State Formation and Comparative Area Studies : Between Globalization and Territorialization

Association for Asian Studies
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Journal article
Journal Of Asian Studies, 2011, 70 (4), pp. 965 - 970
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In his review of Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1860: Expansion and Crisis, Victor Lieberman plied the margins of Anthony Reid's (1995) portrayal of early modern Southeast Asia and objected with purpose: 'critical cultural and political transformations on the mainland without close archipelagic analogy receive little or no attention' (Lieberman 1995, 799). Where connections and crossings characterize historic social formation in insular Southeast Asia, Lieberman focused on a different shore - territorial consolidation of kingdoms in mainland Southeast Asia, from over 20 in the pre-modern era to only three major empires, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, by the end of the seventeenth century. Yet Reid's two-volume work was exquisitely timed with the theoretical pulses of globalization and their keywords of crossings diasporas, flows, linkages, mobilities, networks, routes and travels. Closely related to the poststructural theoretical shift, these themes have guided new area studies and are likely to prevail in international scholarship for some time to come.
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