Pratu: Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia is the initiative of a group of research students in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London in collaboration with departmental mentors. The journal is funded by the Alphawood Foundation, under the auspices of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP). The student editorial group works closely with an advisory group formed of members of SAAAP’s Research & Publications Committee.
Pratu is conceived as a site for emerging scholars to publish new research on the ancient to premodern Buddhist and Hindu visual and material culture of Southeast Asia. The journal’s remit adheres to that of SAAAP itself, covering ‘study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage’.
Pratu means ‘gateway’ or ‘entrance’ in several Southeast Asian languages. The salience of the term for our project lies in its etymological development, where the application of Khmer morphology to Tai terminology to name architectural structures of Indic fame betrays the complexity of the historical evolution of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The journal is a gateway: a space of access and transition that reflects our aim to facilitate new scholars’ first experiences with academic publishing as they move from student to early career researcher status. This includes Southeast Asian scholars who would like to reach a wider readership by publishing in English translation and benefitting from the peer review process. In this way Pratu offers greater exposure to scholars and new research, and furthers the development of inter-institutional and international collaboration.