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Online access to historical newspapers from Southeast Asia

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In the decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, much of Southeast Asia was under Western colonial dominance. Most of the region was divided among the British, French, Dutch, Spanish, and American powers, supplanted by a brief period of Japanese influence following the outbreak of World War II in Europe and the Pacific. The post-war era witnessed a series of revolutions as local leaders looked to regain independence from colonial powers. Decolonisation efforts and movements spread throughout the region, leaving the newly independent states in charge of their own political, economic, and social pathways for the first time in decades.

The Southeast Asian Newspapers, an Open Access collection supported by the Center for Research Libraries and its member institutions, chronicles the changes that took place throughout the region during this period, and the challenges of early statehood. Covering several countries from the region, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, and featuring multiple languages such as Dutch, English, French, Javanese, Khmer, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese, the Southeast Asian Newspapers collection incorporates a wealth of coverage and perspectives on major regional and global events of the late nineteenth and twetieth centuries.

To date, altogether 129 newspaper titles with a total of 67,762 issues dating from between 1839 to 1976 have been included: 57 from the Philippines, 37 from Vietnam, 24 from Indonesia, 5 from Thailand, 3 from Malaysia, 1 from Cambodia and 1 from Myanmar. Among the earliest printed newspapers in the collection are Tranh đ̂áu, a newspaper in Vietnamese language published in Saigon (33 issues from between 1839 to 1938, with gaps), and Nangsư̄ čhotmāihēt (หนังสือจดหมายเหตุ – Bangkok Recorder), a Thai newspaper published in Bangkok (11 issues from 1844 to 1845).

The online collection provides free access to the fully digitised issues of the newspapers (altogether 463,246 pages). Search functions by newspaper title, free word search, date and map help locate information easily. One additional feature is “On this date in history”, which presents randomly selected articles from various newspapers published in different countries on the date in history of the visit of this collection.

(This post contains information from the website of the Southeast Asian Newspapers collection)

Publication of ‘Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka’ (MST) Series reaches 20-year milestone

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The Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (FPL) celebrates 20 years of publishing its Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka (MST) Series, published jointly with the Lumbini International Research Institute (Lumbini, Nepal).

FPL is a non-sectarian organization that supports the preservation and study of the Buddhist literature of Southeast Asia. FPL aims to preserve Buddhist manuscripts and make them available through replication. Founder and curator Peter Skilling is one of the leading scholars of the Buddhist history and literature of South and Southeast Asia. He reports that, with the help of a grant from Khyentse Foundation, FPL was able to publish more volumes of the series Material for the Study of the Tripitaka this year. The seventeen titles of this series (listed below) that have appeared to date are original studies of Pali and other texts that have never been published before.

Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka (MST) Series. Image courtesy of Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (FPL)

Vol. 1 Peter Skilling and Santi Pakdeekham, Pāli Literature Transmitted in Central Siam, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2002.

Vol. 2 Peter Skilling and Santi Pakdeekham, Pāli and Vernacular Literature Transmitted in Central and Northern Siam, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2004. 

Vol. 3 Olivier de Bernon, Kun Sopheap, Leng Kok-An, Inventaire provisoire des manuscrits du Cambodge. Première partie, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2004.

Vol. 4 Santi Pakdeekham, Jambūpati-sūtra. A synoptic romanized edition, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2009. 

Vol. 5 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Skilling. Buddhism and Buddhist Literature of South-East Asia. Selected Papers, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2009.

Vol. 6 Claudio Cicuzza, A Mirror Reflecting the Entire World. The Pāli Buddhapādamaṅgala or the “Auspicious Signs on the Buddha’s Feet”. Critical Edition with English Translation, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2011. 

Vol. 7 Petra Kieffer-Pülz, Sīmāvicāraṇa. A Pali letter on monastic boundaries by King Rāma IV of Siam, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2011.

Vol. 8 Santi Pakdeekham, Piṭakamālā. ‘The Garland of the Piṭaka’, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2011.

