Welcome to Majapahit, the McGill International Review’s blog on Southeast Asia!
Why Southeast Asia? Why Majapahit?
Southeast Asia is a fascinating part of the world because of its staggering diversity. The Majapahit Confederacy was an empire in Southeast Asia from 1293 to 1500. Based in modern Java and Sumatra, the Majapahit Confederacy stretched from Thailand and Manila to East Timor and Brunei. It was one of the last major empires in the region and is one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia’s history. It included a dizzying array of different cultures, bound together by trade, mutual tolerance and the naval power of the Majapahit dynasty.
As a region today, Southeast Asia is home to a wide variety of languages, religions, cultures, and political structures. Within the eleven countries discussed in this blog, you can find four of the world’s largest religions: Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. Dozens of distinct cultures, covering five language families, abound in the region. In addition to its religious diversity, Southeast Asia is home to all kinds of political structures; from an Islamic absolute monarchy in Brunei, to an authoritarian city-state in Singapore, to Vietnam’s Marxist-Leninist single-party state, to the messy, vibrant democracy of Indonesia.
Over the course of a generation, the region has climbed dramatically, with a growing middle class, decreased levels of poverty, and transitions to democracy in a number of states. However, while countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia have flourished economically, Cambodia and Burma remain some of the poorest countries in the world. Meanwhile, the strategic sea routes that run the region, along with the resource riches and booming markets of the region’s nations has made it the target of foreign interest both benign and destructive. Combined with its rich, complicated and often conflicting cultural histories, there is every reason to be interested in learning more about Southeast Asia.
What is Majapahit’s goal?
This blog will discuss political issues and events in Southeast Asia. Majapahit’s goal is to provide a well-rounded, critical view of politics in the region. Majapahit will cover a wide variety of topics including human rights, natural disasters, minority group struggles, ASEAN, and democratic movements.
There are many exciting issues in the region that will draw international scrutiny, such as the gradual liberalization of Burma’s government, which will be covered in this blog. However, Majapahit also seeks to bring attention to other, less-discussed issues that are often ignored in the discourse of the international media. Sources will be provided with blog posts to allow readers a chance to do more in-depth reading
Thank you for following and I hope you enjoy reading Majapahit!