Internationalism & Cultural Exchange 1870-1920 (ICE)

People involved in this project

Principal investigator:

School Humanities
Department Historical Studies (History of Art)
Dates 1 February 2012 - 31 October 2013
Funder AHRC: Research Networking
Contact person Dr Grace Brockington

More about this project

ICE is an interdisciplinary network which examines internationalist ideologies and processes of cultural exchange at a crucial historical moment. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were characterised by rising nationalism, imperialism and war. But they were also marked by movements for international cooperation, a developing international infrastructure, and experiments in transnational ways of living. The arts were central to this dialogue between nationalism and internationalism. Artists were expected to play their part in the building of national traditions, but their lives and practices were often cosmopolitan. Yet, despite the vigour of internationalist thinking, historical enquiry in the arts has been largely preoccupied with national traditions.

ICE questions that emphasis, challenging the nationalistic structure of disciplines (English literature, Chinese art), and proposing new models for research, teaching and display. Rather than focusing on particular countries, it takes the main constituents of nationality (race, place, language) and asks: what alternatives were proposed by artists at the fin de siècle? What imagined communities did they build to cross boundaries? What were their sites of operation? How did they communicate? What histories did they construct, and what futures project? The network will operate through a series of day workshops, culminating in a two-day plenary conference. Selected proceedings will be published as part of a dedicated book series under contract with Peter Lang. Museums and galleries, which in recent years have pioneered cross-cultural approaches to the History of Art, are closely involved with the project. We aim to generate ideas for cross-cultural exhibitions through the involvement of our partner at Tate Britain and other senior curators.