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“Southeast Asia”: What's in a Name?

  • Donald K. Emmerson

Some names, like “rose”, acknowledge what exists. Others, like “unicorn”, create what otherwise would not exist. In between lie names that simultaneously describe and invent reality. “Southeast Asia” is one of these.

Some who study the region treat it as if it were Shakespeare's rose: a reality existing independently of its name. Others would agree with Waddell that an observer of “Southeast Asia” who uses the name incautiously risks hallucinating unicorns: projecting homogeneity, unity, and boundedness onto a part of the world that is in fact heterogeneous, disunited, and hard to delimit.

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1 Lee, Paraphrasing Stanislaw J., Unkempt Thoughts, trans. Galazka, Jacek (New York: St. Martin's, 1962), p. 93.

2 Noteworthy in that literatureare Wales, H.G. Quaritch, The Making ofGreater India (London. Bernard Quaritch, 1951 and 1961); Coedes, George, The Making of South East Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967 [orig. pub. 1962 in French]); and Tate's, D. J. M. projected three-volume work, The Making of Modern South-East Asia (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. 1971 [vol. 1]). Compare Fifield's, Russell H. unique, brief, and little-known “The Concept of Southeast Asia: Origins, Development, and Evaluation”, South-East Asian Spectrum (Bangkok) 4, no. 1 (1975): 4251. Compare also the views of Wolters, O. W., History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1982), who warns against overgeneralizing about “Southeast Asia”or reading that modern notion too far back into the past.

3 It relies heavily on the noted toponymist Stewart's, George R.Names on the Globe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), pp. 205208. Cf. “Asia”, in Partridge, Eric, comp., Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (4th ed., London: Routledge, 1966).

4 Bloodworth, Dennis, An Eyefor the Dragon: Southeast Asia Observed, 1954-1970 (New York: Farrar, 1970), p. xiii.

5 On the French geographer Malte-Brun's coinage, see Malleret, Louis, “The Position of Historical Studies in the Countries of Former French Indo-Chinain 1956”, in Historians of South East Asia, ed. Hall, D. G. E. (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 301. A more convoluted example is “Cochinchina”: According to Abel Bergaigne ( L'ancien royaume de Campa dans l'Indo-Chine, d'apres les inscriptions”, Journal Asiatique 11 [1888]: 67), “Cochinchine” did not refer directly to China but was instead a French rendition of a Chinese name (“Tchen Tching”) for the Indianized state of Champa. Modern scholars (notablyTaylor, K.W., personal communication, 3 10. 1983) posit an even more complex lineage: that the French name “Cochinchine” was derived from a Portuguese rendering of a Japanese version of a Chinese term (“Chiao Chih”) for Vietnam. Whatever its exact ancestry, “Cochinchina” delineated an administrative area. But “Indonesia” was vaguer and more anthropological; the Englishman who invented it, Logan, J. R. (“The Ethnology of the Indian Archipelago”, Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia [Singapore] 4 [1850]: 254), defended it as “a shorter synonym”for “the Indian Archipelago”, which then covered far more than the independent nation of Indonesia ever would. For Adolf Bastian, writing in the 1860s, the Philippines were part of “Indonesia”, and for Perry, W.J., The Megalithic Culture of Indonesia (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1918), so were Assam, Burma, and Formosa; see Loofs, Helmut, Sudostasiens Fundamente: Hochkulturen und Primitivstamme Geisterglauben Religionen Grosse Politik (Berlin: Safari-Verlag, 1964), p. 19. By the 1920s, in the Netherlands Indies, “Indonesia” had become a bone of academic and political contention. While colonial officials rejected the term for its revolutionary connotations, for example, a Dutch professor argued that for clarity's sake one should not apply to the Indies a word that had already acquired a broader meaning. But if “America” had been accepted to mean both a continent and a country, replied the nationalist Hatta, Mohammad (Nama Indonesia: Penemuan Komunis? [Jakarta: Yayasan Idayu, 1980], pp. 1114 [orig. pub. 1928]), surely “Indonesia” could also serve double duty - especially since those parts of cultural “Indonesia” lying outside political “Indonesia”already had their own distinctive names (the Philippines, the Straits Settlements, British Borneo, and Madagascar). (See alsoKroef, Justus M. van der, “The Term Indonesia: Its Origin and Usage”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 71 (1951): 166–71.) On the eve of his country's independence, Muhammad Yamin argued, in effect, that political “Indonesia”, which Hatta and other nationalists had shrunk to fit the Indies, should now be enlarged to include its cultural periphery; Yamin, comp., Naskah-persiapan Undang-undang Dasar 1945, I ([Jakarta]: Jajasan Prapantja, 1959): 191-92, 214. Although the Body to Investigate Indonesian Independence voted to include Malaya, North Borneo, Papua, and eastern Timor in the political definition of “Indonesia” ( Mclntyre, Angus, “The ‘Greater Indonesia’ Idea of Nationalism in Malaya and Indonesia”, Modern Asian Studies 1 [1973]: 8182), Hatta's preference ultimately prevailed, and found final fulfillment in 1963 when the Republic incorporated ex-Dutch New Guinea. Nevertheless, in 1976, when ex-Portuguese Timor became an Indonesian province, the ghost of Muhammad Yamin may have smiled. (For more on Yamin's vision, see Gordon, Bernard K., “The Potential for Indonesian Expansionism”, Pacific Affairs 36 [1963-1964]: 378–93.) Even though it expands upon “Malaya”, modern “Malaysia” also illustrates the shrinking effect of political upon anthropological usage, for the Malaysian nation today is dwarfed by the full range of ethno-linguisticaliy Malay peoples once implied by writers on “Malaysia”or the “Malaysia archipelago”, from the first volume of Bastian's Indonesien oderdie Inseln des Malayischen Archipel (Berlin: Ferd. Dummlers) in 1884 toCole, Fay-Cooper (The Peoples of Malaysia [Princeton NJ: Van Nostrand]) in 1945. For “Indosinesia”, derived from India (Indo-), China (-sin-), and the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagoes (-esia), see Purcell, Victor, The Chinese in Southeast Asia (London: Oxford University Press, 1951), p. xvi, and The Revolution in Southeast Asia (London: Thames and Hudson, 1962), p. 17.

