Nostalgia from the West: China in Western Collections–cfp

Call For Papers
Nostalgia from the West: “China” in Western Collections
Date: May 22-25, 2020 Location: Guangzhou, China


Boya College, Sun Yat-sen University
Advanced Institute for Humanities, Sun Yat-sen University
School of Art and Archaeology, Zhejiang University
Advanced Institute of Image and History, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts


Advanced Institute for Humanities, Sun Yat-sen University
Advanced Institute of Image and History, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts

Conference Theme:

Museum collections may be considered as ultimate presentations of a culture or nation to which the items belong. Therefore, visitors gain not only an aesthetic experience from artistic works and knowledge about the exhibits, but also understanding about the very culture or nation to which they belong.

For people living in Western societies, perceptions about non-Western cultures or nations is largely shaped by museum collections. Likewise, collected and displayed images of “China” play a significant role in the formation of knowledge about China. Based on an interweaved image of “civilization” and “politics” which are collected as well as exhibited in the West, understandings of China sometimes overlap with images of China conveyed through mass media, but sometimes they diverge, even conflicting with each other. The tensions between them invite further scrutiny.

“Nostalgia from the West: ‘China’ in Western Collections” revolves around this topic; discussion questions include, but are not limited to, the following: When the West began to collect items from China, what kind understandings about China drove those collectors who once lived in China? What kind image or understanding of China did these collectors intended to present to Western buyers, sellers or museums? In modern times, in a buyer’s market, dominated by Western collectors, how Chinese sellers participated in the transactions to promote their own understanding of “China?” When these Chinese objects are collected and exhibited by and in Western museums, what kind image of “China” reaches the Western audience through deliberately designing combinations of the exhibits? With on-going changes in China and its global image during the modern age, what kind of interplays happened between the image of China collected and displayed in western museums and today’s China? Furthermore, what kind of changes were caused by the interplay? In today’s Western museums, what kind of image of China is deliberately collected and displayed through contemporary Chinese art works? And, what kind of tensions exists in-between the displayed “China” and the present China?

Deadline for paper abstract: 20th November, 2019.
Please send your paper abstract to Fangyi Cheng, Conference invitation letters will be sent out in early December 2019.











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