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Shifting Places: O. W. Wolters and His Handling of Chinese Sources

Johannes L. Kurz

Pages 173 - 198


The present essay challenges the identification of Zhubo and “Puluozhong,” two Chinese terms contained in pre-modern Chinese texts, with the island of Borneo as proposed by O. W. Wolters. It argues that these identifications are based on biased and erroneous readings of the original source material. As a result, many subsequent writers of Southeast Asian history, especially those lacking the necessary linguistic expertise, have adopted Wolters’ assumptions at face value. Lastly, the essay proposes a revision of Wolters’ findings on the basis of cooperation between Southeast Asian historians competent in the relevant languages and Chinese studies scholars to produce a balanced account of early Southeast Asian history.


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