In 1962 the association for asian studies met, as this year, in Boston, at its fourteenth annual meeting, when the Association was addressed by its President that year, Lauriston Sharp. In his search for “some of the continuities and discontinuities of human experience in Southeast Asia,” Sharp proposed that “we should first work back from the present and up the little streams, the short runs of Southeast Asian history and prehistory” (Sharp 1962:5). Following Sharp's metaphor of time as the river, we can find that the rocks and rivulets, the surges and pools and mighty dams of a very minor river in the northern part of what is now called Thailand have much to tell us of the rich and complex past of Southeast Asia. We are concerned here with a small and, most would argue, inconsequential river; but any river at its spate is capable of raising and pushing along the largest boulders. I would hope that this particular river might serve to wash clean and highlight anew the ground that Sharp so eloquently covered so many years ago.

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