Undergraduate Seminar: Europe in Asia: The Visual Culture of Colonialism, 1500-1850
Friday | 2:00 - 5:00pm
Spices. Porcelain. Silk. Diamonds. Asia was seen as the exotic other and a land of astonishing wealth in European accounts of travel, trade, and empire from the Roman times onwards. But it was only in the 16th century that European presence in Asia vastly increased with the development of new technologies of maritime trade and the rise of a mercantile economy in Europe. Over the next three hundred years, trading companies based in England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands expanded their influence in South Asia (contemporary India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh), Southeast Asia (contemporary Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, and Vietnam), China, and Japan through trade and colonial occupation. Focusing on Europe in Asia in the age of colonialism (otherwise known as the age of exploration), the seminar will examine how European technologies, materials, scientific knowledge, artistic and architecture styles, and attitudes were exported to Asia to reinforce European presence in the continent. We will study how European objects and techniques were, in turn, transformed, subverted, and restyled by indigenous actors as a form of resistance and subversion. This emphasis on cross-cultural encounters will lead us to analyze the ways in which objects from Asia simultaneously reshaped the cultural worlds of Europe, thus challenging the insularity of the concept of both “Asian” and “European” art.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (B) and Chronological period (II), based on the topic of the final research paper or project.