6 “Southeast Asia”, “South East Asia”, “South-East Asia”, “South-east Asia”, “southeast Asia”, “southeast Asia”, “Southeastern Asia”, “South Eastern Asia”, “South-Eastern Asia”, “South-eastern Asia”, “southeastern Asia”, and “south-eastern Asia” can all be found in the literature, but not with the same frequencies over time. The rising visibility of the region as a whole, which has inclined Westerners to write about it more often in more popular media (where brevity is prized), and the parallel rise of administrative or political over geographic or cultural definitions of the region have made the adjective shorter, more pronomial, and spatially more precise by encouraging English-speakers to drop the suffix and the hyphen, to spell it as one word not two, and to capitalize its initial letter. This basically American solution was resisted in England, where the name is still generally hyphenated or spelled as three words. Conversely, the demise of the hyphen in America may be traceable to a case of orthographic pique when, in Washington in 1945, officers of the U.S. Department of State created the first “division of Southeast Asian Affairs”, using the unhyphenated form on purpose not to copy the colonial British. See Fifield, p. 45, and compare the comment by Britain's unregenerate hyphenist, Hall, D.G.E., A History of South-East Asia (1st or 2nd ed., London: Macmillan, 1955 or 1964), p. 3. The issue of capitalization was also trans-Atlantic. Although “southeast Asia” was still being used in America in the 1940s - in some publications by the Institute of Pacific Relations, for example - it soon became capitalized. But the British equivalent, “south-east Asia”, persisted in the columns of The Times of London, where as late as 1965 the name was dismissed as “an upstart cartographically”, to cite The Times, 22 Feb. 1965, as quoted by Fisher, Charles A., “A View of Southeast Asia”, Southeast Asia: An International Quarterly 1 (1971): 910. For adopting the “upstart” but refusing to capitalize it, the Times editors were described by Fisher (p.9) as classicists “bowing part way to the pressure of lesser mortals’ parlance” while at the same time continuing to pay “homage to the traditional Orientalism” according to which anything Asian but not Indian or Chinese could only be culturally lowercase. In the present article, unless otherwise indicated, “Southeast Asia” stands for all twelve alternatives. Quotation marks signal a reference to the name; without them, the region is meant.

7 Illustrating what might be called, after its well-known advocate, the “Humpty Dumpty position”: that names are rooted neither in reality nor custom, but express instead the power of the namer over the thing named. See Carroll, Lewis, The Philosopher's Alice, annotated by Heath, Peter (New York: St. Martin's, 1974), pp. 192–94. In fairness to those who find Humpty's position unsupportable, it should be recalled that shortly afterwards he fell off the wall.

