School of Arts

Professor Ashley Thompson

Key information

Roles
Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian Art Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies Centre of Buddhist Studies Member Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme Academic Lead, Research and Publications Sub-group Chair, Programme Board Member
Department
School of Arts
Qualifications
BA, Harvard; MA, Université de Paris 3; PhD, Université de Paris 8, SFHEA
Building
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office
463
Email address
at50@soas.ac.uk
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4130
Support hours
Thursdays, 3:00pm–5:00pm

Biography

I am a specialist in Southeast Asian Cultural Histories, with particular expertise on Cambodia. This research orientation began in my undergraduate years in the History and Literature Department at Harvard, where I wrote a final dissertation on American literature of the 'Vietnam' war, and during a junior year abroad in Paris, where I attended Hélène Cixous’s epic seminar and epic play, 'L’Histoire terrible mais inachevée de Norodom Sihanouk, roi du Cambodge.' The experience set me on a path to Cambodia and Thailand where I spent ten years working in post-war reconstruction in the fields of education, art, archaeology and cultural heritage research and management – and many more, thus far unending years undertaking research on a wide range of Cambodian arts. For all of this I am indebted to the visionary mentoring of writer and feminist Hélène Cixous, historical anthropologist Ang Choulean and architect-statesman Vann Molyvann. My work at SOAS is also informed by experience gained in a diversity of higher education settings - at Phnom Penh’s Royal University of Fine Arts, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Paris 8 and the University of Leeds.

Inaugural Lecture

Loading the player...

Prof. Ashley Thompson - Double Realities: The Complex Lives of Ancient Khmer Statuary

Research interests

Over the years I have maintained a sustained focus on premodern Cambodian arts and literatures, and complemented this with more punctual work on the contemporary period and the arts of the larger Southeast Asian region. My research is informed by deconstruction and psychoanalysis, and revolves around questions of memory, political and cultural transition, sexual difference and subjectivity. Explicitly decolonizing critical perspectives play a role in more recent work. Objects of analysis include Hindu and Buddhist sculpture, cult or ritual practices and texts, as well as other forms of fine and performing arts.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Panggah Ardiyansyah Heritage as accumulated meaning: Transactions, appropriation and biographies of Hindu-Buddhist materials in pre-modern Indonesia (working title)
Udomluck Hoontrakul The Development of Political Economy and Social Formation of the Marginal Polities on the Salween River Basin, Northwestern Thailand During the first millennium CE to the mid-second millennium CE
Pipad Krajaejun Deconstructing the Historical Metanarrative of Thai Art and Archaeology: The Emergence of Artistic Styles in the Pre-Ayutthaya Period, or ‘Uthong Art,’ during the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
Ms Vera Mey Signs of a region: in search of the aesthetic imagination of Southeast Asia after 1948 (working title)
Hoang Huong Duyen Nguyen Issues in the curation of Champa art in Vietnam: On stylistic chronology, museum identity and object authenticity
Alexx Salazar Reimagining Culture and Tradition through Cambodian Shadow Puppets: Imaginaries and Narratives of Value in an Era of Restoration
Sonetra Seng Beyond the Masterpiece: Function and Design of Divine Adornment in Angkorian Cambodia (9th-14th c.).
Mariana Zegianini Making Real: Constructing Male and Female Subjectivities in Portraiture of the Late Ming and Early Qing China
Mr Kulamitra David Zukas Revealing the Religious Landscape at Bhaja, Bedsa and Karle, Buddhist Rock-cut Monasteries

Publications

Contact Ashley