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Conference Paper: Regrouping: Displays of Loot from Yuanmingyuan

TitleRegrouping: Displays of Loot from Yuanmingyuan
Authors
Issue Date2012
PublisherNürnberg Germanisches Nationalmuseum.
Citation
The 33rd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art (CIHA 2012), Nuremberg, Germany, 15-20 July 2012. In The Challenge of the Object, 2012, v. 2, p. 509-513 How to Cite?
AbstractObjects have tangible histories recorded in material traces. When displaced and re-contextualized, they generate new histories both for themselves and for other objects around them. Simultaneously, these tangible histories also spark intangible memories and imagined meanings for the individuals, institutions, and nations that use and display them. This paper traces this process of complex, collective meaning creation using the example of objects looted from China’s Yuanmingyuan palace in 1860 and removed to France and England. Methodologically, it emphasizes how meaning varies from one agent to another (soldiers, monarchs, critics, and collectors each interpreting looted objects differently); how specific display contexts enact these highly contested meanings; and how such meanings have changed from the imperialist era of the Opium War through the collapse of French and Chinese monarchies to today’s globalized art market. The paper begins with a brief review of the looting by French and British forces, a kind of sacrificial slaughter of the Chinese emperor’s grandest palace complex that fetishized cultural objects as simultaneously divine and debased. It then demonstrates how different displays of looted objects in France and England radically re-interpreted objects in different and often contradictory ways, alternately exotic and familiar. A final section traces Chinese reactions to the looting and subsequent razing of the entire palace, whose absence is still used to symbolize national humiliation under China’s old empire. Recent examples of digital reconstruction of the palace and repatriation of certain objects are presented to illustrate the ironies of historical memory in today’s globalized culture.
DescriptionGermanisches Nationalmuseum; Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums / Wissenschaftliche Beibände
Conference Theme: The Challenge of the Object
Section 7 - Missing Links: Object Manipulation In (Post)Colonial Context (第七组:迷失的链环 ——(后)殖民语境中的对象操控): A – Looting, Loss and Restitution
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/198721
ISBN
Series/Report no.Germanisches Nationalmuseum; Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums / Wissenschaftliche Beibände

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorThomas, GM-
dc.date.accessioned2014-07-07T09:33:16Z-
dc.date.available2014-07-07T09:33:16Z-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationThe 33rd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art (CIHA 2012), Nuremberg, Germany, 15-20 July 2012. In The Challenge of the Object, 2012, v. 2, p. 509-513-
dc.identifier.isbn9783936688658-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/198721-
dc.descriptionGermanisches Nationalmuseum; Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums / Wissenschaftliche Beibände-
dc.descriptionConference Theme: The Challenge of the Object-
dc.descriptionSection 7 - Missing Links: Object Manipulation In (Post)Colonial Context (第七组:迷失的链环 ——(后)殖民语境中的对象操控): A – Looting, Loss and Restitution-
dc.description.abstractObjects have tangible histories recorded in material traces. When displaced and re-contextualized, they generate new histories both for themselves and for other objects around them. Simultaneously, these tangible histories also spark intangible memories and imagined meanings for the individuals, institutions, and nations that use and display them. This paper traces this process of complex, collective meaning creation using the example of objects looted from China’s Yuanmingyuan palace in 1860 and removed to France and England. Methodologically, it emphasizes how meaning varies from one agent to another (soldiers, monarchs, critics, and collectors each interpreting looted objects differently); how specific display contexts enact these highly contested meanings; and how such meanings have changed from the imperialist era of the Opium War through the collapse of French and Chinese monarchies to today’s globalized art market. The paper begins with a brief review of the looting by French and British forces, a kind of sacrificial slaughter of the Chinese emperor’s grandest palace complex that fetishized cultural objects as simultaneously divine and debased. It then demonstrates how different displays of looted objects in France and England radically re-interpreted objects in different and often contradictory ways, alternately exotic and familiar. A final section traces Chinese reactions to the looting and subsequent razing of the entire palace, whose absence is still used to symbolize national humiliation under China’s old empire. Recent examples of digital reconstruction of the palace and repatriation of certain objects are presented to illustrate the ironies of historical memory in today’s globalized culture.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherNürnberg Germanisches Nationalmuseum.-
dc.relation.ispartofThe Challenge of the Object-
dc.relation.ispartofseriesGermanisches Nationalmuseum; Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums / Wissenschaftliche Beibände-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleRegrouping: Displays of Loot from Yuanmingyuan-
dc.typeConference_Paper-
dc.identifier.emailThomas, GM: gmthomas@hkucc.hku.hk-
dc.identifier.authorityThomas, GM=rp01185-
dc.description.naturepostprint-
dc.identifier.hkuros229833-
dc.identifier.hkuros209870-
dc.identifier.volume2-
dc.identifier.spage509-
dc.identifier.epage513-
dc.publisher.placeGermany-

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