The cohesiveness of Southeast Asia as a region has been questioned; the region has been viewed as a ‘contingent category’ (Kratoska et al. 2005). Nevertheless, Southeast Asia has distinctive features that have endured over time. It is an ancient seafaring region where maritime commerce goes back to the fourth millennium bce (Hodos 2017). It is a region of archipelagos, island worlds, Nusantara and a region where the ‘globalization of food’ goes back to the second millennium bce. The region has long supplied spices, notably to China. It is a geostrategic region astride major sea-lanes, in particular the Strait of Malacca. It sits astride the land bridge between South and East Asia, between India and China. As a region in-between monsoon zones and cycles, it has served as a shelter and way station for seafarers. It is a region where monsoons, civilizations and religions meet – Indic, Sinic, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian, a confluence that has shaped the character of the region.