Webinar by Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan hosted by SOAS next week. The webinar will be broadcast on the SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme Facebook page.
The Materiality of Writing in Premodern Java
Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan (University of Sydney)
Date: 14 October 2020
Time: 11:00 AM-Time: 1:00 PM
My objects of study in this seminar are premodern texts from Java, written between the 9th and 17th centuries. Even as these texts are typically, and in my own research, mined for what they tell us about premodern Javanese history, they are challenging to use as historical sources: though they offer valuable information, they are often fragmentary, incoherent and mutually contradictory. In asking why this is the case, I reorient my methodologies to an investigation of materiality, a key feature of art history and archaeology. By asking questions about the material and physical properties of written sources, we can gain valuable insights into the development of the traditions that produced those sources. My research finds that the materiality of writing has played a major role in the evolution of historical texts. The physical conditions of historical documents, such as their durability, the circumstances of their storage, and their capacity for reproduction, have powerfully influenced the development of Javanese historiography as a whole. By examining these historical objects, we can gain a better understanding of premodern Javanese history in general.