Northeast and Mainland Southeast Asia are two regions sharing a basic symmetry that gives rise to a rich range of potential points of comparison. In the context of pre- and early history, relevant parallels and contrasts between the regions occur in relation both to primary research topics, and to the modern histories of the fields, and current debates and approaches. Centred on geographical Manchuria and Korea, NEA comprises modern territories of China, North and South Korea, Russia, and Japan. The field of early NEA operates against the context of geopolitical rivalry over jurisdiction of early history yet also fosters transnational cooperation. Both MSEA and early NEA are best conceptualised as loosely bounded interaction spheres that have played host to a range of areal historical dynamics giving rise to early polities and states, while continuing to support ethnolinguistic diversity and alternative, non-state complexities. Scholarship of both regions each constructively combine Anglophone discourses with their own autonomous research practices and concerns, reflecting the specific nature and characteristics of relevant sites and data. Against this common context, differences between the fields may be most instructive for stimulating fresh insights and alternative perspectives.
With an aim to facilitating transregional communication and cross-fertilisation of approaches, this session invites contributions from scholars of Northeast Asian archaeology and protohistory to present on key topics of their field alongside specialists of Southeast Asia. Topics could include questions of periodisation, emergence of complex societies and early states, areal networks, and histories of related discourses. We further welcome discussion on topics representing active disruptions to these same framings. Individual papers do not need to be explicitly comparative, but should make efforts to present their region-specific data and arguments in an accessible manner, with a view to critical and synergetic engagement between specialists of Northeast and Southeast Asia.