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: The operation of China’s diplomatic institution in the 19th century, based on the perspective of Chinese envoys in Berlin.

2024-04-12 13:15 - 15:00

Online Zoom Seminar.

The 19th century witnessed significant changes in the relationships between the East and the West. China experienced the arrival of modern diplomatic institutions as highly impactful, and China’s response to these has for long been observed through the classic paradigm of “Impact-Response Theory.” However, an increasing number of case studies have demonstrated and emphasized that modern China’s diplomatic institutions are deeply rooted in imperial China itself. This revelation may prompt a shift in the historical paradigm. While there are similarities between China’s diplomatic institutions and the Western diplomatic system, its practical operation mainly adheres to the political logic of imperial China. The forms these institutions took were not constant but evolved through adjustments made by imperial China according to its actual needs.

Therefore, the functioning of modern China’s diplomatic institution needs to be thoroughly ‘re-researched’ and revaluated. This talk aims to address this significant issue from the perspective of a group of “professional diplomats” – China’s envoys to foreign countries. The talk is divided into two parts. The first part examines the Chinese government’s methods and measures for dealing with Westerners in the 19th century from a macro perspective spanning a long duration, focusing on the establishment and changes of the diplomatic institution. The second part consists of two case studies illustrating how the Chinese envoy in Germany, Lü Haihuan 呂海寰 (1843-1927), handled diplomatic events.

HUANG Tian is a PhD Candidate at Hamburg University studying Chinese diplomatic relations and practices during the Qing era, focusing in partciular on the history of Sino-German relations in the 19th century. He obtained his Master degree at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in 2014. Having received a Bachelor degree in Engeneering before that (at the Northwestern Polytechnical University), he is also interested in the history of scientific and technological exchanges between China and the West, focusing on the history of agriculture and medical exchange. He has authored several articles on these topics that have appeared in the Journal of the National Museum of China, the Chinese Journal of Science and Technology History, the Global History Review and in Modern China.


To participate, please register in advance via:

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All Dates

  • 2024-04-12 13:15 - 15:00

Roundtable Discussion on "Treaties and Treaty-Making in Southeast Asia" held at the University of the Philippines- Baguio

On 26 February 2024, four of our project members participated in a roundtable discussion on historical treaties and treaty-making practices in Southeast Asia at the University of the Philippines- Baguio (UP Baguio). The event was hosted by the Department of History and Philosophy, College of Social Sciences, UP Baguio.

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The 1824 Treaty of London and the Division of the Malay World

As historical anniversaries go, the main event in Sweden in 2024 is the commemoration of ABBA’s victory in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with their song Waterloo. For globally minded historians, however, another anniversary seems at least as important: the bicentennial of the 1824 Anglo-Dutch Treaty, also known as the Treaty of London.

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No upcoming event!