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Art, Space, and Mobility in Maritime East Asia, 12th-14th Centuries 1
6 June
11:00 - 12:30
Korte Spinhuissteeg
Conference Room
By invitation

Art, Space, and Mobility in Maritime East Asia, 1050-1250

NIAS Seminar

Art historian Hsueh-man Shen will discuss how maritime connectivity reconfigured the cultural boundaries of medieval East Asia.

About the Seminar

How did maritime connectivity reconfigure the cultural boundaries of medieval East Asia? This book project demonstrates that ports and entrepôts along a cultural band acted as areas of concentration of material, making the material culture within the band significantly different from that of surrounding areas. Such a “banding” process took place along the East China Sea and South China Sea during the long twelfth century, resulting in places like Ningbo of Zhejiang province in China more closely aligned with western Kyushu of Japan than with other parts of Zhejiang.


Focusing on oceanic and seaborne connectivity, I examine cross-cultural exchanges of artifacts and technologies among China, Japan, and Korea during the period in concern. I seek to understand the ways in which port city environments facilitated artistic production and the circulation of artworks across territorial boundaries. In particular, I investigate into the intermediary role played by immigrant communities at ports and entrepôts, and the networks thus built by these communities. I study the objects recovered from shipwrecks, temples, as well as burials and settlements sites, and explore how such networks and circulatory systems reconfigured cultural boundaries of maritime East Asia. Through comparison of evidence from both land and underwater archaeology, I propose a new spatial perspective on Global Asia, which accounts for graded dispersal of objects, knowledge, and people along the routes.

About NIAS Seminars

NIAS Seminars are aimed to stimulate scientific cross-pollination within the NIAS academic community. Attendance is by invitation only.