Journal Reco. “Sino-Pacifica”: Conceptualizing Greater Southeast Asia as a Sub-Arena of World History

Map of Southeast Asia
Image via Wikipedia

I just got my hands in a great article on Southeast Asia issues.  Here’s the abstract for the article (via Project MUSE) and I hope you’ll get to enjoy it too,

Conventional geography’s boundary line between a “Southeast Asia” and an “East Asia,” following a “civilizational” divide between a “Confucian” sphere and a “Viet­nam aside, everything but Confucian” zone, obscures the essential unity of the two regions. This article argues the coherence of a macroregion “Sino-Pacifica” encom­passing both and explores this new framework’s implications: the Yangzi River basin, rather than the Yellow River basin, pioneered the developments that led to the rise of Chinese civilization, and the eventual prominence of the Yellow River basin came not from centrality but rather from its liminality—its position as the contact zone between Inner Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

In a sense . . . the frontier of Southeast Asia has retreated slowly from the line of the Yangzi (in what is now central China) to the Mekong delta (in what is now southern Vietnam).

—Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia

[T]he Vietnamese-Lao wars of the seventeenth century were resolved wisely when the Le rulers in Vietnam and the Lao monarch agreed that every inhabitant in the upper Mekong valley who lived in a house built on stilts owed allegiance to Laos, while those whose homes had earth floors owed allegiance to Vietnam.

—The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History [End Page 659]

The question of boundaries is the first to be encountered; from it all others flow.

Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II

In conventional geography, the largest division of the human community is the continental or subcontinental scale “world region.” World regions are the most useful as concepts when their boundaries can be seen as enduring, immobile, and, above all, easy to map. Yet, in the first quotation above, we see a border between two world regions, Southeast and East Asia, that rolls southward thousands of miles over thousands of years. In the second quotation, we see a border between two kingdoms within the same world region, Southeast Asia, that cannot be traced as a simple line on the ground, being created by the contrasting cultural preferences of inextricably mixed populations. The moving boundary and the undrawable boundary are actually the same, the frontiers between Sinified Vietnam and its un-Sinified neighbors.

Finally, we are 7 Billion

Video: 7 Billion,National Geographic Magazine

The human population on planet Earth has reached for the first time in history 7 billion  as reported by the United Nations[1]. As of today, October 28, 2011 at  16:44 (GMT+1) it was estimated to be 6.92 billion by the United States Census Bureau[2] and you can check their World Population Clock.  and 7 billion by .  But also, we can also acknowledge that this is also the first time in human history in which most humans have access to medical services, potable water, electricity.

As Susa Lewis from Nova acknowledges, “For most of human existence our ancestors led precarious lives as scavengers, hunters, and gatherers, and there were fewer than 10 million human beings on Earth at any one time. Today, many cities have more than 10 million inhabitants each, and populations continue to skyrocket.”

Largest Urban Agglomerations, 1975, 2000, 2025

Source: United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision.
Source: United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision.

Also, the UN World Urbanizaiton Prospects reviewed that “Through most of history, the human population has lived a rural lifestyle, dependent on agriculture and hunting for survival. In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 1900, almost 14 percent were urbanites, although only 12 cities had 1 million or more inhabitants. In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population resided in urban centers. In 2008, for the first time, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. There were more than 400 cities over 1 million and 19 over 10 million. More developed nations were about 74 percent urban, while 44 percent of residents of less developed countries lived in urban areas.”

World Population Cartogram

Nova has the following interactive map in which you can trace the dramatic growth of human populations over recent centuries, and see where on Earth as many as three billion more people may live by 2050.

Launch InteractivePrintable Map Version

New challenges for humans will continue appearing with so many of us living here.  However, it is not the number what really matters but how we are all going to live here.  Currently, Thomas Malthus famous argument from 1798 in which he said “that population growth was a critical problem, reasoning that because human population grows exponentially while our food supplies grow linearly, that our growth would lead to massive problems” has already been proven wrong.

But what has still not being solved is the current philosophical crisis in which we live.  For a great part of human history, the world has been ruled by a collectivist philosophy of life that in the words of Ayn Rand “promoted the subjugation of the individual to a group (kings, oligarchs, nobility, religions, patrimonialists, corporations, parties, communities)—whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called “the common good.” The previous sentences are very important and cannot be passed without understanding its historical results.  You can further explore them in the work of Leonard Peikoff titled “The Ominous Parallels“.

For more information regarding human population check the following links: