Conference: Site-Image-Object: Rethinking Place in Chinese Visual and Material Culture

Conference: Site-Image-Object: Rethinking Place in Chinese Visual and Material Culture

Image: Detail from Shen Zhou (1427-1509), “Thousand Man Seat,” leaf from the album Twelve Views of Tiger Hill, Cleveland Museum of Art


University of British Columbia, December 7-9, 2022

“Places are constructed and experienced as material ecological artefacts and intricate networks of social relations. They are the focus of the imaginary, of beliefs, longings, and desires (….). They are an intense focus of discursive activity, filled with symbolic and representational meanings, and they are a distinctive product of institutionalized social and political-economic power.” (David Harvey, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference)

The conference Site-Image-Object: Rethinking Place in Chinese Visual and Material Culture examines how place is shaped by artistic production, and how, at the same time, visual and material expressions shape place and its perception. “Place” here is not an existing given, to which art reacts or that it depicts; rather, we conceive of the interaction between place, its representations, its products, and its architectural framing as a continuously evolving process.

Individual papers address visual representations of place in painting, print, maps, and photography; local products and architectural styles that carry imaginations about their place of origin as they circulate; and sites of religious and cultural significance as agents in artistic production. Considering questions of temporality, narrative, biography, sensory knowledge, remembrance, revival, geographical imagination, networks and circulation, the aim of the conference is to rethink approaches to Chinese landscapes, cityscapes, and religious topography.

The conference brings together early- and mid-career scholars of Chinese art and culture, whose recent and ongoing work is contributing to a methodological shift in the field as they engage with place. By embracing a long temporal span from the Middle Period to the twenty-first century, the conference facilitates scholarly exchange and collaboration to explore the continuities and discontinuities in Chinese cultural production centred on place as a methodological framework. A graduate student panel provides a platform for emerging voices in the field and offers opportunity for professional development and mentorship.

This in-person conference is free and open to the public but registration is required. Please register here by November 30, 2022.


Wednesday, December 7 (Lasserre Building, Room 105)

3:00 pm                    Welcome and Introduction to the Conference
3:30-5:30 pm           Panel 1: Place and Landscape

Thursday, December 8 (Lasserre Building, Room 104)

9:30-12:00 pm        Panel 2: Place and Time
3:00-5:30 pm          Panel 3: Circulating the Local


Friday, December 9 (Lasserre Building, Room 104)

9:30 -12:00 pm        Graduate Student Panel
1:30 – 4:00 pm        Panel 4: Histories and Lifeworlds of Nanjing
4:30-5:30 pm           Final Discussion


For details, including conference program and abstracts, visit the official conference website.


Download the conference poster.