Home

New book on “Returning Southeast Asia’s Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution”

Leave a comment

A new book that is of special interest to curators, archivists and researchers working with Southeast Asian collections has just been published by National University of Singapore Press, in collaboration with the SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (University of London), with the title “Returning Southeast Asia’s Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution” (ISBN 978-981-325-124-3). Edited by Louise Tythacott (Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art, Northumbria University) and Panggah Ardiyansyah (SOAS, University of London), the book contains contributions from Gabrielle Abbe, Jos van Beurden, Socheat Chea, John Clarke, Charlotte Galloway, Chanraksmey Muong, Duyen Nguyen, Phacharaphorn Phanomvan, Melody Rod-ari, Wieske Octaviani Sapardan.

The publisher’s announcement of the new book highlights that “The last 150 years has seen extensive looting and illicit trafficking of Southeast Asia’s cultural heritage. Art objects from the region were distributed to museums and private collections around the world. But in the 21st century, power relations are shifting, a new awareness is growing, and new questions are emerging about the representation and ownership of Southeast Asian cultural material located in the West.

This book is a timely consideration of object restitution and related issues across Southeast Asia, bringing together different viewpoints including from museum professionals and scholars in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – as well as Europe, North America and Australia. The objects themselves are at the centre of most narratives – from Khmer art to the Mandalay regalia (repatriated in 1964), Ban Chiang archaeological material and the paintings of Raden Saleh. Legal, cultural, political and diplomatic issues involved in the restitution process are considered in many of the chapters; others look at the ways object restitution is integral to evolving narratives of national identity. The book’s editors conclude that restitution processes can transform narratives of loss into opportunities for gain in building knowledge and reconstructing relationships across national borders.” (Source: NUS Press)

The book contains eleven chapters on the following topics:

1. Introduction: Collecting and Returning Southeast Asia’s Past
Part I: Artefact Ownership
2. The Selling of Khmer Artefacts during the Colonial Era: Questioning the Perception of Khmer Heritage through a Study of Traded Khmer Art Pieces (1920s–1940s)
3. The Looting of Koh Ker and the Return of the Prasat Chen Statues
4. Who Owns Ban Chiang? The Discovery, Collection and Repatriation of Ban Chiang Artefacts
Part II: Object Biographies and Colonial Legacies
5. On the Road Back to Mandalay: The Burmese Regalia – Seizure, Display and Return to Myanmar in 1964
6. Bridging the Missing Gaps: The Politics of Display at the Dong Duong Buddhist Art Gallery
7. Restitution and National Heritage: (Art) Historical Trajectories of Raden Saleh’s Paintings
8. Returns by the Netherlands to Indonesia in the 2010s and the 1970s
Part III: Museums, Restitution, and Cultural Identities
9. The Return of Cultural Property and National Identity in Postcolonial Indonesia
10. Plaibat: Reclaiming Heritage, Social Media, and Modern Nationalism
11. Myanmar, Museums, and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage

The publication is available directly from NUS Press or can be pre-ordered from major book-sellers.

Southeast Asia in historical photographs: Vietnam

1 Comment

The National Overseas Archives in Aix-en-Provence (ANOM) have opened up to the public an ever growing online database called Base Ulysse, thereby making a variety of digitised materials from the Archives and their library available for research. Begun in 2002, this database currently makes available well over 45,000 individual photographs, albums, postcards, posters, drawings and maps.

These materials document on one side the history of the French colonial empire in general, but on the other side they are a rich source for the study of the cultures, traditions and everyday life in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in historical perspective. The materials mainly originate from public records (state secretariats and departments that managed French colonial territories from the seventeenth century until the mid-twentieth century, general government offices, etc.) and private archives, but also from donations, purchases, and bequests.

The digital collection contains over 3000 photographs from Vietnam which include 1935 images related to Tonkin, 886 images related to Cochin-China, 615 images related to Annam, and 463 images categorized under Vietnam. Most of these images are photographs from the first half of the twentieth century, but the oldest images date back to the 1880s. Interestingly, they do not only document the French colonial influence in Vietnam, but also Vietnamese traditions, ceremonies and everyday life. In addition, the cultures of ethnic minorities and religious communities in Vietnam are depicted in these photographs. The Cao Dai religion, Buddhism and Islam and their rituals are well presented in this collection, as well as the cultural traditions of the Thai ethnic groups in north Vietnam, the Cham in south Vietnam and the Chinese in Saigon, Hanoi and other large cities. Some of the images document how these photographs were taken by French colonial officers and photographers.

Some examples that illustrate the wide range of topics covered by the collection of photographs from Vietnam are presented below. All images were sourced from the Base Ulysse.

Tonkin Hanoi street view 1897-98

Street view in Hanoi, Tonkin, c.1897-8

Tonkin Vietnamese woman 1884-85

Studio photograph of a Vietnamese woman in traditional costume, Tonkin, c.1884-5

Tonkin group of dancers 1892-96

A group of Vietnamese dancers, Tonkin, c.1892-96

Tonkin orchestra 1884-85

Traditional Vietnamese orchestra, Tonkin, c.1884-5

Tonkin Buddhist nun and novice 1919-26

Buddhist nun and novice, Tonkin, c.1919-26

Tonkin land surveyors 1884-85

Land surveyors with traditional measuring instruments, Tonkin, c.1884-5

Tonkin Hanoi two young Chinese men 1894-85

Studio photograph of two young Chinese men, Hanoi, Tonkin, 1884-5

Tonkin Thai ethnic group 1895-99

Members of the Thai ethnic group, Tonkin, c.1895-9

Annam royal ceremony at royal palace in Hue 1919-26

Ceremony at the royal palace, Hue, Annam, c.1919-26

Annam mandarin 1884-85

Studio photograph of a Mandarin, Annam, c.1884-5

Annam colonial photography taking photos of Moi ethnic group at Djiring by Rene Tetart 1919-26

Colonial photographer taking pictures of ethnic minority men at work, Annam, c.1919-26

Cochinchina maritime fishery at Cau Gio 1921-35

Maritime fishery near Cau Gio, Cochin-China, c.1921-35

Cochinchina Cham fishermen in the Mekong Delta 1921-35

Cham fishermen in the Mekong Delta, Cochin-China, c.1921-35

Cochinchina traditional art school at Lai Thieu 1919-26

Traditional art school at Lai Thieu, Cochin-China, c.1919-26

Cochinchina theatre stage at the pagoda of Hocmon 1921-35

Theatre stage at the pagoda in Hoc Mon, Saigon, Cochin-China, c.1921-35

Cochinchina Beng Angsa Khmer Buddhist pagoda 1930-54

Khmer Buddhist temple Soctrang at Beng Angsa, Cochin-China, c.1930-54

Cochinchina Buddhist monks on alms round 1921-35

Buddhist monks and novices on alms round, Cochin-China, c.1921-35

Cochinchina Mosque at Threa with worshippers 1930-54

Mosque at Threa with teachers and students, Cochin-China, c.1930-54

 

 

40th Annual Meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society

Leave a comment

June 25th-28th 2014, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The 40th annual meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society (FCHS) will take place between the 25th and the 28th of June 2014, in Siem Reap, known worldwide as the gateway for the Angkor temples region. The event will be hosted by the Center for Khmer Studies and Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia- Siem Reap campus.

This year’s theme will be France and the Asia-Pacific region, but as usual, proposals on all aspects of overseas France will be considered. The Society encourages students, scholars, and educators, from all disciplines to attend.

The FCHS depends on membership dues. All conference participants must be or become members at the time of registration. Additional information about the conference and the FCHS’s scholarly activities, fellowships, and past conferences is available from their homepage.