By P Boomgaard
Water, in its many guises, has constantly performed a robust function in shaping Southeast Asian histories, cultures, societies, and economies. those essays signify a wide diversity of techniques to the learn of Southeast Asia with water because the valuable topic. because it used to be uncovered to the ocean, the quarter used to be extra obtainable to open air political, monetary and cultural affects than many landlocked parts. easy accessibility via sea routes additionally motivated exchange. although, an identical quick access made Southeast Asia liable to political keep watch over via robust outsiders. the ocean is, in addition, a resource of foodstuff, but in addition of many dangers. whilst, 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 vegetation, and pumped or piped water, as well as water as a provider of sewage and pollutants. eventually, the amount bargains with the function of water in type platforms, ideals, myths, disease, and therapeutic.
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Extra info for A world of water: rain, rivers and seas in Southeast Asian histories
Even the most powerful banker, wholesaler, broker or captain needed access to commercial intelligence, capital, political protection, commodities and markets. For hundreds of years, maritime officials like the saudagar raja (the king’s merchant) and syahbandar (harbourmaster), or financial and commercial specialists like the shroff and comprador, remained indispensable brokers and counselors. Bruce Watson (1987) has also described the ways in which Indian merchants were part of both English East India Company and ‘country’ commercial activities in the century before 1760.
After 1557 Macau provided them with a base for expanding their commerce with Japan, the Philippines and India, and by the mid-seventeenth century the settlement was trading vigorously with Makassar, Manila and Tonkin. 22 As knowledge about more efficient routes spread, sailors adjusted, and the resulting shifts could offer 21 Taylor 1999:158, 173; Lombard 1995:13-4; Bouchon and Lombard 1987:65; Tonnesson 2005; Ptak 1992, particularly the map on p. 30. See also Wang 1998; Ptak 1999; L. Andaya 1999:3; Reid 1996, including the map on p.
He stresses the causality of changing economic circumstances, which encouraged ‘a new type of political power, with a growing emphasis on territoriality, centralisation, cash-cropping economy, absolutism, and the rise of belligerence at sea’. This maritime contraction and changing political climate precedes the ‘mid seventeenth century crisis’ which Reid sees as terminating Southeast Asia’s Age of Commerce. Other historians, however, question the very existence of a crisis. 27 On the surface, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries seem relatively amenable to a Eurocentric approach.