Skip to main content

Widening the Colonial Encounter: Asian Connections Inside French Indochina During the Interwar Period


Relying on three inter-Asian colonial debates from French Indochina, this paper attempts to widen our analytical approach to the study of colonialism in Indochina beyond the ‘colonizer’–‘colonized’ opposition by factoring in the relationships among the diverse Asian colonized living within the colonial state without downplaying the important role Western colonialism played in transforming those very relationships or being affected by them. The French Indochinese case is helpful, for it suggests that inter-Asian connections did anything vanish, but rather intensified because of the colonial experience. Numerous Lao, Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese subject elites continued to engage each other and the French in fascinating and sometimes heated debates about the political, legal, cultural and economic place each group held in French Indochina – or did not want to hold. This directly affected how they came to interact with one another in new ways, essential to understanding the complexity of the colonial encounter at the time and can provide new insights into post-colonial and international history. Lastly, this wider approach to studying the colonial encounter allows us to view the French side of the colonial equation from a new vantage point.

Hide All
Nasir Abdoul-Carime, ‘Les communautés indiennes en Indochine française’, in Siksacakr, No. 7 (2005), pp. 19–24.
Anderson Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991).
Anderson Benedict, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World (London: Verso, 1998), p. 13.
Brubaker Rogers, Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), p. 72.
Careghi Jean-Christophe, ‘Le statut personnel des Vietnamiens en Indochine de 1887 à 1954’, Aix-en-Provence, Université d'Aix-Marseille, 2002.
Cheung Gordon C.K., ‘Involuntary migrants, political revolutionaries and economic energisers: A history of the image of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia’ in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 42, No. 14 (February 2005), pp. 5566.
Cheung Melissa, ‘The legal position of ethnic Chinese in Indochina under French rule’ in Hooker Barry, Law and Chinese in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002), pp. 3234.
Cooper Frederick, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005).
Coppel Charles, ‘The Indonesian Chinese. Foreign orientals, Netherlands subjects, and Indonesian citizen’ in Hooker Barry (ed.), Law and the Chinese in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian studies, 2002), pp. 131149.
Engelbert Thomas, Die chinesische Minderheit im Süden Vietnams (Hoa) als Paradigma des kolonialen und nationalistischen Nationalitatenpolitik (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2002).
Fasseur C., ‘Cornerstone and stumbling block. Racial classification and the late colonial state in Indonesia’ in Cribb Robert (ed.), The Late Colonial State in Indonesia: Political and Economic Foundations of the Netherlands Indies. 1880–1942 (Leiden: KITLV, 1994), pp. 3155.
Forest Alain, Le Cambodge et la colonisation française: Histoire d'une colonisation sans heurts (1897–1920) (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1980), pp. 445448.
Forest Alain, ‘Cambodgiens et Vietnamiens au Cambodge pendant le protectorat français (1863–1920)’ in Pluriel, No. 4 (1975), pp. 3–24.
Forest Alain, ‘Les portraits du Cambodgien’ in ASEMI, Vol. IV, No. 2 (1973), pp. 81107.
Hirschman Charles, ‘The making of race in colonial Malaya: Political economy and racial ideology’ in Sociological Forum, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring 1986), pp. 330361.
Hirschman Charles, ‘The meaning and measurement of ethnicty in Malaysia: An analysis of census classifications’ in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 46, No. 3 (August 1987), pp. 555582.
Hoeffel Ernest, De la condition juridique des étrangers au Cambodge (Strasbourg: Imprimerie Centrale, Ch. Hiller, 1932), p. 7.
