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Nancy Um: Wrinkles in the Global Narrative of Porcelain - Coffee Cups in the Red Sea
Nancy Um: Wrinkles in the Global Narrative of Porcelain - Coffee Cups in the Red Sea
WhenThursday, Jan. 24, 2019, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
Campus locationAllen Library (ALB)
Campus roomAllen Auditorium
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsSimpson Center for the Humanities

Referred to as “the first global brand,” Chinese porcelain, and particularly blue and white wares, occupied an unprecedented place in early modern global markets, inspiring widespread demand, but also artisanal imitations across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Yet the historians, art historians, curators, and archaeologists who have taken up porcelain as a topic in recent years have endeavored to move beyond general perceptions of universal desirability to trace the specific contours of regional markets and to highlight the needs of regional spheres of consumption. This talk contributes to this effort by digging deeper on a smaller scale, looking closely at one market for Asian porcelain, the Red Sea in the early eighteenth century. It will rely on various types of evidence, textual, material, and archaeological (both land-based and underwater) to explore the diversity of porcelain and ceramic wares that circulated in that market. By looking closely at this one sphere of circulation, we may add dimension to the larger overarching narrative of porcelain, while considering the difficulty of working with varied types of sources for the study of early modern material culture around the edges of the Indian Ocean arena.

Nancy Um is Professor and Chair of Art History at SUNY-Binghamton. She teaches broadly in the archaeology, arts, architecture and urbanism of the Middle East and South Asia, and her research examines the visual culture and built environments of trading communities around the western Indian Ocean rim in the early modern period. She is the author of Shipped but Not Sold: Material Culture and the Social Protocols of Trade during Yemen’s Age of Coffee (2017) and The Merchant Houses of Mocha: Trade and Architecture in an Indian Ocean Port (2009).

With Sonal Khullar (Art History), Um also hosts a digital humanities workshop on data visualization for art historians and historians on Friday, January 25, 11:30 am-2:30 pm in Communications 202.

Part of Rethinking the Global Turn, a Next Generation Humanities PhD project of the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

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