The Making of 20th Century Southeast Asia

Module Summary

This module sets the stage for the events leading to World War II by tracing the role of both the Japanese and Western powers (Portuguese, Dutch, British, French, and American) in Southeast Asia beginning in the 16th century. Materials discuss the economic interests of the Japanese and Europeans in the Southeast Asian region and the political forces that shaped this involvement. It also covers the transition in the relationship between European powers and Southeast Asian states as Western powers transition from trade and mercantilism, to colonialism, and eventually imperialism.

This module is based on the presentation given by Barbara Andaya (Professor of Asian Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa) at the East-West Center’s 2011 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute for Teachers.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this module do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the East-West Center.

Optional Reading

The optional reading for this module is: Nicholas Tarling, A Sudden Rampage: The Japanese Occupation of Southeast Asia

Teaching Materials

PowerPoint lecture part one and part two
Lecture notes with timeline
A blank geographical map of the region
A summary of the reading for teachers and students

Key topics include: Batavia/Jakarta, kingdoms, capitalism, Chinese minorities, Christianity, Communism, culture and cultural exchange, development, Dutch East Indies/Netherlands Indies, East India Company, European powers, French Indochina, imperialism/colonialism, independence movements, Islam in Southeast Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia/Island Southeast Asia, Malaya/British Malaya, Melaka (Malacca), nationalism, revolution, Spanish rule/American rule, spice islands, spice trade, trade and the economy, VOC, warfare and combat, wet rice cultivation

We welcome comments from teachers on how you have integrated this material into your teaching, including what was useful and what wasn’t, and what additional resources you would like to see in or recommend for this module.