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Migratory iconographies and art forms in a globalized world

Migratory iconographies and art forms in a globalized world


Marga van Mechelen (Modern en Contemporary Art History)


Saskia Kersenboom (UVA), prof.  C.J.M. Zijlmans a.o. RU Leiden.

Description of the research

Globalization has been accompanied by migration; migration of people as well as of art forms, signifiers, and iconographies. When people are moving, cultural signs and identities are migrating too. In a (former) ASCA research project this phenomenon is summarized with the heading of Migratory Aesthetics. The research introduced here, however, takes the issue broader  by focussing on the mental movability: the capacity, need and tendency to look at a cultural state of art through the eyes of the Other, including different national and global perspectives. Art practices are in times of globalisation in a constant dialogue with local traditions, cultural heritage, all kind of histories, and at the same time the reality of the  world at large. The one being more apparent than the other. The research is concentrated on the question of “How do we understand this hybridity in art practices and of signs that are the result of globalisation and the fast growing communication and exchange in the last decades?” A hybridity not only caused by a mixture of iconographies but also of iconographies and specific art forms that are migrated from Another, often the Western world. It is not surprising that this leads to different understandings and also misunderstanding amongst the audiences that are involved in, or are confronted with these art practices. That is to say: aesthetic practices are not only subject to multiple cultural and – not to forget - political constraints, they are also an answer to these constraints. This research project has affinities with two UvA research priority areas: Cultural Transformation and Globalisation and Cultural Heritage and Identity. 

Societal relevance

Though insight and understanding always is an important goal of scientific research, this research will show more why we cannot understand the new, complex iconographies of artistic practices that respond to globalisation. What are the reasons and what consequences does understanding and misunderstanding have for global exchange?

This research group is active in the following constellations:

Globalization and Migration