Transnationality in the Nineteenth-Century: Decolonising Networks of Exchange, Circulation and Exhibition

Gursimran Oberoi, University of Surrey, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, g.oberoi@surrey.ac.uk, @GursimOberoi

Sarah French, University of Sussex, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, sf313@sussex.ac.uk, @sjfrenchie

Despite increasing interest in the fields of global and transnational studies in the humanities, the production, collecting, and display of visual and material culture across the British Empire and its protectorates is still often misunderstood as one-directional. A reliance on western archival sources, that are inevitably entangled within the powers and legacies of empire and colonisation, support this claim. Yet, if we broaden the scope of our research and engage with sources beyond Britain, we inevitably uncover a multiplicity of records, viewpoints, experiences and mobilities engaging objects and associated meanings in alternate ways from imperialism. This panel builds on scholarship into Orientalism, and the seminal texts Transculturation in British Art, 1770-1930 edited by Julie F. Codell and Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn co-edited by Jill H. Casid and Aruna D’Souza. It takes into consideration and extends the discussions taking place in newly established research networks, such as Race, Empire and the Pre-Raphaelites: Decolonising Victorian Art and Design through Museum Collections and Practice. This panel considers how transnational networks of object exchange, circulation and exhibition between Britain and other countries worked in dual dialogue, and emerged on an individual level during the course of the mid-to-late nineteenth century. We are particularly interested in bearing witness to the experiences of different peoples who engaged in these processes with reference to their personal heritage or with British art as part of a growing effort to decolonise Victorian art studies. In looking to advance an understanding of the intercultural contact between individuals, communities and countries, this panel seeks to depart from the assumption that the westernisation of international societies and cultures was the sole result of increasing transnationalism in the nineteenth-century. Through the course of presentations and discussions, this panel aims to demonstrate how art’s histories can provide a vital contribution to the field of transnationalism.

Information about the speakers and papers on this panel will be posted shortly.

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