Pre-Angkor Khmer Religion and State

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Religious Studies (CMC)

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This article surveys recent scholarship on Southeast Asian religion and state formation by using the pre-Angkor Khmer religio-political organizational patterns as a case study. It begins by situating the debate in the broader chronological frame of both the pre-Angkor and Angkor periods by outlining both the India-centric, ‘Khmer Hinduism’ model and the Khmer-centric, indigenous model for religio-political formation. It then shifts its focus to the pre-Angkor period and uses the recent work of Michael Vickery and Alexis Sanderson to discuss the debate concerning the influence of Śaivism on pre-Angkor Khmer state and society. In doing so, it argues that the idea of a ‘state’, combined with the recognition of a distinction between élite religio-political constructions and the common experience and practice of religion, serves to reconcile Vickery’s and Sanderson’s arguments. The article ends with a discussion of new avenues of research that have opened up in the last decade.

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© 2011 Daniel Michon. Religion Compass © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

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