8 Among such names and, between parentheses, their main users are “Further India” (British), “Hinterindien” (Germans), “l'lnde ultragangetique” (French), “Nanyang” (Chinese), and “Nanyo” (Japanese). Less well known are “Suvarnabhumi” (Indians), “Zabag” (Arabs), and “Terra Septentrionalis” (Australians), cited respectively by Wheatley, Paul, The Golden Khersonese (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1961), ch. 11; , Tate, Modern South-East Asia, 1:8; and Tarling, Nicholas, A Concise History of Southeast Asia (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966), p. xii. A few of these toponyms (e.g., “Zabag”) are obscure; some are ancient; most are obsolete; and all are vague. But together they represent a problem of more than philological interest, for each one carries with it the unique perspective of an outside party. By implication, to prefer one name is to lend credence to that namer's claims to a proprietary relationship with the region. This version of the “Humpty Dumpty position” may help to explain David Marr's discovery that area specialists in China in 1980 still thought it necessary to oppose the use of “Greater India” to describe classical Southeast Asia - apparently not aware that the entire polemic is passe; , Marr “Chinese Study of Southeast Asia in Transition”, in Gungwu, Wang et at., Southeast Asian Studies in China: A Report (Canberra, Australia: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1981), p. 30.

9 CD. , Cowan, South East Asian History in London (London: University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1963), pp. 1011.

10 Among them: The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962); Random House Dictionary of the English Language (New York: Random House, 1966);Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield MA: Merriam, 1977);The Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary (rev. ed., New York: Bantam, 1979); Funk and Wagnatls Standard Dictionary (New York: Signet, 1980); The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (7th ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982); Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield MA: Merriam, 1983).

11 , Malcom, Travels in South-Eastern Asia Embracing Hindustan, Malaya, Siam, and China, with Notices of Numerous Missionary Stations and a Full Account of the Burman Empire, 2 vols. (Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1839).

12 , Logan, “The Present Condition of the Indian Archipelago”, The Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, 1st ser., 1 (1847): 3.

13 See: Bastian, Adolf, Die V'dlker des bstlichen Asien, 5 vols. (Leipzig and Jena: 1866-1869); Heger, Franz, Alte Metalltrommeln aus Sudostasien, 2 vols. (Leipzig: 1902); Schmidt, P.W., Die Mythologie der austronesischen Vb'lker, Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, 39 (Vienna: 1909), and Grundlinien einer Vergleichung der Religionen und Mythologien der austronesischen Vb'lker, Denschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 53 (Vienna: 1910). Heger's is the earliest use I have found of the term “Southeast Asia” in the title of a German-language book.

14 By Dahm, Bernard, Die Sudostasienwissenschaft in den USA in Westeuropa undinder Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Gottingen: Verlag Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1975), pp. 1314.

15 Heine-Geldern, Robert, “Sudostasien”, in Australien und Ozeanien Asien, vol. II, pt. 1 ofIllustrierte Vb'lkerkunde, ed. Buschan, Georg (Stuttgart: Strecker und Schroder, 1923), pp. 689968. See also , Heine-Geldern, “Sudostasien”, in Ethnologischer Anzeiger I (1928): 110–54; II (1929-1932): 348-92; IV (1937): 150-299.

16 Gregory, J.W., “The Evolution of the River System of South-eastern Asia”, Scottish Geographical Magazine 41 (1925): 129–41; Katz, Milton, “Genna in Southeastern Asia”, American Anthropologist 30 (1928): 580601; Stein-Callenfels, P.V. van, “Bijdrage totde chronologie van het neolithicum in Zuid-Oost Azie”, in Verslagen Oudheidkundige Dienst N.I. 1926 (Batavia: 1927), Appendix J, pp. 174-80. German-language works appear to have predominated, however: For example, Haushofer, K., Zur Geopolitik der Selbstbestimmung in Sudostasien (Munich: 1923), also published as Zum Freiheilskampf in Sudostasien (Berlin: 1923), and studies by F. W. Mohr, W. Ule, and W. Volz.

17 Respectively: Emerson, Rupert, “The Outlook in Southeast Asia: Netherlands Indies, French IndoChina, British Malaya”, Foreign Policy Report (1939), pp. 206–16; Sun, Fang Si, Die Entwicklung der chinesischen Kolonisation in Siidasien (Nan Yang) nach chinesischen Quellen, diss., Jena, 1931; Mukerjee, R., “Indian and Chinese Labour in the Agriculture of South East Asia”, Modern Review (Calcutta), ser. 2, 54 (1933): 669–74; Huyen, Nguyen Van, Introduction a I ‘etude de 1 habitation surpilotis dans 1’Asie duSud-Est (Paris: 1934).

18 Malesani, E., “L'Asia di Sud-Est”, in Almagia, R., ed., Geografia UniversaleIllustrata IV, pt. 2 (Turin: 1936): 381–86; Lir, S. E., “Air Circulation in Southeast Asia” (in Russian), Meteorologiya i Gidrologiya (Moscow) I (1936).

