- South Asian Anthropology - Open Anthropology Cooperative
- Ethnographic Region: East & South East Asia
- SOAS University of London
- Southeast Asia
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Welcome to the Anthropology Collections Curation Portal! Seemingly fragile, textiles can be an enduring link to vanished cultures, as well as a fascinating cross section of the aesthetic sensibilities of far-flung contemporary peoples.
South Asian Anthropology - Open Anthropology Cooperative
Berthold Laufer , curator of Asian Anthropology from to , was a pioneer in the study of Asian cultures. With a doctorate in oriental languages from the University of Leipzig, Laufer was a sinologist who was fluent in more than a dozen languages, many of which were non Indo-European. Polymath and polyglot, his interests seemed unbounded and his linguistic skills unequaled. Boone and his wife Katharine Phelps Boone. The Boones acquired most of these objects in the late s, during a three-year tour of duty in Japan. For more than 1, years rubbings have been a vital medium for preserving China's art, culture, and history.
Ethnographic Region: East & South East Asia
These beautiful works are made by pressing thin sheets of wet paper into carvings or inscriptions cut in stone or other hard materials and carefully inking the surface to create a copy of the original. All presentations are to be delivered in English. Proposals should be submitted to seaa. Results of the selection of papers will be made by the end of March Panels: A panel will consist of 4 paper presenters and 1 discussant.
To submit a panel, please provide a word abstract for each individual paper and a word statement for the theme of the panel. The politician had died in murky circumstances some years before. All there was to show of his dream harbour at this point was a fine Islamo-vernacular lighthouse, a mile or so down the beach from the campus. Oluvil lighthouse. Photograph by the author. Islands are good sites to watch this process at work. And islands like the island of Sri Lanka are perhaps best thought of not as closed entities but more as sieves or colanders, through which persons, ideas and theories pass, leaving odd bits and pieces behind on their passage.
All this passing is not without its problems and predicaments, and from these problems some of us make anthropology. They were first drafted in response to an invitation to think about the somewhat more specific topic of South Asia as a context for anthropological theory. Thinking about Sri Lanka in terms of its proximity to, and distance from, the bigger thing that is South Asia, can, I think, illuminate our understanding of the island not least its current venomous politics.
It can also shed light on why Sri Lanka has been such a fruitful site for the making of anthropologists. I will return to the question of politics, and specifically the anxieties of post-war place-making in Sri Lanka, in my concluding comments. First, though, I want to step back from anthropology and instead steal an idea or two from the historians of the region. I should stress that I am not pretending that what follows has much if any substance as a contribution to the history of anything Sri Lanka, anthropology, whatever : rather I am using a perspective derived from these historians because, as they say, it is good to think with.
Anachronism is the least of my problems. Ostensibly commenting on a six-country comparison by the historian of Southeast Asia Victor Lieberman, Subrahmanyam chose to propose a radically different way of approaching the history of early modern Asia and Europe. In place of this kind of comparativist perspective, Subrahmanyam argues for a kind of analysis which takes the issue of connections across distance seriously as a point of departure. Arakan, he reminds us, was tied into a network of Buddhist polities, including those in Sri Lanka, held together by flows of monks and more material representatives of the Buddha, in the form of relics.
Before that, the Palk Straits were for centuries a crossing point for all manner of people and goods, with groups of incomers being absorbed in local hierarchies of caste, family and religion. But, as Sunil Amrith has eloquently demonstrated, if we attend to the movements of migrants across the Bay of Bengal, we find ourselves thinking in terms of a rather different region, a region which includes Singapore and Penang, as well as Colombo and Kolkata, and therefore a region which undermines the coherence of received ideas about Southeast as well as South Asia.
Two contributions from the history of religion demonstrate the possibilities inherent in such an approach to our understanding of Sri Lanka.
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His article is aimed at a number of well-chosen targets: at Eurocentric accounts of the modern; at overly materialist readings of movement and connection in the early modern; and at those who think the world has only very recently discovered travel, connection, and the intellectual consequences of connection. Subrahmanyam describes an extraordinary conversation between the Mughal ruler Akbar and a visiting Jesuit on their different ideas about the imminence of the Last Judgement, and then traces the circulation of millenary ideas and images across the supposed religious and cultural boundaries of the region.
While contemporary anthropologists happily read Knox as a Malinowskian fieldworker avant la lettre e.
Knox was one of a significant number of Europeans who were detained for many years on the orders of the King of Kandy, not, it would seem, for any obviously instrumental reasons—no ransoms were demanded, no treaties negotiated—but rather for reasons of curiosity. The editor of my early 20 th century edition notes:. From the start, ethnography cut both ways. Vedda chieftain and portrait of Robert Knox.
SOAS University of London
That concerns the local and the supra-local and the making of place. Across the sub-continent new literary cultures emerged, using Tamil, Marathi, Kannada in place of Pali or Sanskrit. What interests me is his vision of the local as something that emerges from an earlier translocal culture. The local, in this instance, is not given, it is consciously produced. The translocal is not something in our future, it is very much there in the deep past.
The sheer duration and impact of colonial rule—which lasted unbroken for over years in parts of the seaboard—is probably the other troubling factor, something which produces and reproduces place as a problem to be overcome. The problem of place-making is never resolved there but has to be undertaken anew in each generation.
And having arrived from elsewhere, the new force settles and becomes the very essence of the place of arrival. Obeyesekere has recounted the first part of his own life of to-ing and fro-ing between the cosmopolitan and the local:. As an undergraduate at Peradeniya I, like many others of my generation, wondered about my social and personal identity. I had left my own village in early childhood and then lived in Colombo and Kandy. Though I did go back to my village during school vacations, I was never really a part of its social existence.
Moreover, my village was a considerably acculturated one, characteristic of parts of the Western and Southern provinces. Inspired by a romantic quest for the really real, I used to wander during university weekends and vacations into remote villages in the North Central Province to collect folk songs and myths. I felt increasingly drawn toward understanding village culture, thereby hoping futilely, I soon learned to abolish my own alienation.
I am a native Tamil speaker, born in the Sinhalese-speaking south of Sri Lanka to a South Indian Tamil father who changed his name from something divine to something daring in order to marry my mother, a Sri Lankan Anglican whose mother tongue was English. For me, at least, anthropologizing began early. The book, with its fascination with ur , the Tamil concept of village-as-origin-and-essence, is at once about—and an example of—the making and marking of place. Some, like Chandra Jayawardena, found themselves as anthropologists by recapitulating the routes of the coolie migrants of the 19th century, in his case to Guyana and Fiji.