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The Afterlife of Images in China and India

The Afterlife of Images in China and India
1 Devonshire Place, Campbell Conference Facility
Time: Mar 31st, 2:00 pm End: Mar 31st, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: Visual Studies (UTM), South Asian, Science/Technology, Religion, Study of (FAS), Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (FAS), History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), Ethnography, East Asian Studies (FAS), Digital Art/Humanities, Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC), Art (FAS), Architecture, Landscape, Design, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS)
Lecture by Peter Van der Veen, Director, Max Planck Institute, GŲttingen

The Centre for South Asian Studies presents the 2014 India-Canada Association Lecture:

Peter Van der Veen, University of Göttingen

The Afterlife of Images in China and India

Both India and China have historically experienced campaigns of iconoclasm, which can be glossed as 'violent destruction of sacred objects'. But one also finds complex narratives of subjugation, incorporation, and transformation of icons in rival visual regimes. Such histories testify to the power of icons and raise the question of the afterlife and durability of images. Destruction is often not total; where traces remain, what has been destroyed can be remade. This reminds us that visual regimes show a continuum between total visibility and total invisibility with a dynamic 'in-between'.

In the modern period, secularity aims to encompass the sacred icon. These longue durée histories have therefore not ended with the coming of modernity. In fact, the sacred life of the image and its employment or destruction is today part of major cultural narratives and contestations in India and in China.

This presentation will focus on attempts to make the visible invisible by destroying it, as well as how a virtual presence complicates the seemingly straightforward boundary between the visible and the invisible. It will first examine important cases of religious iconoclasm in modern India and China.  Secondly, it will examine the destruction of 'the past' and the construction of 'the new' in the building and visualization of 'the modern' in India and China.

Peter Van der Veer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen.  He taught Anthropology at the Free University in Amsterdam, at Utrecht University, and at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1994, he was appointed as Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University, a position he continues to hold. He received the Hendrik Muller Award for his social study of religion. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has just published The Modern Spirit of Asia (Princeton University Press, 2014) on the comparative study of religion and nationalism in India and China.

Co-sponsored by:

  • Dr. David Chu Community Network in Asia Pacific Studies
  • Department of Religion
  • UTM Department of Visual Studies
  • Department of Art
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Dr. David Chu Distinguished Leaders in Asia Pacific Studies

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