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Thai rainbow archives project: a digitised collection of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender publications now online

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The emergence of open gay, lesbian, and transgender (GLT) cultures in major world cities is a sociologically significant phenomenon. The Thai capital Bangkok is home to some of Asia’s oldest and largest GLT communities. Only a decade ago, Asian GLT studies was a neglected if not taboo field. However, the 1st International Conference of Asian Queer Studies in Bangkok in 2005 demonstrated the rapid maturing of this new field. Research libraries though have not kept up with this rapid academic development, and for a variety of reasons have not collected the publications of Thai GLT communities.

Since the 1970s, Thailand’s GLT communities have produced large quantities of Thai language publications including multi-issue periodicals and magazines and community organization newsletters. This large volume of vernacular materials, totalling several thousand items, documents the history of one of the world’s most important non-Western homosexual/transgender cultures and is a largely untouched research trove. Thailand’s GLT magazines are an academic resource of genuine international importance.

While extensive, like the communities they represent, Thai GLT magazines are socially marginalised and culturally stigmatised. Thai GLT publications have often been ephemeral and of an underground nature known only to the members of these marginalised communities themselves. They have rarely been distributed through mainstream bookstores or magazine outlets. As a result, there is currently no public archive of Thai GLT vernacular materials anywhere in the world, and research in this field is seriously hindered by this institutional deficiency. These materials are in danger of being destroyed and disappearing completely in the next few years. Since no Thai or Western library or archive has collected these materials, the only remaining copies are in the hands of private collectors.

This project, funded by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, was part of an attempt by Thai community organisations, working in collaboration with the Australian National University, to preserve materials that have not been collected by any Thai institutional archive. In order to set the groundwork for this project, Thai community organisations were encouraged to physically salvage the materials that were finally digitised. These materials have never previously been collected in one location. This project also operated under the added disadvantage of a local situation where some authorities view the materials as deserving of destruction rather than preservation.

A total of 648 issues of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender community organisations and commercial magazines from 32 different series were digitised. A website hosted by the Australian National University has been created and pdf versions of each magazine issue have been posted there. Information on the website is in the process of being translated into Thai, to make this resource fully bilingually functional.

The original materials will be transferred to the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC), Bangkok – the final transfer was delayed because of the disruptions caused by the massive flooding of Bangkok in late 2011.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued in the British Library’s Endangered Archives, where the fully digitized material has been made available online:

EAP128/1 Thai Rainbow Archives Collection: A digitised collection of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender publications [1982-2009]

In memory of Parathakorn (Joe) Nimsang (Born 12 March 1979, Died 10 April 2014) whose tireless dedication to preserving Thailand’s heritage of endangered gay, lesbian and transgender publications was pivotal to the successs of the Thai Rainbow Archives Project.

[Information from the Endangered Archives Programme]

Pilgrims, healers, and wizards: Buddhism and religious practices in Burma and Thailand

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Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Alexandra Green, curator, British Museum

One of my first jobs at the British Museum was to examine the Southeast Asian collections. I found that the holdings from Burma (formally known as Myanmar) and Thailand contain numerous popular posters, mostly on religious themes, that have never been on display, as well as good examples of lacquer, textiles, votive tablets and Buddha images. Other religious objects in the collection include protective diagrams on cloth, tattooing equipment and manuals, and boxes that display images of the zodiac and the eight days of the week (Wednesday is divided into two), both of which are important in divination and producing horoscopes. The material seemed to cry out for an examination of religion in the two countries.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Western scholars considered Buddhism to be an austere, monolithic religion focused upon meditation and nirvana (the escape from the cycles of rebirth)…

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Conference on Manuscripts and Archives, Hamburg

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Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, 19-22 November 2014

The Centre of the Studies of Manuscripts Cultures (University of Hamburg) organizes a conference on Manuscripts and Archives from 19-22 November 2014. Contributions from the field of Southeast Asian manuscript cultures are most welcome and are encouraged. Proposals should be submitted as soon as possible.

The conference will explore the complex topic of the archive in a historical, systematic and comparative dimension and try to contextualise it in the broader context of manuscript cultures by addressing the following questions: How, by whom and for which purpose are archival records produced? Is there any observable difference from literary manuscripts concerning materials, formats, producers (scribes)? Where are they stored, how organised? Are there other objects stored together with the records? Which practices are involved inside the archive, how and by whom are they used? Is there a term or a concept of archive as opposed to library, museum, cabinet (of curiosities) and the like? Is there a relation to historiography? Is there an archival science (archivology)?

The conference takes place at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Warburgstraße 26, Hamburg, Germany.

Participation in the conference is free of charge and visitors are welcome.

For more detailed information and registration please visit the CSMC website: http://www.manuscript-cultures.uni-hamburg.de/register_archives.html

6th SSEASR Conference, Colombo 2015

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We have the pleasure of extending to you the information of the forthcoming 6th SSEASR Conference on Heritage in the History, Culture and Religion of South and Southeast Asia. This international Conference of the South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR) which runs under the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR), is rated as one of the best South and Southeast Asian conferences on history, culture, religion, languages and civilizations in the world under the aegis of the CIPSH, UNESCO.
The Conference is being organized by the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka in collaboration with the International Association for Asian Heritage (IAAH) and Sri Lanka Association of Buddhist Studies (SLABS) in Colombo from June 04 to June 07, 2015. It is also planned to organise a post-Conference tour (June 8-11).
The FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT and call for papers can be accessed at:

http://www.sseasr.org/6th_SSEASR_conference_first_announcement.pdf

More information on the SSEASR and the Conference will be available from the website http://www.sseasr.org.

