Michitake Aso’s Rubber and the Making of Vietnam: An Ecological History, 1897-1975 traces the development of Vietnamese rubber plantations from French colonialism, through decolonization, to the end of the Vietnam-American War. Aso treats rubber plantations as laboratories, not only of agricultural and medical (really, public health) knowledge production, but also and mainly as laboratories “for the testing and implementation of different arrangements of power.” In this framework, Aso is interested in three main arrangements of power that map onto the three periods outlined above: colonial power, anti-colonial resistance, and nation-building. The rubber plantation prefigured and was reconfigured by each of these periods’ power arrangements. As the subtitle suggests, Aso’s book is very much an environmental history. Not only does it deploy the environmental history methodology par excellence of non-human agency, it seeks to demonstrate “how humans and nature formed, and were formed by, plantation agriculture” that does not view “transformations in environments and bodies as separate.” In fact, Rubber and the Making of Vietnam reads much more as an environmental history and a history of environmental public health than as a history of technology. It is much more a history of rubber plantations than rubber per se, and while plantations are certainly technological systems, I cannot help but feel that, caught up in all the work Aso wants Vietnam’s rubber plantations to do to tell a political, economic, labor, and environmental history, those plantations do not end up telling much of a technological history. They appear, perhaps only in my reading, for much of the book to be passive scenery to the main action of the story.
There are, of course, exceptions in the narrative where the plantation plays an agentive role, as when various Vietnamese anti-colonial armies tactically used the plantations as the perfect combination of forest canopy aerial cover and underbrushless foot-traffic highway. Most often, though, the rubber plantation and rubber itself recede into the narrative background to give way to higher-order dialogue among elites about peasant welfare, public health initiatives, the late- and de-colonial political quagmire of Southeast Asia, or the constantly thorny imbalance between everyone’s wages and the cost of everything (in sometimes excruciating detail: I now know the cost of everything in 1930s piasters and 1960s dong). The absence of technology in Aso’s history of rubber and rubber plantations is a serious missed opportunity, I think. Early on, in the first chapter, Aso establishes the significant material and symbolic linkages between modernity (via mobility) and rubber — through the shoe, the bicycle, the automobile, and the airplane. Yet the technological modernities explored in Aso’s book seem mostly to do with architectural improvements to plantation facilities and the infrastructural improvements of roads connecting rubber plantations to population centers.
The negative space where technology history should be makes the presence of its absence felt throughout Aso’s story. This present absence is felt not only in the lack of discussion of rubber consumer and military technologies, which seem to be obvious candidates for inclusion, but, for example, when Aso mentions as an aside that the plant growth hormones 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, which agronomists were testing on hevea trees, also happen to be chemical components of Agent Orange: a non-human actor that played an alarmingly consequential role in the history of Vietnam under consideration and one which intersected with the agency of rubber plantations as Viet Minh superhighways (for which Agent Orange was used to defoliate and expose troop movements). Or, to take another example that comes to mind, “Red Earth, Gray Earth” is set up as an organizing framework for the first chapter but the significance of this distinction is never made clear. The reader is left with the impression, after a while, that terre rouge was better for rubber trees and that it was found in rural areas, but it does not enter the story as an agent until the final chapter when Aso, in another aside, remarks that it held its shape and therefore made the tunnels of the Viet Minh army possible. The same clay-rich property of the soil that was relevant to rubber plantations and deforestation (that it could become impermeable hardpan if exposed to water erosion) made it a significant factor in the wars for Vietnamese anti-colonial independence as a means of mobility and safety.
In the context of deforestation, clayish terre rouge became a conduit for the flow of water runoff; in the context of guerilla warfare it became a conduit for the flow of soldiers and materiel. Rubber and the Making of Vietnam is part of a series titled “Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges” and its section titles — “Fluid Borders”, “Circulation”, and “Bleeding the Colonial Economy”, for example — vividly metaphorize the kinds of flows of latex, soldiers, war materiel, malaria, migrant laborers, and knowledge that characterize Aso’s book. Aso compellingly depicts how “plantations promoted certain forms of mobility while inhibiting others within a broader imperial framework” and how this physical mobility of people and things connects to a modernity of mobility. Aso also conjures a rubber- and rubber arboriculture-based metaphorical lexicon in other section titles — “Stamped by Rubber”, “Sapped Strength”, “Planting a Resistance Economy”, “Growing a National Economy”, “Tapping Independence”, “Overstretched” — but I think, missed an opportunity to connect these two sets of metaphors, or to make them do much analytic work, by highlighting the flow of latex from hevea root to trunk to collection bucket to boiler to truck to factory to [insert consumer/industrial/military goods]. This flow of latex, and the viscosity of its flow (altered by ecological, epidemiological, labor, logistical, and geopolitical forces) was a primary historical force in Aso’s 20th century Viet Nam, just not explicitly enough in his narrative to elevate it to the level of conscious historiographic framework.
