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Archives of Asian Art

Vol. 58 (2008) through current issue

Since its establishment in 1945, Archives of Asian Art has been devoted to publishing new scholarship on the art and architecture of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Articles discuss premodern and contemporary visual arts, archaeology, architecture, and the history of collecting. To maintain a balanced representation of regions and types of art and to present a variety of scholarly perspectives, the editors encourage submissions in all areas of study related to Asian art and architecture. Every issue is fully illustrated (with color plates in the online version), and each fall issue includes an illustrated compendium of recent acquisitions of Asian art by leading museums and collections. Archives of Asian Art is a publication of Asia Society.

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Archiving the Unspeakable

Silence, Memory, and the Photographic Record in Cambodia

Michelle Caswell

Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.

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Arming the Chinese

The Western Armaments Trade in Warlord China, 1920-28, Second Edition

Anthony B. Chan

First published in 1982, this book remains the classic account of the arms trade in warlord China. The second edition includes a new preface that reframes the argument within the paradigm of critical militarism and state criminality. Arming the Chinese tells the story of the Western and Japanese merchants and governments who provided weapons to warlords for their expanding armies. Although the warlords were hearty individualists who retained control over domestic affairs and rarely relied on single foreign suppliers, the armaments trade, Chan argues, was a new form of imperialism, which perpetrated the continued Western and Japanese domination of China.

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Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya

Melissa R. Kerin

Sixteenth-century wall paintings in a Buddhist temple in the Tibetan cultural zone of northwest India are the focus of this innovative and richly illustrated study. Initially shaped by one set of religious beliefs, the paintings have since been reinterpreted and retraced by a later Buddhist community, subsumed within its religious framework and communal memory. Melissa Kerin traces the devotional, political, and artistic histories that have influenced the paintings' production and reception over the centuries of their use. Her interdisciplinary approach combines art historical methods with inscriptional translation, ethnographic documentation, and theoretical inquiry to understand religious images in context.

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Art in Turmoil

The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76

Ralph Croizier

Forty years after China's tumultuous Cultural Revolution, this book revisits the visual and performing arts of the period � the paintings, propaganda posters, political cartoons, sculpture, folk arts, private sketchbooks, opera, and ballet � and examines what these vibrant, militant, often gaudy images meant to artists, their patrons, and their audiences at the time, and what they mean now, both in their original forms and as revolutionary icons reworked for a new market-oriented age. Chapters by scholars of Chinese history and art and by artists whose careers were shaped by the Cultural Revolution offer new insights into works that have transcended their times.

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The Art of Censorship in Postwar Japan

Kirsten Cather

In 2002 a manga (comic book) was for the first time successfully charged with the crime of obscenity in the Japanese courts. In The Art of Censorship Kirsten Cather traces how this case represents the most recent in a long line of sensational landmark obscenity trials that have dotted the history of postwar Japan. The objects of these trials range from a highbrow literary translation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and modern adaptations and reprintings of Edo-period pornographic literary “classics” by authors such as Nagai Kafu to soft core and hard core pornographic films, including a collection of still photographs and the script from Oshima Nagisa’s In the Realm of the Senses, as well as adult manga. At stake in each case was the establishment of a new hierarchy for law and culture, determining, in other words, to what extent the constitutional guarantee of free expression would extend to art, artist, and audience.

The work draws on diverse sources, including trial transcripts and verdicts, literary and film theory, legal scholarship, and surrounding debates in artistic journals and the press. By combining a careful analysis of the legal cases with a detailed rendering of cultural, historical, and political contexts, Cather demonstrates how legal arguments are enmeshed in a broader web of cultural forces. She offers an original, interdisciplinary analysis that shows how art and law nurtured one another even as they clashed and demonstrates the dynamic relationship between culture and law, society and politics in postwar Japan.

The Art of Censorship will appeal to those interested in literary and visual studies, censorship, and the recent field of affect studies. It will also find a broad readership among cultural historians of the postwar period and fans of the works and genres discussed.

