IV-12. “The Transformation of Economies in Southeast Asia under Colonial Regimes: A Comparative Historical Study” (H28 FY2016)

  • Project Leader:Nishimura Takeshi (Kansai University, Faculty of Economics)
  • Collaborators:Ota Atshushi (Keio University, Graduate School of Economics)
  •                              Okada Masashi (Osaka University, Graduate School of Letters)
  •                              Kakizaki Ichiro (Yokohama City University, International College of Arts and Science)
  •                              Kanda Sayako (Keio University, Graduate School of Economics)
  •                              Kitagawa Katsuhiko (Kansai University, Faculty of Economics)
  •                              Goto Kenta (Kansai University, Faculty of Economics)
  •                              Kobayashi Atsushi (Osaka Sangyo University, Faculty of Economics)
  •                              Shiroyama Tomoko (The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics)
  •                              Shimada Ryuto (The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology)
  •                              Sugihara Kaoru (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Graduate School of Policy Studies)
  •                              Taga Yoshihiro (Osaka University, Graduate School of Letters)
  •                              Taniguchi Kenji (Osaka City University, Economics Education and Research Center, Graduate School of Economics)
  •                              Masaki Toyomu (Kanazawa University, College of Human and Social Sciences: School of Economics)
  •                              Mizuno Kosuke (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  •                              Miyata Toshiyuki (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Graduate School of Global Studies Faculty of Foreign Studies)
  •                              Murakami Ei (Kyoto University, Institute for Research in Humanities)

Outline of Research

We will examine various community changes and transformations in merchant activities under colonial regimes. Primary sources will be analyzed and study groups will be held at least twice annually, with all participants presenting and discussing their findings from a comparative historical perspective. We will identify the characteristics of local economies and merchant activities in Southeast Asia, as well as the roles they played in the global economy. Through comparisons with similar cases in Africa, we will distinguish the unique characteristics of Southeast Asian colonial economic history.


Beginning in the 1870s, regional domination of Southeast Asia was reinforced and local economies were quickly restructured under colonial regimes. Recent research has shown that each of these economies was not simply subsumed, however, but enjoyed a certain level of autonomy in the production of goods for global markets under the initiative of merchants. In this study, we will identify aspects that have not been fully considered in prior research. The study will shed light on the transformation of local economies in Southeast Asia under colonial regimes within the larger frameworks of global economic history and colonial economic history, and investigate whether there were certain universalities in the experience of Southeast Asia. By comparing Southeast Asian cases with those from other regions, we expect to provide a new interpretation of the position of Southeast Asian economies in the global market during the colonial era.


Coconut garden in North Sulawesi
Since the mid-nineteenth century large-scale coconut gardens have been opened in North Sulawesi, in order to collect copra. In many cases farmers plant other crops such as maize between palms, and they say this method is better for palms.