Ivarsson Soren, ‘Making Laos our space: Thai discourses on history and race, 1900–1941’ and Iijima Akiko, ‘The Nyuan in Xaignaboury and Cross-border Links to Nan’, in Goscha Christopher E. and Ivarsson Soren (eds.), At the Crossroads: Contesting Lao Pasts (Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2004), pp. 239264 and 165180, respectively.
Larcher-Goscha Agathe, La légitimation française en Indochine: Mythes et réalités de la collaboration franco-vietnamienne et du réformisme colonial (1905–1945) (Paris: Université de Paris VII, 2000).
Lessard Micheline, ‘Organisons-nous! Racial antagonism and Vietnamese economic nationalism in the early twentieth century’ in French Colonial History, Vol. 7 (2007), pp. 171201.
Manela Erez, The Wilsonian Moment: Self Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Maw-Kuey Tsai, Les Chinois au Sud-Vietnam (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1968), p. 38.
Motoo Furuta, Viet Nam trong Lich Su The Gioi (sach tham khao) (Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Chinh Tri, 1998).
Nicolas Louis, Les étrangers et le domaine cambodgien (Paris: Éditions Domat, Montchrestien, 1934), p. 149.
Pairaudeau Natasha, ‘Other Frenchmen, Indian Renonçants in the Colonial Service in Cochinchina’, paper presented at the Euro-Viet Conference, Saint-Petersburg, May 2002.
Patterson Lorraine, Tenacious Texts: Vietnam, China, and Radical Cultural Intersections, 1890–1930, PhD Dissertation (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2006).
Peycam Philippe, Les Intellectuels Sud-Vietnamiens, Essai d'un phénomène émergent, 1917–23 (Paris: Diplôme d'études approfondies, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (IVe section), 1996).
Peyronnet Albert, ‘La rénovation du Cambodge’ in Les Annales Coloniales (31 March 1914).
Phanra Khy, La communauté vietnamienne au Cambodge à l'époque du protectorat français (1863–1953) (Paris: Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 1974), pp. 211219.
Quynh Pham, ‘Phap-du hanh-trinh nhat-ky’ in Nam Phong, No. 58 (April 1922), pp. 253–257.
Saada Emmanuelle, Les enfants de la colonie: Les métis de l'Empire français entre sujétion et citoyenneté (Paris: Éditions La Découverte, 2007).
Saada Emmanuelle, ‘Paternité et citoyenneté en situation coloniale: Le débat sur les “reconnaissances frauduleuses” et la construction d'un droit imperial’ in Politix, Vol. 17, No. 66 (2004), pp. 107136.
Saada Emmanuelle, ‘Volontés de savoir coloniales: les enquêtes sur les métis, 1908–1937’ in Grunberg Gérard and Lakroum Monique (eds.), Histoire des métissages hors d'Europe: nouveaux mondes, nouveaux peuples (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1999), pp. 6585.
Shiraishi Masaya, Phong trao dan toc Viet Nam va Quan he cua no voi Nhat Ban va Chau A: Tu tuong cua Phan Boi Chau ve cach mang va the gioi, 2 volumes (Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Chinh tri quoc gia, 1999).
Solus Henry, Traité de la condition des indigènes en droit privés: Colonies et pays de protectorat (Paris: Recueil Sirey, 1927), pp. 1112, 3545, 55.
Streckfuss David, ‘The mixed colonial legacy in Siam: Origins of Thai racialist thought, 1890–1910’ in Sears Laurie, Autonomous Histories, Particular Truths: Essays in Honor of John Smail (Madison: University of Wisconsin Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1993), Monograph No. 11, pp. 123143.
Subrahmanyam Sanjay, ‘Connected histories: Notes towards a reconfiguration of early modern Eurasia’ in Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (July 1997), pp. 735762.
Nguyen The Anh, ‘L'immigration chinoise et la colonisation du delta du Mékong’ in The Vietnam Review, No. 1 (Autumn–Winter 1996), pp. 158–163.
Kim Tran Trong, ‘Su du lich dat Hai Ninh’ in Nam Phong, No. 71 (May 1923), pp. 383–394.
Winichakul Thongchai, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 1994).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Modern Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0026-749X
  • EISSN: 1469-8099
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 52 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 173 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.