SSEASN - Transformers: Merchants, Missionaries & Monks as Colonial Brokers in South & Southeast Asia

204 Dwinelle
M 2-4:59
4 or 2
Edwards, Penelope

This seminar explores cultural intermediaries  in 17th to early 20th century Southeast Asia, l’Inde française and Sri Lanka. Such actors included Armenian merchants, Chettiar moneylenders, Sino-Burmese civil servants, Irish Buddhists, Tamil catechists and Vietnamese Catholic campaigners. Active across linguistic and political boundaries but often hidden in/from history, such figures complicate the binary of colonized and colonizer, and resist confinement in conventional disciplinary grids. 

Our course texts will transect biography, memoir, micro-history – genres suited to the fluid roles of such individuals. Anchoring our discussions in quotidian histories, we will consider the possibilities of different archives, and reference wider questions of mobility, migration, religion and translation. Assessment is via discussion, brief reflection papers, a research journal, and the design, presentation and completion of a research project on a historical actor of the student’s choice. Students enrolling in the 2-unit option must attend all classes but may pro-rate their assignments in consultation with Prof. Edwards.   

Graduate students researching all regions and periods of colonial history are welcome to join this course.

Note: Transformers is a prequel to Prof. Edwards’ Spring 2018 SSEAS 250 Seminar, which will focus in depth on Chinese in Southeast Asia from 1500s to 2000s.  

Questions? Email pennyedwards [at] berkeley [dot] edu

Fall 2018