One more thing I would like to discuss: Aso does an excellent job of making explicit the different chronological patterns of rubber cultivation, from the diurnal cycles of plantation labor, the seasonal cycles of aridity and mosquito demography (and therefore the malaria reproductive cycle), to the generational lifecycles of hevea trees. The seven years of pre-production hevea maturation and the 30 or so years of hevea productivity come to shape the logics of labor and capital. Whereas other industries might responsively react to rapidly changing geopolitical landscapes with timely investments and divestments, a rubber plantation might plant a grove under a French colonial regime, wait for hevea to mature while the Third French Republic falls, morphs into a collaborationist Vichy allowed to exist by the Japanese, the Japanese takeover and expelling of the French, the Japanese abandon Southeast Asia, then the hevea begins to produce latex while successive American-backed “democratic” South Vietnamese regimes wrest control from one another while America, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and China fight a war for ten years, then, by the time the hevea grove is becoming exhausted it’s inside the boundaries of and operating within the economic system of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. There is, put simply, a disjuncture between the tempo of rubber growing and the tempo of economic and political activity, but, on the other hand, a conjunction of the temporal pattern of a rubber plantation’s birth, growth, and maturation, and the birth, growth, and maturation of post-colonial Vietnamese political and economic independence. Aso captures both this disjuncture and this conjunction.
- 5 – Humans have long used rubber: in the Amazon, rubber balls, shoes, and bottles were everyday objects; on the Malay peninsula, knife handles were constructed with gutta-percha, a hard, nonconducting substance closely related to rubber. In the 1830s and 1840s, the development of vulcanization—a process by which rubber could be stabilized at a larger range of temperatures—greatly increased its commercial value. As industrial demand for rubber’s elasticity and impermeability to gas and liquids grew, the material moved from peasant cosmologies into a transnational capitalist system. Soon rubber became intimately associated with industrial society, with one rubber manufacturer calling it “the most astonishing and useful discovery of the nineteenth century, after the practical application of Steam and Electricity.”
- 7-8 – Plantations were key sites for the testing and implementation of different arrangements of power, from imperial domination, to anticolonial resistance, to nation-building programs. Almost every major imperial power and postcolonial nation-state in Southeast Asia was involved in the rubber industry. Violence was an integral part of this experience, and while Rubber and the Making of Vietnam attempts to convey some of the harshness of plantation life, it does not discuss the violence of rubber plantations to the extent of previous scholarship. This book moves away from narratives of victimization and the denials of power that such narratives entail. Rubber workers were not passive victims of the French colonial empire; most were able to exercise some sort of agency and employ “weapons of the weak” amid the daily brutality of plantation regimes.
- 8 – Early twentieth-century plantations were complex socio-technological systems that built on developments in plantation agriculture dating back over a millennium.
- In this way, plantations have been “mid-level places” where the global and the local have met, interacted, and reformed each other, without collapsing into an indistinct “glocal.”
- 9 – In this analogy, the different tumblers of the lock each represent a different factor, such as environments, markets, politics, knowledge, and labor. To operate well, all these factors have to be more or less aligned. This sensitivity of the plantation mechanism has encouraged planters and laborers to pay close attention to local environments. In the case of planters, such attention was a matter of profit; in the case of laborers, such attention was a matter of survival.
- In addition to midlevel places, this book examines midlevel actors, especially those charged with re-creating the global plantation who had to grapple with local environments to create latex. These actors included planters, scientists, government officials, and workers who created and appropriated vernacular knowledge for their projects.
