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.