of communication, as well as a common heritage that had developed in the Strait of Melaka region during the pre-1500 era. This study not only addresses the role of Majapahit and Angkor in the shaping of regional inclusiveness circa 1500, but also explores the enduring (and often exclusive) legacy of these two early cultural centers among Southeast Asia's twentieth century polities.