Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange

 
9789814311168: Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange

This book takes stock of the results of some two decades of intensive archaeological research carried out on both sides of the Bay of Bengal, in combination with renewed approaches to textual sources and to art history. To improve our understanding of the trans-cultural process commonly referred to as Indianisation, it brings together specialists of both India and Southeast Asia, in a fertile inter-disciplinary confrontation. Most of the essays reappraise the millennium-long historiographic no-man's land during which exchanges between the two shores of the Bay of Bengal led, among other processes, to the Indianisation of those parts of the region that straddled the main routes of exchange. Some essays follow up these processes into better known ""classical"" times or even into modern times, showing that the localisation process of Indian themes has long remained at work, allowing local societies to produce their own social space and express their own ethos.

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Review:

The unilateral concept of "Indianisation of Southeast Asia" advocated by the earlier scholars since the 1930s has been challenged in various ways over the last forty years. Recent archaeological discoveries in Southeast Asia and South Asia have revealed the interactions between these two regions extending to even before the so-called Indianisation of Southeast Asia began. This volume, a product of an international conference on the interactions between these two regions, provides us with a good picture of the present state of studies through an elaborate Introduction which assesses the past and present research and twenty-three specialized papers divided into two broad sections-the archaeological evidence for interactions and localisation in Southeast Asia. This book is a great contribution not only to the study of early Southeast Asian history, but also to the history of Asia and the world in general by reappraising the concept of "Indianisation." --Noboru Karashima, Professor Emritus, Tokyo University

The study of intellectual exchange between South and Southeast Asian has lain almost dormant for the past 50 years. In the 1960s, the concept of Indianization which had long dominated the historiography of Southeast Asia was intellectually exhausted and scholars no longer found the assumptions underlying it credible. The pendulum swung in the direction of "local genius" as a framework within which to reconstruct the evolution of Southeast Asian civilization. As the idea of Indianisation waned in tandem with colonialism, so in 2011 the post colonial focus on nationalistic narratives is in decline. The pendulum is swinging back to midpoint between extremes. The essays in this volume summarize a wealth of newly-acquired archaeological data which enables scholars to formulate clearer insights into centuries of interaction between the two regions. The new studies emphasize insights into centuries of interation between the two regions. The new studies emphasise the localisation of South Asian cultural elements in Southeast Asia, what one might term the "Southeast Asianisation" of artistic, architectural, linguistic, and religious attributes as they crossed the Bay of Bengal and reached Southeast Asian shores. This new perspective should enable the South-Southeast Asia nexus to take its proper place among the major examples of intensive long-term cultural exchange in world history. --John N. Miksic, Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

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