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Ref ID: 36312
Ref Type: Thesis
Authors: Lustig, Eileen Joan
Title: Power and pragmatism in the political economy of Angkor
Date: 2009
Source: Department of Archaeology
Place of Publication: Sydney
Publisher: University of Sydney
Type: Ph.D.
Date Freeform: 4-Sep-09
Abstract: The relationship between the Angkorian Empire and its capital is important for understanding how this state was sustained. The empire’s political economy is studied by analysing data from Pre-Angkorian and Angkorian period inscriptions in aggregated form, in contrast to previous studies which relied mainly on detailed reading of the texts. The study is necessarily broad to overcome the constraints of having relatively few inscriptions which relate to a selected range of topics, and are partial in viewpoint. The success of the pre-modern Khmer state depended on: its long-established communication and trade links
mutual support of rulers and regional elites
decentralised administration through regional centres
its ability to produce or acquire a surplus of resources
and a network of temples as an ideological vehicle for state integration. The claim that there was a centrally controlled command economy or significant redistribution of resources, as for archaic, moneyless societies is difficult to justify. The mode of control varied between the core area and peripheral areas. Even though Angkor did not have money, it used a unit of account. Despite being an inland agrarian polity, the Khmer actively pursued foreign trade. There are indications of a structure, perhaps hierarchical, of linked deities and religious foundations helping to disseminate the state’s ideology. The establishment of these foundations was encouraged by gifts and privileges granted to elite supporters of the rulers. Contrary to some views, Angkor was not excessively rigid or unusually hierarchical and autocratic when compared with contemporary analogous states. Its political economy is marked by three simultaneous cycles indicative of changing power relationships: cycles of royal inscriptions
of non-royal inscriptions
and fluctuating control over peripheral territories. Its processes and strategies were sufficiently flexible for it to endure as an empire for approximately six centuries, despite internal and external disturbances.
Date Created: 1/22/2015
Page End: 282