The Making of a Periphery makes three important claims. First, commodity export production does not necessarily result in peripheralization, which is defined as economic stagnation, depressed wages and impoverishment. Second, peripheralization is instead influenced by the specific mode of production of export commodities. Third, the mode of production is crucially determined by demographic growth and patron-client relationships. This essay investigates these claims using a variety of economic and demographic data on Southeast Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is shown that specialization in primary commodity exports does lower long-term economic growth rates and that indigenous institutions regarding family systems and property rights play an important role in the patterns of economic development.