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The Art of Loving Krishna

Ornamentation and Devotion

Cynthia Packert

Since ancient times, Hindus have expressed their love and devotion to their deities through beautiful ornamentation -- dressing and decorating the deities with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and flowers. In this pioneering study of temples in Vrindaban and Jaipur, India, Cynthia Packert takes readers across temple thresholds and into the god Krishna's sacred domain. She describes what devotees see when they behold gorgeously attired representations of the god and why these images look the way they do. She discusses new media as well as global forms of devotion popular in India and abroad. The Art of Loving Krishna opens a universe of meaning in which art, religious action, and devotion are dynamically intertwined.

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Art, Religion, and Politics in Medieval China

The Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family

by Ning Qiang

The cave-temple complex popularly known as the Dunhuang caves is the world’s largest extant repository of Tang Buddhist art. Among the best preserved of the Dunhuang caves is the Zhai Family Cave, built in 642. It is this remarkable cave-temple that forms the focus of Ning Qiang’s cross-disciplinary exploration of the interrelationship of art, religion, and politics during the Tang. The author combines, in his careful examination of the paintings and sculptures found there, the historical study of pictures with the pictorial study of history. By employing this two-fold approach, he is able to refer to textual evidence in interpreting the formal features of the cave temple paintings and to employ visual details to fill in the historical gaps inevitably left by text-oriented scholars. The result is a comprehensive analysis of the visual culture of the period and a vivid description of social life in medieval China. The original Zhai Family Cave pictures were painted over in the tenth century and remained hidden until the early 1940s. Once exposed, the early artwork appeared fresh and colorful in comparison with other Tang paintings at Dunhuang. The relatively fine condition of the Zhai Family Cave is crucial to our understanding of the original pictorial program found there and offers a unique opportunity to investigate the visual details of the original paintings and sculptures in the cave. At the same time, the remaining traces of reconstruction and redecoration provide a new perspective on how, for over three centuries, a wealthy Chinese clan used its familial cave as a political showcase.

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Art Worlds

Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Shanghai

by Roberta Wue

The growth of Shanghai in the late nineteenth century gave rise to an exciting new art world in which a flourishing market in popular art became a highly visible part of the treaty port’s commercialized culture. Art Worlds examines the relationship between the city’s visual artists and their urban audiences. Through a discussion of images ranging from fashionable painted fans to lithograph-illustrated magazines, the book explores how popular art intersected with broader cultural trends. It also investigates the multiple roles played by the modern Chinese artist as image-maker, entrepreneur, celebrity, and urban sojourner. Focusing on industrially produced images, mass advertisements, and other hitherto neglected sources, the book offers a new interpretation of late Qing visual culture at a watershed moment in the history of modern Chinese art. Art Worlds will be of interest to scholars of art history and to anyone with an interest in the cultural history of modern China.

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Ascendant Peace in the Four Seas

Drama and the Qing Imperial Court

By Ye Xiaoqing

"On an autumn morning in 1793, Lord Macartney waited to be ushered into the imperial summer retreat to take part in the celebration of the Qianlong Emperor's 82nd birthday. It was a long day; the celebration drama, Ascendant Peace in the Four Seas, lasted five hours. There were many scenes of fish, turtles and other sea creatures, and Macartney guessed it must have had something to do with the marriage between the ocean and land. He could not have been more wrong…" For the Qing court, entertaining foreign visitors was only one of the numerous ritual and political purposes dramas served. Delving into a rich collection of first-hand materials, the author meticulously excavates and combs historical data including court records, eunuchs' memoirs, pictorial archives of opera costumes, and period news. She investigates the development of imperial drama and its influence on the Peking Opera, as well as the function and system of imperial organizations responsible for drama. Also discussed are the complex roles of the actors on and off stage, and the broader issues of cultural and political influence intertwined with the performances themselves. The book thus presents us not only an art history of Peking Opera, but also a vivid scroll-painting of the social-cultural life both in and beyond the Forbidden City.

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