"Ghosts in the Machine: Technologies of Imperialism in Maritime Southeast Asia"


Friday, September 27, 2019, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


CGIS Knafel K262 Bowie-Vernon Room
Eric Tagliacozzo
Professor of History
Cornell University

This talk looks at three different ways that the colonial state used new technologies to try to pursue the imperial project in maritime Southeast Asia. First, we will look at the role of telegraphs along the coasts of French Indochina in the late nineteenth century. From there, we will analyze the idea of building a trans-oceanic canal across the Isthmus of Kra, in semi-independent Siam (what is today Thailand). Finally, we will also look at the role of lighthouses as Foucauldian instruments of coercion in the outstretched waters of Insular Southeast Asia, or what was then British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies (today's Indonesia). I argue that the shape and shadow of larger, global patterns of domination were evident in these local phenomena, stretching across the world's largest archipelago.

Eric Tagliacozzo is Professor of History at Cornell University.  He is the author of “Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States along a Southeast Asian Frontier” (Yale, 2005) which won the Harry Benda Prize from the Association of Asian Studies, and more recently of “The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca” (Oxford, 2013).  He is also the editor or co-editor of ten other books, including the “Asia Inside Out” trilogy, from Harvard University Press.  He is the Director of the Comparative Muslim Societies Program (CMS), as well as Cornell’s Modern Indonesia Project (CMIP), and serves as editor of the journal INDONESIA.

Event organized by:
Past and Present of Southeast Asia, a New Research Workshop at Harvard University co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Asia Center.
inaugural_lecture_southeast_asia.pdf890 KB