By P Boomgaard
Water, in its many guises, has regularly performed a robust function in shaping Southeast Asian histories, cultures, societies, and economies. those essays signify a wide diversity of ways to the learn of Southeast Asia with water because the critical subject matter. because it used to be uncovered to the ocean, the quarter used to be extra obtainable to outdoor political, financial and cultural affects than many landlocked parts. easy accessibility via sea routes additionally influenced exchange. notwithstanding, an identical easy accessibility made Southeast Asia susceptible to political keep watch over by means of powerful outsiders. the ocean is, additionally, a resource of nutrition, but additionally of many dangers. even as, Southeast Asian societies and cultures are faced with and permeated via "water from heaven" within the kind of rain, flash floods, irrigation water, water in rivers, brooks, and swaps, water-driven energy crops, and pumped or piped water, as well as water as a provider of sewage and toxins. eventually, the quantity bargains with the function of water in class structures, ideals, myths, sickness, and therapeutic.
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Extra info for A world of water: rain, rivers and seas in Southeast Asian histories
From a European perspective it all seemed fairly straightforward. There was an undoubted shift mid-century, with the Dutch East India Company and Indian shippers losing ground to English (or Scots) and, somewhat later, American, country-traders. This applied in both the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea, where commodities like tea and opium became increasingly important. This cold wind was felt most obviously by the Indian skippers. As Ashin Das Gupta (1987:140) observed, ‘Asian ship-owners had always found it difficult to compromise with the Europeans because of the competition for the carrying trade, while the shore-based merchant had found accommodation both possible and often desirable’.
S. Arasaratnam (1987:113) concludes that while Southeast Asia’s commerce with Gujerat may not have grown in the seventeenth century, it did not decline. Coromandel’s age-old commerce with Southeast Asia, notably Malacca, the Burmese and Thai coasts, as well as Malayan ports (Kedah, Perak, Johor), Aceh, Jambi and Banten, remained so profitable that east Indian merchants persisted in visiting there despite tariffs and fees imposed in Dutch controlled ports. Coromandel trade with the independent states of mainland Southeast Asia flourished.
Howard Dick (1987:5) notes that between 1869 and 1879 ‘the tonnage of steamships entering Singapore increased fivefold while that of sailing vessels (excluding Malay craft) declined by more than a quarter’. Steam also made its appearance on the great rivers, a notable example being Burma’s state-subsidized Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. 35 But in later decades the military, industrial and managerial skills of the Europeans gave them crushing advantages in that increasing number of sectors that they found both interesting and accessible.