Vol. 9 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts in the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection. Volume 1, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2014.

Vol. 10 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts in the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection. Volume 2, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2014.

Vol. 11 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts in the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection. Volume 3, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2015.

Vol. 12 Daniel Stuart, The Stream of Deathless Nectar. The Short Recension of the Amatarasadhārā of the Elder Upatissa. A Commentary on the Chronicle of the Future Buddha Metteyya with a Historical Introduction, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2017.

Vol. 13 Santi Pakdeekham, Tāṃrā Traipiṭaka. A Handbook of the Tipiṭaka, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2017.

Vol. 14 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), “Katā me rakkhā, katāme parittā”. Protecting the protective texts and manuscripts. Proceedings of the Second International Pali Studies Week. Paris 2016, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2016.

Vol. 15 Olivier de Bernon, Kun Sopheap, Leng Kok An, Inventaire provisoire des manuscrits du Cambodge (2ieme partie), Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2018.

Vol. 16 Santi Pakdeekham (ed.) History of Pali Scriptures: Sangitiyavamsa by Somdet Phra Phonnarat, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2021.

Vol. 17 Santi Pakdeekham (ed.), The Painted Catalogue of Pali Literature: Uposatha Hall of Wat Thong Nopphakhun, Bangkok, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2021.

Volumes 16 and 17 were published in 2021, the latter beautifully illustrated, to enrich our knowledge and understanding of the Pali literature of Thailand and the history of the Pali scriptures in general.

Volume 17 of the Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka (MST) Series, published in 2021. Image courtesy of Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (FPL)

The 20-year milestone is not an excuse to slow down FPL’s activities though. Santi Pakdeekham and Peter Skilling are currently working on a volume that contains the Pali texts of several historical works, or “biographies”, of important Buddha images. Another volume is being prepared by General Editor of the series, Claudio Cicuzza, which contains an edition of a Pali text called Vajirasarasangaha by Javier Schnake (Paris). Both volumes will contribute to our knowledge of the little-known Pali texts of Southeast Asia, and, like all previous volumes of the series, these will be valuable additions to research libraries and collections of Southeast Asian Buddhist material across the world.

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

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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.

Asia – Pacific: Research Routes

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Exhibition on Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Maison Asie-Pacifique in Marseille, December 9 to 19, 2019 – Now Virtual

Organized by the Maison Asie-Pacifique in Marseille, to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the CNRS (the French National Centre for Scientific Research), the exhibition “Asia – Pacific: Research Routes” pays tribute to the research work carried out from India to Easter Island by members of the Institut de recherches asiatiques (IrAsia) laboratories and Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l’Océanie (CREDO), and highlights the very specific and complementary skills of all research assistance professions at Maison Asie-Pacifique. By reflecting on themes developed by the IrAsia laboratories with regard to the different regions of Asia and the Pacific – history, anthropology, the study and translation of Asian literatures, etc. – the exhibition offers a closer look at the activities of the Maison Asie-Pacifique. Resulting from this collaborative endeavor involving the pooling of knowledge and know-how of all participants, the exhibition invites you to travel (virtually), to explore and to learn about the work of others.

The contribution of the head librarian of the Asia library at the Maison Asie-Pacifique consisted in the collective development of the exhibition, in supporting researchers on Asia according to their research areas, in the production of the various thematic posters (choice of themes, proofreading and corrections) as well as a summary of thematic bibliographies.

Posters concerning South East Asia in the exhibition:

  • The Irrawaddy, birthplace and fulcrum of Burma [L’Irrawaddy, berceau et pivot de la Birmanie]
  • City and literature in Thailand [Ville et littérature en Thaïlande]
  • Pencak and Silat: Malayo-Indonesian martial arts [Pencak et Silat : les arts martiaux malayo-indonésiens]
  • Transmission of shamanic knowledge among the Lebbo’ of East Kalimantan, Indonesia [Transmission du savoir chamanique chez les Lebbo’ de Kalimantan Est, Indonésie]
  • The petroglyphs of Sapa, Lào province, Vietnam [Les pétroglyphes de Sapa, province de Lào, Viêt Nam]
  • Ethnic tourism on Chinese borders [Tourisme ethnique aux frontières chinoises]
  • Cosmopolitanism: migration dynamics in Southeast Asia [Cosmopolitisme : dynamiques migratoires en Asie du Sud-Est]
  • Migration in Southeast Asia: growth and feminization [Les migrations en Asie du Sud-Est : essor et féminisation]
  • Vietnam, land of migrants [Le Vietnam, terre de migrants]

