This exhibition of Asian-language materials is being held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Asian Studies Research Collection as a special collection within the Monash University Library. The title, ‘Asia – East and Southeast’ refers to the geographical scope of the exhibition. The exhibition draws on major collections in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian, smaller collections in Khmer, Malay, Thai and Vietnamese, and some closed access and archival collections that include material in English and colonial languages. Among the closed access collections is the recently donated Norodom Sihanouk Archival Collection. The items selected for display are intended to illustrate the breadth and depth of these collections, but they also draw attention to rare and lesser-known material, as well as recent acquisitions, held in the Asian Studies Research Collection and related collections in the Library. These collections are all rich repositories for research and everyday study and testimony to Monash University’s long history of scholarly and public engagement with Asia.
The exhibition aims to present a multi-dimensional perspective on East and Southeast Asia. It includes materials representing both traditional and contemporary Asia: the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Asia, especially as they coexist today. It is organised around three very broad themes that are all important areas of Asian studies research at Monash University: political events and movements, popular and traditional culture, and women. The themes provide a focus for respective parts of the exhibition and for this catalogue and they enable the display of a very diverse range of materials and formats across languages.
Sub-themes develop particular topics, juxtapose different perspectives and periods, and draw connections between items or themes, for example, popular or traditional culture in the employ of politics, or women as ‘actors’ in politics or popular culture. There are also some mini-themes such as divination, shoes and white elephants, which visitors can discover and trace at their leisure.
Some historical subjects represented in the exhibition have contemporary resonances, such as the early nineteenth century Japanese book on the use of whale products in pest control, or the group of items relating to the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia during World War II. Items have been selected for their visual communicative power as well as their subject matter so that they are accessible to non-readers of Asian languages.
Supplementing the Asian Studies Research Collection material are select items from the large and important Asia-related holdings of the Music & Multimedia and Rare Books collections. The former includes scores and recordings belonging to the Japanese Music Archive, contemporary Asian film on video and DVD, and a large collection of sound recordings on vinyl, cassette and other formats of traditional and popular music from all regions of Asia. Rare Books collections represented in the exhibition include the Suetsugu collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century Japanese books, Indonesian Batak and Balinese manuscripts, and the Dutch East Indies collection, which is the largest such collection in Australia.
One item in the exhibition (no. 38) is on loan from the University of Melbourne’s Special Collections, Baillieu Library. This book is included in the exhibition as a symbol of the ongoing collaboration between the Asian Studies Research Collection and the University of Melbourne’s East Asia collection, which together form ‘Asian Libraries in Melbourne’. Images from this book appear in Asian Libraries in Melbourne’s new brochure, which is being launched at the opening of this exhibition.
Asian Libraries in Melbourne (ALIM)
This collaborative venture between Melbourne and Monash University libraries was initiated in 1993 under its former name, the Melbourne Asian Research Libraries Consortium, by (now retired) Monash and Melbourne University library directors, Ho Chooi Hon and Tony Arthur, who both had an interest in Asia and Asian library resources. ALIM operates under the Melbourne-Monash protocol. Its principal aim is to enhance access to Asian collections in both libraries by sharing expertise and resources and jointly developing and promoting collections.
An important ALIM initiative is Dr Aline Scott-Maxwell’s shared appointment as Senior Asian Studies Librarian at Monash University Library and Indonesian Studies Library Consultant in the Melbourne Institute of Asian Languages and Societies at the University of Melbourne, where she provides specialist language-based library expertise to staff and postgraduates and facilitates coordinated Indonesian collection development between the two libraries. Another initiative is the University of Melbourne’s annual financial contribution to the development of a Korean collection at Monash. Monash University contributes a Korean Studies Librarian, who develops and catalogues the collection and also provides reference support for University of Melbourne (as well as Monash) users. ALIM’s special projects include a joint website and a recently completed database of Asian-language resources in Victorian public libraries, which can be accessed from the website. This resource facilitates access to library collections in Asian languages not held by Monash or Melbourne Universities and to recreational reading in all Asian languages.
The Asian Studies Research collections: a short history1
The Asian Studies Research Collection is only ten years old but its collections are much older. The Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian collections all date back to the beginning of Monash University in the 1960s, when departments in these languages were created in the new Faculty of Arts, the inter-disciplinary Centre of Southeast Asian Studies was formed (1964-), and the Monash University Library was first established. The collections’ development maps the pattern and scale of teaching and scholarship in various areas of Asian Studies in the subsequent period as well as the research interests and output of individual academics and scholars. They have helped to shape the collections by, amongst other things, making donations or bequests of books, serials and documents; attracting grants for the purchase of research materials; and making recommendations for library purchases to support their teaching and research.
