Professor Alan Kolata visited the Beijing Center and lectured on Jayavarman VII, Emperor of Angkor

7:00–9:00 pm
University of Chicago Center in Beijing
20th Floor, Culture Plaza
59A Zhong Guan Cun Street
Haidian District, Beijing


Professor Alan Kolata, Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of the University of Chicago Department of Anthropology visited the Center in Beijing between April 20 and 26.  He has taught at the University of Chicago since 1987, and he has written numerous books and articles that have defined the field of archeology and historical anthropology, working both in the Andes and in Southeast Asia.  On April 23 he delivered a lecture on the Angkor Kingdom (c. 9th-13th C.) of Cambodia entitled “Kingship and Compassion: The Paradox of Jayavarman VII.”  The talk explored questions of pre-modern Asian kingship, arguing that the most famous of Khmer kings, Jayavarman VII, was simultaneously a caretaker of the people and a cruel exploiter of their labor.  An audience of more than fifty attended, many of them with ties to Cambodia development work, and some found opportunities to share networking information with Professor Kolata.  During his stay in China, Prof. Kolata will also meet with a group of Southeast Asianists in Beijing and visit archeological research sites in Xi’an, Anyang, and Wuhan, where he will meet Chinese colleagues. 

More about the talk

After destroying multiple political rivals from neighboring kingdoms in Thailand and Vietnam, the Southeast Asian monarch known as Jayavarman VII (1125 to1218 CE) reigned over the largest geographical expanse ever attained by the Angkorean Empire. Jayavarman VII's instruments of rule simultaneously deployed extreme violence and profound compassion, brutal warfare and vigorous economic development. This talk will explore the paradoxes of Jayavarman VII's religious "infrastructure of compassion" that, for a time, held the empire of Angkor together, but ultimately fell into desuetude under the burden of its own ideology and the extreme piety of its patron. The life history of Jayavarman VII offers insight into the nature of rule and the role of religion in the construction and eventual disintegration of empire.


About the Speaker

Alan L. Kolata received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University. He is currently the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.
Professor Kolata has conducted interdisciplinary research projects studying urbanism and the interactions of humans with the physical environment, including the long-term effects of climate change on complex societies. He has organized archaeological and ecological research in Bolivia, Peru, Thailand and Cambodia. He and his collaborators currently focus on the physical, biological, and social impacts of ongoing hydroelectric power development and environmental change in the Mekong River Basin.
Alan L. Kolata于哈佛大学获得人类学博士学位。他目前担任芝加哥大学人类学系Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny杰出服务讲席教授。