Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck

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The Tang Dynasty-era shipwreck continues to be the centre of attention. In this talk, author Dr. Natali Pearson focuses on the afterlives of the ship and its cargo: the new knowledge it has brought to the surface about the maritime silk route, and the controversies that have accompanied its discovery and display.  It is one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries of recent times, revealing the global scale of ancient commercial endeavors and the importance of the ocean to these trading networks. But this shipwreck also has a modern tale to tell, of how nation-states appropriate the remnants of the past for their own purposes, and of the international debates about who owns—and is responsible for—shared heritage.

Dr. Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, the University of Sydney, where she is affiliated with the School of Humanities. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Indonesia. She holds a PhD in Museum and Heritage Studies (2019, USYD), a Masters of Museum Studies (2013, USYD), a Masters of Arts in Strategy and Policy (2006, UNSW Canberra) and a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) with First Class Honours in Indonesian and History (2002, UNSW Sydney). Her first book, Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck, has been published by the University of Hawai‘i Press (2022).

This programme will be held on ZOOM. SEACS members will be mailed the details two weeks prior to the event. For links to a summary of her book and an interview with Dr. Pearson, see our news item below under “News”.

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