Lecture series prompts discussion about Cambodian religious monument

By Taher Zeitoun

DeKALB — As part of its Southeast Asia Lecture Series, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies hosted Mitch Hendrickson to present his lecture ”Steely Places and Angkorian Spaces.”

Hendrickson has been teaching Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago for 28 years. The lecture included Hendrick’s own research and centered on Angkor Wat, a temple complex in Cambodia, and one of the largest religious monuments in the world.

He said his research revolved around the expansion and culture of the Khmerian Empire through the various discovered tunnels in Angkor on his expedition. He also said temples are a method of socio-politically, economically and religiously justifying the Khmer power.

“Temples are structures the Khmerian Kings would have built as markers of their power and as spots of dedication,” Hendrickson said “Identifying the temples, as well as the materials utilized in creating them, is an interesting indicator of expansion.”

He said he thoroughly enjoys working in his field not only for the teaching aspect but for the ability to connect with small cultural communities around the world.

Hendrickson said it is an amazing experience to discover relics from cultural landmarks around the world by working with the locals who live in those areas. He also said the amount you can learn from these individuals is limitless.

“After discovering various temples we found many different resources that differentiated from materials such as rice and money to Iron and other metals,” Hendrickson said “finding these materials not only provides us with a timeline on expansion but also with different cultures within the religious temples.

He also said the questions from the students are one of his favorite parts regarding the lectures.

“Students asking me questions at the end of my lectures allows me to determine if the story I am telling through my research is conveyed properly and allows me to grow as a professor,” Hendrickson said “connecting with the students by telling a story is important to me because it allows me to connect the social relevance of the world around us in a better understanding of its culture”

Krista Stonesifer, senior business and psychology major, said she really enjoys attending the lectures and the benefits it offers to her as a student. She said it is interesting to learn about different cultures and their histories to gain a better understanding of how it might relate to the world we live in.

Stonesifer said she learned a great deal from Hendrickson`s lecture on his findings regarding Angkor Wat.

“It was interesting to see the trial and error process that comes with an archaeological project like this and the cultural relevance research like this can bring,” Stonesifer said.

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies features weekly lectures help by expert scholars. Eric Jones, Director for Center of Southeast Asian Studies, said having these weekly lectures is extremely beneficial to the students.

“Having these professors come in and connect with the students is a great way to not only build a knowledge base for Southeast Asian culture but also expose them to learned scholars,” Jones said.