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Upcoming TCSRS Events

All events are free and open to the public

Fall Term 2017


Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 5pm
Trans-Regionalism and Economic Co-Dependency across the South China Sea
Derek Thiam Soon Heng, Northern Arizona University
180 Doe Memorial Library

South China Sea event image

Throughout history, the South China Sea has been a maritime zone that saw primary economies of its littoral zones exercise influence over smaller, outlying economies by binding the latter into co-dependent relationships with the former. This may be witnessed in such areas as the currency systems adopted by the smaller economies, alignment of foreign and trade policies with those of the larger economies, and in the ways in which the trade of products from one economy to another was developed from being uni-directional and non-crucial, to being one where the economies became mutually dependent. This trans-regional economic phenomenon may be witnessed between China and the Malay Region during the tenth to fourteenth centuries. This paper seeks to explore the multi-facetted nature of the economic interaction between these two regional economies, and how a vertically integrated economic zone developed across the South China Sea over the course of the early second millennium AD between these two economic regions.

Derek Heng is Professor and Chair of History at Northern Arizona University. He specializes in the pre-modern trans-regional history of Maritime Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, utilising textual and archaeological data to study the interactions between Southeast Asia and China, and their impact on the state formation process in coastal Southeast Asia.



Spring Term 2018


Thursday, April 19, 2018, 5pm
Migrants, Monks, and Monasteries: Toward a History of South China Sea Buddhism
Jack Meng-Tat Chia, University of California, Berkeley/National University of Singapore
180 Doe Memorial Library

Migrants, Monks, and Monasteries event image

Chinese migration since the nineteenth century have led to the spread of Buddhism to maritime Southeast Asia. Recently, scholars of Buddhism and historians of Chinese religions have begun to consider the connected history of Buddhism in China and Southeast Asia, using Buddhist records, epigraphic sources, as well as oral history interviews. In this talk, I explore the transregional Buddhist networks connecting Southeast China and the Chinese diaspora from the nineteenth century to 1949. I discuss how new patterns of Buddhist mobility contributed to the circulation of people, ideas, and resources across the South China Sea. I show that, on the one hand, Buddhist monks and religious knowledge moved along these networks from China to Southeast Asia, while money from wealthy overseas Chinese was channeled along the networks for temple building in China; on the other hand, Buddhist monks relied on the networks to support China's war effort and facilitate relocation to Southeast Asia during the Sino-Japanese War.

Jack Meng-Tat Chia is a Senior Tutor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore and currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Born and raised in Singapore, he received his MA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, and his PhD in History from Cornell University. He is currently working on his book manuscript, entitled Diaspora's Dharma: Buddhism and Modernity across the South China Sea. This book seeks to contribute to our understanding of the connected history of Buddhism in China and Southeast Asia.