Connections, Conflicts, and Convergences

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Exploring ‘othering’ in global visual and material cultures, ca. 1500-1800

The focus of this conference is the material and visual embodiments of interactions of ‘othering’, and/or ‘othering’ as their product. By othering we refer to the construction of the self and its opposition, through a myriad of intersections. Visual and material culture are key to understanding ideas of what the ‘other’ means. The aim of this conference is to look at othering that has taken place between Asia, Europe, and Africa, in a timeframe that stretches from approximately 1500 to 1800.

To avoid overarching narratives, that simplify these complex landmasses as single entities (i.e. Africa and Asia), it is our intention to ‘crumble’ these entities into smaller geographies, beyond borders: for example, how did people in Northern Africa depict those living in the south; or how did Chinese people depict, for instance, the inhabitants of India? European visual and material culture will remain abundant, yet it is our aim to propose an analysis that is as multicentred and decolonised as possible: hence, as well as looking at interactions between Asia and Europe, we would like speakers to discuss interactions between extra-European geographies (e.g. India-Russia or China-Southern Africa, Ottoman Empire-Japan).

This conference will consider othering in three thematical panels: connections, conflicts, and convergences. It will ask how material and visual objects represent notions of ‘othering’, and portray connections to others, or vice versa. Attention will be given to blurring between different cultures, or where imitation of visual and material objects occurs as a by-product of exchanges.

By framing the conference thematically, rather than around geographical locations, participants will be able to work outside established borders and national narratives. By looking at the interactions between the global and the local, we also encourage micro and global historical methodologies. We hope that from this conference new reflections, conversations, and methodological approaches can emerge.

Application details

Who can apply: We welcome all PhD, post-doctoral and early career scholars from interdisciplinary fields. Participants should cover the cost of their travel and accommodation through their own institutions if possible.

We welcome proposals which touch on one or more of our three thematical panels. The scope of the conference is deliberately broad in order to stimulate papers which go beyond boundaries, use new methodologies or work outside current frameworks. Although hosted by a History Department the conference welcomes a range of different disciplines.

How to apply: Please send a 250-word abstract and a 150-word personal bio by:  Tuesday 16 July 2024 to: [email protected]

When and where: Florence (IT), 27-28th February 2025

Organisers: Visual and Material History Working Group, European University Institute

Deadline for application: 16th July 2024