Global Circulation of the Imagery of Iconic Architecture and Infrastructure in the Nineteenth Century

AHA Session 104
Saturday, January 3, 2015: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Madison Suite (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Bonnie G. Smith, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Bonnie G. Smith, Rutgers University–New Brunswick

Session Abstract

Each paper in this panel focuses on a single architectural or infrastructural icon: the Suez Canal in Egypt completed in 1869; the second-century Guldara Stupa in Afghanistan which was “discovered” by the British explorer Charles Masson in 1834; and an imagined “Indian” palace that was itself an amalgamation of images including those of the seventeenth-century mausoleum Taj Mahal. Thus employing a cohesive methodology and drawing on the historiographies of history, architectural history, and art history, this panel engages with the conference’s theme “History and Other Disciplines.” This panel builds on recent innovative scholarship that approaches the subjects of architectural icons in fresh ways by digging deep into the embedded histories of the representation and interpretation of icons, a task made possible today in no small part thanks to new accessibility for online digital sources of relevant imagery that constitute a vast depository of material culture. The panel revisits the processes of the construction of geographic and continental boundaries in the modern global imagination and questions the stability of these geographical conceptions, through an investigation of the patterns of the flow of imagery and knowledge in the nineteenth century and beyond. The panel reflects on the systematic establishment of the knowledge systems of geography, art, art history, and architectural history, as well as the dramatic expansion of popular culture including photography, posters and other new media and consumer culture, in the context of the expansion and retraction of various empires in the nineteenth century. The intended audience for this panel is scholars and graduaten students and interested public, who are drawn to the phenomenon of the global flow of knowledge and imagery from the the nineteenth century to today examined through the lenses of architectural or infrastructural icons.

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