The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
cordially invites you to a Public Lecture
in the series, 'India and the wider World'
at 3.00 pm on Wednesday, 3 April, 2013
in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building
‘India and Southeast Asia:
The iconography of early cultural interactions’
Dr. Parul Pandya Dhar,
University of Delhi, Delhi.
Cultural interaction systems that linked pre-modern India and Southeast Asia were based on an intense and long-standing exchange of ideas, knowledge systems, objects, and people traversing vast expanses over land and seas. Until the 1960s, the historiography of these interactions had remained entrenched in the ‘Indianization’ paradigm, with terms such as ‘Greater India’ being suggestive of a kind of cultural colonialism. Since then, attention has shifted to processes of ‘localization,’ moving away from notions of homogenous cultural monoliths on both sides of the Bay of Bengal to a more textured understanding of regional and sub-regional diversities. More recently, in the last quarter of a century or so, the archaeology of cross-cultural interactions in South and Southeast Asia has opened up fresh horizons, with exciting new discoveries about the earliest encounters between the regions.
From an art historian’s perspective, the visuality of early cultural encounters between India and Southeast Asia attains maturity, diversity, and complexity from about the sixth-seventh centuries of the Common Era. Interpreting the resultant imagery – iconic, narrative, and architectural – brings to focus a web of complex inter-relationships between the cultural zones of contact. This talk attempts to set the span for and explore the possible range of meanings that may be generated in reading these ‘iconographies’ of early cross-cultural encounters. In doing so, it draws attention to emerging frameworks for a more nuanced understanding of pre-modern Indian and Southeast Asian interactions as viewed through the prism of art and architectural remains.
Dr. Parul Pandya Dhar is Associate Professor of Art History in the Department of History, University of Delhi. Her research interests cover ancient and early medieval Indian art history and Asian cross-cultural interactions. Major publications include The Torana in Indian and Southeast Asian Architecture (2010, authored), Indian Art History: Changing Perspectives (2011, edited) and Cultural Interface of India with Asia: Religion, Art and Architecture (2004, co-edited), besides research papers and chapters in various journals and books.