SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Artefacts, Identities and Restitution

Phacharaphorn Phanomvan (Lecturer, University of Oxford), Charlotte Galloway (Honorary Associate Professor, Australian National University)

Date: 21 May 2021Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 21 May 2021Time: 12:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar

Speakers: Phacharaphorn Phanomvan (Lecturer, University of Oxford), Charlotte Galloway (Honorary Associate Professor, Australian National University)

Discussant: Udomluck Hoontrakul (PhD student, SOAS University of London)

Chair: Louise Tythacott (Co-editor, Returning Southeast Asia’s Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution)


Plai Bat: Reclaiming Heritage, Social Media, and Modern Nationalism
Phacharaphorn Phanomvan

The presentation looks closely at contemporary repatriation requests for objects looted from Plaibat in Thailand presently displayed in museums in the West. It traces recent developments in the repatriation issue where local activism and social media have shifted the balance for more democratising processes of restitution forwarded by the state government. The establishment of “Sam-nuk Sam-Roi Ong” (SSO) in Thailand by a group of local historians has generated a grassroots movement for advancing local and communal cultural identity in relation to the objects requested for return. And since heritage is considered an embodiment of a glorious past, local heritage ownership is an important aspiration for localised political, social, and economic developments, particularly those located in the peripheral regions such as north-eastern Thailand. Social media thus provides a powerful platform for local communities to bolster the quest for repatriating and owning artefacts.

Repatriation, Restitution and Myanmar 
Charlotte Galloway

Myanmar’s more recent history has done little to support or protect the rich cultural heritage of the country. A troubled colonial rule then a military regime saw approaches to heritage management fall well behind international developments. In the last decade, during the transition to democracy, open engagement with contemporary approaches to protecting movable cultural heritage has been possible. Repatriation of cultural heritage is now occurring, but this can be complex when considering Buddhist objects which were donations to temples or monasteries and have no clear chain of ownership. Restitution may at times be an appropriate alternative. Apart from moral and legal arguments supporting repatriation or restitution, the current political situation brings yet more complexities to returning Myanmar’s heritage.  

Loading the player...

Artefacts, Identities and Restitution

Speaker Biographies

Phacharaphorn Phanomvan

Phacharaphorn Phanomvan is a lecturer in medieval and economic history, and archaeologist at the University of Oxford. She is working on sustainable archaeological heritage development and community resilience against art crime. She is currently appointed as senior specialist for the Si Thep District Cultural Council, Phetchabun Province, Thailand.





Charlotte Galloway

Dr Charlotte Galloway is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University. Charlotte has extensive experience in the museums sector as a curator and registrar and was convenor for the Curatorial Studies program at ANU. An Asian art historian with specialist expertise in Myanmar, Charlotte has worked collaboratively with the Myanmar Department of Archaeology and National Museum on numerous projects and was a UNESCO expert for Bagan’s world heritage listing. An international member of ICOMOS Myanmar Charlotte is an active researcher of the Myanmar arts and cultural heritage.

Udomluck Hoontrakul

Udomluck Hoontrakul is a PhD candidate in History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London under the supervision of Professor Ashley Thompson. Her PhD research focuses on the highland region between the Salween and Ping river basins and aims to understand political dynamics, social and cultural interaction between highlands and lowlands, the development of highland socio-political structure, and political entities between the first millennium CE and fifteenth centuries CE. She obtained a BA in Archaeology from Silpakorn University (Thailand), MA in Social Development from Chiang Mai University (Thailand), and MA in History of Art and Archaeology from SOAS University. Prior to PhD program, she taught archaeology, museum, and heritage at the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, Thailand.

Louise Tythacott

Louise Tythacott is the Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art at Northumbria University. She was previously Pratapaditya Pal Professor in Curating and Museology of Asian Art at SOAS. Her research focuses on the collecting and display of Chinese and Buddhist art in museums, and she has particular interests in issues around the restitution of Asian material. Her books include The Lives of Chinese Objects: Buddhism, Imperialism and Display (2011), Museums and Restitution: New Practices, New Approaches (eds. with Arvanitis, 2014), Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France (ed. 2018) and Returning Southeast Asia's Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution (eds. with Ardiyansyah, 2021).

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies and SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme

Contact email: