The political and religious identities of Southeast Asia were largely formed by the experiences of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, when international commerce boomed before eventually falling under the domination of well-armed European powers intent on monopoly. This book is the first to document the full range of responses to the profound changes of this period: urbanization and the burgeoning of commerce; the proliferation of firearms; an increase in the number and strength of states; and the shift from experimental spirit worship to the universalist scriptural religions of Islam, Christianity, and Theravada Buddhism.
Bringing together ten essays by an international group of historians, Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era shows how various states adapted to new pressures and compares economic, religious, and political developments among the major cultures of the area.
"The most eloquent yet judicious statement available of Southeast Asia's status and nature as a distinctive region. Those still under the impression that Southeast Asia is nothing more than a wildly diverse jumble of societies... need to spend some quality time with what Reid has to say here on the issue."