Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism and Political Identity in Southeast Asia (Paperback)
  • Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism and Political Identity in Southeast Asia (Paperback)
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Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism and Political Identity in Southeast Asia (Paperback)

(author)
£21.99
Paperback 264 Pages / Published: 19/11/2009
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The mid-twentieth century marked one of the greatest watersheds of Asian history, when a range of imperial constructs were declared to be nation-states, either by revolution or decolonisation. Nationalism was the great alchemist, turning the base metal of empire into the gold of nations. To achieve such a transformation from the immense diversity of these Asian empires required a different set of forces from those that Europeans had needed in their transitions from multi-ethnic empires to culturally homogeneous nations. In this book Anthony Reid explores the mysterious alchemy by which new political identities have been formed. Taking Southeast Asia as his example, Reid tests contemporary theory about the relation between modernity, nationalism, and ethnic identity. Grappling with concepts emanating from a very different European experience of nationalism, Reid develops his own typology to better fit the formation of political identities such as the Indonesian, Malay, Chinese, Acehnese, Batak and Kadazan.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521694124
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 430 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'Imperial Alchemy is a masterful historical account of how homogenizing ideologies and structures of the modern state transformed an already diverse set of identities into the current myriad forms of nationalist and political identities. Using his remarkable depth as one of the most respected historians of Southeast Asia, Reid skillfully traces the evolution of diverse political identities in various locations of the region, from their colonial legacies to the modern day, without sacrificing the richness of precision and detail. This book is a major contribution to the study of nationalism and ethnic identity in Southeast Asia.' Jacques Bertrand, University of Toronto
'Exceptionally stimulating, Imperial Alchemy integrates precolonial and colonial history, mainland and island Southeast Asia, Southeast Asia and the wider world to produce an entirely novel perspective on Southeast Asia's diverse and idiosyncratic political identities. This is an outstanding example of the originality and breadth of vision everyone associates with Tony Reid.' Victor Lieberman, The Marvin B. Becker Collegiate Professor of History and Professor of Southeast Asian History, The University of Michigan
'How is it that the imperially-shaped states and borders of Southeast Asia have shown such tenacious resilience in the face of the bewildering ethnic variety of the region? Anthony Reid's stylish, magisterial Imperial Alchemy explores how 'the base metal of empire' was 'transmuted into the gold of nationhood'. Drawing on a lifetime of close research into local histories of identity of Southeast Asia, Reid combines probing theoretical reflection, brilliant synthesis, and a command of the intricacies of regional ethnicity as broad as it is unmatched to create an absorbing, provocative account of the often troubled gestation and maturation of the nation-state in Southeast Asia.' R. E. Elson, The University of Queensland

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