- Largely forgotten scientists such as Henry Morin, Paul Carton, Dang Van Du, and Đặng Văn Vinh did not generate ideas that shaped global practices, but rather took global ideas and attempted to apply them to local circumstances. Depending on the results, these actors could then make claims to have created global knowledge. In this process, the categories of global and local were contingent, dynamic, and constantly redefined by agents positioned as mediators in networks connecting the global and local.
- To put these midlevel actors in their place(s), I think with and against social models such as actor-network theory that have proven useful in examining various assemblages such as plantations.
- 10 – As key enablers, and major beneficiaries, of colonization, experts in tropical medicine and tropical agriculture were also tied to its projects and concerns. They carried out research in agriculture and medicine both to improve native welfare and to strengthen the colonial project
- Few accounts of tropical plantations have taken into consideration how humans and nature formed, and were formed by, plantation agriculture. Plantations have been an iconic form of both slave societies and free peoples, and we cannot understand twentieth-century Vietnamese and Cambodian history without understanding the environmental and health effects of plantations.
- 12 – In narrating the history of rubber production, Rubber and the Making of Vietnam highlights the shifting political economy of scientific knowledge production about agriculture and medicine. Instead of viewing transformations in environments and bodies as separate, this book examines commonalities and differences across these locations, thus reformulating plantation histories from an ecological perspective.
- Building on Johnson’s insight, this book distinguishes between agency and agents, and actors and intentionality. Simply put, agents have agency, or the ability to affect historical processes, and if the agent were not present, or not present in a specific way, events would not have transpired in the way they did. This broad definition is agnostic about intentionality of the agent.
- Mitchell connection, non-human agency
- Rather than strictly define agency, this book follows how historical actors thought of and attributed agency, and for what purpose, in relation to the environment and health. In addition to the question, “Can the mosquito speak?” I document what people said for it/them and what was at stake in those words.
- Direct allusion to Mitchell
- 14 – What tools and vocabulary did rubber plantations provide for would-be nation builders? To explore the specifics of environment, health, and labor in southern Indochina, Rubber and the Making of Vietnam adopts a narrative arc that moves from the French colonial empire to the postcolonial Vietnamese nation. It shows how shifting alignments of science, private capital, and government affected the colonial projects of economic development and the civilizing mission and the postcolonial projects of nation building.
- 14-15 – They show that colonial agronomists and medical researchers treated plantations as experimental sites and used knowledge generated there in their efforts to control Indochina’s peoples and plants, efforts that continued into postcolonial society.
- Epistemic colonialism
- 17 – It [chapter 6] demonstrates the persistence of development ideologies that valued plantations over smallholder production and formal science over informal modes of knowledge, showing the power of the ideology of modernity during the process of decolonization.
- 18 – Meanwhile, North Vietnamese rubber experts worked to extend the range of hevea into more northern latitudes so that latex could flow in the socialist world.
- Viscosity — fluid viscosity and politico-economic viscosity
- 19 – Technological change is not deterministic, and human choices do matter in what technologies are adopted, how they are deployed, and what effects they have. Environments, too, are not deterministic and histories depend on assemblages of material and symbolic natures.
CHAPTER 1: CIVILIZING LATEX
- 24 – This chapter analyzes how a latex frontier was formed and “civilized” by written natural histories and European conquest that allowed planters to establish rubber plantations on the Indochinese peninsula.
- 32 – The tensions between cutters and the Forest Service also left the foresters largely unable to assert their authority over eastern Cochinchina as industrial agriculture moved into the region in the 1910s. The debate about the desirability of industrial agriculture revolved not around an ecological perspective but rather on political and social questions.
- 37-39 – Since the mid-nineteenth century, rubber has become associated with some of the most potent symbols of modern mobility: the shoe, the bicycle, the automobile, and the airplane. In reciprocal fashion, the increasing numbers of these modes of transportation have driven a continual increase in the world market for natural and synthetic rubber. At a local level, establishing rubber plantations both depended on and encouraged the development of transportation and communication networks connecting eastern Cochinchina to the outside world. Indeed, plantations promoted certain forms of mobility while inhibiting others within a broader imperial framework. Various social groups used these changed forms of mobility and immobility to their advantage: planters sought to regulate mobility and immobility to gain profit; colonial officials attempted to manage flows of people within Indochina to better govern; and, even though they exercised little control over the system, Vietnamese workers attempted to take advantage of the opportunities offered by, and avoid the worst consequences of, new patterns of mobility and immobility.
