Les Conférences Iéna

Art, archéologie et
anthropologie de l’Asie




Cycle 2008-2009

Prof. Richard O’Connor
University of the South

Place, Power and People:
Temple and City in Southeast Asia as a Cultural Region

For nearly two millennia, Southeast Asia has evolved around its temples and cities.  So understanding an ancient temple like Angkor or a modern city like Bangkok begins far earlier.  Long before cities arose, Neolithic farmers looked inward towards fertility yet outward to trade and neighboring groups.  That duality, at once localizing and insular yet cosmopolitan, still structures the region.  Now as then, its localizing creates small, face-to-face communities that compete vigorously for members and influence.  And its cosmopolitan side organizes these diverse communities in hierarchies that echo an outside 'civilized' world.   So where Indic sanctity once promoted prosperity for the land, modernity now promises progress for the nation.  While the civilizing idiom changes as rulers and fashions do – being Buddhist, Muslim, Sinitic, Khmer, Javanese, Tai, Malay, French, Dutch, English and more by turns – what's constant is how once temple- and now city-centered hierarchies organize this ever-changing region.

Richard A. O'Connor is Biehl Professor of International Studies and Anthropology at Sewanee:  The University of the South. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell and has held postdoctoral awards in the U.S., Japan and Singapore.

Grâce au soutien de
LVMH / Moët Hennessy.Louis Vuitton


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