DHARMA Panel at the EuroSEAS Conference 2021 (Olomouc)

DHARMA Panel at the EuroSEAS Conference 2021 (Olomouc)

The panel proposed by the ERC project DHARMA was selected for the next EuroSEAS Conference in Olomouc (Czech Republic), which will take place between the 7th and the 10th September 2021.

The panel is co-convened by Arlo Griffiths, Chloé Chollet and Marine Schoettel.


A- Presentation of the panel:

Sources for the study of asceticism in Southeast Asia

The proposed panel will discuss the topics of asceticism and eremitism in Southeast Asia over the longue durée from a transdisciplinary point of view. We understand Hindu and Buddhist asceticism to comprise both an ideological dimension (its doctrine, value systems) as well as embodied and materialized practices. However, relatively little attention has hitherto been paid to the production of material culture related to ascetic activity. Traces of eremitic occupation such as rock-cut architecture, monumental epigraphs, sculpture, ritual objects or manuscripts have typically been found at scattered locations and have not yet benefited from broader/regional surveys.

It appears worthwhile to re-assess the role that these sources play in defining the complex relationships of integration between ascetic circles and their wider social milieux. This panel invites contributions from scholars whose work touches on some of these overarching issues:

– Locating eremitism. Combined with topographical details and toponyms contained in textual sources, archaeology can reveal distinctive patterns of eremitic settlement, thus lending visibility to previously undetected forms of occupations. What types of
environment appear to have attracted the development of eremitic activity? How did forms of materiality shape interactions of hermits with and differentiation from their natural and social environment? What were their relationships with state and non-state space and institutions?

– Eremitic plural identities. Inscriptions tend to portray ascetics as multifaceted social figures, appearing in turn as donors, land- and slaveowners or even poets. Are these representations substantiated by archaeological finds? In how far can the normative
image of the recluse be reconciled with material witnesses to socio-economic activities? How has the materiality of extant heritage shaped popular narratives and ongoing myth-making about religious masters through collective memories?

– Southeast-Asian connections. In view of the great diversity of sources available for the study of eremitism across Southeast Asia, can we identify elements of commonality to write a history of asceticism in Southeast Asia? Or should we highlight local
idiosyncrasies, grounded in the absorption of autochthonous elements? Further, how have images of the ascetic been discussed and recast to the present day, through national histories down to a postcolonial and globalized context?

Contributions will include case-studies dealing both with continental and maritime Southeast Asia, including Cambodia and Indonesia. They argue for the need to confront textual sources with material culture to achieve a more balanced reconstruction of ascetics as social figures. Discussions aim at developing a theoretical framework for a transregional study of Hindu and Buddhist asceticism, in the context of the European project DHARMA.

B – How to apply:

If you want to participate in a panel, please send your paper abstract directly to the panel conveners before 15 May 2021. EuroSEAS will not accept paper proposals that are not part of a panel!

Online registration for the conference will start on 1 February 2021.