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Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja


Beyond national frames – exploring a connected art history of Europe and Asia (Part 1: From the Silk Route to Renaissance Humanism)

This course, conceptualized in two parts, is addressed to students of both European and Asian art history. How can art history be made global? The recent years have seen different approaches to this problem. The course attempts to reframe the art history of Europe and Asia by transcending the nationalist frameworks which have governed teaching and research in art history in the West as well as in the young nation states of Asia. It introduces a notion of contact zones to undercut the study of closed units and fixed boundaries which have prevented us from understanding the dynamics and the decisive role of encounter, flows and entanglement between regions and cultures. These cross-cultural processes was examined closely to ask how they have been constitutive for local artistic practices and traditions.

Part 1, From the Silk Route to Renaissance Humanism, takes up major cultural movements – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Renaissance Humanism – and follows their trans-regional trajectories that connected Europe and Asia through migrations of artists, courts, images and objects. The course was structured as a series of thematic units that involved frequent shifts in perspective and regional focal points (Western and Northern Europe, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent) to look at the ways in which travelling theories of images, iconographies, symbols and pictorial practices were negotiated and translated in new contexts. What implications did the engagement with plurality and cultural otherness have for specific visual systems in different regions? Questions such as these framed important thematic studies such as the transition from aniconic to anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha, or the constitution of Renaissance canons of art and beauty, or the formation of a pictorial language in the courts of northern India through the adaptation of Christian humanist elements to local literary traditions. We also asked how a globally oriented art history would read and conceptualize those areas and practices that reject or refuse engagement with alien cultural currents.

Connecting the individual thematic units of the course are larger issues. What does a focus on intersections and shifting cultural zones do to the familiar themes and methods of art history? What are the challenges posed by a "connected history of art" to the established categories and concepts of art history? How helpful are the units and analytical framework that inform the discipline in coming to grips with the complexities of artistic practice engendered by transcultural relationships?

Part 2 of the course, Modernism as a global process, is offered in the winter semester of 2009-10.

Wednesdays, 11am to 1pm, IEK HS


Can Art History be made global?

What are the consequences of economic and cultural globalization for the history of art? Is this a specifically Western discipline or are its interpretive methods and concepts equally suited to understanding artistic traditions of non-Western cultures? What are the conceptual challenges that art history faces when attempting to place a plurality of cultures and their interrelationships within a single matrix? These are some of the questions that art historians, cultural theorists and visual anthropologists have addressed in the recent years. This seminar seeks to familiarize students with debates about what a global art history can look like. It will have a theoretical component centered on a discussion of programmatic texts that engage with conceptual issues of transculturality, cultural difference and power relationships that underpin academic practice. A second component would involve examining case studies from different regions that seek to translate theory into practice. The course is addressed to students with different regional specializations and coming also from related disciplines such as media studies, anthropology, history and religion in the hope of fruitful exchanges across disciplinary boundaries and regional perspectives

Thursdays, 11am to 1pm, KJC

Summer School

Objects on the Move - Circulation, Social Practice and Transcultural Intersections

July 13 to 16, 2009. Venue: Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg. Co-ordinated by Prof. Monica Juneja.

Further details:

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Franziska Koch

Assisting Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja in organizing the Summer School "Objects on the Move. Circulation, Social Practice and Transcultural Intersections" from 13th to 16th July 2009 at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University.

Further details:

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