Thomas Hunter is an educator and researcher exploring the transregional cultures of premodern South and Southeast Asia. As an educator he has developed undergraduate courses for the University of British Columbia including “The Sanskrit Cosmopolis, India and the World 300-1500 CE,” “History of the Indian Ocean World,” “A Survey of the Performing Arts of South and Southeast Asia,” and “Gender in Southeast Asia.” In addition, he has developed an older course on “Great Works of the Indian Classical Tradition in Translation” as a comparative study of the Kumārasambhava of Kālidāsa and the Smaradahana of Mpu Dharmaja. His ongoing teaching of the first two years of Sanskrit at UBC has supported these efforts, as has his research work, which is focused on the Old Javanese language.
In his research work Thomas Hunter combines a focus on the syntax and semantics of Old Javanese and its place in the typology of Western Malayo-Polynesian languages with translation and commentary on works of the kakawin genre. At the same time, he has worked with didactic works and inscriptions in efforts to understand the broader textual record in Old Javanese.He has claimed that the formal structure of the prose traditions in Old Javanese reflects an early engagement with the Indian tradition of commentaries. This aspect of his work will be featured in his work as a principle investigator for a project of the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago entitled “Śāstra, Form, Power and Translation in Indian Scholasticism.”
His role in the DHARMA Project will be as a Collaborator, working on text editions and translation of Old Javanese texts, particularly in the kakawin genre. He will begin with completion of a text and translation for the Smaradahana, which he believes is a text with a special relevance for the historical record in that it proclaims the island of Java itself to be the transformation of “the book of Kumāra” from Kashmir, and includes a long passage describing the historical patron of the work in terms of a lineage beginning with the Love God and his wife “Passion.” In this it exhibits the same “poetics of polity” that Pollock (1996) has described in terms of the relationship of works of the kāvya genre with the panegyric sections of bilingual inscriptions.
2018a “Aspect, Irrealis and Complementation in Old Javanese.” Wacana, the Indonesian Journal of the Humanities. Depok: Faculty of Cultural Studies, The University of Indonesia.
2018b “Processions, Seductions, Divine Battles: Aśvaghoṣa at the Foundations of Old Javanese Literature. “Journal of Indian Philosophy 47 (2): Special Issue on Reading Aśvaghoṣa across Boundaries, pp. 341-360.
2014a “A Constant Flow of Pilgrims.”: Kāvya and the Early History of the Kakawin.” In Yigal Bronner, David Shulman and Gary Tubb (eds.) Innovations and Turning Points, Toward a History of Kāvya Literature. Oxford University Press, pp. 195-231.
2014b “A Distant Mirror: Innovation and Change in the East Javanese Kakawin.” In Yigal Bronner, David Shulman and Gary Tubb (eds.) Innovations and Turning Points, Toward a History of Kāvya Literature. Oxford University Press, pp. 739-786.
2013 “Correspondences and the question of commentaries, Echoes of a wider tradition, Parallels and transformations, and Close parallels: the fall of the sumanasa flower and the death of Indumatī” [Part III, Chapters 1-4]. In Peter Worsley with S. Supomo, Thomas M. Hunter and Margaret Fletcher Sumanasāntaka, Death by a Sumanasa flower of Mpu Monaguṇa, an Old Javanese epic poem, its Indian source and Balinese Illustrations. Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 819-925.
2011a “Translation in a World of Diglossia.” In Jan van der Putten and Ronit Ricci (eds.) Translation in Asia: Theories, Practices, Histories. Manchester, GB: St. Jerome Publishing, pp. 9-26.
2011b “Figures of Repetition (yamaka) in the Bhaṭṭikāvya, the Raghuvaṃśa, the Śiwagṛha Inscription and the Rāmāyaṇa Kakawin.” In Andrea Acri, Helen Creese and Arlo Griffiths (eds.) From Laṅkā Eastwards: The Kakawin Rāmāyaṇa in Literature and the Visual Arts [OA publication]. [Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 247] Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 25- 52.
2009 “Bahasa Sanskerta di Nusantara: Terjemahan, Pemribumian, Dan Identitas Antardaerah.” In Henri Chambert-Loir, (editor and translator) Sadur: Sejarah Terjemahan di Indonesia dan Malaysia. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, pp. 23-47.
2007a “The Body of the King, Reappraising Singhasari Period Syncretism.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, (February), pp. 27-53.
2007b “The Poetics of Grammar in the Javano-Balinese Tradition.” In Sergio La Porta and David Shulman (eds.) The Poetics of Grammar and the Metaphysics of Sound and Sign. [Jerusalem Studies in Language and Culture] Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 271-303.