Historical Treaties of Southeast Asia

A research program in global diplomatic history

Historical Treaties of Southeast Asia is a collaborative research program in Global Diplomatic History financed by the Swedish Research Council and running from 2022 until the end of 2027.

A team of seven researchers based in Europe and Southeast Asia investigate the role of treaties and treaty-making in the imperial expansion and colonisation of Southeast Asia from the eighteenth to the early and twentieth century.

The researchers systematically analyse all bilateral treaties concluded between a European, American or Japanese imperial power and a Southeast Asian polity between the eighteenth and early twentieth century. In addition, a selected number of diplomatic treaty-making processes are studied in detail. In doing so, the project aims to bring about a new and more nuanced understanding modern imperialism of relevance not only to Southeast Asia but globally.


Online Seminar: Treaties and Indigenous Rights in Settler Colonies.

The Two Row Wampum Belt
2023-10-24 13:15 - 15:00

Presenter: Saliha Belmessous (Oxford University).

This paper examines the role of treaties in establishing the rights of Indigenous peoples in settler colonies, focusing on Canada and Australia in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In Canada, where Indigenous peoples and Europeans had made treaties, Indigenous peoples relied on these treaties to assert claims to land and self-government against the state. By contrast, the absence of treaties in Australia allowed the government to deny Aboriginal land rights and instead stress the Crown's duty to protect Aboriginal people, who had only two ways of making their claims: violence or the language of protection. This contrasting situation suggests that treaty-making was central to Indigenous peoples' ability to assert the rights they wanted, rather than those they were granted, against imperial and colonial states.


To participate, please register in advance via:

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All Dates

  • 2023-10-24 13:15 - 15:00

Southeast Asian perspectives on British and Dutch colonialism: New research project

Shadow figures depicted in an old manuscript

Historical Treaties of Southeast Asia program member Maarten Manse has been awarded a three-year project grant by the Swedish Research Council to explore the role of Southeast Asian actors in British and Dutch colonialism in the region.

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Colonialism, Slavery and Local Histories in Early Modern Asia

For several hundred years after 1498, seafaring European powers developed and co-opted a complicated network of commercial relations along the coastlands of the Indian Ocean World and Asia. For the most part, they did not open up new waterways but took advantage of existing systems of trade and exchange. European commerce was often established by brute force but also through negotiations and treaties, often in combination with violence or threats of violence.

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Manila, Philippines
Conference organized by the Historical Treaties of Southeast Asia research project.