SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

The place of bronze drums in Southeast Asian Buddhist art production and associated ritual practices: transformations of heritage

IMG - Anna Karlstrom
Anna Karlström (Uppsala University)

Date: 20 February 2019Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 20 February 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Seminar


Bronze drums were produced and used within animist traditions, in a pre-Buddhist era almost three thousand years ago. Dong Son culture, bronze age, early civilization and sophisticated art production are concepts that most scholars within Southeast Asian archaeology and art history immediately think of when bronze drums enter the academic discussion. The drums have been, and still are, examined primarily as prehistoric artefacts or pieces of art and categorised according to established typologies. Archaeologists and art historians are looking into distribution patterns of the drums through which trade, exchange and cultural contacts can be traced, as well as production methods, techniques and iconography. Little attention has been given the fact that these artefacts constitute a living heritage, and that they are still being produced and used in various ways for different purposes all over Southeast Asia. In some contexts the drums are still parts of animist traditions, in others they have been incorporated into Buddhist traditions and religious practices, linked to cultural heritage politics, identity and nationalism. In this presentation, the transformation of bronze drums as heritage is examined through a case study from Vietnam, but also related to other examples from mainland Southeast Asia.


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The place of bronze drums in Southeast Asian Buddhist art production and associated ritual practices: transformations of heritage

Speaker Biography 

Anna Karlström is a researcher in heritage studies at the department of art history/conservation, Uppsala University Campus Gotland, where she also teaches. Over the last twenty years she has specialised in Southeast Asian archaeology and heritage research. Since 2009 she holds a PhD in archaeology from Uppsala University. The dissertation – Preserving Impermanance, the creation of heritage in Vientiane, Laos – challenges taken for granted material preservationism in heritage discourse, which is a theme she develops further in present research that focuses on production and use of bronze drums.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893/2

Sponsor: Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme