Historical Treaties of Southeast Asia

Serat Sela Rasa 1804. British Library MSS Jav 28 ff. 105v-106r
Serat Sela Rasa 1804. British Library MSS Jav 28 ff. 105v-106r

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.

The project, entitled Contestation or Collaboration? Southeast Asian actors and ideas in building colonial empires, c. 1700–1942, will be closely associated with the Historical Treaties of Southeast Asia Program. The purpose of the project is to investigate how Southeast Asian actors experienced and influenced the processes of empire building by the Dutch and British colonial powers in maritime Southeast Asia (present-day Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) from around 1700 until the end of the colonial period.

Methodologically, the project seeks to idenfity key words and phrases in indigenous Malay source documents and, by using innovative, advanced digital tools, such as automatic text and entity recognition, to trace how these terms were reproduced and understood in historical treaties and other colonial text documents.

The project elucidates how Southeast Asian elites, such as Malay rulers and members of royal families, religious advisors, and other socially and politically influential actors, interpreted and influenced the core legislative framework of colonial rule. In doing so, the project’s research contributes to more multivocal histories and theories of colonialism and international relations in Southeast Asia and beyond.