The scope of diplomacy in pre-nineteenth century insular Southeast Asia: from treaty making to land bargaining
Part 1Session 9
Fri 11:00-12:30 Room 0.16
Part 2Session 10
Fri 14:00-15:30 Room 0.16
- Kathryn Wellen Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies
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Affirming rights over land and resources: evolution in the legal culture of the Malay Peninsula in the 19th century
Elsa Clavé University of Hamburg
The progressive establishment of the British Straits Settlements in the Malay Peninsula between 1786 and 1914 led to a multiplication of diplomatic relations and economic transactions. Besides treaties of friendship and diplomatic letters, different grants of authority (surat kuasa, surat izin membuka kebun, surat sungai) form a type of historical document often overlooked when it comes to understanding the socio-political changes in the region.
Imperial Expansion and Intercultural Diplomacy: Treaty-making in Southeast Asia, c.1700?1920
Stefan Amirell Linnaeus University
Despite a renewed interest in treaty-making in recent years, treaties are often still overlooked by historians of imperialism, not least in Southeast Asia after the turn of the eighteenth century. This paper presents a new research project that systematically analyzes all of the around 600 bilateral treaties concluded between a European, American or Japanese imperial power and a Southeast Asian polity between c.1700 and c.1920. In doing so, the project aims to develop new middle-range theories for understanding modern imperialism in Southeast Asia and beyond.
Indigenous alliances and rivalries in Mindanao and Sulawesi in the face of European-led intervention
Ariel Lopez University of the Philippines
This presentation compares the practices of treaty-making in Mindanao and Sulawesi between various indigenous rulers and Europeans (Spanish and Dutch respectively) from around1700 to 1900. It focuses on two themes: first, the differing yet evolving interests and strategies of the Dutch and Spanish in these regions and second, the crucial role of indigenous alliances and rivalries that predated European presence. It argues that these treaties and the negotiations
that preceded them often resulted from a mutual accommodation of interests that satisfy the demands of the colonial metropole while acknowledging the political realities of these distant frontiers.
Caught in Contracts?: Treaty-making, Diplomacy and Political Negotiation in 19th Century Colonial Indonesia
Maarten Manse Leiden University
I will discuss how in 1879 the Sultan of the small Sumatran polity of Pelalawan accepted the terms of a Dutch imperial treaty, but only in the context of overarching political gameplay, negotiation and intrigue. This demonstrates how in the 19th century flexible, ad-hoc strategies of diplomacy, personal interests, opportunism and negotiation strategies were still at the core of colonial expansion and rule.
Indigenous diplomacy? Pampangan negotiations with colonial authorities in Manila and Madrid
Birgit Tremml-Werner Linnaeus University
In the year 1622, an indigenous village chief from the Province of Pampanga in central Luzon was received in audience with the Council of the Indies in Madrid. His mission was to negotiate the terms and conditions under which the Pampangan nation would provide support to the Spanish colony in the Philippines. For that purpose, the young nobleman set out to first acquire a license from the governor general to board a ship to New Spain for an audience with the king in Spain. During his visit in Manila was showed that he was skilled in bargaining. The story of Diego Marocot and his family illuminates our understanding of regional identities and negotiations in early modern Southeast Asia. It highlights how colonial power was negotiated and negotiable and thus dependent on diplomatic skills. More importantly, it raises new questions about negotiating power of the indigenous population, showing that their political participation went far beyond passive resistance or violent revolts. The fact that the colonial archive frames the encounter with Pampangan military elite as part of its diverse foreign relations with Chinese, Malukan and Dutch, suggests that indigenous diplomacy was multi-facetted and integrated in the international relations of the time.
In recent years the study of historical diplomatic relations has been revitalized. Inspired by actor-based and discourse critical approaches, historians, anthropologists, and international relations scholars have expanded the study of Southeast Asian inter-polity relations, highlighting the importance of kinship, opportunist alliances linked to colonial power dynamics, local religious concerns, and flexible ad-hoc strategies of gift-giving. From the sixteenth century onwards, negotiation processes using traditional, imported and hybrid practices alike left a lasting imprint on the socio-economic realities on the ground. Consequently, a versatile set of foreign policies, diplomatic practices including soft power, conflict management and knowledge gathering, and spatial relations developed in maritime Asia. The aim of this panel is to discuss the ‘political cultures’ implied by these usages. It intends to bring to a better understanding and a better definition of the relationships between Europeans and Southeast Asian rulers, often described along the simple dichotomy of superiority versus inferiority. Instead of domination, which already set the mode of interpretation, the panel proposes the use of negotiation and conciliation as a frame of analysis to consider the versatility of the relation, while at the same time being attuned to the significance of unequal power relations and coercive practices, such as ‘gunboat diplomacy’. Discussing the concepts of power, authority and sovereignty, this panel will focus on uncovering the implication of words and acts in diplomatic and trading relations between Southeast Asian rulers and their counterparts, to bring new lights on Euro-Asian encounters and potentially reshape our understanding of its nature.