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New volume in heiUP series on Transculturality



25 June 2021

One of the major challenges facing art history in recent decades has been the issue of globalization and its cultural implications—with regard to both retrospective historical narratives and contemporary methods. As art production, art audiences, and scholarship on art and visual culture are becoming more and more internationalized, a critical analysis of disciplinary standpoints seems more important than ever. The aim of the volume "
Reading Objects in the Contact Zone," edited by Eva-Maria Troelenberg (Utrecht University), Kerstin Schankweiler (Dresden University of Technology), and Anna Sophia Messner (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), is to critically re-evaluate art historical narratives and paradigms through the analysis of objects and images that circulate across transcultural contact zones. The authors question institutional and informal collections of objects as well as their conditions of perception to address the following questions: what is the difference between an image or an object we encounter in a national museum, and one that we find in a forgotten suitcase? What is the range of intellectual and practical instruments we need in order to find, reach, and understand such different constellations of encounters?
The book presents research that was executed within the framework of the Max Planck Research Group "
Objects in the Contact Zone – The Cross-Cultural Lives of Things" at the
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut between 2011 and 2018. It follows an "object-based" approach, as it assembles a wide range of case studies to create a compilation of readings of paradigmatic objects based on the individual research projects of the research group’s fellows and students. The contributions are organized in seven thematic sections: "economies of photo-objects;" "utility and representation;" "building transcultural modernity;" "displaying stories in the contact zone;" "figurative objects, trajectories, and valuations;" "iconographies of encounter and translation;" and "perception between image and text." Altogether, the histories and biographies of the objects and images illustrated in this volume demonstrate how knowledge can be generated, communicated, and even challenged across cultural contact zones. The book is conceived as both a methodological contribution to a transcultural art and cultural history and an instrument for teaching; to this scope, it contains a critical-discursive glossary of key-terms that are illustrative of the theory and practice of transcultural art history.

The volume is part of the series
Heidelberg Studies on Transcultur

in Heidelberg University’s publishing branch,
heiUP. The series is committed to publishing research that investigates the dynamics of transcultural relationships in any region of the globe and includes works positioned both within and across disciplines. Visit
here to access and download the volume "Reading Objects in the Contact Zone," and
here to access all the titles in the series.


To contact the editorial team, please write at Submissions are welcome in any of the following areas: anthropology, art history, cultural and religious studies, politics, literary studies, media and communication, musicology, and public health.