CFP: Matter in Motion – Transcultural Material and Symbolic Transformations (Session at the CIHA Conference, Lyon, 23-28 Jun 2024)

Paper proposals are invited for the session “Matter in Motion: Transcultural Material and Symbolic Transformations” at the conference of the International Congress of the History of Art (CIHA), June 23 – 28, 2024, in Lyon, France.  Transcultural exchanges increasingly dominate art historical studies investigating objects through their transformational spatial and temporal travels. While matter appears ineffable and fixed, materials nonetheless embody emotions, kinesthetics, memories, histories, resonances, and skills, making interpretations of surface textures as unstable and indeterminate as are the changing contents and meanings of works that cross borders.

Whether embedded in hybrid things produced by combining cross-cultural materials or images linked through encounters or in histories of the changing valuations of an object that crosses cultures, transculturation underscores contingencies of physical matter—e.g., darkening, patinas–and of content re-interpreted and re-inscribed by another cultures’ histories, social orders and ideologies, e.g., French tapestries sent to a Chinese emperor; Ukiyo-e prints, used as packaging in Japan, enjoying aesthetic value in Europe.

Crossing borders through trade, consumption, diplomacy, collecting, exploration, colonialism, and fashion, objects can generate assimilation, appropriation or resistance. Such objects juxtapose distance and presence to highlight how the local engenders mutable physical, symbolic and affective meanings through transcultural dynamics. Studies of the geohistory of art offer methods to analyze cross-cultural perspectives that rewrite materials, contents and formats, revealing that objects have no fixed meanings but undergo continual processes of unmaking/remaking and decontextualizing/recontextualizing.

Transcultural movement occurred across and between Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa; panelists are encouraged to explore these many paths of objects in motion everywhere and their re-interpretations and changed symbolic and material meanings. Suggested topics, but not limited to these, are:

    • Case studies of objects crossing borders, their matter revalued/devalued and their contents and significance re-signified in new localities.

    • How objects’ physical and/or symbolic significance in new places or times differs from their material and cultural identities in their original sites or times.

    • Whether spatial and temporal crossings affect objects’ representations in the same ways or differently.

    • Forces of assimilation or appropriation or resistance, such as nationalism, social identities, markets.

    • Ways cross-cultural exchanges affect binaries of centers and peripheries and the dissemination of styles.

    • How instabilities of matter and materiality revise art history’s assumptions and methods.

Proposals are due 15 September 2023 submitted via the CIHA platform, which includes a full description of all sessions:

Session Convenors: Julie Codell (Arizona State University, USA) and Sabine du Crest (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, Pessac, France)