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Past Events

Lecture: Tantrism and State Formation in Southeast Asia

14 Aug 2017
NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE

            
About the Lecture
The socio-religious phenomenon we now call “Tantrism” dominated the religious and ritual life in much of South and Southeast Asia from around 500 CE to 1500 CE and beyond. Yet, the impact of Śaiva and Buddhist Tantric traditions on the societies and cultures of Southeast Asia remains insufficiently studied and appreciated. The talk will explore the indissoluble link between the State and Tantric ideologies/ritual systems in Southeast Asia. It will first deal with state formation, evaluating the theories of “man of prowess” and “Śaiva bhakti” elaborated by historian Oliver Wolters, then turn to the role of Tantric magic and ritual in the medieval maṇḍala polities of Sumatra, Java, and Cambodia. Finally, it will offer some concluding reflections on the link between politics, power, and the “supernatural” in modern Southeast Asia.

About the Speaker
Andrea Acri was trained at Leiden University (PhD 2011, MA 2006) and at the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ (Laurea degree, 2005). He is Maître de conférences in Tantric Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, France. Prior to joining EPHE in late 2016 he has held research and teaching positions at Nalanda University (India), the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, the Asia Research Institute (NUS), and other institutions in the Netherlands, Australia, and the UK. His main research and teaching interests are Śaiva and Buddhist Tantric traditions, Hinduism and Indian Philosophy, Yoga traditions, Sanskrit and Old Javanese philology, and the comparative religious and intellectual history of South and Southeast Asia from the premodern to the contemporary period. His publications include the monograph Dharma Pātañjala: A Śaiva Scripture from Ancient Java Studied in the Light of Related Old Javanese and Sanskrit Texts (Egbert Forsten/Brill 2011; 2nd edition Aditya Prakashan 2017), the edited volumes Spirits and Ships: Cultural Transfers in Early Monsoon Asia (ISEAS Publishing 2017, with A. Landmann and R. Blench), Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia (ISEAS Publishing 2016), From Laṅkā Eastwards: The Rāmāyaṇa in the Literature and Visual Arts of Indonesia (2011, KITLV Press, with H. Creese and A. Griffiths).


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Lecture: Seeing Through the Forest: Lost Cities, Remote Sensing and LiDAR Applications in Archaeology

21 Apr 2017
NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE


About the Speaker
Dr. D. Kyle Latinis is a Visiting Fellow at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore (2015-present) where he is also the Director of the annual NSC Field School designed to train East Asia Summit participants in archaeology, anthropology and related fields. Prior to NSC, he was a Director and Senior Social Scientist with the US Department of Defense (2011–2014; including 18 months of applied research in Afghanistan), and Dean of Graduate Studies and Social Sciences at the University of Cambodia (2009–2011). Dr. Latinis has over 25 years of experience in Southeast Asia conducting research, advising and lecturing. He earned a PhD in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore (2008) and a PhD in Ecological Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (1999)
                 
About the Lecture
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is one of the newest remote sensing technologies to be used for archaeology and related sciences. Results are revolutionizing the field, especially among researchers studying ancient urban landscapes in Southeast Asia (The Guardian, 11 June 2016).

LiDAR applications digitally peel away forest canopies and vegetative cover resulting in sophisticated surface images and detailed topographic maps of natural and cultural landscapes. LiDAR data has been integral for recent research and training initiatives at the Nalanda–Sriwijaya Centre (NSC).

LiDAR abilities cannot be underestimated. However, there are limitations. Ground-truthing through archaeological surveys and excavations continue to play necessary and central roles.

The following discussion will introduce LiDAR technology, capabilities, and limits followed by examples of LiDAR application for two recent NSC projects: Mahendraparvata - the 9th century Angkorian capital city of Jayavarman II, legendary founder of the Angkorian empire; and Koh Ker [Chok Gargyar] - the mysterious 10th century Angkorian capital city of Jayavarman IV, often depicted as a rogue usurper king. Future NSC research possibilities using LiDAR applications for other Southeast Asia sites will also be introduced.


