Dr. Yuko Kikuchi

TrAIN Member - Reader


I was born in Tokyo and trained in Japan, the USA and UK. My on-going interest in cross-cultural dimensions of arts started with the UK-Japan cultural relations that produced an international travelling exhibition and book Ruskin in Japan 1890-1940: Nature for Art, Art for Life (1997), followed by my PhD work on the Japanese folkcrafts (Mingei) movement which led to the subsequent publication of Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism (2004).

Since then my interest has expanded to the relation between modernities and cultural identities in the colonial and postcolonial context in East Asia. With major funding from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation and the Taiwanese government, I organized a series of conferences that culminated in the edited book, Refracted Modernity: Visual Culture and Identity in Colonial Taiwan (2007). I am also passionate about globalisation of design history studies, and inter-East Asian design histories and historiography. Since 2010 I have been leading a new international joint project ‘Oriental’ Modernity: Modern Design Development in East Asia, 1920-1990’, and the subsequent AHRC funded Project ‘Translating and Writing Modern Design Histories in East Asia for the Global World’ (2012-14). This project aims to develop a network of design historians who are locally active in East Asia in order to make their studies more visible in this Anglo-American centred field.

I have developed transnational and global perspectives through my involvement with the AHRB project ‘Nation, Identity and Modernity: Visual Culture of India, Japan and Mexico, 1860s-1940’ (led by Oriana Baddeley, Toshio Watanabe and Partha Mitter), and the AHRC project ‘Forgotten Japonisme: The Taste for Japanese Art in Britain and the USA, 1920s-1950s’ (led by Watanabe). Currently, I am also exploring a methodology for transnational design history studies in my current book project ‘Russel Wright in Asia’ which investigates the multidirectional design histories through American designer Russel Wright’s design intervention in Asia (Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia) during the Cold War period.

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