- Viscosity — flows — mobility
- 41 – For the twentieth-century plantations to function, new everyday relationships between humans and nonhumans had to be created. Following the daily motion of a tapper around a tree helps to imagine these diurnal patterns.
- 43 – An ecological perspective also provided a way to understand colonialism as specific material and symbolic flows of things and ideas through systems.
- Likewise, rubber planters, the Việt Minh, government officials, experts, and laborers all articulated different visions of ecological modernity and simultaneously enacted the modernization of ecology, a “double process of intellectual separation and social transformation.”
- 43-44 – Cultivation on plantations during the twentieth century altered hevea’s spatial and temporal ecology in contradictory ways. Spatially, monocultures simplified the tree’s surroundings, while at the scale of individual trees, grafting and crossings increased diversity. Temporally, the overlapping yet distinct time units of years, seasons, and days defined the plantation experience, and while these periods varied across the world, a general plantation rhythm persisted.
- 44 – Unlike the annual cycles of rice agriculture, the perennial hevea tree lent itself to a narrative of birth, growth, maturity, and decay on the scale of decades, which planters understood to include four main phases: clearing, planting, tapping, and regeneration. As one plantation observer put it in 1969, “The generations of Hevea still march closely with the generations of men who produced them.
- 56 – Previous successes of scientific knowledge in controlling nature promoted a blind faith among some administrators in the ability of scientists to provide solutions to problems involved in colonial expansion. Yet, the colonial state was not omnipotent, and “challenging both colonialists’ self-representation and the anticolonialist historiography that overestimated the success of European control over African lives,” Christophe Bonneuil notes, “many historians have recently underlined the epistemic and political weakness of the colonial state.” The next chapter reconsiders the relationship between the state and its experts and the capacity of the colonial state to refashion society and nature.
CHAPTER 2 – CULTIVATING SCIENCE
- 60 – This chapter discusses how individuals, organizations, companies, and states established and spread the intellectual infrastructure and institutions needed to produce rubber. It builds on frameworks that have been articulated by historians and anthropologists to analyze the movement of techno-science in terms of global networks, markets, exchanges, and assemblages.
- 63 – Metropolitan scientists sought to become the hub for the rubber sciences as researchers in France envisioned themselves at the center of a classic Basallian model of center and periphery. In this relationship, the metropole would receive raw data, in the form of answers to questionnaires and plant samples fixed in alcohol, and return processed knowledge contained in advances in growing and processing techniques.
- Red earth in vietnam and in oklahoma — interesting connection
- 76-77 – While planters and experts attempted to correct their own misconceptions about the environment, and sometimes expressed concern for native welfare, they viewed native agriculture as a threat to plantations and either ignored or denigrated these practices. This trend was only exacerbated by the further privatization of knowledge production, and it was not until the 1930s that a few human geographers begin to take seriously the techniques of indigenous farmers.
- 78 – Once the latex began flowing, factories, replanting, and grafting took center stage on plantations. By 1935, rubber trees that had been planted on 1,196 hectares of Snoul’s land in Cambodia in the late 1920s were producing latex, which was processed into rubber in a temporary-use factory, then shipped out on newly constructed roads.
- What about this 7 year maturation period as an historical agent — when combined with the effects of market prices for rubber and booms (in the 1900s and 1920s), I can imagine how this extended period of maturation would create friction in the system — or increase the viscosity of the flow of latex, capital, and modernity
- 82 – The French viewed themselves as diffusing science, while Vietnamese intellectuals worked to actively appropriate scientific knowledge. Vietnamese agricultural agents trained in colonial schools served as key mediators in networks connecting elite and peasant, urban and rural, French and Vietnamese.
- 84 – In a supplementary section written in French, Nguyễn Háo Ca expressed an appreciation for local techniques and offered a resolution to the tension between “traditional” and “modern,” writing that while French agriculture was scientific, Vietnamese agriculture was empirical (empirique) and based on centuries of observation. Citing the Vietnamese use of red ants to protect fruit trees, Ca argued that while French and Vietnamese methods often arrived at the same effect, the former were often costlier and the latter were often more adapted to local conditions. The solution, which paralleled one political platform, was a happy marriage between the two.
