J.C. van Leur was not very kind to his fellow historians in 1940 when he addressed the Historical Section of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, reviewing the fourth volume of the Geschiedenis van Nederlandsch Indië by E.C. Godée Molsbergen. The gist of his talk, entitled ‘On the Eighteenth Century as a Category in Indonesian History’, was that colonial historical studies in the Netherlands and in the Netherlands East Indies were of a fairly parochial nature. For Van Leur, who was well acquainted with social and economic historical theory, it was not difficult to criticize the traditional approach of Godée's study of the eighteenth century. He pointed out that it made no sense to use the eighteenth century as a category in Asian history. The reverse in fact was true, he argued, as from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, Asian civilizations were characterized by a steady continuity. Nowadays many historians would agree with Van Leur's point of view, except for his refutation of the eighteenth century as a category in Asian history. The eighteenth century is now generally regarded as a period of change in many parts of Asia.