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Symposium on the Histories of Japanese Art

Oct 21, 2015

The symposium "Histories of Japanese Art and their Global Contexts: New Directions" took place from October 22 - 24 at the Karl Jaspers Centre. Prof. Melanie Trede, coordinator of project MC4 "Frames", and Dr. Mio Wakita, Assistant Professor at the Institute of East Asian Art History at Heidelberg University, organised the three-day event in context of the 10th anniversary of the Ishibashi Foundation Visiting Professorship in Japanese Art History.

Since the late 1990s and 2000s, a renewed interest in the notion of "world art history" and "global art history" developed. Moving beyond the EuroAmerican bias and monolithic comparative approaches in art history, a more recent objective of this trend focuses on "the flow of images" and deconstructs the center-periphery-binaries while highlighting the role of cultural mediators as well as mutual exchanges and inspirations. Building on the strengths of Heidelberg University's Institute of East Asian Art History as well as the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", this symposium sought to map these recent trends in the discipline of art history by focusing on select arts, technologies and artistic institutions of Japan. It also touched upon a set of issues a transcultural engagement inevitably entails: How can a global approach in art history overcome multilayered difficulties such as institutional and political biases of the academia, language and communication problems, cultural misunderstandings etc.?

The 22 panel speakers from Japan, Taiwan, the USA and Europe covered a range of regional and disciplinary expertise as historians of art and museum curators; social, economic and literary historians, and scholars of religion. The programme featured two keynote speeches: Christine Guth (Royal College of Art and V&A Museum, London) talked about "Hybridity and the Global Turn in Japanese Art History". Timon Screech (SOAS, London) gave a lecture on "A Global Interpretation of Nihonbashi".

The symposium "Histories of Japanese Art and their Global Contexts: New Directions" took place at the Karl Jaspers Centre from October 22-24. It was organised by Prof. Dr. Melanie Trede and Dr. Mio Wakita from the Institute of East Asian Art History at Heidelberg University. Melanie Trede is professor for the histories of Japanese art and deputy speaker of research area B "Public Spheres" at the Cluster "Asia and Europe". She co-coordinates the research projects MC4 "Frames" and Net1 "Arts and the Transcultural". Mio Wakita was postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the research projects C12 "Asian Sea" and is a member of Net1 "Arts and the Transcultural". The symposium was supported by the Cluster "Asia and Europe", the Ishibashi Foundation, the German Research Foundation, and the Japanisches Kulturinstitut (The Japan Foundation).

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