Southeast Asia Lecture

Southeast Asia Lecture

The Southeast Asia Global village, also expressed as a culture region was previously relegated to the larger (overall) Asian region, but today is designated as lands in Asia South of the Tropic of Capricorn, excluding the Pacific Islands and India.  The courses on this site are not comprehensive or complete in either culture or history, but meant to motivate students to study further.

Early Peoples

Anthropologist, Jared Diamond, wrote in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel, “Hence the history of China offers the key to the history of all of East Asia.”  That said, Live Science recently reported that the oldest modern human skeleton to date was found in Northern Laos. The findings were parts of a skull and teeth found in a limestone cave, believed to be at least 46-51,000 years old.

Many different migrations of peoples,  over long periods of time, have made for much speculation about when ancient peoples began to call this Global Village their home. “Archaelological evidence and genetic data suggest that modern humans rapidly migrated out of Africa and into Southeast Asia by at least 60,000 years ago.” (

The eleven countries that make up Southeast Asia are usually referred to as “mainland” or “island.” Those on the mainland are Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.  The island countries are: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Phillippines, Brunei and East Timor.

Myanmar, believed to be settled as early as 11,000 years ago, is often quoted as being the “gateway” to Southeast Asia.  A trade route from India to Myanmar allowed for diffusion of religions, and politics.  Such cultural components have become incorporated into local cultures.

The Pyu state, in Burma is perhaps the first city-kingdom in this Global Village.  Pyu claimed sovereignty over more than 18 other kingdoms. In the following short video clip you can see many of the cultural artifacts that have been uncovered in this ancient city.

They built timber houses with tile roofs, wore ornamented clothing, and created art using gold, glass and crystal.  They also produced numerous kinds of pottery, as seen in the film.

Later, the Mon culture of Burma, founded by Buddhist monks, followed and became culturally advanced while incorporating indigenous ideas into their art and architecture.  Soon the Kingdom of Pagan arose (849-1300 AD) unifying cultures under Burman domination, which continues today.

The following short animated map clip shows very clearly, and chronologically, how the Southeast Asia Global Village has evolved over time to become what it is today.

A variety of [glossary id=’904′ slug=’ethnic-group’ /], with dozens of cultures, beliefs, and traditions share this Southeast Asian Global Village today.  Some of these ethnic groups are: the Karen, the Akha, the Hmong, the Lisu, the Lahu, the Yao, the Katu, and the Alak and Laven.  They speak many different languages and live in many different environments, from mountains to seashore.

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