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UH-M Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Paul Lavy


Paul Lavy is Associate Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa and a recipient of the UH Board of Regents’ Excellence in Teaching Award (2014). His teaching spans the geographic belt from Afghanistan to the Philippines (Asia south of China) with emphasis on Southeast Asia and India prior to the European colonial period. He has considerable fieldwork experience in India and throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

His primary research interests are the Hindu-Buddhist art and architecture associated with the Mekong Delta and Preangkorian Khmer civilizations (ca. 6th – 8th cent. CE), as well as contemporaneous traditions in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and India. Professor Lavy’s work seeks to advance understanding of the interconnected cultures of mainland Southeast Asia, to integrate the art histories of these countries, and to highlight historical relationships that are often obscured by divided present-day national perspectives and single-country research focus. He is currently wrapping up a book, entitled the The Crowned Gods of Early Southeast Asia, which investigates the development of early Southeast Asian Brahmanical (or “Hindu”) sculpture and situates it in its art historical, cultural, and political contexts. Important to this study, and the focus of several other publications by Professor Lavy, are the four-armed mitered Vishnu images that were produced throughout Southeast Asia in conjunction with early “state” formation in the region (see image no. 1). He has also recently embarked on another book, provisionally entitled Masterpieces of Southeast Asian Sculpture, which charts the development of Southeast Asian Hindu-Buddhist sculpture from its beginnings through the 14th century and the decline of Angkor. Image no. 2 depicts an excellent related example of a late Angkorian Buddhist sculpture, the subject of a paper previously published by Professor Lavy.

His graduate students pursue research on a wide variety of art historical topics, from early Cambodia, Thailand, and India to the modern Philippines. Most recently, in April 2015, Daniel Pham submitted an MA thesis on the art and architecture of the Bale Kambang (image no. 3) and its historical relationships with Balinese kingship. The full-text of his thesis can be accessed at In spring 2016, as part of her MA thesis, Kristin Remington will curate an exhibit of Angkorian period art from Thailand and Cambodia (including image no. 4) at The John Young Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

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