South and Southeast Asia have long and enduring ties dating back to ancient times. An extraordinary movement and exchange of people, commodities, and ideas between these two regions in the modern era was interrupted by the advent of nation states. However, these dynamics have resumed over the last three decades. A larger perspective on the history of economic life in modern South and Southeast Asia can help us better understand the roots of their present economic and political change, as well as the persistence of poverty and inequality in these regions.

A major constraint to writing new histories of economic life about these regions is the fragility, absence, or inaccessibility of archival material. This website presents an inventory of sources on the history of economic life in South and Southeast Asia: sources that are scattered, some of them little used, many of them endangered. It is based on the recent work of scholars within and outside these regions. It makes a start on identifying and categorizing a potentially vast range of material—from government archives at the national, state, and local levels, to private papers, legal sources, and the archives of architecture and photography. The website also includes a set of reflections by researchers about how their inquiries have enabled them to conceive of the history of economic life in South and Southeast Asia. A series of interviews offer a preview of forthcoming projects that work with these archives or are working to increase their availability for scholars across the world.

This project is based at the Cambridge Centre for History and Economics, and has been made possible by generous support from INET.