Southeast Asia is not the only region represented in this exhibition. Altogether 51 posters (with text in French language) expose a variety of exciting themes from across Asia. While the physical exhibition was open for only a short period in December 2019, it can now be viewed online to make it accessible to a wider audience, especially at a time when travelling is very restricted due to the corona virus pandemic.

(Report by Christophe Caudron, Maison Asie-Pacifique, Marseille)

Website of the virtual exhibition Asia – Pacific: Research Routes

DREAMSEA: A programme to digitise Southeast Asian manuscripts and to safeguard cultural diversity

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DREAMSEA stands for Digital Repository of Endangered and Affected Manuscripts in Southeast Asia, which is a Programme that strives to preserve the content of manuscripts in the entire region of Southeast Asia by way of digitisation, and to make this content fully and openly accessible online. The Programme is carried out by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta State Islamic University (UIN) Jakarta, Indonesia, in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Manuscripts Culture (CSMC), University of Hamburg, Germany. The digital repository is presented in collaboration with the Hill Museum and Manuscripts Library. The Programme is supported by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, based in the UK.

Southeast Asia is a region with a high rate of cultural diversity. Since the aim of this Programme is to safeguard this diversity, it accommodates manuscripts written in any script and field of study as long as the manuscripts originate from Southeast Asia. The basic principle in the DREAMSEA Programme is to preserve Southeast Asian manuscripts that are under threat to be damaged or lost (endangered manuscripts), and whose condition already may have been affected by natural/environmental conditions or socio-political circumstances in Southeast Asia (affected manuscripts).

Although the Programme was only initiated in 2017, thousands of manuscript pages have already been digitised and made freely available online. In the first stage, high resolution images of 593 manuscripts containing 20,129 pages have been made available along with the metadata. They originate from three different collections: the legacy of the Kingdom of Buton in Baubau (Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia), the collections of a Muslim community in Kuningan (West Java, Indonesia), and the collection of manuscripts of Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang (Laos). In 2018-2019, DREAMSEA executed fifteen digitisation missions  and managed to safe the contents of 57 collections in eighteen cities in Indonesia, Laos and Thailand. Up to now, around 119,000 manuscript pages have been digitised and subsequently these will be made available to the public in the Programme’s  Repository, which offers search options by country, city/province, collection, project number, title, subject matter, author, language, writing support, and script. Both the quality and quantity of metadata provided for the digitised manuscripts deserve much praise, especially the often very detailed content descriptions and translations of colophons which are extremely useful for carrying out further research.

In addition, the Programme has opened its own Youtube channel of DREAMSEA Manuscripts on which short films document the work that has been carried out to digitise and preserve manuscripts in Indonesia and Laos.

Dreamsea

(Information provided by DREAMSEA)

Luang Prabang Film Festival 2017: REDHA wins Audience Choice Award

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The Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) concluded its eighth annual event last week in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Laos, with the Audience Choice Award going to the Malaysian film, Redha.

The Audience Choice Award was decided by a 5-star online rating system, for which viewers could submit their rating of a film following its screening. This year’s winner, Redha, follows the story of Alina and Razlan, who discover that their only son is autistic and must confront the harsh realities of raising a child disabled by a condition they hardly know about. The film was directed by Tunku Mona Riza, who attended the festival for her screening and participated in a Q&A with the audience as well as a public discussion on Muslim Voices in Southeast Asia.