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Workshop: Circulating the Bay of Bengal, Miraculously: Translating Wonder and Travel in Southeast Asia

07 Feb 2017
NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE

WORKSHOP ON
CIRCULATING THE BAY OF BENGAL, MIRACULOUSLY
TRANSLATING WONDER AND TRAVEL IN SOUTHEAST ASIA


About the Workshop
How do we write a history of travel and wonder? Can we enchant the history of Southeast Asia? Are there histories of wonder, saints, gods and spirits in societies of Southeast Asia that we can trace or write? How have Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and ‘Chinese religion’ interweaved across the Bay of Bengal? These are just some questions that this workshop aims to explore systematically.

This workshop aims to collect histories of travel, enchantment and wonder in Southeast Asia across the longue durée. It will bring together scholars whose work spans the geographic and temporal scope of societies, from the medieval era to the modern period, with a focus on ‘magical’ connections. The geographic and temporal scales of this conference are deliberately broad, largely because these are concepts and phenomena that traverse the length and breadth of religious history and experience. This workshop also aims to collect materials essential for writing a connected history of the Bay and Bengal, and for investigating the interweaving histories of Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and ‘Chinese religion’.

Workshop Programme
Tentative programme

Registration
Attendance to the Workshop is free of charge but registration is required. As seats are limited, please register early. Admission to the Workshop can only be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS.

To register, please complete this form and return it by fax to 6775-6264 or email at iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by Monday, 6 February 2017.
 
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Lecture: The ‘Magic’ of Modern Malaya: Remembering Histories of Adam’s Ore and Muhammad’s Guns

11 Nov 2016
NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE


About the Speaker
Dr Teren Sevea is Visiting Fellow at NSC. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses upon the history of religion and Islam in early modern and modern Southeast Asia, Islamic manuscripts of the Malay world, and Islamic connections across the Bay of Bengal. He is also the co-editor of a volume entitled Islamic Connections: Muslim Societies in South and Southeast Asia.

                 
About the Lecture
This talk explores Malay manuscripts pertaining to Muslim miracle-workers, or ‘magicians’ who were key intermediaries of ore and guns in the interior of modern Malaya. These manuscripts are analysed to recount a history of worlds and environments wherein socioeconomic activities were associated with Islamic esoteric science. I introduce here, professional miracle-workers who were venerated as heirs of prophets and saints from earlier Islamic periods. Having inherited ‘noses’ for prospecting ore, and as direct ‘technological’ heirs of the Prophet’s guns, these miracle-workers were esteemed for their rituals and miracles in contemporary forests, mines, ‘workshops’ and stockades. This talk analyses elaborate Islamic genealogies and popular historical traditions, and investigates how ‘magical’ manuscripts are prime sources of socioeconomic histories and are informative about religio-economic sensibilities. This talk further presents my explorations into the cosmopolitanism of the Malay frontier.


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Conference: Imagining Asia(s): Networks, Actors, Sites

10 Oct 2016 Details Button

Lecture: New Data on Early Settlement Processes and State Formation in Highland Sumatra, Indonesia

08 Sep 2016

NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE LECTURE SERIES

ABOUT THE LECTURE
Little is known about the settlement processes that created the unique cultural diversity in the highlands of Sumatra. Recent archaeological investigations have yielded new evidence of the polity of Indonesia’s last Hindu-Buddhist king, Ādityavarman (ca. 1343–75), who established his centre of reign in the highland of West Sumatra. Essential to the development of Ādityavarman’s trading kingdom were various economic factors such as gold resources, a surplus obtained by wet rice cultivation, the development of specialised crafts like metalworking, and the control of trading networks to the coastal areas. This early phase of state formation was also substantiated by increasing sociopolitical integration marked by ceremonial structures and stone inscriptions. This seminar will thus show an increase in territorial consolidation and socio-economic complexity which initiated a dense settlement pattern in this highland region from the 14th century.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Dr Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz
is Visiting Fellow at NSC. She teaches Southeast Asian cultures and archaeology at several German universities. She has a PhD in Art History from Technical University of Darmstadt and an M.A. in Art History, Archaeology, and Southeast Asian regional studies from Frankfurt University, Germany. She served as research assistant for excavations conducted in Syria (2009–2010) and Sumatra, Indonesia in 2003–2008 and 2011–2014. She was formerly a Visiting Associate of the Archaeology Unit of NSC and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute in Singapore, and has been a member of the academic committee of the European Association of Southeast Asian archaeologists (EASEAA) since 2010. Her main interests are Southeast Asia’s maritime cultural heritage, settlement history, architecture, and ancient material culture. 

