This week in the seminar we looked at “big history,” that is, history that is large in scope, be that temporal (i.e., looking at a society over the longue durée) or spatial (looking comparatively at a topic across a large geographic area).
The most famous work on Southeast Asian history that falls into this category is undoubtedly Victor Lieberman’s, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, a work that examines the trend toward state centralization in Southeast Asia over a long period of time, and then places that history in a global context.
Strange Parallels, is thus “big” in its examination of the past at both the temporal and spatial levels.
I’ve assigned Strange Parallels in seminars before, but this time we decided to look at a series of articles that take a “big” approach to the past in various ways by another scholar, historian Eric Tagliacozzo of Cornell University. My intent here was to try to give students a sense of not only what different forms of “big” history can look like, but to also give a sense of what “big” scholarly output looks like as well, as Tagliacozzo has been extremely productive, and in the academic world that is important.
Continue reading “Seminar in Modern Southeast Asian History: Thinking Big (Week 3)”