To what degree does geography impact diversity in Southeast Asia?
It may not sound like geography could impact diversity and culture, but the truth of the matter is that geography plays a very important and major role in the diversity of Southeast Asia.
Religion may sound like something that cannot be tampered with just through geography but it can and was in Southeast Asia. This area of the globe is in relatively close proximity to India, a country with an extremely large Islamic population. Throughout history, traders from the India China region went to Southeast Asia. Predictably enough their Muslim ways were inherited by the Southeast Asians. Now Southeast Asia has a vast population of Muslims as well as many other fringe religions branching from their traditions mixed with Islamic teachings. When Islam was introduced to Southeast Asia, the Indians let the people keep many pre-Islamic traditions. For example women are not forced to where head coverings like in most Muslim countries. Southeast Asian religious practices were allowed to be tied in with Islamic teachings. Take traditional Javanese shadow puppet shows for example. They were blended in with the Islamic practices. Fringe religions in this area support geography impacting diversity even more because these religions differ from place to place.
Just like religion, art is influenced by the Indian and Chinese areas. These countries are geographically close so just like religion their arts can be brought to Southeast Asia. Since Southeast Asia is made up of so many island countries and mainland countries, each country has different traditions. The widely spaced out region allows different countries to develop differently, not to mention be colonized by different parties leading to diversity. As for art, local traditions mix with Buddhist and Hindu cultures making a blend of art that is unique to Southeast Asia. Art in Southeast Asia is not just influenced by worldwide geography. In many Southeast Asian countries art varies depending on rural or urban settings. A more populous city with Hindu influence usually has a type of theater called Ramayana, which is a dance utilizing shadows and masks. A rural area with the same Hindu influence can have a totally different interpretation of art. They may have musicals with chants and spiritual songs sung about their surroundings.
A person in the US doesn’t exactly experience teeth chiseling or fire walking on a day to day basis. In Southeast Asia these things are part of their diverse culture. Women get their teeth made into points to make them appear more beautiful and dancing across hot coals is a normal practice in their religion. Where does geography tie in? It is quite clear that Southeast Asia has not been westernized when it comes to these bizarre traditions. The countries of Southeast Asia are so isolated from most of the world that these ancient traditions can thrive throughout generations. Americans may think these acts are crazy, but they are just another aspect of Southeast Asia’s diversity within their countries and throughout the world.
Diversity is at the center of Southeast Asia and it is clear that geography plays a big role in the influence, change and traditions that diversity brings.