In this paper I propose to look at Southeast Asian history for the most part before the era of European political control. My object is on the one hand to avoid the distortions of the picture caused by the wealth of writings on European activities in the area, which have tended to thrust into the background die history of the peoples of the area, and on the other hand to convey some idea of the importance of their history as a field of study today. Incidentally, it is a field in which most of the progress has been made by scholars whose names are largely unknown outside the esoteric circles of orientalism.

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