The tea-producing regions of India sit snuggly against the jungles of western Burma. Mandalay, Penang, and Singapore are the historical homes of vibrant Indian communities. However, as Sunil Amrith notes at the start of his book, Crossing the Bay of Bengal, modern observers draw an almost tangible line between India—South Asia—on the one hand and Burma, Malaysia, and Singapore—Southeast Asia—on the other. As a result, the Bay of Bengal, which functioned as an integrated political, economic, and cultural region for much of recorded history, has almost completed disappeared from view in contemporary scholarship. Instead, the histories of the bay's peoples have been artificially isolated and virtually quarantined from one another, first by the emergence of the postcolonial nation state and second by the hegemony of geographic area studies. Amrith's book sets out to record the “almost completely untold” story of the “rise and decline of the region” (p. 1)...

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