Organized Panel Session
Decolonization is, arguably, at the origins of Southeast Asian Art History. From its beginnings, the field of study has been shaped through the tension maintaining between, on the one hand, the barely disguised identification of European colonial expansion with historical developments deemed to have civilized the Southeast Asian region, and on the other, challenges to this narrative, at once discerning and performing the primacy of local agencies in resisting hegemonic form. The double colonization bred a doubled down resistance which today feeds nationalisms, regionalisms and art markets alike as ‘Southeast Asia’ basks in the reflection of ‘Cambodian’ or ‘Thai’ or ‘Vietnamese’ or ‘Indonesian’… ‘Hindu-Buddhist art.’ How, this panel asks, does this palimpsestic history also provide fertile ground for cultivating responses to the pressing contemporary call to decolonize the academy? What critical resources of creative resistance to today’s lingering and renewed modes of coloniality, entrenched now in the neoliberal order of the university, might we find to lie in Southeast Asia’s premodern art and its historiography? With these materials, we seek to explore modes of decentring critical creativity which would allow new perspectives to emerge without reintroducing those binaries which disallow ‘foreign influence.’ As such, this panel pays particular attention to the historiography of premodern art as a structuring force for linguistic, temporal, and ontological categories that have shaped national and international research and pedagogical projects, and as a key site of intervention for the decolonial imperative.