- 93 – Such terms were political, and the choice to call malaria epidemic implied an unexpectedness that removed agency from planters and placed it on the mosquito (and plasmodium) itself
- The idea that the transition from endemic to epidemic demands the attribution of agency to mosquitos and malaria
- 129 – Thinking about the lives of tappers on plantations builds on studies of biopolitics by moving beyond a singular focus on bodily processes, and prompts one to consider how the interactions between bodies and their environments should be considered in light of colonial situations. In the case of French Indochina, plantations, like botanical gardens, agricultural experimental stations, hospitals, leper colonies, and laboratories, were designed to act on both the environment and the body. These spaces produced knowledge about plants and pathogens on and in working landscapes, and served as demonstrations about what could be done with nature based on science. In other words, plantations acted on the environment and the self, for a profit.
CHAPTER 4 – TURNING TROPICAL
- 164 – In his role as agricultural engineer, Yêm had a chance to talk with many farmers, and his analysis of conditions in the countryside reflected his awareness of rural conditions. It was the Vietnamese agricultural agents and engineers who made use of the subversive potential of ecological knowledge by pointing to the failures of the colonial state to adequately manage agricultural production or care about the deaths of ordinary Vietnamese.
- 165 – Theoretical developments in tropical agriculture and medicine encouraged the Pasteur Institute to shift from interventions aimed at race (and human bodies) to those aimed at ecology (and environments) as the basis for prevention and treatment. Yet, during the 1930s race continued to appear in discussions about the causes and cures for malaria. Medical researchers continued to link “race” with the nation and when Vietnamese medical doctors justified the expenses of applying malaria prevention efforts to the countryside in the 1930s, race was implicit in much of their nationalist discourse. Furthermore, by linking measurements of blood and spleen to the distribution of malaria among populations, medical doctors encouraged demographic manipulation. In other words, malaria science served to re-territorialize this disease in already racialized bodies that were located in environments, and in nations.
- 166 – Like their counterparts in Southeast Asia, French officials used bodily secretions to judge colonial subjectivity and viewed agricultural practices as the point of connection between bodies and their environments.
CHAPTER 5 – MAINTAINING MODERNITY
- I’m not sure anything that takes place in this book really has anything to do with rubber or rubber plantations specifically. It could be about any kind of plantation in vietnam.
- 192 – The association of rubber plantations with colonial knowledge production and circulation challenged anticolonial leaders to adopt more nuanced views of science. Drawing from Marxist-Leninist analytical tradition, the Việt Minh argued that the colonizers were using capitalist-controlled science and industry to oppress the colonized.
- 204 – Both the French and Vietnamese governments viewed plantations as key symbolic battlegrounds during the First Indochina War as they sought to transcend the colonial legacies of plantations and remake representations of those landscapes. Yet all sides found the social, cultural, political, and economic relationships inscribed on the land through plantations impossible to eliminate.
CHAPTER 6 – DECOLONIZING PLANTATIONS
- Night and day difference narratively between the earlier chapters set in the early 20thC and the later chapters set in the 50s replete with interviews, poems, magazine articles, etc.
- 208 – The intersection of community development with plantation rubber raises the question of agency and intentionality. Local institutions, labor-management interactions, and hevea’s ecology challenged global ideologies by defining the limits of land use and by shaping development outcomes toward local ends.
- Yes but how?
- 209 – Such costs made it difficult for farmers to succeed as smallholders, even as the ideology of modernity continued to value plantation output over smallholder production, and formal science over informal modes of knowledge. In this way, colonial legacies continued to structure thought and behavior regarding rubber and to channel human-environment interactions on the plantations of post-1954 Việt Nam into patterns that resembled those of their colonial predecessors.
- Seems to be much more a book about malaria than about rubber
- 241 – Determining how to increase the quality and quantity of latex production (measured as dry rubber content) through a “total treatment” was a complex task because it was almost impossible to control for all the variables. Researchers had to factor in the time of year that the fertilizer was applied, the weather, the effects of stimulation through the injection of micronutrients such as iron, copper, and boron, density of planting, tapping methods, and the selection of individuals. Researchers also experimented with the plant growth hormones 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, the same compounds that formed the herbicide commonly known as Agent Orange. . . . Finally, researchers studied the relationship between microbial infection of hevea and the amount of latex produced. Initial research suggested that higher levels of microorganisms were correlated with greater levels of latex, though this relationship was not necessarily causal. Scientists suggested that “the factors tending to increase the productivity have for a secondary effect to produce a latex more susceptible than the others to be infected.” It appeared that the trees bred to be latex machines were also more likely to be sick. D. H. Taysum at the Rubber Research Institute of Malaya even proposed using hevea as a model organism to understand how plant immunity worked.
