Campa Asalam: Conversion, Script, and the Malay sphere: Re-orienting the cosmological geography of the Cham of Vietnam, 1651-1969 – a seminar by William Noseworthy (Wed, 28 November 2012)

Speaker: William Noseworthy (PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Date: Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
As much of the locally centered cosmology of Cham peoples was gradually incorporated into Vietnamese territory and the majority of the Cham population moved toward a diasporic state, the reliance on Indic cosmology decreased in popularity amongst the Chams of Southeast Asia. Meanwhile intellectual relations increasingly tied Chams through their communities in Vietnamese, Khmer, and Thai territory to the Malaya-Muslim world. Cham manuscripts containing the modern Cham script of Akhar Thrah are evidence of these connections. Seventeenth to nineteenth century manuscripts written in Akhar Thrah demonstrate clear parallels to Arabic qasidah literature where the love of an individual separated from the beloved who travels across vast stretches of territory then supplants their emotions onto the love of a homeland. By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries these intellectual ties had more overt political manifestation when a series of Islamic revolts stretched across Cham communities. However, one should not focus too overtly on these worldly outbursts as they to little to explain how the Qur’an was introduced and translated to populations that predominantly did not read or write standard Arabic. In light of the gradual conquest of the Cham polities by the Vietnamese, the question of the translation of the Qur’an to the Cham through Akhar Thrah manuscripts will be the central focus of this paper.

About the speaker
William (Billy) Noseworthy is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently on a research fellowship to study Akhar Thrah manuscripts in affiliation with the Vietnamese Studies branch of the Vietnam National University (VNU). He recently had an article published in the Middle Ground Journal that focused on the question of how to reframe the teaching of Vietnamese History In light of the history of pro-Democracy movements in Vietnam and Vietnamese New-Formalist Poetry in the United States. He has also written reviews and essays for The IIAS Newsletter, Cha:An Asian Literary Journal, Studies on Asia, Explorations, New Asia Books.org, and Inrasara.com.