Seng Chantha studied a Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art at SOAS and is now Deputy Director of Archaeology and Conservation, National Authority for Sambor Prei Kuk.
Why did you choose SOAS?
I chose SOAS because of its wide range of expertise and accessibility to interdisciplinary research. Also, SOAS gave me a great opportunity to study the History of Art, particularly Asian art.
The Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art at SOAS University of London offered me an excellent program in History of Art. Indeed, the course provided me with very important object-based study, from Asian Art, through lectures and contributions from the leading scholars, researchers, curators, and related professionals in the history of art and archaeology.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
I enjoyed both the Indian and SEA Art courses; the combination of the two allowed me to see the deeper history of art, religion, and belief system of the two regions as well as the relationship between South and Southeast Asia.
Can you tell us about the work you do now and how you got there?
After coming back from SOAS in 2019, I returned to work in the position of Deputy Director of the Department of Archaeology and Conservation at the National Authority for Sambor Prei Kuk (NASPK). Since 2020, I have been appointed to work as a coordinator and field trainer in the Cambodia-Japan Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation Project (CJSCP), the cooperation project of NASPK and Waseda Univerity (Tokyo). Until recently, there are two important activities of the project, which have been carried out including a training program for experts, university students, and field workers for the future proficiencies in archaeological research and heritage conservation. Moreover, I have engaged in the project of archaeological investigation, through the surface collection in Ishanapura, the capital city of the Chenla Empire that flourished throughout much of Southeast Asia during the late 6th and early 7th centuries AD. On the other hand, I am planning to conduct archaeological research outside the city and temple zones of Sambor Prei Kuk. This work will study the human settlement and the relationship of the settlement with the temple and city areas as well as the surrounding regional centre of the contemporary period. This work will be based on the existing archaeological landscape and the archaeological excavation.
How has your experience at SOAS helped you in your career?
SOAS has helped me to accomplish a big step forward in my current job. I have gained knowledge, skills, and experience to help both in my career and in general. On top of that, by gaining knowledge in art history and archaeological research academically, I can also increase my skill in research methods and academic analysis.
What advice would you give to students thinking about studying at SOAS?
SOAS is the right place for training future academics, especially research methods in the History of Art. If students are interested in the Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art, you will find different classes and new experiences at SOAS, and you will discover that SOAS is the concrete step towards your future goals.