19 Paul King Benedict, “Kinship in Southeastern Asia”, Harvard University, cited in the Comprehensive Dissertation Index 1861-1972. In their compilation, Theses and Dissertations on Southeast Asia (Zug, Switzerland: Inter Documentation Company, 1970), D, R. SarDesai and Bhanu D. SarDesaido mention one master's thesis accepted by an American university in the 1930s: Lancaster, F.J., “The Rubber-plantation Regions of Southeastern Asia”, University of Chicago, Economics, 1932.

20 The Far Eastern Quarterly [henceforth FEQ] 2 (Nov. 1942): 15-30. Remarkably, in this article, Heine-Geldern bothered neither to define “Southeast Asia” no rjustify its use; having done that in previous works, he could take the name for granted. In contrast, two American scholars writing in the same journal at about the same time felt obliged to explain in their first paragraphs what they meant by the name: For John L. Christian (“Recent Literature Relating to Southeast Asia”, FEQ 1 [Aug. 1942]: 378), the Andaman Islands and part of Yunnan lay within the scope of the term, while Kenneth Perry Landon (“Nationalism in Southeastern Asia”, FEQ2[Feb. 1943]: 139) used it to refer only to continental Asia south of China and east of India.

21 “Notes and News”, FEQ 2 (Nov. 1942): 114-15.

22 “Southeast Asia Institute”, FEQ 5 (Feb. 1946): 219-24.

23 For exa'mple, in 1942: Helmut G. Callis, Foreign Capital in Southeast Asia; Rupert Emerson, Lennox A. Mills, and Virginia Thompson, Government and Nationalism in Southeast Asia; John S. Furnivall, Problems of Education in Southeast Asia; Bruno Lasker, Welfare and Freedom in Postwar Southeast Asia; all published in New York. On the work of the Institute, see , Christian, “Recent Literature”, p. 380.

24 , Fifield, “The Concept of Southeast Asia”, p. 43; Fisher, Charles A., South-east Asia: A Social, Economic and Political Geography, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1966), p. 746. Also in 1943, Lennox Mills edited “Southeastern Asia and the Philippines”, the first issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (vol. 226), explicitly devoted to the region.

25 The Society's New Map of Southeast Asia”, The National Geographic Magazine 86 (1944): 449–50. For other cartographic signs of suddenly heightened interest in the area, see Broek, Jan O.M., comp., Readings in the Geography of Southeast Asia (New York: 1943); and Cressey, George B., Asia's Lands and Peoples: A Geography of One-third the Earth and Two-thirds its people (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1944), pp. 495548.

26 Mountbatten, Louis, Report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff by the Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia, 1943-45 (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1951) [henceforth Report], p. 3.

27 Although, as postwar efforts to regain lost colonies would show, the earlier, compartmentalized view remained strong. On the ABDA, see Report, p. 6.

28 By, for example, Tilman, Robert O., “Introduction”, in Man, State, and Society in Contemporary Southeast Asia, ed. Tilman, R. O. (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1969), p. 3; and Steinberg, David Joe etal., In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971), p. 5. Also see , Hall, History, p. 3; and Kattenberg, Paul M., “South-East Asia Reconsidered”, South-East Asian Spectrum 4, no. 2 (1976): 21.

29 Report, Maps 1 and 36 and pp. 181-82. The extension brought under SEAC's authority all of present-day Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, and Indonesia except for the island of Timor.

30 There were Christmas Island (Australia); Sri Lanka (where the Command was headquartered in 1944-45); the Andaman, Laccadive, and Nicobar Islands (India); and the Maldives (fully independent since 1965).

31 Report, pp. 3, 6-7, 227-28.

32 Report, p. 7. In 1945, the border between SEAC and the China Command in Indochina was finally drawn at the 16th parallel. See Colbert, Evelyn, Southeast Asia in International Politics 1941-1956 (pIthaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 53.

33 Compare Map 2 in the main body of the Report with Map 38 in its separately published Section E, Post Surrender Tasks (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1969).

34 Report, pp. 183, 216-17.

35 As one observer remarked at the time: “Southeastern Asia had little interest for the majority of Americans until a little more than a year ago…. The spectacular conquests of Japan and the consequences to ourselves have completely changed this attitude.” Mills, “Introduction”, in “Southeastern Asia”, ed. Mills, p. vii.

