Old Kedah Festival news roundup

Old Kedah, or Kedah Tua in Malay, and the archaeological findings of the Bujang Valley in northern Peninsular Malaysia were the focus of a local festival held last month. The events included an international conference, and from the news reports two themes seem apparent: the disagreement on whether the ruins of the Bujang Valley represent an animist or Hindu-Buddhist tradition, and the news that the remains of the Hindu temples that have previously been uncovered in the valley will not be nominated and protected under Unesco World Heritage. There’s a lot of subtext to read between the news reports, but it seems there is an attempt to downplay the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Bujang Valley sites.

Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521
Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521

Experts disagree on religion practised at ruins older than Borobodur and Angkor Wat
The Star, 21 May 2016

World archaeological experts fascinated by Sungai Batu ancient site
Malay Mail, 21 May 2016

Ministry seeks allocation to develop Sungai Batu into historical tourism site
Malay Mail, 21 May 2016

No to heritage listing on Hindu-Buddhist temple ruins
The Star, 21 May 2016

Religious pluralism a likelihood in Bujang Valley
Free Malaysia Today, 23 May 2016

Ancient seaport of Sg Batu
New Straits Times, 23 May 2016

Sg Batu declared SEA’s oldest civilisation
Free Malaysia Today, 23 May 2016

Bujang Valley: Need for proof to be a heritage site?
The Star, 26 May 2016

SPAFACON2016

So you might have noticed I have been behind in updating news posts for a few months now, and for a very good reason. I’ve been organising the 2nd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology here in Bangkok, which saw the gathering of 230+ archaeologists from around the region to share their latest research.

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The conference started on Monday with three days of paper presentations, starting with the traditional country reports, and concurrent sessions that saw about 150 papers presented. Site visits to U-Thong / Nong Ratchawat and the Phanom Surin Shipwreck happened yesterday, and a workshop on English language skills for archaeologists is still ongoing as I write this. Throughout the conference we used the hashtag #spafacon2016, which you can follow on Twitter:

As well as on Facebook here.

All in all, the conference seems to be a success, despite the overzealous air-conditioning. I am biases, of course, but I particularly enjoyed listening to the new rock art discoveries from around the region and I’m looking forward to sharing the lectures of the presentations once they are ready. The next conference will be in 2019 – watch this space!

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Symposium on SEA and Australasian human evolution

Readers in Brisbane may be interested in attending this conference covering the latest of human evolution research in Southeast Asia.

Challenges and Opportunities for Human Evolution Research in SE Asia and Australasia
Griffith University
8 – 9 July 2016

The symposium is linked to the official launch of the Research Centre of Human Evolution at Griffith University. The symposium reviews the current research on human evolution research in SE Asia and Australasia and provides a platform to develop research synergies between Australian researchers, colleagues from SE Asia, and overseas. Invited speakers include Prof Francois Semah, Paris; Prof Chris Stringer, London; Prof Eske Willerslev (Copenhagen).

Register your interest here.

EurASEAA16: Poznań, Poland, 2017

Dear Fellows,

we are proud to announce that the next meeting of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists will be hosted by the Institute of Prehistory, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. The 16th meeting of EurASEAA is scheduled for summer 2017. Bringing the conference to Poland will be a great opportunity for EurASEAA community to explore new territories and Poznań’s unique atmosphere of creativity and enterprise will foster fruitful academic presentations and discussions.

The Institute of Prehistory of the Adam Mickiewicz University, founded in 1919, is one of the leading Polish archaeological research institutions. The Institute focuses on landscape archaeology, methodology and theoretical archaeology and has made a great contribution in developing and promoting non-invasive methods in archaeological research. Additionally, researchers from Poznań are active “in the field” in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. The conference venue is Collegium Historicum Novum, which opened in September 2015 as the new home of the Faculty of History.

