The papers featured in this special issue are based on presentations made at the Harvard–Hitotsubashi–Warwick Conference on "Economic Change Around the Indian Ocean in the Very Long Run", held at the University of Warwick in Venice, Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, 22–24 July 2008. The conference was originally conceived with countries around the Indian Ocean in mind, but soon expanded to include East Asia, and this wider geographical coverage is reflected in the papers included here. The conference was organised by Stephen Broadberry (Warwick), Kyoji Fukao (Hitotsubashi), Bishnupriya Gupta (Warwick) and Jeffrey Williamson (Harvard), and generously financed by the University of Warwick, Hitotsubashi University and the Economic History Society. A central aim of the organisers was to bring together researchers seeking to break free from the constraints of both the older Eurocentric and the nationalistic anti-colonialist literatures which have dominated much of the economic history of Asian countries. There was also a desire to encourage work which is quantitative and uses economic analysis, and which can be used to shed historical light on the current economic performance of the region
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