A Glimpse into the Lives of Colonial Asians

China in Those Days by Thomas Brandt. (Goasia Verlag, 2008)
China in Those Days by Thomas Brandt. (Goasia Verlag, 2008)

MUMBAI, August 6, 2010 - In a visual presentation, Asia in Those Days, collector and author Thomas Brandt provided a fascinating glimpse into colonial Asian life using pictures, lithographs, and metal engravings from colonial Asia. These were accompanied by extracts from historical travel reports and clippings from the first English-language newspapers published by Europeans in Asia.

Brandt revealed much about the interactions and relationships between Europeans and Asians during colonial times. Where others focus on large historical events and trends, Brandt's lighter approach provided insights into daily lives of people from all places and sections of society in Asia.

He explained how Europeans and Asians alike reacted to the changes brought by colonialism, and how they sometimes amusingly refused to adapt. As people travelled and encountered outsiders in their own lands, Brandt showed the lengths they went to in order to maintain customs that bolstered them, and to subvert ones that disparaged them.

His research shed light on a range of aspects of peoples' lives, including their food, hygiene issues, social interactions, transportation, accomodations, entertainment, languages, and business strategies. Brandt's depictions of how people struggled with poverty and the contingencies of the weather, businesses, and fortune reminded the audience of the luxuries that modern technologies and discoveries have allowed.

Brandt's unique lens into colonial life in Asia provided a refreshing and informative glance into life in those days, providing a captivating perspective into the degree of globalization prevalent at the turn of the last century, and the many responses to it.