REGISTRATION
To register, please fill in this form and email to nscevents@iseas.edu.sg
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Lecture: Was Angkor more Esoteric Buddhist than Brahmanical?

03 Aug 2016
NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE LECTURE SERIES


ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Peter Sharrock is a historian of Khmer Empire art at Angkor and is Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He was a Reuters correspondent during the American war in Indochina and joined the pioneering post-war visitors to Angkor in the 1990s. Dr Sharrock’s doctorate presented a new interpretation of the Buddhism and imperial politics of Jayavarman VII, the greatest king of ancient Cambodia. His recent publications include: Banteay Chhmar, Garrison-temple of the Khmer Empire (2015) and Descending Dragon, Rising Tiger: a History of Vietnam (2014).

ABOUT THE LECTURE
An inscription that recently surfaced in Paris is changing the history of the ancient Khmer Empire at its apogee in the 12th century. Now numbered K. 1297, it shows that Angkor reached its ultimate sway as one of the world’s great empires under Buddhist kings, with the notable exception of the conquering Viṣṇu devotee king Sūryavarman II (1113–49 CE), who constructed the splendid monument of Angkor Wat.

The new inscription brings into the history Sūryavarman’s younger brother, who reigned as the Buddhist king Tribhuvanādityavarman from 1149-77 CE, before he was killed in the only recorded raid on Angkor by the neighbouring Chams. He emerges as an Esoteric Buddhist and a major templebuilder, true to the tradition of his Mahīdharapura dynasty, whose genealogy he recites in some detail. Thus we learn that when the reign of the famous Vaiṣṇava Sūryavarman ended in 1149 CE (date previously unknown), he was succeeded by his younger Esoteric Buddhist brother, who went on to construct eight (as yet unidentified) Buddhist temples.

All this constitutes a major revision of middle period of the greatest century of expansion of Angkor and it alters the religious balance of Angkor towards Buddhism.

REGISTRATION
To register, please email this registration form to nscevents@iseas.edu.sg. Thank you. 
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Arts in Southeast Asia Seminar Series: After Finding Francis: Teo Kah Leng’s Malayan Poetry in the Era of Decolonisation

02 Aug 2016
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

My encounter with the poetic works of Teo Kah Leng (1909-2001), a former principal of the primary section of Montfort School in Serangoon, was the unexpected result of a two-year project on Francis P. Ng’s F.M.S.R. (1937), the first notable work of English poetry by a Singaporean writer. Through biographical research, I discovered that Ng, whose real name was ‘Teo Poh Leng’, was the younger brother of Kah Leng, also a poet. While Poh Leng wrote poetry throughout the 1930s until falling victim to Sook Ching, Kah Leng survived the Japanese Occupation and wrote actively in the 1950s-60s as British Malaya moved towards independence.

During the post-war decades, Malayan poetry matured at the University of Malaya. There students such as Wang Gungwu and Edwin Thumboo ‒ later credited as Singapore’s pioneer poets ‒ focused on the creation of a distinctively Malayan poetry inspired by Anglo-American Modernist writers. Meanwhile, outside the University’s poetry community, Teo, influenced by British Romanticists such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, produced an abundance of ballads and sonnets about Malaya’s natural environment, utilising rhymes and regular rhythms.

Through the 1950s-60s, Teo’s poems gained a wide audience via his school’s annual and Young Malayans, a magazine for Malaya’s English-medium school teachers and pupils. The University’s poetry community, however, felt poems of this kind were too conventional and preferred to emphasise free verse. As a result, Teo’s contributions were marginalised.

Through textual and discourse analysis, I will demonstrate that Teo’s poems, although falling into oblivion during Malaya’s era of decolonisation, constituted a significant part of the post-war Malayan poetry. 

About the Speaker

ERIKO OGIHARA-SCHUCK is a Lecturer in American Studies at TU Dortmund University, Germany. Dr Ogihara-Schuck is the co-editor of Finding Francis: A Poetic Adventure (Ethos Books, 2015) and the author of Miyazaki’s Animism Abroad: The Reception of Japanese Religious Themes by American and German Audiences (McFarland, USA, 2014). Her current major research interest is cultural relations between Singapore and the United States from the nineteenth century to the present. Aside from being a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, she is also a European Postdoc Fellow at the Eccles Centre for North American Studies at the British Library.

