Anthropology Lecture Series: Lecture 7 | Southeast Asian Anthropological Study from the Perspective of Overseas Ethnography | Prof. He Ming

On December 26, 2019, the 7th and the last session of IIAS Anthropology Lecture Series in Fall 2019 was delivered by Prof. He Ming, Distinguished Professor of Yunnan University, with the topic of “Southeast Asian Anthropological Study from the Perspective of Overseas Ethnography”.

First of all, Prof. He Ming described the familiar and unfamiliar geographical, economic, social, and cultural relations between China and Southeast Asian countries since ancient times.

Then, he combed the construction process of Western anthropology and Chinese anthropology in Southeast Asia. The “mandala” political structure in the history of Southeast Asia, coupled with its location at the intersection of Chinese civilization and ancient Indian civilization and a strong influence from Islamic civilization, has shown different choices for the construction of nation-states, resulting in an extremely rich diversity in the region and the huge differences within the region, which have attracted the investigation and research of many anthropologists, forming a vast array of research findings and a number of far-reaching anthropological works. Prof. He also introduced in detail a case study of Southeast Asian anthropology, i.e., Burmese Buddhism in the period of national transition. He pointed out that for Chinese anthropology, Southeast Asia is still a virgin land to be cultivated. In addition to the study of Chinese and overseas Chinese, research in other groups and fields is still in its infancy, especially the new social and cultural developments and “overseas ethnography” triggered by globalization. The study of Chinese anthropology within the perspective has the possibility of discovering infinite richness of topics and producing innovative knowledge.

Finally, Professor He concluded that cross-cultural comparison is an important way for the production of anthropological knowledge. A global perspective is the basis for the formation of global discourse power and domestic social practice. Southeast Asia is an interesting and colorful research area and he hoped more young scholars will focus on Southeast Asia.

By Ji Ruobing & Cheng Yao