The festival, which has the mission of celebrating Southeast Asian cinema, ran from Friday, 8 December to Wednesday, 13 December. In addition to screening 32 feature films and four programs of short films, LPFF put on four public discussions and several performances.

Official selections are made by experts and critics from across Southeast Asia referred to as “Motion Picture Ambassadors,” and represent a carefully chosen collection of what they believe to be the finest contemporary films from their respective countries. By identifying great curators with inside understanding of their community’s film scene, LPFF is able to produce a unique program that ensures in the inclusion of the strongest voices from across Southeast Asia.

Not only is LPFF a celebration of the finest Southeast Asian cinema, it has become well known as a unique forum for regional film professionals to network internationally and to exchange diverse ideas and experiences. In LPFF’s commitment to accessibility, all screenings and activities of the festival were free and open to the public.

LPFF’s four programs of short films included: a selection from the 2017 Vientianale Short Film Competition that showcased budding talent in Laos; Thai shorts to complement the festival’s SPOTLIGHT country (see below); the top films from a Youth and Agroecology Short Film Competition held by LPFF and the Agroecology Learning alliance in Southeast Asia; and recent award winners on Viddsee, an online video platform featuring short films from across Asia.

There were also several major public discussions this year for visitors of the festival, including the aforementioned discussion on Muslim voices in Southeast Asia, featuring Harlif Mohamad and Nurain Peeraya, the Bruneian directors of Rina 2; Sheron Dayoc, the Filipino director of Women of the Weeping River; Tunku Mona Riza, the Malaysian director of Redha; and Kong Rithdee, LPFF’s Motion Picture Ambassador for Thailand and writer of The Island Funeral.

Rithdee also hosted this year’s SPOTLIGHT on Thailand, with a full day of programming devoted to screenings and discussion of the issues facing Thai filmmakers today. Delegates from the Royal Thai Embassy in Vientiane were in attendance and several Thai filmmakers participated, including Anocha Suwichakornpong (By the Time it Gets Dark), Sompot Chidgasornpongse (Railway Sleepers), Boonsong Nakphoo (Wandering), Laddawan Rattanadilokchai (The Couple), Sakchai Deenan (The upcoming Memories of New Years), and Sanchai Chotirosseranee (Thai Film Archive, representing Santi-Vina).
Also occurring during the festival was the second iteration of the LPFF Talent Lab for Southeast Asian filmmakers, led by the Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI), with 10 participating film projects from 6 ASEAN nations. The Lab, which focused on grant writing and project pitching and was extended to two days this year, included a pitching workshop led by Bryce Norbitz and Molly O’Keefe from TFI. Following the workshop was a pitch forum with feedback from a jury comprised of filmmaking professionals from around the world, including Jeremy Sim of Singapore-based media investment firm Aurora Media Holdings; Kenneth Lipper, the Oscar-winning American producer; Victor William of ROKKI, AirAsia’s in-flight entertainment provider; and Ho Hock Doong and Siti Helaliana Chumiran, both from the Malaysian distribution company, Astro.

After deliberation, the jury selected the Lao-Filipino collaboration Raising a Beast to attend the TFI Network market, which will take place in New York City at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival®. There, TFI will arrange meetings for the filmmakers with editors, distributors, and financiers. TFI will then mentor the Raising a Beast team through the completion of the project. Written and directed by Xaisongkham Induangchanty (Laos) and produced by Abigail Lazaro (Philippines), Raising a Beast tells the story of two Hmong siblings, Ying and Neng, who are blessed with beautiful voices and dream of moving to the city to become singers one day. When their father refuses to sell the family’s prized bull to help pay for Neng’s education in the city, Ying becomes a bull trainer to cover her brother’s expenses.

