This introductory chapter offers a multifaceted historical perspective on Buddhism in Cambodia under Pol Pot's regime. At the same time it cautions against any one-sided views of the events that had taken place during this period. It is important to recognize that Buddhism in Southeast Asia has never been a disembodied conceptual system devoid of purchase on historical and political reality. When we look at Buddhism, we tend to focus on its philosophical and scholastic superstructure while ignoring the ways in which it has operated on a far wider level to sustain and inform the cultures with which it formed a whole. It has achieved its sociocultural character by the provision of educational and welfare facilities, certainly. But it has also acted through more direct involvement in the apparatus of state. Additionally, the chapter reviews the sources that inform the study in this volume.
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