Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On our summer school in Penang

Photo (c) Lye Tuck-Po
The 2015 international summer school on “The Return of the Past: Memory Making and Heritage in Southeast Asia” (held at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, from 9th to 20th March) is the fifth in our series of schools. For background information on the programme, click here

Post-colonial states in the Southeast Asian region have been described as being strongly oriented towards the future, prioritizing modernisation and development. In recent years however, the past seems to have taken on a renewed relevance. The summer school brings together experts from Berlin, Penang, Yogyakarta, and Australia to discuss memory and its transmission as a social, cultural and political phenomenon. Hegemonic state-centred narratives on the past are compared with bottom-up popular memories in order to understand how multiple identities are constituted as well as contested and modified. 

Eric Loh, a George Town resident, shares his
memories with tourists on a heritage
"walkabout," 2012. Photo (c) Lye Tuck-Po
This intensive course in Penang draws postgraduate students from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and Vietnam Free University. In the first week of the programme, lecturers of various disciplinary backgrounds (history, political science, and anthropology) introduced the students to some of the main theories on memory and heritage and gave them insights into important research that has been done on these issues in Southeast Asia. During the second week, participants form small groups and conduct field research at various pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary memory sites, including the Teochew Puppet and Opera House, George Town World Heritage Inc., Kapitan Keling Mosque, and Tua Pek Kong (all in the core heritage zone of the George Town World Heritage Site in Penang) and Bujang Valley ancient monument complex (in Kedah). 

Keep an eye on this blog to find out more about our research on these memory sites!

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