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Survey Methods, Disciplinary Boundaries and Cultural Policies: Cliff Burials at the Frontiers of Chinese History

During her doctoral studies (SOAS 2018), the author has mainly studied rock-cut tombs of the early imperial period (mid-to late-Eastern Han dynasty), but in the latest stages, her survey has also included sites dated to earlier or later periods. This talk is an attempt to build upon existing classifications of cliff burials in South China, and to discuss how early imperial cliff tombs can lead us to a better understanding of earlier and later ensembles, in terms of relationships between funerary landscapes, the canyon-and-plateau environment typical of the Upper Yangzi River, and imperial frontiers. In an attempt to locate this topic within Chinese archaeology, the profile of scholars and officials involved in the management and study of cliff burial sites will be examined in the light of disciplinary boundaries and cultural policies in contemporary China. Survey conditions, methods for recording and analysing the landscape and observations on the current heritage management of the cliff burials experienced for cliff burials of the early imperial period are to some extent transferrable to earlier and later funerary landscapes.

About the speaker

Dr Lia Wei is maître de conférences [lecturer] in Chinese art history at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO). She has been conducting research in China since 2009, with a focus on medieval Buddhist epigraphy in Northeast China and funerary landscapes in Southwest China. She received her PhD at SOAS (2018) and was then based at the Department of Archaeology and Museum Studies at Renmin University of China (2018-2021). Also trained at the China Academy of Art (2007) and Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (2008), she engages in practice-based research or creative practices in the fields of ink art and antiquarianism.


Thursday, 2 November 2023 at 19:00 (Bangkok Time)


Online (Available via Zoom)


Free of charge

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