Lecture 8. South East Asian Expansions and Contractions

This lecture helps round out the general story of prosperity that marked southeast Asia between 800 and about 1250. The lecture looks at the Champa and Pagan, the two cultures that flanked the Khmer. All of them were hugely successful in the regional trade business. Champa were not major rice growers. Their wealth came from coastal luxury trade to China. The same was true for Pagan, except that they controlled the over-land route to Dali and then to China. Both of these cultures built with bricks and were masters of that material. The lecture closes by introducing the ‘boom-to-bust’ of the 14th century. There were various reasons, all of which played a part. Ironically it was precisely in this downturn that the Ming Dynasty tried to mastermind an attempt to exert control over the south. But the great and much-heralded voyages were miss-timed (too late) and failed largely because the Chinese, despite centuries of contact, failed to understand the southeast Asian mindset. Their failure precipitated a much discussed ‘turn’ away from trade.

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Lecture Notes