Other major contributors to the Asian studies collections are two seminal librarians. Mrs Paulette (Bob) Muskens became founding Southeast Asian Librarian at Monash in 1964 and was responsible for its early development as a research collection, including the Library’s acquisition of its world-class Dutch East Indies collection. Her successor, Mrs Helen Soemardjo, presided over major expansion of the collection in the 1980s and the formation of the Asian Studies Research Library (subsequently renamed the Asian Studies Research Collection) in the 1990s. Under their leadership, the Southeast Asian collection at Monash, and especially the Indonesian collection, developed into a national-level collection, the third largest in Australia, with areas of international strengths.
Monash academics who have played an important role in the collection’s history include former Dean of Arts, Emeritus Professor John Legge, who was responsible for instigating the purchase of its earliest research materials, such as back-sets of journals and microfilm collections, and the late Professor Herb Feith. On fieldwork trips or working visits to Indonesia, Feith, George Hicks and other scholars acquired and brought back with them runs of now irreplaceable newspapers as well as quantities of pamphlet-like publications and published or unpublished ephemera which they subsequently passed on to the Library. This latter material became the core of the Library’s large Southeast Asia pamphlet collection.
A major period of collection development took place during the late 1970s and 1980s, when Monash gained an international reputation for its scholarship and research in Southeast Asian studies through its Centre of Southeast Asian Studies. Significant academic contributors to the collection of microform and print material at this time included, amongst many others, the late Professor Cyril Skinner, from whom came a very substantial microform collection of Malay manuscript hikayat and nineteenth and early twentieth century periodicals, amongst other materials, Professor Merle Ricklefs who was responsible for Monash’s acquisition of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) Archives (1600-1800) on microform, Professor Margaret Kartomi, a specialist on Indonesian music whose research led the Library to acquire a very strong collection of Indonesian sound recordings and other resources, and Dr Susan Blackburn, whose research on women in Southeast Asia enabled the purchase of a substantial collection of microforms of the periodicals of many small Indonesian women's organisations dating from the 1910s onwards.
The Chinese and Japanese collections were initially created to support language teaching programs but have subsequently developed substantial research collection strengths. The Chinese collection has a contemporary emphasis with a special strength in Taiwanese and Chinese politics. The collection has benefited from a number of large donations by members of the Chinese community in Melbourne, especially the author Julie Chang (Xia Zuli). The Japanese collection has strengths in linguistics, economics, modern history, society and popular culture. Special collections are the Japanese Music Archive and the Melbourne Centre for Japanese Language Education collection, which was created in conjunction with Monash’s Melbourne Centre for Japanese Language Education in 1997 and supports the needs of Japanese language teachers from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
The Korean collection dates back to 1992, when the National Korean Studies Centre (NKSC) was established at Swinburne University by a consortium of universities: Monash, Melbourne, Swinburne and La Trobe. It was agreed that Monash would be the repository for the collection. When the NKSC was wound up at the end of 2000, the cooperative arrangement to fund and resource a single research collection at Monash was taken over by ALIM. The Korean collection is the largest academic collection of such material in Australia.
In 1995, at the initiative of the then Associate University Librarian, Mrs Ho Chooi Hon, all the Library’s Asian-language print materials were brought together with specialist support staff to form the Asian Studies Research Collection. Vast holdings of Asia-related microform, audio-visual, multimedia and English-language materials are housed elsewhere in the Library but are developed and supported by Asian Studies Research Collection staff, as are the Library’s rapidly growing electronic resources for the study of Asia. Special archival Asian studies collections have also been acquired for the Asian Studies Research Collection, such as the Burma Democracy collection, the David Chandler collection and the Norodom Sihanouk Archival collection, all of which are represented in the exhibition. Besides becoming a focus for collection development, this ‘one-stop shop’ for Asian studies students and researchers has streamlined and enhanced services and assisted in the promotion of all the Asia-related collections. The formation of the Asian Studies Research Collection reflects the continuing importance placed on Asian Studies at Monash University and in the Library since their inception.
Exhibition layout and exhibition catalogue entries
The items in the exhibition and the description of items in this catalogue are organised primarily by theme rather than by language and country. The exceptions are the display cases devoted to special collections and the four wall cases, which represent each of the major language collections. In the catalogue, the bibliographic details of items in languages that use characters or other non-roman scripts have been given in their romanised form only, together with brief English translations of titles. Romanisation systems used for Chinese, Japanese and Korean language items are the Pinyin, Hepburn, and McCune-Reischauer systems, respectively. Indonesian spellings vary due to spelling reforms in 1973. Spelling variations for Korean names reflect English versions.
Senior Asian Studies Librarian