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Webinar: Chinese Settlement in the Mekong River Delta, 1400-1700: A New Interpretation

Date and Time: Sept 21, 2022 | 12:00pm-1:30pm HST

Register via Zoom webinar [new window]

It is commonly assumed that a sustained Chinese presence in the Mekong River Delta first occurred during the late seventeenth century, when Ming loyalist refugees fleeing from their homeland sought and received permission from the Nguyen lord of Cochinchina, in present-day central-southern Vietnam, to settle down and open up the land. In fact, a close examination of primary documents, some of them rarely utilized, reveals, the Chinese presence in the delta long preceded the seventeenth century. Moreover, the Ming loyalists themselves were independent actors who participated in the scramble for this sparsely populated frontier through cooperation and competition with Cochinchina, Cambodia, and Siam, as well as strategic submission to one or more of the three state actors. At the same time, they faced opportunities and constraints in the politics of their homeland, including the triumph of the Manchus and China’s reemergence as a naval power. Through an examination of Chinese settlement in the Mekong Delta, this talk highlights how they reflected and contributed to the “Chinese century” in eighteenth-century Southeast Asia.

Dr. Xing Hang is Associate Professor of History at Brandeis University. His interests include early modern maritime East Asia, Eurasian comparative history, and overseas Chinese. He is the author of the Conflict and Commerce in Maritime East Asia: The Zheng Family and the Shaping of the Modern World, c.1620-1720 (2015). He has also written numerous articles and reviews for major journals, and is a recipient of many grants and awards, including the American Council of Learned Societies and the Michael L. Walzer Prize for Excellence in Teaching. He is currently working on a project about Chinese settlement and state-building on the Vietnam-Cambodia border during the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries.

Dr. Wensheng Wang, Associate Professor of History at University of Hawaii at Manoa

Moderator: Dr. Miriam Stark, Anthropology (ANTH), UH Mānoa, Hawaiʻi