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The Aesthetics of Restraint in Tumultuous Times

Academic Hour with Ward Keeler

22.01.2019 | Mia Korsbæk

Dato ons 01 maj
Tid 13:00 15:00
Sted Moesgård, The Lecture Hall (4206, 139)


The Burman, Javanese, and Balinese classical arts have traditionally performed hierarchy. That is, they have illustrated the understanding that people of distinct statuses comport themselves in distinctive ways. For many Southeast Asians, however, hierarchical ideology has lost its ideological persuasiveness. Yet it has not given way to Western secular notions of egalitarian ideals but rather to a greater emphasis upon material wealth and reformist religious practices: status concerns remain compelling but justified with reference not to aristocratic lineage and restraint but rather to consumerist and spiritual modernity. These changes are reflected aesthetically in a number of developments: greater interest in religious performances, in sporting events, and in soap opera. My presentation will consider the nature and appeal of older genres, now in partial (in some cases total) eclipse, and of these newly popular genres.



Bio: Ward Keeler is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has conducted fieldwork in Java and Bali (Indonesia), and in Burma. His work has focused on performance, gender, language, and hierarchy in all three societies. His publications include: monographs on Javanese shadow plays, and on Burmese Buddhism and gender; a textbook for the Javanese language; his translation of an Indonesian novel; and CDs of classical Burmese music. He is currently researching shifting aesthetic preferences in the three societies in Southeast Asia where he has been conducting fieldwork since the 1970s. He has also collaborated with a Burmese friend in the preparation of textbooks for the Burmese language which are now under review for possible publication.

Antropologi, Globale Studier, Seminar