36 Dahm, Die Sudostasienwissenschaft, pp. 39 and 32, respectively. Also see Centre of Southeast Asia Studies, Southeast Asia Studies in London (London: University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1972); Niel, Robert van, “Southeast Asian Studies in the U.S.A.”, Journal of Southeast Asian History 5, no. 1 (1964): 188–94; Fifield, Russell H., “Southeast Asian Studies: Origins, Development, Future”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 7 (1976): 154–57.

37 Bois, Cora Du, Social Forces in Southeast Asia (1949 [written in 1947]; rpt., Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1964), pp. 10-11.

38 For example: Bleackley, H., A Tour in South Asia: Indo-China, Malaya, Java, Sumatra and Ceylon (London: 1928); E. and Selenka, L., Sonnige Welten: Ostasiatische Reiseskissen: Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Indien, Ceylon, Japan (3rd ed., Berlin: 1925).

39 Although as late as 1946, the year SEAC was dismantled, MacFadden, Clifford H. et al., in their Atlas of World Affairs (New York: Crowell), could consign to “Southeast Asia” half the world's population at that time, including all of China, India, Korea, and Japan.

40 , Dahm, Die Sudostasienwissenschaft, pp. 1718, citing Heine-Geldern, Robert, A Survey of Studies on Southeast Asia at American Universities and Colleges (New York: East Indies Institute of America, 1943), pp. 28ff. More immediate goals were also used to justify scholarship. In 1944, for example, Unger, Leonard concluded his survey of “The Chinese in Southeast Asia'1 (Geographical Review, vol. 34) by noting that a clear understanding of their position in the region could be “a useful tool in driving out the Japanese” (P. 217).

41 Quotations are from the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty and accompanying texts as reproduced in Treaties and Alliances of the World (New York: Scribner's for Keesing's Archives, 1974), pp. 196–98, where the history of SEATO is also summarized. Also see Lyon, Peter, “Regional Organization and South-East Asia”, South-East Asian Spectrum 4, no. 3 (1976): 41. Specifically outside the Treaty's scope was the Pacific area north of 21° 30' north latitude. Drawn to exclude Taiwan and Hong Kong, this line actually placed China's Hainan Island within the “treaty area” - an anomaly tactfully ignored by the parties concerned. See the map on pp. 10-11 of Collective Defence in South East Asia: The Manila Treaty and its Implications (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1956).

42 Mountbatten tells this story in Post Surrender Tasks.

43 Treaties and Alliances, p. 197; Collective Defence, p. 33.

44 On ASA and the birth of ASEAN, see Gordon, Bernard K., “Regionalism in Southeast Asia”, in Man, State, and Society, ed. Tilman, , pp. 506–22. A useful guide to the literature on ASEAN is Joo, Tan Sok, comp., ASEAN: A Bibliography (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1976).

45 Among them: Hall, H. Duncan[a British government historian], “Post-War Government and Politics of British South East Asia”, The Journal of Politics 9 (1947): 695; Boerman, W.E. et al., eds., Grote Elsevier Atlas (Amsterdam: Alsevier, 1950), II: 142; Rau, Santha Rama, View to the Southeast (New York: Harper, 1957), p. 3; Sarkisyanz, Emanuel, Sudostasienseit WJ (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1961); Decornoy, Jacques, L'Asie du Sud-Esi (Tournai, Belgium: Casterman, 1967). Along with Ceylon, Tibor Mende (South-East Asia Between Two Worlds [London: Turnstile Press, 1955], p. viii) included India and Pakistan as well. More expansive still was the definition of “Southeast Asia” given by the authors of an official East German publication, Deutschen Aussenpolitik (East Berlin: 1962) [as cited by , Loofs, Sudostasiens Fundamente, p. 20], who incorporated into the term not only Ceylon, India, and Pakistan, but also Afghanistan, Nepal, Hong Kong, and Korea. Among others, , Tarling, Concise History, p. xii, has noted the likely influence of SEAC on the inclusion of Ceylon.

46 , Hall, History (1955), p. 3; also Mende, South-East Asia, and Sarkisyanz, Sudostasien. So influential was Hall's omission that as late as 1962 Harry J. Benda could cite it as evidence that, among the countries then generally felt to belong to “Southeast Asia”, the Philippines appeared to be “a borderline case”; , Benda, “The Structure of Southeast Asian History: Some Preliminary Observations”, Journal of Southeast Asian History 3 (1962): 107–08. Nevertheless, in “Structure”, Benda treated the Philippines as part of the region. Two years later, in the second edition of his book, Hall himself bowed to the growing tendency to include the Philippines, although not without remarking that they did not “come clearly into” Southeast Asian history until the Spanish conquest late in the 16th century, and that even their subsequent role in the region, oriented as they were toward Spain and North America, was “slight”; , Hall, History (1964), p. 3.

