via Siamese Heritage Trust of The Siam Society. The Siamese Heritage Trust launched “Heritage Lawyer: Laws for Cultural Heritage Protection” a new publication during the pan-Asia Conference “Heritage Protection: The Asian Experience” 25-26 January 2019.
The book first published in Thai as ทนายวัฒนธรรม: ใช้กฎหมายเพื่อคุ้มครองมรดกวัฒนธรรมชุมชน in June 2017. It summarizes case studies of communities and private sectors that tried to protect their community heritage by using the existing laws. There are both successful and unsuccessful stories. In the last chapter, all laws related to cultural heritage protection are listed as a reference and tool for the public.
The whole project was supported by The Asia Foundation, Professor Kanung Luchai’s Foundation, and Professor William Klausner.
Mrs. Pikulkeaw Krairiksh, President of the Siam Society kindly gave generous support to this English version.
A new book series reflecting the focus of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS University of London, namely the study of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times, including 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 studies.
via ICCROM, 15 Mar 2019: Free download, with some interesting chapters from Thailand and Malaysia.
Authenticity is a nebulous term within the conservation profession. The concept has historically tended to privilege materials-based approaches to conservation practice over recognizing spiritual and non-material values of a place, however, the drafting of the Nara Document in 1994 marked a shift in paradigm. Considered an important moment in the history of conservation, the Document expanded the concept of authenticity and drew attention to cultural diversity within the heritage discourse.
Although the Nara Document was developed in Asia, regional heritage practitioners have since felt the need to revisit it due to specificities and the challenges they face in conserving heritage. This book addresses the meaning and application of the concept of authenticity in a variety of contexts within Asia, presenting case studies and reflections that examine the relationship between material and intangible values. As the book illustrates, there are some instances where the historical weight of the concept of authenticity poses challenges to actual practice in the region. Sometimes international approaches and obligations may make it difficult to address the specific local cultural circumstances, and alternatively, there are instances where local practices can hinder the work of heritage practitioners in their ability to meet so-called international requirements.
via South China Morning Post, 27 November 2018: A new book Studying Singapore before 1800 explores a less-known area of Singapore’s past.
The history of Singapore before the foundation of the modern version of the city by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 has been largely ignored.
This volume of 18 articles (with a wide range of original publication dates) looks to rectify this and show that Singapore, because of its strategic location on the shipping route between East and West, was heavily involved in pre-British waves of global trade and colonisation.
Co-editor Kwan Chong Guan explains why this matters: “The challenge for Singapore in the 20th century is to recognise the nature of the post-colonial or postmodern cycle of globalisation it is caught in, and to decide best how to respond to it. Looking at the impact of earlier cycles of globalisation on the maritime history of the Melaka Straits may provide Singaporeans with a better understanding of their city state’s vulnerabilities.”
Created in 1946 to help establish peace through international cooperation in a world ravaged by two colossal wars, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hoped to change the “minds of men and women,” as its constitution says.
The agency aimed to achieve that mission through education, cultural exchange and conservation of heritage sites.
But that utopian ambition has gotten lost, according to Stanford anthropology Professor Lynn Meskell, who has spent the last eight years researching the history of the organization and its World Heritage program.
Today, most countries seem to care more about getting their historic sites onto the World Heritage List in order to benefit from UNESCO’s brand rather than discuss conservation and preservation, Meskell said.
Readers may be interested in Asger Mollerup’s new book on Khmer sites in Northeast Thailand.
This book is the 2nd of three about Ancient Khmer sites outside the present day Cambodia and the first comprehensive inventory of ancient Khmer sites in eastern Thailand since the now more than one century-old works of Étienne Aymonier, Étienne Lunet de Lajonquière, and Major Erik Seidenfaden, describing some 170 Khmer sites in the provinces of Khorat and Buriram in the first two parts of the book.
Part 3 presents the ancient overland route from Angkor to Phimai marked by seventeen fire-shelters (‘dharmasala’), mentioned in a 12th century inscription. Also fire-shrines and fire-offerings are described.
via ANU E-press: New free E-book on the archaeology of Sulawesi edited by O’Connor et al.
Archaeology of Sulawesi by O’Connor et al
The central Indonesian island of Sulawesi has recently been hitting headlines with respect to its archaeology. It contains some of the oldest directly dated rock art in the world, and some of the oldest evidence for a hominin presence beyond the southeastern limits of the Ice Age Asian continent. In this volume, scholars from Indonesia and Australia come together to present their research findings and views on a broad range of topics. From early periods, these include observations on Ice Age climate, life in caves and open sites, rock art, and the animals that humans exploited and lived alongside. The archaeology presented from later periods covers the rise of the Bugis kingdom, Chinese trade ceramics, and a range of site-based and regional topics from the Neolithic through to the arrival of Islam. This carefully edited volume is the first to be devoted entirely to the archaeology of the island of Sulawesi, and it lays down a baseline for significant future research.
This list about the most influential books on Southeast Asian archaeology originated with a paper I am preparing for the conference on Decolonising Southeast Asia’s Past. Very simply put, I am trying to understand if there is a difference in archaeological sources in English, compared to what is written in a non-English language (eg. Thai, Myanma, Bahasa). Part of this work was inspired by my experiences with rock art and the difference between what was written in English and what I could find in other languages. For example, the 2001 Handbook of Rock Art Research summarises Southeast Asia in three pages and mentions the presence of about 120 sites – of which only five are named. In contrast, my ongoing research has identified 1,200 sites (see here and here) by incorporating data from non-English sources and papers from less prominent journals. Perhaps once I have my thoughts sorted out I will share it in another post. To understand this disparity better, I put out an informal survey to ask about the most influential books about the archaeology of Southeast Asia:
Crowdsourcing the Most Influential Books on Southeast Asian Archaeology
This is by no means a scientific survey, but the majority of respondents in my network were archaeologists working in Southeast Asia. While it is not comprehensive, I think there is a good breadth of what is considered to be the ‘classic’ books on Southeast Asian archaeology. A few books were recommended more than once (notably Southeast Asia from Prehistory to History by Bellwood and Glover).
This list is organised by region, then country (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) and then by thematic subject. Some suggestions that were not directly relevant to Southeast Asia were omitted. I’ve also included links to Amazon and/or the publisher if they are available for purchase (Disclosure: I make a commission if you buy the books through the Amazon links below). I’ll update this list regularly, so if you have a suggestion for other books leave a comment below.
Singapore News -SINGAPORE – A pioneering archaeologist whose work emphasizes that Singapore’s history goes beyond the landing of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 has been awarded the inaugural Singapore History Prize.. Read more at straitstimes.com.