Pirates, States, and Diplomacy in a Multipolar Maritime Asia

Classroom Simulation Exercise

This is an exercise designed to simulate the complex, multipolar maritime world of East and Southeast Asia in the second half of the seventeenth century. It will place students in different roles as armed maritime powers like the Zheng or the Dutch East India Company, continental agrarian powers like the Tokugawa or the Qing and continental trading powers like Siam or Cambodia. For many students, the exercise as a whole may remind them of the mock United Nations conventions they might have experienced before.

World history, Globalization

11-12, Post-secondary

Two 45 minute class periods

The overall purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate three points:

  • The second half of the seventeenth century was a unique moment in East Asian history in which two armed enterprises that engaged in trade and piracy dominated the sea lanes, forcing a range of different powers to respond.
  • The distinction between legality and illegality, and between a legitimate state and an armed pirate enterprise are complex and subject constantly to change. This was especially the case in the early modern period.
  • The world of seventeenth-century East Asia was a multipolar one characterized by multiple permutations and possible alliances. The Qing might ally with the VOC, the VOC with Siam, and so on.

The Instructor Packet includes all lesson preparation and materials for the exercise.

In 1670, representatives from six key maritime and territorial powers across East and Southeast Asia gathered in an undisclosed location to discuss how to resolve the escalating conflict across the region.

Qing China
Mission Briefing
Zheng Maritime Network
Mission Briefing
Dutch East India Company
Mission Briefing
Ayutthaya (Siam)
Mission Briefing
Tokugawa Japan
Mission Briefing
Mission Briefing
This is a sample letter drawn from a previous iteration of the exercise held at Brandeis University.