ANU College of Asia & the Pacific has been gifted six rare Southeast Asian maps by Dr Clive Kessler, emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of NSW.
The maps are on display in Coombs Extension building and include a rare 17th century map of Southeast Asia by the Venetian cartographer, Vincenzo Coronelli.
Dr Kessler was inspired to leave the maps in honour of two important Canberra people in his life.
“I’ve given them as a tribute in gratitude to two ANU-related women who have been very important to me and my scholarly and personal life. One is Professor Virginia Hooker, who, some years ago, arranged for me to spend some sabbatical leave at ANU. It occurred to me that one way to thank Virginia would be eventually to put these maps here,” says Dr Kessler.
“The second person is my sister, Naomi Kronenberg, who introduced me to Virginia. My sister was a wonderful person, a wonderful linguist among other things, and a highly regarded federal public servant. When my sister arrived in Canberra from Sydney in the 1960s, she first got a job working in the Coombs building, a fairly new building at the time, as the research assistant to Professor PH Partridge.”
Dr Kessler said his love for maps was slow to start, but eventually blossomed.
“I never started out to collect maps. After my doctoral thesis, my parents bought me a little early 19th century map of Southeast Asia by Lapie. Years passed and it wasn’t until I decided to get it framed that I discovered a new-found liking for maps, including the various Bellin maps from Prévost’s history of voyages of discovery.”
“Goldfish aren’t much good for keeping me calm. Maps keep me much calmer. And they do not have to be fed when I go away for the weekend. That’s what the maps have done for me,” says Dr Kessler, “and it is my pleasure to know that the maps will now live happily here at ANU.”
Dr Kessler has been researching and writing about the politics of resurgent and militant Islam in Southeast Asia and globally for half a century, and will be a speaking at an upcoming ANU Malaysia Institute event.
Dr Kessler says that the remainder of his South East Asian “Old maps and prints” collection will eventually find a home at ANU.
The College is truly grateful for Dr Kessler’s generous donation.
Image: Professor Simon Haberle and Dr Kessler discussing the value of maps.