Another big winner at the Talent Lab was the Filipino project Cat Island, pitched by Siege Ledesma (director, writer) and Ang Alemberg (producer). Jeremy Sim and Aurora Media Holdings selected the project to receive its Aurora Producing Award of $10,000. Cat Island follows Catherine, who after dedicating almost two decades of her life to the care of her asthmatic, albeit feisty and cat-loving mother, finds herself alone and purposeless when her mother dies. On the eve of her 40th birthday, the ghost of Catherine’s mother returns to ask for Catherine’s help in completing her “unfinished business”: have her remains cremated and scattered over Cat Island, Japan. With a renewed sense of purpose, Catherine travels to Japan to complete her mission on the rural island.

A new addition to the festival’s program this year was a documentary production workshop organized by the US Mission to ASEAN and the American Film Showcase. Renowned Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona Diaz (Imelda, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey) and Patrick Shen (Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality, The Philosopher Kings) led a five-day workshop with 14 participants from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. At the end of the workshop, four short documentaries made in small groups by the participants throughout the week were presented following a screening of Diaz’s most recent film, Motherland.

LPFF offered five live evening performances on its main stage before headline screenings at its Night Venue, the Handicraft Market at the main intersection in town, including concerts from popular Lao singers Touly and Ola Black Eyes. These performances are an opportunity to nurture young talent, and offer a platform for these performers to showcase their talents to an international audience.

22 of this edition’s 32 feature films had directors, producers, writers, or actors in attendance, all of whom participated in Q&A sessions after the screenings of their films. Between screenings, filmmakers and other industry professionals mingled in the Beerlao Director’s Lounge on the top floor of Indigo House, where they could enjoy complimentary Beerlao Gold and take in the view of the Night Venue.

On display was an exhibition of photographs from Myanmar from the lauded Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, accompanied by an exhibition walk-through by the initiative’s founder, Philip Jablon. As a reprise to his trip there over five years ago, Jablon spent February and March of last year researching and photographing movie theaters in Myanmar, a nation experiencing an overall rebirth of cinema-going.

Once again, the festival was proudly supported by its biggest sponsor, the Lao Brewery Company with three of their brands coming in at the Platinum Level: Beerlao, Pepsi, and Tigerhead.

Other generous supporters of the 2017 festival were the US Embassy Vientiane, the Asia Foundation, the Bennack-Polan Foundation, Chillax Productions, Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Laos, Exo Travel, Sofitel Luang Prabang, the Nam Theun 2 Power Company, Princeton in Asia, the Royal Thai Embassy Vientiane, Indochina Productions, the Delegation of the European Union to Lao PDR, DK Lao, Theun-Hinboun Power Company, NP Service & Design, Final Draft, and the Asia-Europe Foundation.

For more information on the festival, visit lpfilmfest.org or stay up to date at facebook.com/lpfilmfest.

(reported by Gabriel Kuperman / Founder & Director of LPFF)

Luang Prabang Film Festival 2017 poster

Tribal Music Asia – An online source for traditional music, ceremonies, and culture of the ethnic groups of Southeast Asia

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Created by American researcher, documentarian, and musician Victoria Vorreiter for over a decade, Tribal Music Asia is the home of the Resonance Project, a dynamic multi-media archive that aspires to record and preserve the traditional musical heritage of the indigenous peoples living in the mountains of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and China, who have depended for millennia on “the mother tongue method” to transmit their ancestral knowledge, history, and beliefs. Numbering over 130 groups and subgroups, most of these communities continue to live close to the earth, to practice animism, and to maintain a vital oral tradition. Culturally and sonically, this is one of the most extraordinary places on the planet.

Xob Lwm Vaj and Friends
Performing the Qeej at the New Year Festival
at Ban Tan, Phongsali Province, Laos
December 2005.
Copyright: Victoria Vorreiter

By interweaving a variety of visual, aural, and tactile components, the Resonance Project spotlights these highlanders’ astonishingly rich soundscape—springing from a vast repository of songs, chants, invocations, and instrumental music—to demonstrate music’s vital role in charting human emotions, celebrating cycles of seasons, marking the arc of life, and animating ritual enactments. It is hoped that in giving voice to cultures that may seem remote, this project contributes to an awareness of our world that transcends borders.