47 , Loofs, SUdostasiens Fundamente, pp. 2122. The New Zealander Tarling (Concise History, p. xi) and the Khoi, Franco-Vietnamese Le Thanh (Histoire de V Asie du Sud-Est [1st and 2nd eds., Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1959 and 1967]) also included the Andamans and Nicobars in “Southeast Asia”.

48 Revolution, p. 17. In fact, all three of the lines that have been drawn through the area to distinguish an Asian from an Australian biogeographic zone cut across Indonesia: In the west, Wallace's line splits Bali and Borneo from Lombok and the Celebes; in the middle, Weber's line separates the Celebes from the Moluccas; while in the east, Lydekker's line divides the Moluccas from New Guinea. Geomorphically too, as part of the Sahul not the Sunda Shelf, New Guinea is more akin to Australia than to Indonesia or to mainland Southeast Asia; see the map in Dobby, E. H. G., Southeast Asia (2nd ed., London: University of London Press, 1969), p. 18.

49 Even when “Southeast Asia” was defined by the Institute of Pacific Relations to include Hong Kong and Taiwan for the purpose of its prewar study of politics in the area, the American authors of the resulting volume (Emerson, Mills, and Thompson, Government and Nationalism) virtually ignored both territories.

50 Tilman, Robert O. and Brewer, Garry D., “Southeast Asia Specialists of the World: A Profile and an Analysis”, in , Tilman, comp., International Biographical Directory of Southeast Asia Specialists - 1969 (Ann Arbor MI: Association for Asian Studies, Interuniversity Southeast Asia Committee, 1969), pp. xii, xiv, xxiv.

51 In 1946, a University of Kentucky political scientist - albeit of European origin -argued that all of the Netherlands Indies, Dutch New Guinea included, should be considered part of “Southeast Asia” because of “the convenience of including entire political and administrative units”; Amry Vandenbosch, “Regionalism in Southeast Asia”, FEQ 5 (Aug. 1946): 427. Earlier still, Lasker, Bruno (Peoples of Southeast Asia [New York: Knopf, 1944], pp. 45) andUnger, Leonard (“Chinese”, p. 197) outlined the region the same way.

52 , Heine-Geldern, “Sudostasien” (1923), p. 689.

53 , Heine-Geldern's definition and the circumstances surrounding it are described by Fifield, “Southeast Asian Studies”, p. 152.

54 “Edmund Leach”, “The Frontiers of Burma”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 3 (1960): 49. For region-wide criticism in the same vein, see Solomon, Robert L., “Boundary Concepts and Practices in Southeast Asia”, World Politics 23 (1970-1971): 123.

55 In the United States, through mid-1968, of the doctoral dissertations completed on two or more Southeast Asian countries, including works on the region as a whole, 42 per cent were in political science, compared to only 24 per cent of the dissertations confined to any one country in the area. Calculated from data in The, Lian and Veur, Paul W. van der, comps., Treasures and Trivia: Doctoral Dissertations on Southeast Asia Accepted by Universities in the United States (Athens OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 1968), p. 125. Politics colored not only American perceptions. The third edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (trans., New York: Macmillan, 1973) divided “Asia” geographically and politically. Only in the latter breakdown did “Southeast Asia” appear.

56 Among the many sources and organizations that have adopted this definition are The CBS News Almanac 1978 (Maplewood NJ: Hammond Almanac, 1977),The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), and the Association for Asian Studies.

57 The Philippines tried to promote closer relations between ASEAN and both of these countries in 1976-77, without much success; Asia 1978 Yearbook (Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review, 1978), pp. 285, 310. Certainly the vast distance separating Sri Lanka from its nearest Southeast Asian neighbor militates against a westward extension.

58 Tugby, Donald J., “Ethnological and Allied Research Problems of Southeast Asia”, Current Anthropology 11 (1970): 53; on the survey itself, see , Tugby, “Ethnological and Allied Work on Southeast Asia, 1950-1966”, Current Anthropology 9 (1968): 185.

59 Ness, Gayl D. and Morrow, Martha, “Notes on American Southeast Asian Scholarship 1955-1980”, unpublished paper, pp. 6-7, 13, 16. These results gain impact from the fact that Ness and M orrow excluded from their calculations the many single-country pieces published in 1965-1972 on America's involvement in the Second Indochina War. As for the apparent anomaly between the very high percentage of authors who wrote on one Southeast Asian country only and the large share of writings on “supranational systems”, one should keep in mind that a piece on, say, China's relations with Indonesia could have been written by an author none of whose publications was on a Southeast Asian country other than Indonesia. In such a case, while the writer was considered a single-country specialist and counted among the 90 percent, his or her piece on Chinese-Indonesian relations was classified under “supra-national systems”.

