SOAS statue: school denies it was smuggled, but provenance has not yet been established

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via The Nation, 16 June 2018: SOAS denies that the donated statue was smuggled but critics point out that the provenance of the statue is lacking, or at least has not yet been established (see other links at the end of this post).

London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has denied claims the prestigious institution possesses a 13th-century sculpture likely smuggled from Thailand

Source: Thai Buddha statue not smuggled: SOAS – The Nation

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London university accused of accepting smuggled sculpture

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via The Nation, 14 June 2018: A developing story about the donation of a Lopburi-style sculpture to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, that was accepted without documentation of provenance. The details were first released by Dr Angela Chiu, an independent scholar, on her website.

The Culture and Foreign ministries are following up an accusation made by London University’s prominent School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), that it accepted as a gift a 13th-century sculpture possibly smuggled from Thailand.

Source: London university accused of accepting smuggled sculpture – The Nation

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[Job] Lecturer in Social Anthropology in SOAS

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Not archaeology but related. Social anthropology lecturer in SOAS, with a focus in SE Asia. Closing date 6 June 2018.

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London invites applications for a fixed-term lectureship tenable from September 2018. You will be expected to convene and teach core theory and optional regional/thematic modules in Social/Cultural Anthropology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and assume normal administrative tasks associated with a Lectureship including PhD supervision.

Skills and experience

You must have a PhD in Social or Cultural Anthropology and a record of excellence in research in Anthropology as evidenced by high quality professional publications. We are primarily seeking a candidate with teaching and research interests in one or more of the following areas that would support, supplement and complement existing specialisms in the department, particularly: anthropology of development, the anthropology of migration and diaspora and the anthropology of gender. Regional interests in East Africa, West Africa, SE Asia or Japan will be preferred.

Source: Lecturer in Social Anthropology

New Journal: Pratu – Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia

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Check out this new journal from Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS. The journal is calling for papers for the inaugural 2019 issue, see here.

Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia

Pratu: Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia is the initiative of a group of research students in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London in collaboration with departmental mentors. The journal is funded by the Alphawood Foundation, under the auspices of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP). The student editorial group works closely with an advisory group formed of members of SAAAP’s Research & Publications Committee.

Pratu is conceived as a site for emerging scholars to publish new research on the ancient to premodern Buddhist and Hindu visual and material culture of Southeast Asia. The journal’s remit adheres to that of SAAAP itself, covering ‘study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage’.

Pratu means ‘gateway’ or ‘entrance’ in several Southeast Asian languages. The salience of the term for our project lies in its etymological development, where the application of Khmer morphology to Tai terminology to name architectural structures of Indic fame betrays the complexity of the historical evolution of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The journal is a gateway: a space of access and transition that reflects our aim to facilitate new scholars’ first experiences with academic publishing as they move from student to early career researcher status. This includes Southeast Asian scholars who would like to reach a wider readership by publishing in English translation and benefitting from the peer-review process. In this way Pratu offers greater exposure to scholars and new research, and furthers the development of inter-institutional and international collaboration.

Source: Pratu

Alphawood Scholarships, SOAS, University of London

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This year’s Alphawood Scholarships at SOAS are now open for the 2018-2019 year. The Alphawood Scholarships are designed to support outstanding Southeast Asian students of ancient to pre-modern Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture in Southeast Asia to pursue postgraduate studies at SOAS. Alphawood Scholars study in the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, and may undertake a range of postgraduate programmes, including PhD/MPhil, Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programmes.

Alphawood Scholarships include full tuition for studies at SOAS and an annual living allowance of £16,539* (pro rata), as well as reimbursement for: international travel to and from the UK; IELTS for UKVI examination costs; visa costs; and any health checks required as a condition of your visa application.

More details in the link below. The closing date is 22 Dec 2017.

Source: Alphawood Scholarships, SOAS, University of London

Categories: Scholarships and Education

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[Talk] Disjuncture, Interference and Critical Heritage: Reflections from the Field

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Readers in London may be interested in this event at SOAS on July 4, a conversation between SOAS Centenary Fellow Rasmi Shoocongdej and others

Disjuncture, Interference and Critical Heritage: Reflections from the Field

The projection of historical continuity through the designation ‘heritage’ always betrays, in one way or another, its very opposite: historical disjunctures and interference in local affairs. Join SOAS Centenary Fellow, Professor Rasmi Shoocongdej, along with five respondents, to examine this paradox at the heart of the notion of ‘heritage’ and its ‘management’ today. Professor Shoocongdej, an archaeologist specializing in mainland Southeast Asian prehistory, will address the pressures of research harnessed to the promotion of ‘Thai Cultural Heritage’ in sites characterized today by multiple cultures and ethnic minority groups.

Professor Shoocongdej’s fieldwork focuses on borderlands between Thailand and Myanmar. Her research on prehistory is complemented by incisive contributions to important debates at the nexus of archaeology and the public sphere. Her pedagogical career, based at Thailand’s premier arts university, Silpakorn, has been devoted to training Thai and other Southeast Asian archaeologists through interregional programmes to assume positions of intellectual and ethical responsibility vis-à-vis their regions and their international partners. She is a crucial role model for Southeast Asian archaeologists and, more broadly, for Southeast Asian women considering pursuing academic careers.

