OSA lunchtime lecture series | Tuesday 26 November 2019
Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan | The University of Sydney
The Materiality of History-Writing in Premodern Java
The investigation of materiality, a key feature of art history and archaeology, can also be fruitfully applied to the study of history and philology. By asking questions about the material and physical properties of written sources, we can gain valuable insights into the development of the historiographical traditions that produced those sources. My objects of study in this seminar are historical texts of premodern Java, written between the 9th and 17th centuries. These texts are challenging to use as historical sources, because even though they offer valuable information, they are often fragmentary, incoherent and mutually contradictory. I ask why this is the case. My research finds that the materiality of writing has played a major role in the evolution of historical texts. The physical conditions of historical documents, such as their durability, the circumstances of their storage, and their capacity for reproduction, have powerfully influenced the development of Javanese historiography as a whole. By examining the materiality of history-writing, we can gain a better understanding of premodern Javanese history in general.
Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan is a doctoral student of Asian History at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on the historical writing practices of premodern Southeast Asians, specialising in texts written in Malay, Javanese, and Balinese. He is also interested in the theory of history, the environmental and economic history of Southeast Asia, modern Indonesian history, and Indonesian popular music. He is a founding member of the research group Perspectives on the Past in Southeast Asia and is an editor for New Mandala.
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