60 On the interest of some younger indigenous historians in religion, for example, see my Issues in Southeast Asian History: Room for Interpretation - A Review Article”, Journal of Asian Studies 40 (1980): 59.

61 According to a Singaporean scholar, for example, the precedence of applied research (on, say, economic development) over less instrumental work (on, say, culture or literature) is “an important constraint” on scholarship in that country; Sien, Chia Lin, “Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore”, in A Colloquium on Southeast Asian Studies, ed. Bahrin, Tunku Shamsul et al. (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1981), p. 132.

62 , Szanton, “Southeast Asian Studies in the United States: Towards an Intellectual History”, in Bahrin, et al., Colloquium, pp. 7287.

63 As might be expected, the total number of proposals, including all disciplines, also rose and fell in tandem with America's Vietnam war. Mln this connection, the implications of “development” in ASEAN and of “Marxism-Leninism” in Vietnam are perhaps not so dissimilar as one might wish to think.

65 Thus, five years after Indonesia's absorption of eastern Timor, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Boston MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 1981) could still define “Southeast Asia” to include “Portuguese Timor” (but not Burma), while a year later, a Cornell University brochure on its Southeast Asian collection (The John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia [Ithaca NY: Cornell University Publications, 1982]) could list “East Timor”alphabetically between Cambodia and Indonesia as the region's 1 lth country.

66 If such speculations seem extreme, consider whether “Southeast Asia ”would have survived World War II had Japan won that conflict and managed to institutionalize its “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere”. Rather than locating an area south of one landmass and east of another, the region's postwar English name could have become “Southern Ocean” (Nanyo) in deference to Japan's maritime viewpoint. See my Case for a Maritime Perspective on Southeast Asia”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 11 (1980): 142. The possibility that “Southeast Asia”could be upstaged by other names is also illustrated by the history of the one-word toponym, “Eastasia”. In his famous novel, 1984 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949), George Orwell divided the. world of what was then the future into three warring power blocs: “Oceania”(the novel's locale), “Eurasia”, and “Eastasia”. Made up of “China and the countries to the south of it”, the Japanese archipelago, and “a large but fluctuating portion” of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet, “Eastasia” was described as drawing its strength from “the fecundity and industriousness of its inhabitants” (pp. 186-87). Three decades after Orwell, and even more impressed than he with Asian industriousness, Hofheinz, Roy Jr, and Calder, Kent E. wrote a work of nonfiction, The Eastasia £cfee (New York: Basic Books, 1982), in which “Eastasia” is redefined to include only China (PRC/ROC), Hong Kong, Japan, Korea (DPRK/ROK), and Singapore: “the Chinese-culture area of the western Pacific” (p. vii). Along with the tendency of Western journalists in the late 1970s and early 1980s to refer to Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan as neo-Confucian “Little Dragons” or economic “New Japans”, Hofheinz and Calder's revamping and advocacy of the name “Eastasia” on cultural and economic grounds suggests that the integrity of “Southeast Asia” as a set of ten countries with enough in common to warrant a single rubric will never be completely safe from the passing fancies of foreign neologists, least of all those who live in a mass-media culture powerful enough to circulate their inventions around the world. (For more on the “Little Dragons” and the “New Japans”, see my Pacific Optimism, Part 1: America after Vietnam: Confidence Regained [Hanover NH: Universities Field Staff International, 1982].) Not that “Southeast Asia” has much to worry about in this case. For the specialized, politically disparate, and spatially dispersed character of “Eastasia”, and the still patently metaphorical ring of “Little Dragons” and “New Japans”, combined with the volatility of intellectual fashions in the Wesi, seem certain to keep these would-be toponyrns out of the gazetteer.

67 Overreacting, I think, to Said's, Edward polemical Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978), Lewis, Bernard (“The Question of Orientalism”, New York Review of Books 29 [24 06 1982]: 49) has decried these changes in connotation as “word pollution”. A neo-Marxist, on the other hand - less defensively than Lewis, and certainly more in tune with Humpty Dumpty - could read into the reconstruing of “Orientalism” not semantic defilement but a historically normal struggle for control over the means of symbolic production.

