—organized by Bronwen Wilson (UCLA) and Angela Vanhaelen (McGill University)
co-sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant
Narratives of colonialism, empire building, and religious mission—of center, periphery, and globalization—have been under revision in recent years in order to nuance our understanding of what were immensely complex and multi-faceted phenomena. The Clark Library’s 2018–19 Core Program will shift the focus from governing regimes and institutions to ways in which creative forms and practices were intertwined in the dynamics of materiality and early modern globalism. Such a proposition directs analysis toward the flow of materials, artifacts, and motifs across borders and bodies of water. It attends to experimentation that activated and responded to this traffic in things; it investigates these interactions as constant, on-going processes, thereby bringing innovation, ornamentation, improvisation, and sensation to the fore.
Such interactions were given impetus by an efflorescence of cosmopolitan spaces in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These are cities, ports, exhibition sites, ships, caravanserais, markets, museums, theaters, and warehouses. They are spaces that are open to becoming something new, provisional instead of fixed in their form; they are not inherently hierarchical nor merely commercial, but inflected by global relations of power; they are spaces in which distance and presence are brought into consideration with each other. They are spaces through which people of diverse ethnicities, faiths, and vocational interests came and went. Allowing for convergences, reorientations, and interconnections, cosmopolitan spaces propelled people and artifacts in unexpected directions, giving rise to new ways of thinking.
Material Flows will consider the flows, circuitry, and transformations of materials, motifs, styles, artistic vocabularies, and practices across geographical boundaries. Recent considerations of transnational studies and the global turn have prompted a shift away from area studies, state formation, and fixed borders to take into account concepts such as mobility and cultural entanglement. Papers will take up artifacts and motifs, tracing their circuitry and their paths to explore the implications of global movement and material flows.
The Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies
302 Royce Hall | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1404
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