The investigation of materiality, a key feature of art history and archaeology, can also be fruitfully applied to the study of history and philology. By asking questions about the material and physical properties of written sources, we can gain valuable insights into the development of the historiographical traditions that produced those sources. Historical texts of premodern Java, written between the 9th and 17th centuries, are challenging to use as historical sources, because even though they offer valuable information, they are often fragmentary, incoherent and mutually contradictory.
Jarrah Sastrawan sat down with Dr Natali Pearson to discuss his research on the materiality of writing in Indonesia. He argues that the physical conditions of historical documents, such as their durability, the circumstances of their storage, and their capacity for reproduction, have powerfully influenced the development of Javanese historiography as a whole.
About Jarrah Sastrawan:
Jarrah is a doctoral student of Asian History at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on the historical writing practices of premodern Southeast Asians, specialising in texts written in Malay, Javanese, and Balinese. He is also interested in the theory of history, the environmental and economic history of Southeast Asia, modern Indonesian history, and Indonesian popular music. He is a founding member of the research group Perspectives on the Past in Southeast Asia and is an editor for New Mandala. Jarrah is also the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) Postgraduate Students’ Representative on the 2019-20 Council.
You can follow Jarrah on Twitter @infiniteteeth.
View the transcript at: https://bit.ly/2Wcu2nY