Sanjay Subrahmanyam writes:
The researcher starts out with fieldwork data from a village or set of villages, or material from a set of archives, or even a set of conversations between friends in a pub, and then proceeds to weave these into a convincing set of hypotheses which with luck will stand the test, either of a vertical transformation in scale or a horizontal movement in space (some economists like to call such generalisations ‘stylised facts’). But not all places are equally suggestive, or indeed seductive. South-East Asia, so often marginalised in relation to its neighbours to the west and east, the ‘Great Civilisations’ of India and China, has had a particular problem in this respect. Nevertheless, over the last 50 years major interventions in the social sciences have begun life there.