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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The British Museum and SOAS are jointly offering a PhD scholarship to study the history of collecting in Southeast Asia in the 19-20th centuries. A really interesting subject, but available only to UK/EU applicants. Deadline is 28 April 2015.
AHRC-funded project studentship in Department of Asia at the British Museum and the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS
The Department of Asia at the British Museum and the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS invite applications from suitably qualified UK/EU candidates for a full-time, 3-year Collaborative Doctoral Award funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council on the subject of ‘Thick provenance: interactions between European and Southeast Asian collecting practices refracted through the lens of the mainland Southeast Asia material at the British Museum.’
The project is a critical and comparative history of collecting in mainland Southeast Asia in the 19th-20th centuries. It proposes to examine the biographies of the British Museum’s mainland Southeast Asian collections, comprising analysis of modes of object ownership, perceptions of value, and exchange practices with reference to accumulation of family heirlooms and communal palladia (sources of protection and legitimation), as well as diverse modes of object circulation.
The mainland Southeast Asian collections at the British Museum contain lowland Buddhist objects, lacquerware, weapons and knives, archaeological material, pipes, and coins and banknotes, which are largely well-catalogued. More extensive, however, is the body of highland ethnographic material, including textiles and objects of daily use, such as baskets, which have not been thoroughly catalogued or researched. These objects come from the wide panoply of peoples, from the Chin and Naga in the western areas to the Shan, Karenni and Lahu of the eastern and central ones, who live in the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia and are not confined by national borders. Little is known about how these objects were collected and used locally and regionally, the roles they played within their local communities, or the means by which they were collected and arrived at the British Museum. It is anticipated that the student will focus upon this latter body of material for the PhD in order to provide a better understanding of object usage and ownership within regional and group relations, as well as the interactions between Europeans and locals at the time of collection.
The Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London, invites applications for a Lectureship in South East Asian Art. The post holder will be part of the exciting new development in South East Asian Art made available by a transformational donation from the Alphawood Foundation, Chicago, in 2013.
The post is intended for a dynamic scholar at a Lecturer level. The post is tenable from 1st September 2015. Applications are invited from those working on the history of art of any geographical area of South East Asia. Candidates with a specialism in the modern and contemporary arts of South East Asia are strongly invited to apply. Candidates should have an outstanding international reputation demonstrated by an excellent publication record and knowledge of relevant languages.
The successful candidate will be a member of the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology and will be expected to develop and teach courses at all levels, supervise PhD students, assume administrative responsibilities, collaborate productively with colleagues, and play a major role in the further development of South East Asian Art.
SOAS is organising a symposium on Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia in July and the call for papers is now open. Bursaries for living and travel expenses are available to selected applicants. Deadline is 15 March 2015.
The Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS invites papers for a symposium entitled ‘The Emergence of Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia: Southeast Asian Perspectives’ on July 3 2015.
Mainland Southeast Asia underwent major civilizational transitions when the Hindu-Mahayana Buddhist Angkorian Empire met its end over the 13th-15th centuries and Theravada Buddhism emerged in its wake. While Angkor remained a reference for the new states that developed across the mainland, Theravada Buddhism structured the cultural, social and political forms which continue to define the region. Given the importance of these changes, astonishingly little is understood about how it actually happened, notably in the Angkorian heartland itself. By supporting interdisciplinary exchange on the Theravadin material heritage across the Southeast Asian region (including Sri Lanka) during this transitional period, the symposium aims to begin to redress this gap in our regional understandings.
Applications are now open for the Alphawood Scholarships in Southeast Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London for the 2015-16 academic year. This is a great opportunity for young Southeast Asian scholars interested in a postgraduate education for the advancement of Hindu and Buddhist art.