Is it possible to write the history of a non-literate society? In the last decades, historians have started to research the history of south-eastern Indonesia, a demanding task because the people there did not write down their traditions. But these societies have an extended knowledge of their past, and numerous stories and histories exist. Combining local and external (mainly colonial) sources, the question of the reliability of collective memory and the objectivity of colonial documents is raised.
This lecture will address these issues with a case for the island of Savu – a book published by Genevieve Duggan and historian Hans Hägerdal in 2018. Duggan will explain how this collaboration of an anthropologist and a historian allows for the bridging of a number of gaps, and the writing of a more reliable history.
About the speaker
Geneviève Duggan has spent nearly three decades studying the islands of eastern Indonesia. Her PhD thesis, “Processes of memory on the island of Savu” (National University of Singapore, 2008), received the NUS Wang Gungwu Medal and Prize and the NUS Sociology Department’s Ananda Rajah Prize. Her research on textile traditions found them to be a means of non-verbal knowledge transmission at intra and inter-generational levels. She was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, and is now an independent researcher and lecturer in Europe and Southeast Asia. Her recent publications include “Tracing Ancient Networks; Linguistics, Hand-woven Cloths and Looms in Eastern Indonesia” in Ancient Silk Trade Routes (2015); “A note about hand-woven cloths with a continuous warp in eastern Indonesia” in Archipel (2017) – which can be found in French at [https://journals.openedition.org/archipel/408], and Savu: History and Oral Tradition on an Island of Indonesia, with Hans Hägerdal (2018).
This lecture is free. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No registration is required.
Image: A traditional priest and young woman, both in their customary attire, ride in front of an ancestral house in Ledetadu, district of Mesara, on Savu Island (NTT)
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