Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand 
why the old poets of China went so far
and high 
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
"The Old Poets of China" by Mary Oliver

The replay of the lecture, “Finding Intimacy in Asian History: Notes on Pain and Pleasure,” and the virtual launch of the "Dr. Peter Boomgaard Southeast Asia Collection,"  held on 25 November 2020, is now available on YouTube.


Peter Boomgaard's path-breaking book, Children of the Colonial State: population growth and economic development in Java, 1795-1880, published in 1989, radically changed the way historians of Indonesia think about Java's social and economic development in the 19th century. In just one of many exceptionally well-argued chapters, Boomgaard makes the persuasive case for the inclusion of marriage customs, family life, and sexual behavior in economic analysis. Ranging from 9th century temple reliefs and sculpture, to indigenous literatures and foreign travel accounts, this lecture highlights practices of sex, birth, contraception, courtship, and the characteristics and dissolution of marriage, across cultures, time, and space, to discuss the central importance of intimacy and eroticism in Asian historiography.


Dr Rachel A.G. Reyes is an academic historian and Philippine current affairs commentator. She obtained her PhD in Southeast Asian History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and was a British Academy postdoctoral fellow. She is the author of Love, Passion and Patriotism: Sexuality and the Philippine propaganda movement in Europe, 1882-1892, editor of Art, Trade and Cultural Mediation in Asia, 1500-1950, co-editor of Sexual Diversity in Asia, c. 600 BCE to 1950, and numerous journal articles on gender and sexuality, history of science, medicine and technology, and early modern global trade and local cultures in Southeast Asia. Her latest work, “Sex in Manila in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” will appear next year in The Cambridge World History of Sexualities.


The “Dr. Peter Boomgaard Southeast Asia Collection” holds approximately 1500-2000 books, monographs and edited volumes, including data materials from Indonesia's National Archive in Jakarta.
Largely written in English and Dutch, the materials in the collection focus on disparate subjects ranging from economic, social, cultural, environmental, agricultural (forests, non-timber products, staple crops including rice and sugar), and scientific histories of Asia (mainland and southeast), particularly Indonesia. It also includes miscellaneous works on European history and politics.
The collection also includes issues of reputable journals, the titles of which include Environmental History, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, Environment, and History. The archive data sources culled from Indonesia's National Archive are organized by geographic region. These sources, covering the period from 1600 to 1950, are largely statistical, compiled from colonial government censuses relating to births, marriages, and deaths.

A handwritten card reference catalog by Dr. Boomgaard is also a notable inclusion in the collection, which will be valuable for researchers working on topics concerning demographic, agricultural, and labor history of the Dutch East Indies. The collection was donated by his widow, Dr. Raquel A.G. Reyes, a historian and newspaper columnist.


Dr. Boomgaard (1946 – 2017) was Professor of Economic and Environmental History of Southeast Asia, University of Amsterdam. He was also former Director and Senior Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies/Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (KITLV) in Leiden. He specialized in Indonesia, with a particular focus on Java, authoring many books, edited volumes, and journal articles on demographic, social, and environmental history.


This  activity is part of a webinar series held in celebration of Asian Center’s 65th Anniversary, with the theme “Asian Center @ 65: Zealously Cultivating Ideas, Ceaselessly Inspiring Minds Across Asia.” 

The UP Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D.  program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. For an overview of these graduate programs, click here. The Asian Center also publishes Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia, the latest issue of which can be downloaded at the journal's website. For other news and upcoming events at the Asian Center, click here.