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Michael Falser publishes volume on Angkor Wat

10. Dez. 2019

Former HCTS research member PD Dr. Michael Falser published a monograph in two volumes on the historic trajectories of the 12th-century Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat. The book “Angkor Wat. A Transcultural History of Heritage,” published with De Gruyter, locates the famous archaeological site in a transcultural perspective of investigation. 

The book "Angkor Wat. A Transcultural History of Heritage," unravels the formation of the modern concept of cultural heritage by charting its colonial, postcolonial-nationalist and global trajectories. By bringing to light many unresearched dimensions of the twelfth-century Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat during its modern history, the study argues for a conceptual, connected history that unfolded within the transcultural interstices of European and Asian projects. With more than 1,400 black-and-white and colour illustrations of historic photographs, architectural plans and samples of public media, the monograph discusses the multiple lives of Angkor Wat over a 150-year-long period from the 1860s to the 2010s.

The first volume, "Angkor in France. From Plaster Casts to Exhibition Pavilions," reconceptualises the Orientalist, French-colonial ‘discovery’ of the temple in the nineteenth century. It brings to light the manifold strategies at play in the physical representations of temples as plaster cast substitutes in museums and as hybrid pavilions in universal and colonial exhibitions in Marseille and Paris from 1867 to 1937. The second volume, "Angkor in Cambodia. From Jungle Find to Global Icon," covers the various on-site restoration efforts inside the ‘Archaeological Park of Angkor’ from 1907 until 1970. It also addresses the temple’s gradual canonisation as a symbol of national identity during Cambodia’s troublesome decolonisation (1953–89), as well as its rising as a global icon of UNESCO World Heritage since 1992 until today.

PD Dr. Michael Falser was project leader and ad interim professor for Global Art History at the HCTS. Trained as an architect and art historian, his research focuses on issues of cultural heritage and architectural history in a global context. Between 2009 and 2017, he coordinated the research projects D12 "Heritage as a Transcultural Concept" and D18 "Picturesque Modernities" within the former Cluster "Asia and Europe." In 2018, he was visiting professor at the Centre Francois Georges Pariset of the University Bordeaux–Montaigne and at the Centre André Chastel of the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He is currently UNESCO World Heritage consultant to ICOMOS International Austria. Forthcoming in 2020 is his edited volume on "Picturesque Modernities" with the French Presses Universitaires de Rennes. It is the outcome of the D18 project at the Cluster and the 2016 conference "Picturesque Modernities."



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  • Volume One

  • Volume Two