Asian Military history has been the object of increasing academic interest over the past few decades. Geoffrey Parker’s Miltary Revolution thesis, with its “West vs. the rest” dichotomy, sparked a wave of research over the subsequent three decades and has steadily given way to a much more detailed picture of various military developments worldwide and their mutual influence. Global historians, however, still often consider island Southeast Asia, and particularly its Pacific periphery, to have lagged behind from the point of view of their frameworks of the dissemination of military technology. An increasing amount of scholarship contests this perception, calling attention to various forms of Southeast Asian warfare in their own right and showing how effective these could be.
Recent scholarship has emphasized that Southeast Asian warfare was very diverse, and has illustrated that diversity. All the same, Southeast Asia was a region that was both internally interconnected and integrated into the wider world, through a plethora of cultural, economic and political connections of which early modern European colonialism was but one aspect. The panel contributions take these connections and interactions into account, noting the role of European colonial powers, and the way in which European and Asian conflicts influenced each other, but also observing that adaptation of technology, tactics and strategy was not a one-way street from Europe into Southeast Asia but a complex process of mutual influences.
By making novel use of both indigenous sources and European colonial records, the panel presentations will showcase new topics and methods in the study of warfare in early modern island Southeast Asia, and illustrate the ways in which these were entwined with global developments.