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Institutskolloquium: Prof. Dr. Ward Keeler

Wann 21.05.2019
von 18:00 bis 20:00
Wo Seminarraum (Werthmannstr. 10, 1.OG)
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“The Aesthetics of Restraint in Tumultuous Times”


Southeast Asian courts long supported the performing arts to an extraordinary degree. Classical genres, such as puppetry and dance, illustrated the notion that individuals  of distinct statuses comport themselves in distinctive ways. For many Southeast Asians today, hierarchical ideology has lost its ideological persuasiveness. Yet it has not given way to Western secular, 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 physical and emotional restraint but rather to consumerist and spiritual modernity. These changes are reflected aesthetically in a number of developments: the modification of classical genres to render them more popular, and a shift in interest to sporting events, soap opera, and religious performances. 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.


Ward Keeler is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has conducted extensive 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, as well as a number of academic journal articles. As a fellow this academic year at the Hansewissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany, he is currently researching shifting aesthetic preferences in the three societies in Southeast Asia where he has been conducting fieldwork since the 1970s. His upcoming presentation will be based on that current project.

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