IIAS Newsletter 47 Spring 2008

Betel-chewing in mainland Southeast Asia

Nguyên Xuân HiênPeter A. Reichart

Southeast Asia is the cradle of betel-chewing. Used as a stimulant and to treat minor ills, the custom spread from Southeast Asian islands to mainland Vietnam probably around the first millennium B.C. Thailand seemingly received the practice from neighbouring countries to the west. These two main regional actors influenced Laos and Cambodia. Our decade-long research and observation, which intensified in 2002-04 and 2006-07, delved into this declining but storied tradition.

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