Prof. Anura Manatunga
Organising Secretary
6th SSEASR Conference, 2015
University of Kelaniya, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Email: SSEASR-Srilanka@hotmail.com

Charles Wallace Burma Trust Visiting Fellowship

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Applications are invited for the Charles Wallace Burma Trust Visiting Fellowship which will be hosted by the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, in partnership with the Charles Wallace Burma Trust and the British Council in Burma.

The Fellowship is intended to enable a Burmese scholar to conduct research on any aspect of modern Burmese history and society, and is open to scholars working in all disciplines related to this field.

The Fellowship is for a period of three months during the Lent Term, 2015 (13 January to 13 March).

The aim of the Fellowship is to advance the scholarly achievements of the visiting fellow, and thereby establish productive academic links between Cambridge and Burma.

Candidates who have had financial support from the Charles Wallace Burma Trust in the past five years will not be eligible. Provided they are qualified in other respects, candidates with little or no prior international experience are strongly encouraged to apply.

At the conclusion of the Fellowship period, the Fellow will be required to submit a report to the Committee of Management of the Centre of South Asian Studies and to the Secretary of the Charles Wallace Burma Trust outlining what he or she has achieved.

An all-inclusive monthly stipend of £1,400 is offered by the Trust to cover costs at Cambridge, together with a contribution towards a return economy air fare from Burma, and the cost of the candidate’s UK visa. The Fellow is expected to make his/her own travel arrangements.

The British Council in Burma will offer advice to the Fellow about securing a UK visa, and provide some pre-departure briefing.

If you know of anyone from Myanmar (Burma) who might be interested in applying, please direct them to the relevant part of the Centre’s website.

Candidates are invited to submit the following by email to: admin@s-asian.cam.ac.uk
 – a letter of application setting out as precisely and as clearly as possible the programme of research to be undertaken
 – the names of scholars already in Cambridge working in a similar or adjacent/related subject and with whom the fellow would hope to work
 – a full CV with a list of publications; and
 – ask not more than two academic referees to email directly in support of his or her application by the closing date of 31 October 2014.

Please note that, in order to comply with work permit regulations, the successful applicant will be asked to submit a signed, original copy of his/her application and original, signed references.

The selection will follow the Centre of South Asian Studies’ policy and procedure for Academic Visitors and is subject to the approval of the Charles Wallace Burma Trust and the British Council in Burma.

The closing date for applications is 31 October, 2014. The Fellow is expected to take up the post at the beginning of the Lent Term 2015 (13 January 2015).

Applications and enquiries should be sent to:
The Administrator, Centre of South Asian Studies, Alison Richard Building, 7 West
Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT, UK

(Forwarded from Rachel Rowe, SAALG)

Shan Manuscripts in the UK

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An interesting article with the title “An Introduction to the World of Shan Manuscripts” by our member Jotika Khur-Yearn has appeared on the blog of the SOAS Subject Librarians. It gives a short overview of the Shan manuscript tradition and collections of Shan manuscripts in the UK. Jotika is currently working on an exhibition of Shan manuscripts which will be on display at the Wolfson Gallery of the SOAS Library in London in November and December 2014. More details about the upcoming exhibition will follow on this blog nearer the time.

Detail of a cover of a Shan folding book (pap tup) held at the British Library (Or.12040)

Detail of a cover of a Shan folding book (pap tup) held at the British Library (Or.12040)

“Surviving Far East Captivity and the Aftermath: 70 Years on”

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2015 Conference of the Researching FEPOW History Group

The Researching FEPOW History Group announces the 5th International Conference in association with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), which will take place on 5-7 June 2015 at the Old School, LSTM, in Liverpool. The theme of the conference is “Surviving Far East Captivity and the Aftermath: 70 Years on“.

Researching FEPOW History was established in 2005 with the aim of organising biennial conferences to aid those who are researching the experiences of ex-Far Eastern prisoners of war or civilian internees. The organising team comprises seven FEPOW researchers. Their aim is to share FEPOW history, information and research as widely as possible. They are independent, affiliated to no specific organization or group, but in touch with as many as possible worldwide. They invite world renowned historians, authors and researchers to present their work to as wide an audience as possible.

In alphabetical order, speakers confirmed for the 2015 Conference include:
Keith Andrews (research), Jeya Ayadurai (Changi, Singapore), Rod Beattie MBE (Thailand), Frank Cottrell Boyce (scriptwriter, The Railway Man), Jon Cooper (Singapore), Jane Davies (Lancashire Fusiliers Museum; FEPOW in Korea), Professor Geoff Gill (LSTM), Dr Rosalind Hearder (Australian medics), Dr Lizzie Oliver (Sumatra Railway), Meg Parkes (FEPOW medical art), Martin Percival and Stephen Rockliffe (RAPWI and Repatriation), Philip Reed (IWM) – Roderick Suddaby Lecture, Stephen Walton (IWM), Anne Wheeler (Canadian film producer), Professor Rupert Wilkinson (child internee in Philippines).

The conference also includes an optional visit to the Lancashire Infantry Museum’s FEPOW archives (2nd Loyals, held in Singapore, Thailand and Korea) on 8 June 2015. This archive is a jewel and should not to be missed by those with an interest in FEPOW history.

For more detailed information and registration, please visit the Researching FEPOW Group’s 2015 Conference page.

(Forwarded by Rachel Rowe, SAALG) 

 

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