Poznań is western Poland’s biggest city, halfway between Berlin and Warsaw. Poznań played a major role in Polish history as a seat of the early state’s rulers. In 968 AD the first Catholic Diocese on Polish soil was established in Poznań. Nowadays, thanks to well known diligence of Poznań’s people, the city is an important economic node of Central Europe and is home to branches of numerous international corporations, such as Volkswagen, GlaxoSmithKline or Bridgestone. The city offers a wide range of accommodation and is easy to access: Poznań can be reached in 2 h 30 min by train from Berlin, as well as Poznań Ławica airport serves daily flights to numerous destinations in Europe (base for budget airlines: RyanAir and WizzAir, direct connections to hub-airports of Frankfurt, Munich and Copenhagen).

More information will be announced in early 2016. We are looking forward to hosting you in Poznań.

on behalf of the Organizing Committee
magister Kasper Hanus
meeting secretary

Conference: Taiwan Maritime Landscapes from Neolithic to Early Modern Times

For readers in Paris, a conference on Taiwanese Maritme Landscapes – with relevant links to Southeast Asia.

Taiwan Maritime Landscapes from Neolothic to Early Modern Times: Cross-Regional Perspectives
Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO)
Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica
Centre de recherche sur les civilisations d’Asie orientale (CRCAO, EPHE-CNRS)

Organized by

Paola CALANCA, EFEO (French School of Asian Studies)
LIU Yi-ch’ang, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Frank MUYARD, National Central University, Taiwan
Alain THOTE, CRCAO (EPHE)

More details here.

CFP: Making Southeast Asian Cultures: From Region to World

Papers are being sought for the the UB Berkely-UCLA Southeast Asian Studies conference, focusing on social sciences and the humanities. Southeast Asian Archaeology represent!

UC Berkeley-UCLA Southeast Asian Studies Conference
Making Southeast Asian Cultures: From Region to World

April 22-23, 2016
At UC Berkeley

Southeast Asia is inherently transcultural. Colonization and religious conversion and change have left an indelible mark. Over the centuries, the region has also been a hub connecting China to the rest of the world, while in the modern era popular culture links many Southeast Asian countries to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and India. Because of the political, religious and cultural diversity of the region, the problem of whether there are cultural formations specific to Southeast Asia has been a central question of Southeast Asian Studies. To take an exemplary case, the theory of mandala interstate relations was crucial to O.W. Wolters’s argument that Southeast Asia was something more than just a geographical space between India and China, being historically characterized by cultural communalities and intra-regional relationships.

Culture also has an important role in the projected integration of Southeast Asia into an ASEAN Community. One of its three pillars, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, is entrusted with the task of building ASEAN identity and an ASEAN sense of belonging by “fostering greater awareness of the diverse cultures and heritage of the ASEAN region” in order to enable “ASEAN peoples to recognize their regional identity and relatedness”. The governments and policy-making bodies of Southeast Asian countries are, however, notably vague about what exactly constitutes ASEAN cultural identity and heritage or whether it is even appropriate to speak of an “ASEAN mindset”.

The aim of this conference, jointly sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley (Director: Prof. Pheng Cheah) and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA (Director: Prof. George Dutton), is to reopen this question of Southeast Asia’s culture both by looking back at the history of the region and at the dynamic transnational processes at work in contemporary globalization that actively make Southeast Asian cultures today.

For example, how have Indian Ocean trade and religious networks shaped various aspects of Southeast Asian culture and how has their localization in Southeast Asia in turn inflected these networks? In the field of contemporary art, are the different arts communities in Southeast Asia connected to and contemporary with each to other? Can we speak of a self-conscious regional identity among these communities so that visual artists from Burma who are relatively new to international art practices and discourses can be curated alongside artists from highly “globalized” Singapore in an international biennale? In the field of film studies, how have the Shaw and Cathay film empires, which were multilingual and multicultural, established a foundation for Southeast Asian film? In literary studies, has the public phenomenality of literary festivals and literature prizes such as the Man Asia Literary Prize or the Ramon Magsaysay Award in Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts helped to create a body of Southeast Asian literary works?

The conference seeks to understand the production of Southeast Asian cultures by drawing on different humanities and social science disciplines such as art history, film and visual studies, literary studies, music, anthropology, history, geography, architecture and urban studies. By self-consciously adopting a world perspective and transnational frame in the study of Southeast Asia, the conference hopes to correct the normative Eurocentrism of the disciplines, their methodological nationalism, and the relative undertheorizing of Southeast Asia in Asian studies.

