History and Art History in Southeast Asia


For our inaugural ARTSEA post, we are privileged to share with you a recent seminar presented by Professor Adrian Vickers of the University of Sydney, who was a Visitor in the School of Culture History and Language in April 2021. The seminar was hosted by New Mandala in conjunction with the ANU Southeast Asia Institute, and took place on 27 April, 2021 at the The Australian National University.

Professor Vickers takes viewers on a journey through the under- and unexplored avenues of Southeast Asian history and art history, speculating on the possibility of intersections between nations and individuals, artforms and ideologies, and makes a case for researchers to take a deeper dive into the modern art of the region and its enigmatic origins. Professor Vickers wrote:

A History of Ayutthaya: Siam in the Early Modern World

“As a historian researching modern Southeast Asian art, the field has presented me with three key problem areas: first, how to track art history as the history of styles deriving from influences; secondly, the history of modernism and its relationship to modernity; thirdly, the question of whether there is art that links Southeast Asia as a region. In addressing these problems, we are faced with a series of missing evidence and disjunctions that is indicative of the newness of the field. Some of these disjunctions are also related to significant historical breaks in the histories of different parts of the region. Solutions lie in two areas: empirical research requiring work in archives across many continents and in different languages; and a theoretical approach that takes account of interactions throughout the region in terms of inter-referencing.”

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