Nation, Identity and Modernity


Nation, Identity and Modernity, Visual Culture of India, Japan and Mexico, 1860s-1940 was funded by the AHRC (then AHRB) between 2001 and 2004. A collaboration between The University of Sussex and the University of the Arts London, this major research project was led by Professors Partha Mitter, Oriana Baddeley and Toshio Watanabe.

The aim of the project was to investigate the relationship between modernity and national identity in art, examining specifically the modern art of India, Japan and Mexico from the 1860s to the 1940s.

Although profoundly different, each of these nations experienced a powerful political, cultural and artistic impact from Europe during this period. Those involved in the project interrogated the notion of the modern and the idea of nation though the analysis of case studies in art, design and architecture. They called into question the traditional understanding of concepts of modernity and statehood though the specific manners in which they were presented in visual terms.

The project was key to the establishment of TrAIN. With Oriana Baddeley and Toshio Watanabe, TrAIN Senior Research Fellows Michael Asbury and Yuko Kikuchi were members of the project team. Fabiola Martinez and John Tran were engaged with the project as doctoral students, completing historical research on Mexico, and practice-based research on Japan and Photography respectively.

In the course of the project, collaborative, cross-cultural research was fostered by a series of workshops. The international scholars participating in these meetings included Naazish Ata-Ullah, Debashish Banerji, Renate Dohmen, Valerie Fraser, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Kaoru Kojima, Toshiharu Omuka, Jonathan Reynolds, Daniel Rycroft, Vibhuti Sachdev, Gayatri Sinha, Anthony Shelton, Anne Staples, Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo and Bert Winther-Tamaki.

The workshops, together with individual research, culminated in an international conference at the V&A Museum, London and in the preparation of an annotated bibliography – bringing together both general works on the subject and texts relating to modernity and nationalism in Japan, India, Mexico, other non-Western nations, and the West.

Related People

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    Dr Michael Asbury

    TrAIN Member

    I was born in Teresópolis, in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, the son of British missionaries. After twenty years in Brazil I came to England to study engineering but fortunately to myself (and others) changed course and went on to complete an MA in The Study of Contemporary Art at Liverpool University and a PhD in the History and Theory of Art at The London Institute (now UAL).
    Find out more about Dr Michael Asbury

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    Professor Toshio Watanabe

    TrAIN Member - Research Professor

    I grew up in a transnational environment. My father is Japanese and my mother German from Transylvania in Romania.
    Find out more about Professor Toshio Watanabe

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    Professor Oriana Baddeley

    TrAIN Member

    I was born in Singapore and grew up in Europe and the UK, studying History and Theory of Art at the University of Essex. My doctoral subject formed the basis for work on the 1992 Hayward exhibition The Art of Ancient Mexico.
    Find out more about Professor Oriana Baddeley

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    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).
    Find out more about Dr. Yuko Kikuchi