European colonization has been identified as a key determinant of economic growth and state capacity in many developing countries. Such an account argues that the European powers set up institutions in poor regions that encouraged investment and caused a reversal of fortune. However, this discounts the influence of existing political institutions that were already in place when the colonizers came to the region. In this book project, I use detailed historical data from different Southeast Asian countries to study how precolonial institutions in Southeast Asia have shaped both economic and political outcomes. The findings have important implications for the debate on the role of institutions in shaping economic growth and state capacity.
This Speaker Series is funded by the Erin Jellel Collins Arsenault Trust that supports the Program in Global Governance at ISID.