tradition and modernity
Creativity frequently springs from the movement of people, ideas, and objects across frontiers and boundaries and into places deemed new, foreign, strange, or remote. These encounters produce highly charged, often violent, contact zones, stimulating the desire to collect, to map, to trade, and to possess. We investigate the things that result from such encounters, the ways in which these things affect the people who make, recreate, and use them, and the pressure they put on concepts of culture as originary or self-contained. Areas of inquiry include exploration and enlightenment, pilgrimage, status goods and consumerism, the “biography” of objects, appropriation and resistance, and visual and material translation. Mobility and Exchange has delivered an important range of activities in the department that push forward this intellectual agenda, including such exhibitions in the University Art Gallery as "Mapping Mobility", "Movements", and “Africans in India”. Mobility and Exchange groups regularly organize fieldtrips to area museums and sites, and have helped implement digital humanities projects such as “Itinera”, an interactive tool that allows users to map the travels of European artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Current initiatives include a “global medieval” working group, established to facilitate boundary-crossing inquiry across the premodern world.