The above paper reads like a witch hunt.
It claims there are problems with the work of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient and several historians including Michael Vickery, but presents absolutely no evidence to support its contention. The paper merely hurls grandiouse accusations, like this one:
"...those western scientists who cling to the notion that the relationship between signifier and signified is not arbitrary, and therefore that the truth of Southeast Asian archaeology can be grasped in its entirety by the application of hard-nosed philological principles. (98)..."
"98) M Vickery, Society, Economics, and Politics in pre-Angkor Cambodia (Tokyo, 1998)"
Not even a citation of a page!
First of all, the sort of philology that historians like Michael Vickery employ has been the standard historical methodology used since the time of Ranke. It is the same sort of methodology that one finds in the Warring States Project at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, for instance.
A sceptical Rankean approach towards sources with an eye towards finding "what actually happened" is, of course, not the only possible legitimate goal. Historical texts can be appreciated as literature also, the authors of each subsequent text borrowing from previous authors.
It is worth taking a closer look at the Vickery quote above:
1. western scientists who cling to the notion that the relationship between signifier and signified is not arbitrary
[If it was arbitrary, it would be meaningless. People compose and interpret texts with intentions which are not arbitrary.]
3. That the truth of Southeast Asian archaeology can be grasped in its entirety by the application of hard-nosed philological principles.
[Who claims anything can be grasped in its entirety? What Vickery does is hypothesise about the processes that might have been involved in the creation of a text. We are free to disagree with him and present reasons why we disagree.
Philological tools are what one uses to make sense of the way historical texts were constructed from initial authoring through hundreds of years of subsequent copying.
Initially, hypotheses should be stated clearly and without a lot of qualifications. Later on, if the hypothesis does not hold up under the evidence, the hypothesis is qualified. One thing is for sure, the writer of the above does not look at any of the relevant evidence for the claims they are making, namely the actual methods used by actual historians like Vickery.]
Apparently, the reason it was published was that it claimed to be a rebuttal to a previous work which it claims:
"The research [sic] presented here questions Bayly's suggestion that the scholarly output of the EFEO provided positive influences for the thought patterns of young revolutionary Vietnamese intellectuals in their struggle to overthrow the colonial regime." (page 478)
I leave you with one last quote:
"Like Alexander, who showed his love of Pindar, the philologist denied the existence of anything of cultural value in Indo-China except Indo-European culture."
First of all, if translations of texts from non-western cultures and histories were valued more by western academia, then non-western could be contemplated and appreciated more, but finding the universal in the particular does not in itself devalue the particular.
Or this very strange sentence that requres the reader to take an excursion into the very convolutions of the author's brain:
Whether all of them were aware of it or not, the professional philological scientists who worked in Southeast Asia were involved in an experimental project whose goal was to redefine Orientalism as a scientific form of Hellenism." (498)
People like Coedes collected and preserved huge amounts of linguistic, inscriptional, and art historical data. They studied this material in detail and published prolifically. Something that most contemporary scholars don't seem to be able to get up the will power to do. Like Vickery deserve to at least have their work looked at in detail before subjecting it to criticism.