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Embroidery, India

About Us

Dr Amit Desai (Queen's University, Belfast)    Amit Desai  

Amit Desai's research looks at notions of creativity among contemporary artists and bronze sculptors in Tamil Nadu, India. Based on four months of ethnographic fieldwork in South India (including several weeks at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village), his work examines artists’ understandings of the ‘social’, the role of creativity in constituting personhood and the place of the contemporary art market in the making of the city of Chennai.

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Professor Øivind Fuglerud (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)     

Øivind Fuglerud's main interest is the political dimensions of aesthetics. In the CIM setting he is working on two separate themes: firstly, the role of art in the pre- and post-war political landscape of Sri Lanka, based on extensive earlier fieldwork in the country; and secondly, the role of ethnographic museums and art in forming particular images of cultural minorities, in particular in Norway and Canada.

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Tereza Kuldova (University of Oslo)Tereza Kuldova  

Tereza Kuldova’s research looks at the tensions between craftsmen, designers and merchants that arise in the process of creation of an embroidered garment. Based on long-term fieldwork in North India, focusing on the production and consumption of Chikan embroidery from Lucknow, her research article will try to grasp these tensions that are often expressed through the acts of claiming and denying creativity and point towards the ways in which the imagined dichotomies of mental conception versus physical execution (mind vs. body) and tradition versus modernity are put into practice to justify actions, showing that power to define and interpret is also power to transform value of the material objects.

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Prof Fiona MagowanProfessor Fiona Magowan (Queen's University, Belfast)
Fiona Magowan’s project explores how aesthetic and spiritual values/meanings are interpreted in the delineation of the categories ‘ancestral’ and ‘Christian Aboriginal art’, as Australian Aboriginal artists move within and between different communities. It examines how translocal and transnational networks, mission histories and noumenal beliefs of artists have impacted upon expressions of emotion, spirituality and aesthetics in different regional contexts. Based upon ethnographic research in South Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, a comparative analysis of disparate ontological bases of spirituality will reveal highly complex ways in which spiritual values are negotiated, articulated and evaluated, as Aboriginal artists variously produce contemporary aesthetic and religious identities through ancestral and Christian arts for local markets and national/international exhibitions.

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Professor Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University)Birgit Meyer

Birgit Meyer is Professor of Religious Studies at the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Utrecht University. She works on African Christianity; Pentecostal churches; religion, media and the public sphere; and (audio)-visual culture, aesthetics and the senses. In the context of the CIM project, and in collaboration with Rhoda Woets and Joao Rickli, she explores the circulation of Christian imagery, including the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Ghana and Brazil.

Recent publications:

2011. 'Mediating absence - effecting spiritual presence: pictures and the Christian imagination', Social Research 78(4): 1029-56.

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Maria Øien (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Maria Øien’s research looks at artistic development among contemporary Aboriginal artists (of the Ngan’gi language group), who produce acrylic paintings and prints on paper/fabric, at Merrepen Arts Centre in Nauiyu, Northern Territory, Australia. She argues that Merrepen artists express their identity through their art. Based on 12 months of fieldwork in Nauiyu her work examines the role of artistic creativity, painting conventions based on their cosmology, and art market judgement, in Merrepen art production. Further, her research questions the role of gallery and museum art world contexts, in constituting the processual becoming of Merrepen art works. 

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Dr Joao Rickli (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)

João Rickli investigates transitions and transformations of the image of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil’s patron saint. His work describes how Aparecida’s devotees, the Roman Catholic Church and the Brazilian government partake in the dynamics of creativity and innovation that have been transforming the image and the devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida since the early 18th century. He is especially interested in the movements of people and objects associated with the pilgrimages to Aparecida’s shrine, looking at how creativity and innovation are articulated with processes of authentication and authorization.

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Professor Arnd Schneider (University of Oslo)Arnd Schneider  

Arnd Schneider’s research focuses on notions of creativity and identity among ceramicists, designers and Guaraní indigenous craftsmen- and women in the Argentine provinces of Corrientes and Misiones. In particular, he works towards a critical reformulation of the concept of appropriation, following on from his earlier work with Argentine contemporary artists.

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Stine Bruland Sørensen (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Stine Bruland Sørensen’s research looks at notions of creativity among Sri Lankan Tamils in the diaspora and concerns their religious and political lives. Based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork in Paris and eight months in Oslo among Tamil families, her work examines the use and experiences of aesthetics and emotions in Catholic and Hindu prayer, and explores how Tamil national aesthetics provided by the Tamil Tigers are used by politically active families in the process of creating meaningful lives in the diaspora.

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Maruska SvasekDr Maruška Svašek (Queen's University, Belfast)

Maruška Svašek intends to further develop her theoretical approach to cultural production, object transition, subject transformation and emotional dynamics in partially overlapping local and transnational fields of art and religion by focussing on questions of creativity and innovation. Her work is informed by fieldwork in India and the UK, and includes research amongst contemporary artists, bronze sculptors, and art buyers in Tamil Nadu, research into the improvisational strategies of a transnational Kathakali Troupe, and research into engagements with material culture within a UK-based Indian community. Maruška is the CIM Project Leader.

Forthcoming publication:
(ed.) 2012. Moving Subjects, Moving Objects: Transnationalism, Cultural Production and Emotions. Oxford: Berghahn.

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Dr Leon Wainwright (Open University)

Leon Wainwright's contribution to CIM is an opportunity to further advance art historical research on the Atlantic world, and in light of the current ‘global turn’ in the discipline. It compares methods and approaches for the study of contemporary art with CIM projects focused on Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. In 2010 to 2011 he undertook a programme of interviews in Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, examining the theme of creativity and innovation in transnational art networks.

2011. Timed Out: Art and the Transnational Caribbean. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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Rhoda Woets (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)
Rhoda Woets

Rhoda Woet’s research examines the circulation and appropriation of mass-produced and hand-painted Jesus pictures in Ghana. She is interested in exploring how believers from several Christian strands relate to these mass-produced posters and how they, in the process of transit and transformation, personalise these posters in the private sphere of the home or office. She will also consider notions of creativity, imitation, and authenticity among roadside and academically-trained artists involved in the production of these images.

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Associate researchers

Dr Barbara Graham (Queen's University, Belfast)

Dr Barbara Plankensteiner (Museum of Ethnology, Vienna)

Dr Kala Shreen (MOP Vaishnav College, Chennai, India)