Sounding on Buddhism for September 1 2011

From the Isn’t It Cool files: one of the most important Buddhist institutions of learning in history is about to be rebuilt. Thanks to news from Noel of the Southeast Asian Archaeology Weblog.

The site is the ancient Dong Duong Buddhist College, built in ancient Champa, and hence on the crucially important sea routes between China and India (and beyond). Many important Buddhist travelers stopped, stayed, studied, and taught at Dong Duong.  The Encyclopedia Brittanica writes of Dong Duong that

Apart from My Son there are one or two other sites in north and central Vietnam where Cham art was made in quantity. The most important of these is Dong Duong, in Quang Nam. It is a ruined Buddhist monastery complex of the late 9th century, conceived on the most beautifully elaborated plan of structured space in Champa. The architectural detail is distinguished from the My Son work by its greater emphasis upon the plasticity of architectural elements such as angle pilasters and porticoes. The circuit wall was about half a mile (1 km) long and once contained many shrines dedicated to Buddhist deities. It is possible that, when this complex of brick courts, halls, and gate pavilions was intact, it may have resembled very closely the contemporary Buddhist monasteries of northeastern India.

Dong Duong is a total mess at the moment: Continue reading

Sounding on Anthropology and Archaeology for February 8, 2010

Sounding on Cambodian archaeology and ancient history

Southeast Asia Sounding: 1/18/2010

Ka-set – Information website about Cambodia – Yiey Yah, high priestess of possession ceremonies

following is an excerpt from the beginning of a wonderful short article on spirit possession among the Cham in Cambodia by Emiko Stock, an anthropologist working with and on the Cham for over a decade now. The article deals with a host of important issues, though as a newspaper piece rather than an academic one, these are largely alluded to. Can’t wait to read more from Ms. Stock! Continue reading

Developmental Nationalist Ventriloquism and Cui Bono?

David Lempert, whose distressingly hilarious and obviously self-authored wikipedia page is today’s must read, was mentioned in these pages briefly a few days ago, in which I characterized him as a person promoting a Cham homeland, and compared him to people who know better.

My qualifications on this discussion are extremely limited. I am a fluent Khmer speaker who conducted three years of fieldwork in Cambodia, one year of which was funded by the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship, and some time of which was funded by the Center for Khmer Studies. I mention these sources of funding to indicate that I share some of Lempert’s funding. I received other funding as well, which is not apparently relevant to this discussion.

Some of my fieldwork included fieldwork in village Kompong Cham, a province inside of Cambodia (not, as Lempert implies, somehow a mixed border area with joint jurisdiction between Vietnam and Cambodia). I do not speak Cham, and although I teach in a religious studies department, my expertise does not include Islam. I do, however, have the capacity for critical thought, and have no dog in this fight. Continue reading

US Ambassador Claims Cambodian Chams Receiving Massive Influx of Cash from "Outside Extremists"

Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli was in Washington, D.C. last week, where he described Cambodian Cham Muslims as a “very peaceful and tolerant group,” and then immediately went on to discuss the serious concerns he had regarding their potential radicalization from “outside extremists.” Reported in Voice of America: (via KI-Media)

A lot of money was coming into Cambodia’s Chams from groups spreading a violent, intolerant form of Islam, which have a lot of resources and are attracted to poor communities.

I thought of saying something snarky about this, such as identifying a few other groups which “have a lot of resources and are attracted to poor communities,” such as USAID. Instead, I’ll attempt to be more mature on this page: I asked my friend Alberto Perez-Pereiro, currently doing research in Cambodia on the Cham, to contribute a short piece in response to the Ambassador’s comments. His judicious and thoughtful piece is below; I think it deserves serious attention. Alberto begins after the jump: Continue reading