The organizers invite submissions for presentations from scholars and graduate students conducting original research in the social sciences and humanities that address the primary themes of the conference. Some travel funding is available, with priority for funding directed towards faculty and graduate students at UC and CSU campuses. The conference will be held at the UC Berkeley campus,

Abstracts (up to 500 words) should be sent to CSEAS at UC Berkeley by Friday, January 8, 2016. Abstracts should include your name, affiliation and discipline and contact information (including e-mail address).

Contact: CSEAS, 1995 University Ave., 520H, Berkeley CA 94720-2318
Tel: (510) 642-3609; Fax: (510) 643-7062; E-mail: cseas@berkeley.edu.

The Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA form a consortium U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Call for Panels: 2nd SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology

The call for panels is out! If you are interested in proposing a panel for #spafacon2016, you can do so on the conference website. Deadline for proposals is 30 September 2015

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Call for Papers: For the Love of Death

The Archaeological Studies Programme of the University of Philippines is organising a conference on Human Osteoarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Deadline for abstracts is this week! Read more on their Facebook page.

Love of Death Flyer

This two-day conference aims to create an opportunity for researchers to present and discuss their latest work on archaeological human remains assemblages from across Southeast Asia, the Pacific and beyond. It will be hosted by the Archaeology Studies Program, University of the Philippines – the first time a conference dedicated to human remains will be held in the Philippines. While the conference is focused on research in Southeast Asia, we welcome papers on topics from other geographical regions from which we may be able to draw parallels.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Marc Oxenham, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University

Papers are invited for inclusion in the following sessions:

Seen But Now Heard: The Osteoarchaeology of Juveniles
This session will discuss the latest research on juvenile remains in the archaeological record. Topics may include, but are not limited to, palaeopathology, mortuary practices and taphonomy.

Before They Died
This session will focus on the osteological evidence for lived lives. A wide range of topics, from diet and nutrition, occupation and demography, to isotopes and DNA are invited.

Nasty, Brutish and Short? Violence, Trauma, Health and Disease
This session will consider the quality of life experienced by past populations. Therefore, papers will present new research on topics including the evidence for health, disease, age at death and violence.

The Dying Game
This session is concerned with the osteological evidence for mortuary practices.

All In! Open Session
Any other papers on human osteoarchaeology that do not seem to find a home in any of the above sessions will be assigned to this session. This may include papers on new analytical techniques, theoretical approaches or new excavations.

Abstract Submission
Abstracts of no more than 200 words for a 20 minute paper should be sent to loveofdeath2016@gmail.com by August 7th 2015. We welcome papers from academics, commercial archaeologists, and post-graduate students alike. Abstracts for poster presentations will also be accepted.

India pivots eastwards to Southeast Asia

A conference was held last week in New Delhi on the cultural links between India and Southeast Asia with the aim of establishing research links between India and Southeast Asia.

India, Asean reconnect through ancient cultural linkages
Daijiworld.com, 23 July 2015

“Political security and economic cooperation must go hand in hand with the socio-cultural connection and people-to-people linkages,” he said.

Citing examples, he said that excavations have found evidence of Indian links in the first century AD in Myanmar in the city of Beikthano, also known as City of Vishnu. Coins, statues of Hindu deities, and statues of the Buddha have been found.

In central Thailand, evidence of Indian influence is found through Dvaravati form of representing the Buddha, in the 2nd century AD, which is derived from Indian Amaravati and Gupta styles, which were integrated with local art.

In Cham, in southern Vietnam, there is evidence of extensive influence of Indian culture, through many ancient Shiva temples.

Evidence has been found of extensive trade with the Southeast Asian countries from the Gupta dynasty in the 4th-6th century AD. Tamralipti, an ancient Indian city in the Bay of Bengal, was a busy centre of maritime trade, with ships travelling to the Malay peninsula, the Nicobar islands and to the Strait of Malacca.

Trade with the Asean is an important aspect of India’s links with the region, and India is its fourth largest trading partner, he said.

Full story here.

EurASEAA 15 kicks off

The 15th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists kicked off this afternoon in Paris. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow bits of the conference using the hashtag #euraseaa15 (or just see the window below)


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