In 1969, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia sent an almost life-size bronze statue of Saraswati, Goddess of Wisdom, as a gift to the Australian National University. Saraswati was cast in bronze by students of sculptor Budiani at the Academy of Fine Arts in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Saraswati welcomes visitors to the university Chancelry, where she sits on a plinth surrounded by a small pool with water plants, thoughtfully reading and bringing a sense of calm to her surroundings. The choice of Saraswati, who is also patron of the arts, languages and science, was particularly appropriate for a university that was developing an international reputation in each of those areas.
The Project highlights and documents the Australian National University’s formidable legacy in Southeast Asian Studies. From the 1960s until recent times, ANU has had an exceptional concentration of specialists in the history, culture, language, politics and economics of the region, and helped to define the new international field of Southeast Asian Studies.
In collaboration with the ANU Archives, the Southeast Asia Institute invites past and present scholars to identify valuable material for future researchers. This material could be field notebooks, audiovisual recordings, interview notes, correspondence, translations, ANU administrative records, photographs or ephemeral publications. Material donated to the Archives will be searchable in the Archives database and in the National Library’s Trove, and select material digitised for online research use.
The Archives already holds some of the papers of Professors David Marr, Anthony Reid, Harold Crouch, Dr Margaret George and Dr Emily Sadka. The following material is already accessible in the University’s Open Research repository:
Photograph of ANU Southeast Asian scholars visiting China in 1980;
Professor David Marr’s unique collection of posters and other graphic material related to Vietnam and the Indochina conflict. Collected throughout his career, the series contains prints and originals from the 1930s to the 1990s. The works largely focus on the Vietnam War and present perspectives from both North and South Vietnam as well as Australia, Europe and the United States. The series also contains a range of Vietnamese art on calendars and with some original prints. The digitisation work was undertaken by ANU Museum Studies student Ben Houghton and the images are accessible on the Open Research website. A full description and listing is on the ANU Archives database website.
Material from the September 1967 South Vietnamese election from David Marr’s papers is on Open Research. Future digitisation will include the 1974 correspondence and press clippings of John Spragens Jnr at the Indochina Resource Center. For more information please contact Holly Nguyen - email@example.com.
Recording of the King of Thailand’s visit to ANU in 1962, the announcement of the Asian Fellowship by Pro Chancellor HC Coombs and His Majesty’s response;
Oral history interview with Professor Tony Johns.
Recordings of the ‘Asia behind the News’ radio program from the late 1970s to 1980s.
Digitisation projects currently underway:
- Basham collection of Southeast Asian and South Asian slides.
If you have materials to donate to the project, please contact Kathryn Dan, University Archivist - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southeast Asian Studies at ANU: Biographical accounts
From hesitant early beginnings in the 1950s, ANU had by the 1980s accumulated probably the strongest collection of Southeast Asianists in the world. Many contributed to the building of Southeast Asian Studies as a professional academic field, spanning from Language and Literature through the social sciences to International Relations, Demography and Economics. They played what may seem by hindsight a crucial intermediary role in maintaining, modernising and extending a field between the conflicted ruins of colonial scholarship and the rise of Southeast Asia’s own international scholars. Yet ANU never had a Southeast Asia Centre as such in those days, and expertise was scattered through two Research Schools and at least two Faculties.
The absence of a single organising body meant there was little celebration at the time of achievements across the board in Southeast Asian Studies. The story is perhaps best told through a series of discrete personal autobiographies. The first of these are presented here, kept brief by a word limit of roughly 3000 words each. More will be added as they come to hand.