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Project: Imperial Expansion and Intercultural Diplomacy: Treaty-making in Southeast Asia, c.1750−1920

This collaborative research project in Global and Diplomatic History investigates the often overlooked role of treaties in imperial expansion. By systematically analysing all of the around 600 bilateral treaties concluded between a European, American or Japanese imperial power and a Southeast Asian polity between c.1750 and c.1920, the project aims to develop new theories for understanding modern imperialism.

Project information

Project manager
Stefan Eklöf Amirell
Other project members
Hans Hägerdal, Linnaeus University
Eleonora Poggio, Linnaeus University
Birgit Tremml-Werner, Linnaeus University
Ariel Lopez, University of the Philippines, The Philippines
Maarten Manse, Leiden University, The Netherlands
Preedee Hongsaton, Thammasat University, Thailand
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, University of the Philippines, Leiden University and Thammasat University.
Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council)
1 January 2022 – 30 June 2028

More about the project

The first part of the research studies the contents and character of the original treaty documents, available in Asian, European and American archives, and systematically analyses the different translations and versions at hand as well as the inter-cultural, literal and symbolic, meanings of the treaties.

The second part consists of an in-depth study of twelve to fifteen treaty-making processes involving a sequence of treaties between two or more parties over a long period of time. Based on first-hand archival sources, the research aims to unravel the motivations and priorities of the different Asian, European and American actors involved in the treaty negotiations.

Third, the project uses the empirical data to develop new theories and concepts. All available versions of the treaties are published openly online along with the results of the project’s research. The program thus contributes to spread knowledge about some of the most fundamental source documents in the making of the modern world, whose influence continues to reverberate throughout the world today.

The project is part of the research in:
Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies
Cluster for Colonial Connections and Comparisons

Researchers at Linnaeus University

Researchers at other universities

Preedee Hongsaton, Thammasat University, Thailand
Ariel Lopez, University of the Philippines, The Philippines
Maarten Manse, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Picture at the top:

Signatures and seals of  a treaty between Sultan Hamengkubuwono II of Yogyakarta and the Governor of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Leonard du Bus de Gisignies, from 1826. The left column is written in Javanese and the right in Dutch (Nationaal Archief, The Hague).