British Borobudur Buddha: Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Orientalist Antiquarianism, and a Material Historiography of Java (1811-1816)

Publication Date



Jennifer Tucker


History (HIST)


English (United States)


This paper traces a fragmented Buddha head sculpture's travels from Borobudur, Java, Indonesia to the British Museum during East India Company rule in Java (1811-1816) through the life of its collector, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. Through an approach informed by historical, archaeological, and anthropological inquiries, I examine how objects can serve as tools for imperial historiography, namely the silencing of subaltern narratives and the legitimization for colonial rule and imperial expansion. Using the Borobudur as a case study, I analyze: 1) British Orientalism in Java, 2) field antiquarianism in colonial contexts, and 3) the role of collections and collectors in representing subaltern identities, placing Java into a Western cartography and evolutionary paradigm of civilizations as collected territory and people of the imaginary construct of the British Empire.

This document is currently not available here.



© Copyright is owned by author of this document