We were pleased to welcome Dr Michael Falser from Austria who was with us a visiting researcher from mid-May to end of July 2016. Michael is a trained preservation architect and art historian (MSc, MA and PhD in Vienna and Berlin) and is currently project leader for cultural heritage studies at the Chair of Global Art History within the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context. The Dynamics of Transculturality’ at Heidelberg University/Germany.
During his time in Rome, Michael consulted ICCROM’s scientific library and corporate archive in order to finalize his monograph, “Angkor Wat. From Jungle Find to Global Icon – A Transcultural History of Heritage”. This project intends to unravel the formation of the modern concept of cultural heritage by charting its colonial, postcolonial-nationalist and global trajectories. By bringing to light many unresearched dimensions of the 12th Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat during its modern history, the study argues for a conceptual, connected history that unfolded within the transcultural interstices of European and Asian projects. It discusses the multiple lives of Angkor Wat from its ‘discovery’ in the 19th century, and its physical representations in museums and universal/colonial exhibitions in France, to on-site restoration efforts inside the ‘Archaeological Park of Angkor’, and finally as a global icon of UNESCO World Heritage. Especially this last aspect touches upon ICCROM’s institutional involvement at the site of Angkor since the early 1990s.