The Resonance Project first produced the Songs of Memory: Traditional Music of the Golden Triangle multi-layered project (April 2009), consisting of the Songs of Memory Book, Compact Disc, and Multi-media Exhibition of photographs, films, musical instruments, artifacts, and textiles for a family (father, mother, son, and daughter) of the six major ethnic groups in the region: Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Mien, Hmong, and Karen.

“Songs of Memory”, front cover of the book.
Copyright: Victoria Vorreiter

The Songs of Memory collections have been hosted in such prestigious venues as the East-West Center, Hawaii; the Jim Thompson Center, Bangkok; the University of Mandalay, Myanmar; the Golden Triangle Gallery, Chicago; the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center; and numerous international conferences at Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

In recent years, the Resonance Project has specifically delved into Hmong traditions, producing the Hmong Songs of Memory: Traditional Secular and Sacred Hmong Music archive, based on the Hmong Songs of Memory Book and Film (December 2016), which offers readers, viewers, and listeners an in-depth experience of Hmong music and its primal role in propelling their rites.

Cover of the “Hmong Songs of Memory” film.
Copyright: Victoria Vorreiter.

To bring the book and film alive, the Hmong Songs of Memory, Hmong Threads of Life Exhibition was launched, providing visitors with a variety of integrative components—photographs, film, a comprehensive collection of Hmong musical instruments, artifacts, detailed text panels, and full textiles of the four major Hmong subgroups in Laos and Thailand.

“Hmong Songs of Memory”, front cover of the book.
Copyright: Victoria Vorreiter

The Tribal Music Asia website provides access to recordings of Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Mien, Hmong, and Karen music, various publications and reviews, photo galleries, and layouts of recent and previous exhibitions. It is possible to directly order books, CDs, note cards, and documentary films.

Lahu Shi Man and Grandson
Celebrating the Harvest Festival at
Wan Kong Pyak Tae, Keng Tung, Myanmar, 2005.
Copyright: Victoria Vorreiter

An important book: “Cultural Property and Contested Ownership”

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We rarely present new books on this blog (simply because there are so many), but there is one recent publication not only art and museum curators, but also archivists and librarians should be aware of. The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property concerns not only “ancient” works of art or cultural heritage, but also material which could be of a rather recent date. The Convention is not only relevant in regard of collection or acquisition, but also when cultural heritage material is being displayed publicly or made available through digitisation, for example.

The book Cultural Property and Contested Ownership, edited by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Lyndel V. Prott (London & New York: Routledge, 2017) provides long awaited insights and experiences from an interdisciplinary point of view by professionals working with cultural heritage material.

The publisher’s description of the book says the following:

“Against the backdrop of international conventions and their implementation, Cultural Property and Contested Ownership explores how highly-valued cultural goods are traded and negotiated among diverging parties and their interests. Cultural artefacts, such as those kept and trafficked between art dealers, private collectors and museums, have become increasingly localized in a ‘Bermuda triangle’ of colonialism, looting and the black market, with their re-emergence resulting in disputes of ownership and claims for return. This interdisciplinary volume provides the first book-length investigation of the changing behaviours resulting from the effect of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The collection considers the impact of the Convention on the way antiquity dealers, museums and auction houses, as well as nation states and local communities, address issues of provenance, contested ownership, and the trafficking of cultural property. The book contains a range of contributions from anthropologists, lawyers, historians and archaeologists. Individual cases are examined from a bottom-up perspective and assessed from the viewpoint of international law in the Epilogue. Each section is contextualised by an introductory chapter from the editors.”

The book is divided into three parts. Part one is dedicated to the theme Plunder, trafficking and return, and includes contributions by Keiko Miura on Destruction and plunder of Cambodian cultural heritage and their consequences, Alper Tasdelen on Cambodia’s struggle to protect its movable cultural property and Thailand, and Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin who discusses Looted, trafficked, donated, and returned: the twisted tracks of Cambodian antiquities.

The second part deals with Profit, authenticity and ethics, and contains contributions by Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz on Struggles over historic shipwrecks in Indonesia: economic versus preservation interests, as well as by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Sophorn Kim on Faked biographies: The remake of antiquities and their sale on the art market.

