HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 59 no. 1 (2013)

The Complexity of Anti-colonial Movements in Southeast Asia beyond the Confines of the Nation

Maureen Cristin S. Justiniano

Discipline: History



This study examines the intricacy of anti-colonial movements in Southeast Asia and asserts the need to recognize the complexity of these movements as more than just localized manifestations of peasant upheavals without connection to the urban center. Since the period of decolonization, scholars of the region have gravitated towards creating distinctions and categories (i.e. elites vs. masses; colonizers vs. colonized; urban societies vs. rural peasantry; modernity vs. tradition, etc.) that clearly established fragmented historical narratives in a valiant effort to give voice to those who were missing from the written records. However, the problem inherent in this approach is that it allows the (re)construction of an historical tradition for the marginalized peoples such as the peasantry devoid of external influences from predetermined social and geopolitical spheres. While it is important to ensure equal representation among historical actors, it is also imperative not to undermine the very multifaceted and fluid nature of Southeast Asian societies that are shaped by close and diverse and dynamic interactions.