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).