Registration

To register, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by Monday, 1 August 2016.
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Lecture: Cultural Heritage and Inter-Asian Interactions

12 Jul 2016
NALANDA-SRIWIJAYA CENTRE

About the Lecture

As Founding Dean (Academic Planning) for the historic revival of Nalanda University, Prof Sharma organised a collaborative conference in Rajgir, Bihar on “Cultural Heritage, Environment, Ecology and Inter-Asian Interactions” in January 2014. The partner—carefully chosen for their long years of work in and about Asia—was the Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). It was a first for both NU and IIAS to do a conference in India, and that too in Rajgir, Bihar: a space that had been off grid for academic purposes for more than eight centuries after the erasure of ancient Nalanda and its unique pan-Asian heritage.

The Nalanda project aimed to recover lost narratives and to exhume Asian connection buried in the grave of late 18th, 19th and early 20th century colonialisms. Its stated aim was to go beyond the image of an Asia uninflected by either Oriental, colonial discourse or its obverse, the post-colonial, uber-nationalistic one. Naturally then, the critical and conflicted subject of cultural heritage seemed to be the best way to explore both historical connections and historical ruptures—and to go beyond them.

The deliberations, debates and discussions were marked by intense concern about the nature of the new Asian states and their individuated cultural mythology. One that left little room for the transnational, the transregional and the inter-Asian as well as the local, the regional and the communal. This talk will explore and formulate questions about certain key ideas: Is my heritage your heritage? Is intangible heritage a country cousin to tangible heritage? Is culture singular, hermetically sealed or, particularly in the context of the long history of Asian civilisational dialogue, is it plural, porous and connected?

About the Speaker

Anjana Sharma is Visiting Senior Fellow at NSC. She is an Associate Professor at the Department of English, University of Delhi, India. From 2011–2015, she was Founding Dean (Academic Planning) at Nalanda University located in Rajgir, Bihar, India. She obtained her PhD from the Department of English, the Pennsylvania State University, USA in 1990. Her dissertation was subsequently published as Autobiography of Desire: English Jacobin Women Novelists of the 1790s (Macmillan, 2004). It contested the hegemony of British Romantic poetry and provided a counterculture account through archival work on pamphlets, periodicals, memoirs, and novels of the pro-French revolutionary writers in England in the 1790s. She has since then taught and published widely in this area.

Her other areas of interest are Indian Writing in English with a special focus on gender and culture. Her recent work is on the representation of Mahatma Gandhi in the public sphere in 1947. The Nalanda experience, where she conceptualised and built the first two schools of Historical Studies and Ecology and Environment Studies, shaped her most recent research on inter-Asian heritage and its transregional dynamics anchored in travel, trade, literature, arts and aesthetics. She is also actively engaged in writing for popular newspapers and weeklies on the interface between literature, life, and the concerns that shape liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies in higher education. 

Registration

For registration, please fill in this form and email to nscevents@iseas.edu.sg by 11 July 2016.
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Arts in Southeast Asia Seminar Series: Nineteenth Century Origins of Art in Singapore

18 Jul 2016
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

The National Gallery’s inaugural exhibition on Singapore art, SIAPA NAMA KAMU?, which opened in November 2015, pushes the beginnings of art in Singapore back to the nineteenth century. This seminar presentation builds on an essay I was invited to contribute to a forthcoming National Gallery publication. In my essay I argued that if the received view is that art in Singapore began with a group of artists who developed what in the National Gallery exhibition is periodised as “The Nanyang Reverie”, then what we have in the National Gallery is a revision of that received view. This seminar will probe further into the underlying assumption of the argument for extending the narrative of art in Singapore back to the nineteenth century. What unifies the rather disparate categories of natural history drawings, landscapes, historic photographs and portraits as nineteenth century art in Singapore? Were they “works of art” when they were produced in nineteenth century Singapore, or were they more commodities? When did they become appropriated as “works of art”? 

About the Speaker

Kwa Chong Guan is an Associate Fellow with the Archaeology Unit of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute. He is also a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies where he works on a variety of regional security issues, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the History Department of the National University of Singapore. Kwa was a Director of the old National Museum and continues to serve on various advisory committees of the National Heritage Board today. He also serves on various advisory committees of the National Library Board. Among his publications is an edited volume, Early Southeast Asia viewed from India, An anthology of articles from the “Journal of the Greater India Society”, published as part of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series. 


Registration
To register, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by Friday, 15 July 2016.


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