Part three of the book looks at Negotiating conditions of return, and includes contributions by Barbara Plankensteiner on The Benin treasures: difficult legacy and contested heritage, by Anne Splettstößer on Pre-Columbian heritage in contestation: The implementation of the UNESCO 1970 convention on trial in Germany, and finally by Sarah Fründt who gives insights in Return logistics – repatriation business: Managing the return of ancestral remains to New Zealand.

In addition, there are an introduction by the editors and an epilogue. Each article is accompanied by a detailed list of references which are useful for further study of the entire topic.

Front cover of the book “Cultural Property and Contested Ownership” (ISBN 978-1-138-18883-9)

 

Symposium “Reframing the Archive: The Reuse of Film and Photographic Images in Postcolonial Southeast Asia”

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1 June 2017, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

This symposium will explore the ways in which colonial and postcolonial film and photographic archives have been rearticulated within a range of Southeast Asian political and aesthetic contexts. How have artists and filmmakers sought to subvert existing power relations through the use of colonial images? To what extent have archival materials and technologies allowed for an investigation into the emancipatory potential of the lens? How have these techniques been utilised by diasporic populations? Though preference will be given to submissions which focus on Southeast Asia, papers that draw comparisons with other postcolonial contexts are also welcome.

The symposium will be accompanied by screenings of two feature-length films by Cambodian filmmakers and a series of short films by emerging filmmakers from Southeast Asia. This programme, we believe, will provide a further opportunity to address the themes raised by the symposium.

The conference and screening programme are organised by Dr Joanna Wolfarth, Dr Fiona Allen, and Annie Jael Kwan independent curator, The Asia Projector.

To submit a paper, please send paper titles, abstracts of c. 500 words and a 2-page CV to reframingthearchive@gmail.com

The deadline for abstracts is 31st January 2017.

For more detailed information, please view the symposium homepage.

 

 

Panel on Southeast Asian Manuscripts Studies, ASEASUK Conference London 2016

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The next Association for Southeast Asian Studies in the United Kingdom (ASEASUK) Conference, to be held 16-18 September 2016, is being hosted at SOAS, University of London. This conference provides a major venue for the dissemination of research on South East Asia in various disciplines for academics both from the UK and abroad.

ASEASUK is now calling for papers to be presented in about 40 accepted panels. A listing with descriptions of the accepted panels and additional information about the conference can be found here.

We would like to draw your attention to panel 27a on “Southeast Asian Manuscripts Studies”, which I co-convene with Dr Mulaika Hijjas from SOAS London. The panel aims to provide a collegial and stimulating forum for researchers working on diverse aspects of manuscript studies. Topics may include the codicology of manuscripts, including research on illumination and illustration, bindings, inks and paints, calligraphy and palaeography; philological studies of texts in vernacular or sacral languages; and the overlap between manuscript studies and epigraphy, looking at inscriptions in wood, stone or metal. Historical, literary or cultural studies based on manuscript materials will also be welcome, as well as researches on the production and use of manuscripts in historical perspective. I would like to invite you to contribute to this panel if you are currently researching or working with Southeast Asian manuscripts.

The deadline for paper proposals is 15 April 2016. Please note that only one paper per person is permitted for this conference.

Conference registration opens on 1 April 2016 and early bird rates apply until 30 June. Online registration will close on 12 September. The full conference fee is payable from 1 July. All paper presenters must register in advance. Paper presenters who are not members of ASEASUK must additionally register for a one year membership of ASEASUK.

If you consider proposing a paper for the panel on “Southeast Asian Manuscripts Studies”, please contact me directly at jana.igunma AT bl.uk (for mainland Southeast Asian manuscripts) or Dr Mulaika Hijjas at mh86 AT soas.ac.uk (for maritime Southeast Asian manuscripts).

Elephant treatise, British Library Or.13652

Elephant treatise, British Library Or.13652

 

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