Re-enacting an imagined lost homeland of Champa: Migration, Pilgrimage and Ritual in the South China Sea

Venue: Room 1100, 1555 Century Avenue, NYU Shanghai
Date: Thursday, November 14, 2019
Time: 12:30 - 14:00 CST

The destruction of the Cham cities of Indrapura (982) and Vijaya (1471) constituted decisive Đại Viêt victories against Champa but it was not until 1832 that the last Cham territory of Panduranga was formally incorporated by the Nguyễn dynasty into Vietnam’s territory. This article elaborates on present-day reverberations of these three significant historical events in the entangled Việt-Cham history. Rather than providing a historical interpretation of these turning-point events linked to particular dates, I offer an ethnographically informed analysis of lasting effects that these historical moments had in different localities and on various categories of people. Specifically, the article zooms in on two Cham communities spread across the South China Sea – one located in the old territory of Panduranga (Vietnam), the other – living in exile – in Hainan (China). By introducing two different but overlapping Cham mythico-histories narrated in those communities, the study shows that the absence of an actual territory of Champa incited people to take different routes in reproducing the bonds that stand for their homeland, and ultimately for their redemption. Building on Liisa Malkki’s analytical framework in her study of displacement and exile, the article argues that for Cham people in Vietnam redemption was a transcendental act of recovering lost co-ethnic communities dispersed in the region, while for those in Hainan redemption was sought in enacting Islamic piety and in a combined, palimpsestic ethnic-religious homeland that included Champa as a place of origin but embraced China as the new homeland.

Edyta Roszko is a Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway, where she develops a new research direction on oceans. After her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology / Martin Luther University (Halle, Germany – 2011) which focused on religion and politics in Vietnam, she did ethnographic research among Chinese and Vietnamese fishing communities in the common maritime space of the South China Sea. Bridging different historical periods and countries, the question of mobility, migration and connectivity of fishers compelled her to historicize fishing communities and to work beyond the nation-state and area studies frame. Edyta’s newly awarded European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project TransOcean at Chr. Michelsen Institute expands her geographic field beyond Vietnam and China to include other global regions in Oceania and West and East Africa.

Edyta’s scholarly articles have appeared in Cross-Currents: East Asian history and Culture Review, Nations and Nationalism and Journal of Contemporary Ethnography and other journalsHer monograph Fishers, Monks and Cadres: Navigating State and Religious Authorities along Central Vietnam’s South China Sea Coast is forthcoming with NIAS Press (Copenhagen).

Introduction and moderation of the Q&A by ​Tzu-hui Celina Hung, Assistant Professor of Literature at NYU Shanghai​.

NYU Shanghai community-only event. Lunch will be served. Please RSVP by Nov 12, 2019.

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Location & Details

To our visitors:
• RSVP may be required for this event. Please check event details
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