Asia and Africa On Display
- Module Code:
- FHEQ Level:
- Year of study:
- Year 1 or Year 2
- Taught in:
- Term 1
Objectives and learning outcomes of the module
The aims and objectives of this course are as follows:
- To enable students to develop an understanding of the methods, practices and key issues associated with the presentation of objects from outside the European tradition in transcultural museum spaces.
- To introduce students to critical approaches to object analysis and exhibition development.
- To provide an environment in which students can consider and evaluate the concepts and language of cultural representation.
- To enable students to consider the historic reception of non-Western visual culture in Europe.
- To encourage students to develop their own research and professional interests in the area of Asian and African art/visual culture.
At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes:
- The development of object analysis and interpretation skills.
- Acquire knowledge and understanding of critical concepts of reception, presentation and
- An understanding of issues associated with culturally defined categories of objects.
- An ability to evaluate critically museum exhibitions and their interpretative frameworks.
Scope and syllabus
Over 10 weeks the module will introduce key critical concepts and contemporary/historical practices as they relate to specific objects on display in a range of different locations, covering the following or similar topics each year:
- Week 1 - Introduction to exhibitions and display with special reference to non-Western visual culture.
- Week 2 - Transculturaltion – acquisition and loss.
- Week 3 - Reception, Identity and cultural representation.
- Week 4 – Museum and exhibition spaces and politics of display.
- Week 5 - Approaches to object analysis.
- Week 6 - Presentations by students on selected objects for study.
- Week 7 - Collecting and appropriation.
- Week 8 - Taxonomies and categories.
- Week 9 - Interpretation and historiography.
- Week 10 - Two Histories: at home and new spaces.
Method of assessment
- One 1,000-word display report (worth 40%)
- One 2,000-word research essay (worth 60%)
The core text for this course will be:
Ivan Karp and Steven D. Levine, eds., Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Smithsonian, 1999.
Further key readings will include:
- A. Contadini, ed., Objects of Instruction: Treasures of SOAS, SOAS, 2007.
- Clifford, ‘On Collecting Art and Culture’, in James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art, (Cambridge/London, 1988).
- M. E. Simpson, Making Representations: Museums in the Post-Colonial Age, 2001.
- Warren Cohen, East Asian Art and American Culture: A Study in International Relations, (New York, 1992).
- C. B. Steiner, African Art in Transit, Cambridge, 1993.
- P. Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art, Oxford, 1977.
- S. Pearce, Museums, Objects and Collections: A Cultural Study, Leicester/London, 1992.
- J. Elkins, ed., Is Art History Global?, Routledge, 2007.
- H. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, Routledge, 1994.