Professor Shoocongdej will address her twofold experience as a ‘Thai female archaeologist.’ On the one hand she represents the ‘elite centre’ – Bangkok’s Silpakorn – in researching prehistoric cultures of Thailand’s peripheral ‘highlands’, negotiating at once relations – or non-relations – between local communities and their prehistoric site surroundings, and the attendant expectations of nationalist historiography emanating from the entangled academic and political realms. On the other hand, she represents ‘indigenous perspectives’ to the international archaeological community intent on reconstructing Southeast Asia’s past, and dominated still by Euro-American actors and modes of inquiry.

Source: Disjuncture, Interference and Critical Heritage: Reflections from the Field | SOAS University of London

Talk: The emergence of state and cities in southeast Sumatra

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Readers in London may be interested in this upcoming talk by Dr Pierre-Yves Manguin at SOAS.

At the origins of Srivijaya: The emergence of state and cities in southeast Sumatra
Dr Pierre-Yves Manguin (Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient)

Date: 14 March 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Source: 20170314 – Seminar – Pierre-Yves Manguin

Prof. Ashley Thompson Inaugural Lecture – Double Realities: The Complex Lives of Ancient Khmer Statuary

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Readers in London may be interested in Ashley Thompson’s lecture in early May. Booking required.

Prof. Ashley Thompson Inaugural Lecture – Double Realities: The Complex Lives of Ancient Khmer Statuary
Date: 5 May 2016
Venue: Brunei Gallery
Time: 6.30 pm

The Angkorian empire produced one of the most remarkable sculptural traditions in human history. Starting from Hindu and, to a lesser extent, Buddhist models, Khmer artists invented bold new techniques and sophisticated aesthetic principles that underpinned their exploration of anthropomorphic statuary. And yet the representational presuppositions of Western aesthetics only cloud our understanding of this innovation: perhaps art, in this context, does not stand in a mimetic relationship to the world, but rather itself constitutes an ‘original’, an embodied and multivalent reality that calls for a different relationship with its ‘viewer’.

This lecture will begin with a reflection on the Khmer ‘portrait statue’, considered in the traditional art history of ancient Cambodia to have been a late and peculiar invention of the reign of the last of the great Angkorian kings. However I will challenge this view, and indeed take the double ontology of these sculptures – embodying at once gods and people – to in fact constitute the baseline reality of essentially all Angkorian and post-Angkorian statuary.

Nothing is as it seems: even Angkor itself, this exemplary outlier of the Sanskrit ‘cosmopolis’ that flowered in the late first and early second millennia CE, is construed both as a fiercely singular local dominion and a universal kingdom. Microcosm and macrocosm are each set off against and magnified in the other. Within this context, a number of otherwise incongruous phenomena can be understood as manifestations of an underlying bifid structure: from the fluid ambiguity in the gendering of certain anthropomorphic representations to the determination with which religious practitioners, then as now, experience their own lives as participating in a larger cosmic life variously conveyed by art.

More details and booking information here.

Banteay Chhmar to become archaeological training ground

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Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160321

A deal between the School of Oriental and Asian Studies and Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture will see Banteay Chhmar in northwest Cambodia become a training field for archaeologists and heritage professionals.

Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160321

Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160321

Remote Angkorian Monument Ready for Makeover
Cambodia Daily, 21 March 2016

Banteay Chhmar, protecting Cambodia’s ‘second Angkor’
Nikkei Asain Review, 22 March 2016

Over the centuries, looting, theft and mismanagement have plagued the 12th century Banteay Chhmar temple complex in Banteay Meanchey province. But the sprawling Angkorian monument is about to get a second life as an international training ground for future archaeologists and monument restoration specialists.

After an initial agreement was signed in December, the Ministry of Culture and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are now hammering out details to set up a field school for post-graduate students—many of them from Southeast Asia—and young Cambodian professionals.

“The overarching aims are to work with established Cambodian experts in the field to train the next generation of heritage managers with the necessary practical and critical skills to lead heritage work in the Southeast Asian region,” Ashley Thompson, head of SOAS’ Center of South East Asian Studies, said in an email interview.

Full stories here and here.

SOAS Alphawood Scholarships 2016/17

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Applications are now open for the Alphawood Scholarships in Southeast Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London for the 2016-17 academic year.

SOAS Alphawood Scholarships
Deadline: 18 December 2015

The 2016 Alphawood Scholarships at SOAS are now open for applications. The deadline for applications is 18 December 2015.

The Alphawood Scholarships are part of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS which has been funded by Alphawood Foundation, Chicago. The aim of the academic programme is to advance the understanding and preservation of Buddhist and Hindu art in Southeast Asia through study and research, and to build and support a network of organisations and individuals in the Southeast Asian region who share and support this vision.