Siem Reap Conference on Special Topics in Khmer Studies
4th Annual International Conference — Siem Reap, Cambodia — December 6th to 8th, 2013

Plov veach kom borss borng (Donít abandon the indirect road): Divergent Approaches to Cambodian Visual Cultures

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Following previous successful conferences on Epigraphy & Databases (2009-10), Archaeometallurgy (2011) and the History of Religions (2012), the organising committee of the annual Siem Reap Conference on Special Topics in Khmer Studies is pleased to announce that the meeting will be dedicated, in 2013, to the topic of Art History and Visual Cultures.

The well-known Khmer proverb ផ្លូវវៀចកុំបោះបង់ ផ្លូវត្រង់កុំចោល (Plov veach kom borss borng, Plov trong kom joulus) encourages us not to forget the indirect road in lieu of the straight route. Accordingly, Plov veach kom borss borng (Donít abandon the indirect road): Divergent Approaches to Cambodian Visual Cultures, the theme of the 4th Siem Reap Conference on Special Topics in Khmer Studies seeks to promote scholarship which tends to be positioned outside the traditional conventions of Khmer Art History.

The contribution of Art History as a discipline to understanding the Cambodian past has been enormous. The basic chronological framework of Khmer art was established by the remarkable and pioneering work of Philippe Stern in the early 20th century. Scholars who followed popularized Sternís ďmethodĒ of stylistics and in concert with religious and epigraphic specialists assigned meanings to the sculptures and architecture of the Khmer world. Issues of style and chronology are fundamental to comprehending Khmer art, but they are not the focus of this conference. Consistent with broader scholarly movements in Art History the meeting seeks to promote innovative approaches to the study of Cambodian visual cultures.

Participants in this international dialogue will explore theories, methodologies, eras and subject matter that have escaped the gaze of traditional Khmer art historical studies. The committee invites submissions from all disciplines including Anthropology, Archaeology, Art History, Cultural Studies, History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, with the principal requirement being that the theme of the submission relates specifically to Cambodian visual culture. Input from researchers studying Cambodian art from the middle, modern, and contemporary periods that approach their chosen material in novel and challenging ways are particularly encouraged. There are many paths to appraising the Cambodian past, and by recognizing such indirect routes this conference will cultivate an exuberant and nuanced perspective that corresponds with the diversity of Cambodian visual cultures.