Event — Roundtable

Telling Stories: Narrative Traditions from South and Southeast Asia

This roundtable discussion centres on the notion that storytelling is a practice capable of shaping collective memory and envisioning future trajectories. It will start with brief introductions highlighting the work of each participant.    

Join scholars and artists in conversation on indigenous storytelling traditions and their role in cultural expression across South and Southeast Asia. 
Everyone is welcome, but we ask you to register as seating is limited.

This roundtable is jointly organised by IIAS and the ERC-funded Purana project.

The Roundtable

How and why do people tell stories? How do stories shape identities? Do narratives solely rely on words? What kinds of material and visual media are used to craft narratives? How have diasporic communities used storytelling as a means to create memory and preserve heritage? 

This roundtable delves into these questions with a focus on Indigenous ways of storytelling and their role in cultural production in South and Southeast Asia. From ancient manuscripts to digital and sonic mediums, from oral performances to written publications, the roundtable will examine the expansive spectrum of narrative dissemination of a wide range of linguistic, religious, and cultural contexts. Drawing from fields such as anthropology, literature, religion, and performance studies, scholars and artist-performers offer nuanced perspectives on the dynamics of narrative construction and transmission. 

The Roundtable Participants 

Peter Bisschop, Professor of Sanskrit and Ancient Cultures of South Asia, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Aone van Engelenhoven, University Lecturer, Southeast Asian Linguistics, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Verena Meyer, Assistant Professor of Islam in South and Southeast Asia, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Samboleap Tol, Khmer-Dutch artist based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Arya Adityan, PhD student, Florida State University, USA 

Elizabeth Cecil (moderator), Timothy Gannon Associate Professor of Religion, Florida State University, USA


This roundtable is jointly organised by IIAS and the ERC-funded Purana project.

PURANA: Mythical Discourse and Religious Agency in the Puranic Ecumene

European Research CouncilThis project receives funding from the European Research Council (ERC).

For more information, please visit the Leiden University website or the project website: