1819 and Before: Singapore’s Pasts
A special series of lectures commemorating Singapore’s bicentennial anniversary
About the Lecture
This seminar will examine issues in the writing about the history of Singapore before 1819. Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr John Crawfurd, the second Resident of Singapore, lead in reporting that Singapore was uninhabited before the British arrived. Generations of historians have concurred with this description of Singapore at 1819 and gone further to claim, as former Professors K G Tregonning and C M Turnbull have done, that whatever may have happened on Singapore before 1819 is irrelevant to the island’s historical development thereafter. This seminar explores the assumptions underlying this understanding of Singapore’s history and how the work at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre is challenging and revising these assumptions.
About the Speaker
Kwa Chong Guan works on the intersections of history, archaeology and security studies of Southeast Asia. As an Associate Fellow at the Archaeological Unit of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and Adjunct Associate Professor at the History Department of the National University of Singapore, Kwa is interested in the long cycles of Southeast Asian history. As Senior Fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University, he works on a range of regional security issues with a focus on the implicit narratives underlying our framing of regional security. He started his career working on policy analysis in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then the Ministry of Defence before being assigned to reorganize the Oral History Department in the National Archives and concurrently, the old National Museum. He continues to be associated with these heritage institutions in various advisory capacities and as Chairman of the National Archives Advisory Committee.Registration
About the Lecture
The 2017 Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC) Archaeological Field School recently assisted APSARA Authority with rather incredible discoveries at the late 12th century Tonle Snguot hospital site located in the Angkor Park, Siem Reap, Cambodia. The discoveries included a 2.0 metre guardian statue (Dvarapala) and several rare Buddha statues – one of which may be a “Healing” or “Medicine” Buddha (Bhaisajyaguru).
The Tonle Snguot site is located outside the northern gate of the famed and massive Angkor Thom urban complex. Both Angkor Thom and Tonle Snguot are associated with King Jayavarman VII (1181-1218 CE), a Mahayana Buddhist who sanctioned the construction of 102 hospitals outside the city gates, along major roads, and at different urban sites throughout the kingdom. Our research purpose aimed to understand the nature of the hospital complex. Hospitals included both practical medicine and complementary spiritual healing. Additionally, it is probably no accident that a hospital is located just outside the main gates at Angkor Thom – possibly serving as checkpoints to assure healthy and sane people entered the city.
The Field School involved one week of excavations at the site to train East Asia Summit participants in basic field methods and research design. Other aspects of the Field School included site trips throughout Cambodia and Singapore to incorporate art history, history, historical ecology and several overlapping fields in order to emphasize archaeology’s multi-disciplinary nature. The participants finished their tour de force with mini research projects presented at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.
About the Speaker
Dr D. Kyle Latinis currently researches the Historical Ecology of Southeast Asia—an approach combining ethnographic, historic, environmental and archaeological data. Research also addresses internal and external socio-economic factors and resource exploitation. Kyle oversees projects and training in both Mainland and Island Southeast Asia, having over 25 years of experience. Kyle earned a PhD at the National University of Singapore (2008) and a PhD in Ecological Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (1999). Recent publications include: “Regional Research and Training Contributions from the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre: Results from Research Projects and Field Schools in Cambodia” (in press); “The Kanam Rock Painting Site, Cambodia: Current Assessments” (2016); and “The Social and Ecological Trajectory of Prehistoric Cambodian Earthworks” (2014).Registration