Water Frontier: Commerce and the Chinese in the Lower Mekong Region, 1750-1880

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Rowman & Littlefield, 2004 - History - 202 pages
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Water Frontier focuses principally on southwest Indochina (from modern southern Vietnam into eastern Cambodia and southwestern Thailand), which it calls the Lower Mekong region. The book's excellent contributors argue that, during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this area formed a single trading zone woven together by the regular itineraries of thousands of large and small junk traders. This zone in turn formed a regional component of the wider trade networks that linked southern China to all of Southeast Asia. This is the "water frontier" of the title, a sparsely settled coastal and riverine frontier region of mixed ethnicities and often uncertain settlements in which the waterborne trade and commerce of a long string of small ports was essential to local life. This innovative book uses the water frontier concept to reposition old nation-state oriented histories and decenter modern dominant cultures and ethnicities to reveal a different local past. It expands and deepens our understanding of the time and place as well as of the multiple roles played by Chinese sojourners, settlers, and junk traders in their interactions with a kaleidoscope of local peoples.

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Selected pages


The Water Frontier An Introduction
Chinese Trade and Southeast Asian Economic Expansion in the Later Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries An Overview
EighteenthCentury Chinese Pioneers on the Water Frontier of Indochina
The Junk Trade between South China and Nguyen Vietnam in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
The LateEighteenth and EarlyNineteenthCentury Mekong Delta in the Regional Trade System
The Nguyen Dynastys Policy toward Chinese on the Water Frontier in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century
Siam and the Contest for Control of the TransMekong Trading Networks from the Late Eighteenth to the MidNineteenth Centuries
Ships and Shipbuilding in the Mekong Delta c 17501840
Water World Chinese and Vietnamese on the Riverine Water Frontier from Ca Mau to Tonle Sap c 18501884
The Internationalization of Chinese Revenue Farming Networks
A Coastal Route from the Lower Mekong Delta to Terengganu
About the Contributors

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About the author (2004)

Nola Cooke is research fellow in the Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.
Li Tana is senior fellow in the Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

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