68 Asia 1983 Yearbook (Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review, 1983), pp. 67.

69 Illustrating this ASEAN-related tendency to think of “Southeast Asia” as something other than “Indochina” is World View (New York: Pantheon, 1982), the English-language version of a French political almanac (L'etat du monde [Paris: Maspero, 1982]), which revives “Indochina” in its pre-World-War-II European meaning of the entire mainland area between India and China (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma), and opposes that toponym to a “Southeast Asia” comprising the ASEAN countries plus Brunei, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Three factors appear to be at work in this case: French pride in a unicorn (“Indochina”) of their own invention, French unwillingness to submit to the conventions of English-speakers, and a decision to sharpen the contrast between the two names by defining “Southeast Asia” in maritime terms as all those countries (except for Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and China) that border the South China Sea.

70 Even if agreement can be reached that Vietnam is simultaneously “East” and “Southeast Asian”, observers will still be able to differ over which label deserves priority. On the “Southeast Asian” side of the latter debate, for example, stands John K. Whitmore, an anthropologically-oriented historian who argues that only in the 19th century did the Chinese model fully override the original flexibility and “looseness”-that is, the “Southeast Asianness” - of earlier Vietnamese society. Therefore, he concludes, “we must study Vietnam in Southeast Asian terms first, and only then from an East Asian perspective”; John K. Whitmore, “Confucian Thought and Social Organization in Vietnam”, paper submitted to the Association for Asian Studies'annual meeting, March 1983, p. 12.

71 For evidence, compare Davidson, Jeremy H.C.S., “Archaeology in Northern Viet-Nam since 1954” and “Archaeology in Southern Viet-Nam since 1954”, in Smith, R. B. and Watson, W., eds., Early South East Asia: Essays in Archaeology, History and Historical Geography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 98-124 and 215–22, respectively. See also the article by the Vice-Director of the Vietnam Social Sciences Committee's Department for Southeast Asian Study, Duong, Pham Due, “How Southeast Asia is Studied in Vietnam”, Vietnam Courier 4 (1982): 1415.

72 The relative neglect of central and southern sites may also reflect their more recent incorporation into Hanoi's jurisdiction, the unimportance of investigating them compared to mobilizing and feeding the southern population, and the difficulty of using them as bridges to ASEAN while Vietnamese intentions in Cambodia remain controversial. Among Chinese denunciations of Vietnamese “aggression and expansion”, see, for example, Dadao, Wang, “Kampuchean Problem: Not a China-Viet Nam Issue”, Beijing Review 27 (4 07 1983): 10. Not that Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian nation subject to such charges. When Vietnamese troops moved towards Phnom Penh in December 1978, one of several options considered by the Thai military was to occupy western Cambodia; Moritz, Frederic A., “‘Domino Theory’ Fanned by Viet Cambodia Drive”, Christian Science Monitor (13 12 1978), p. 3. That alternative was rejected, and Thailand has since followed a mainly defensive policy against Vietnam. Should mainland Southeast Asia in decades to come fall prey to a larger-scale war, however, it is not impossible to imagine Bangkok reacquiring territory lost to Indochina in the wake of World War II. I make this point not to be apocalyptic, but to note that although the general shape of “Southeast Asia” has been reached, agreement on some international borders has not, while the location of others could change. (See Leng, Lee Yong, The Razor's Edge: Boundaries and Boundary Disputes in Southeast Asia [Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1980].) The future is, to say the least, unclear: Extrapolating present efforts to extend and demarcate national sovereignty off shore, one can picture the Tonkin Gulf and the South China Sea as blanks to be filled in and fought over in the late 20th and early 21st century, when the land boundary between “East Asia” and “Southeast Asia” will be completed at sea. But one can also imagine a post-petroleum world in which aircraft and satellites have superseded ships as means of transport and communication, in which case there would be less reason to contest sea-space, and the maritime boundary between “East” and “Southeast Asia” could be left conveniently undrawn.

73 “The ASEAN Declaration”, August 1967, in Center for Strategic and International Studies, Regionalism in Southeast Asia (Jakarta: Yayasan Proklamasi, 1975), p. 173. Encouraging scholarship on Southeast Asia had also been a major aim of ASA; , Gordon, “Indonesian Expansionism”, p. 508. On the paucity of research and education cross-nationally within ASEAN, see, in Bahrin, et al., Colloquium, Bachtiar, Harsja W. on Indonesia (pp. 9095); Tunku Shamsul Bahrin on Malaysia (pp. 98, 100); Patrocinio D. Isleta and Milagros R. Espinas on the Philippines (p. 116); Chia Lin Sien on Singapore (pp. 132-33); Sombat Chantornvong and Thak Chaloemtiarana on Thailand (pp. 172-73, 178, 181).

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Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-4634
  • EISSN: 1474-0680
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