Special Programme
Is Asia One?
Towards an Asian Art History
A symposium at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

14 Sep 2013
Saturday | 9.30am to 5.30pm | @ Ngee Ann Auditorium, ACM Empress Place (Basement)

The presentation of a cheetah (folio from an Akbarnama) (detail)
Mughal India, around 1595
Watercolour and gold on paper

Is there such a thing as Asian art? Is the notion of pan-Asian art history a legitimate historical construction? Ever since Okakura Kakuzō used the phrase “Asia is one” in 1903, scholars and curators have struggled with conceptualising the continent as a whole. This symposium considers some of the impulses that might tie together the art histories of a vast continent that embraces many cultures, religions, and languages.

A group of international speakers will consider these issues. Attention is given to the tensions between centre and periphery, the supposedly pure and hybrid, nationalism and imperialism, ethnic and colonial.

The 10th anniversary of the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore provides an opportunity to examine the concept of Asian art before the 20th century. The symposium is held in conjunction with a special exhibition of new acquisitions, Devotion and Desire: Cross-cultural art in Asia.


Registration: 9.30am
Programme begins: 10am
Lunch: 1pm

Keynote address: 10am

Network Asia: Futures of the past
Prasenjit Duara
Professor and Director of the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Multiple beginnings: Okakura Kakuzō and the invention of Asian art history
Noriko Murai, Sophia University, Tokyo

The first Western museums of Asian art: The problems of colonialist interpretation
Alan Chong, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Beyond national representation at the national art museums of Japan
Alice Y. Tseng, Boston University

Moving beyond the space of the Classics and the Bible: Renaissance Europe’s perceptions of Asia
Angelo Cattaneo, New University of Lisbon

The Malacca Straits as a site of memory
Michael North, University of Greifswald

The West as East: The colonial networks as Asian culture
Peter Lee, independent scholar, Singapore


Registration fee (excludes SISTIC booking fee):

  • Adult: S$50
  • 50% discount for students and senior citizens aged 60 and above
  • 30% discount for docents and NHB staff

Registration fee includes:

  • Lunch and two teas
  • Free admission to the Devotion and Desire exhibition
  • 50% discount on the exhibition catalogue
  • Conference pack

Admission tickets can be purchased through the SISTIC website (www.sistic.com.sg), at SISTIC authorised agents islandwide, and via the SISTIC hotline: (65) 6348 5555. Tickets are also available for sale at the ACM’s front counter from 10am to 6pm daily, and from 10am to 8pm on Fridays.

For enquiries, please email: nhb_acm_conference@nhb.gov.sg.
Programmes may need to be changed at short notice.

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