Lecture: Chinese Involvement in the Trade of Eastern Indonesia in the Early Modern Period


About the Lecture

This presentation focuses on Chinese trade activity in eastern Indonesia, home of many of the most desired products in the China market. The “trinity of spices”—clove, nutmeg, and mace—are indigenous to northern Maluku, while sandalwood, tortoiseshell, and tripang were found in greater quantities in eastern Indonesia than elsewhere in the world in the early modern period (c. 1400 – c. 1830s). While much has been written about the international Chinese routes between China and Southeast Asia, far fewer studies have focused on the vital role played by local Chinese in making the system work. Even a cursory examination of the documents reveals the intricacies of regional trade beginning with the various Kapitan Cina based in Batavia, Makassar, and smaller port towns; to the secondary collectors scattered throughout the island world; and finally the Chinese individual traders long resident in the local communities who were the main interface with the primary collectors or were collectors themselves. It is a testament to the adaptability of the Chinese to local conditions and cultures that made them indispensable in trade, as well as in mining, planting of cash crops, and in providing the necessary services that enabled the European port cities of Melaka, Manila, and Batavia to survive and prosper.

About the Speaker

Leonard Andaya, Visiting Senior Fellow at NSC, is a Professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in Honolulu. He has written extensively on the early modern history of Southeast Asia, particularly on Indonesia and Malaysia. His most recent books are Leaves of the Same Tree: Trade and Ethnicity in the Straits of Melaka (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008), and with Barbara Watson Andaya, A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). His current research focuses on the complex network of relationships in eastern Indonesia that helped bind together the disparate cultural communities into a functioning unity in the early modern period. It offers a non-state model of a polity that can be applied to peripheral societies in the seas, the jungles, and the hills, not only in Southeast Asia, but in other parts of the world.

To register, please fill in this form and email to nscevents@iseas.edu.sg by 8 June 2016.


Jun 09 2016


10:30 am - 12:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2