- 244 – The post-1954 fate of the rubber industry raises again the question of why Việt Nam was unique in terms of the degree of de facto exclusion of smallholders from rubber production. Part of the answer lies in technological momentum, or the way in which human decisions become layered in assemblages, both material and symbolic, which become difficult to alter. In other words, once “solutions” have been found to “problems,” as defined by understandings of hevea’s biology and symbolism surrounding rubber, they become settled. Another part of the answer comes by placing rubber in the context of community development projects. Rubber plantations occupied an ambiguous place ecologically in the foothills and rhetorically in community development. Plantation space, high production levels, and control by transnational capital marked them as emblems of high modernism.
- 245 – This chapter examines the interactions of the Vietnam War and plantations and returns to some of the long-term environmental and social consequences of rubber for Việt Nam.
- Plantations were liminal spaces that brought together nature and culture, north and south, peace and violence, and rubber production remained an important ideological and material battleground from 1963 to 1975
- 245-46 – As the U.S. military increased its presence, it sought complete control of the environment via herbicides and weather modification programs. Because plantations were economically valuable to the French and south Vietnamese, the U.S. military was limited in its ability to spray herbicides, drop bombs, and command plantation space. Plantations offered additional advantages to insurgents because they existed outside the control of the RVN, offered cover from airplanes and access to Sài Gòn, and were positioned on international borders.
- 259 – The region’s red clay held its shape for the “NY Subway system” and thus shaped fighting.
- 276 – The protean nature of plantations meant that communists could co-opt rubber for their own vision of modernity. This reappropriation stood in stark contrast to the ravages of the Vietnam War, which had brought much destruction to the plantations.
- 278 -Technopolitics during the Cold War is often viewed in the blinding light of the atomic bomb and other “big” sciences. This chapter has advanced discussions of Cold War science by examining an industry and governmental actions that were not particularly costly, which relied on techniques and ideas elaborated in the first half of the twentieth century, and whose practitioners faced questions of race and science in former colonies. The rubber industry was left in French hands well into the 1960s, with science caught between empire and nation. It is not surprising that the postcolonial rulers of the RVN, the DRV, and the SRV attempted to gain legitimacy through a cosmopolitan concept of modernity and access to scientific knowledge production.
- 279 – Rarely do these histories consider the role of violence in transforming colonial landscapes into national ones. Today, with the expansion of Vietnamese rubber companies into Cambodia and Laos and nationalistic outcries over Chinese-controlled bauxite mining operations, hybrid landscapes should be considered potent tools for Vietnamese nationalism, expansionism, and environmental change.
- Hybrid landscapes
- 280 – The expertise of many workers who had served under the French and the Americans was wasted, as they either were sent to reeducation camps or were simply unable to find employment. Many plantation skills, as former rubber workers pointed out, could be learned only through demonstration and physical activity, and without qualified workers, the industry had to be rebuilt almost from scratch.
- Intergenerational knowledge transfer, a la traditional knowledge
- 283 – The environmental legacy of rubber plantations is still controversial. Sensing growing environmental awareness, especially climate concerns, managers have attempted to redefine plantations as “forests” rather than “agriculture” and receive credits under carbon-counting programs.12 Not surprisingly, most historians’ evaluations of rubber’s impact on the environment are negative and tend to focus on the deforestation that occurred during the process of extending plantations.
- With arboriculture — always straddling the line between field and forest
- 284 – Plant and animal movement, coupled with human migration in Việt Nam, resulted in mixed environments that were composed of people, plants, and animals from across the globe. Plantations served as experimental sites for the European powers and helped transform agricultural and medical practices and theories. These colonial enclaves served as foci for agronomists and medical researchers, colonial officials, private enterprises, and social activists, generating practices and discourses that anticipated and helped bring about postcolonial development and nation-building projects. Finally, as rubber knowledge became an object of sharing, competition, and modeling across colonial empires in Southeast Asia, it helped create the material and mental networks that gave substance to that region.