About the Talk:
Myanmar’s invasion of Siam during the 1760s was an event with massive geopolitical ramifications for not just the two countries, but also Qing China, Cochinchina (southern Vietnam), and Cambodia. The war created a power vacuum that brought unprecedented levels of influence to the Chinese creole communities along the Gulf of Siam littoral. Mo Cong (Mạc Thiên Tứ), the Sino-Vietnamese leader of the Leizhou settlement of Hà Tiên, on the present-day Vietnam-Cambodia border, provided asylum to the Siamese princes of the fallen Ayutthaya Dynasty, and became the preeminent source of intelligence for the Qing court. Meanwhile, Chaozhou merchants based in eastern Siam, helped their compatriot, the Sino-Siamese Taksin, seize the throne of the kingdom in 1767, and rule for the next 15 years. However, by 1770, tensions between the dialect groups had broken out into bloody warfare. Ultimately, more ambitious state-builders with firm local attachments, in contrast to the transnational cosmopolitanism of the two men, succeeded in solidifying the boundaries of present-day mainland Southeast Asia. On a broader level, this important episode reveals how a Southeast Asian periphery interacted with the Qing, the court’s treatment of overseas Chinese, and the impact of these ties on changes in China’s relative economic position over the eighteenth century.
This talk is free and open to the public. Please RSVP here.
About the speaker:
Xing Hang is Associate Professor of History at Brandeis University. His interests include early modern maritime East Asia, Eurasian comparative history, and overseas Chinese. He is the author of the Conflict and Commerce in Maritime East Asia: The Zheng Family and the Shaping of the Modern World, c.1620-1720 (2015) and co-editor of Sea Rovers, Silver, and Samurai: Maritime East Asia in Global History, 1550-1700 (with Tonio Andrade, 2016). He has also written numerous articles and reviews for major journals, and is a recipient of many grants and awards, including the American Council of Learned Societies and the Michael L. Walzer Prize for Excellence in Teaching.