Critical Conversation: Exploring Visual Materials in the Early Modern World—Opportunities and Challenges for Global History

Thursday, February 18, 2021
4:00 pm PST – 5:15 pm PST

Presented by Chase Caldwell Smith, UCLA and Jeffery C. J. Chen, Stanford University

Zoom Meeting
This event is free of charge, but you must register to attend in advance. All audience members will receive instructions via email after registration. Click the following link to register directly with Zoom:  https://ucla.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcsfuGpqD0uHdE7hCNvCtUMxGfIz8Ft5lMw

Host – Zirwat Chowdhury, Assistant Professor of Art History, UCLA
Respondent – Bronwen Wilson, Director and Professor of Art History, UCLA

As part of our ongoing effort to sustain intellectual community and enable scholarly exchange, and in order to support and encourage the work many of us are doing in a range of public forums during this unprecedented time, the UCLA Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Clark Memorial Library are hosting works-in-progress sessions and critical conversations online via Zoom during the 2020–21 academic year. Academic programs supported by the Center/Clark explore the latest research in the early modern period (including the long eighteenth century, which extends through the Romantic period) and in special areas represented in the Clark’s collections.

What are the opportunities and challenges of using images to write global histories? In this critical conversation, Chase Caldwell Smith and Jeffery C. J. Chen each draw on case studies from their research to think about larger questions concerning the place of the image in global history, and the place of the global in visual history. Focusing on images of men produced by a Luso-Malay mestiço cosmographer in the early seventeenth-century Estado da Índia and paintings of the Chinese coast made in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the speakers will reflect on historiographical debates concerning hybridity, flows, and exchange in global and visual histories. Center/Clark Director and Professor Bronwen Wilson, one of the two co-organizers of the research project, ‘Making Worlds: Art, Materiality, and Early Modern Globalization’, will act as respondent to their conversation, and facilitate a discussion with the audience.

Chase Caldwell Smith is a first-year Ph.D. student in the UCLA History Department, in the South & Southeast Asia field. He is also working towards the Graduate Certificate in Early Modern Studies, administered by the UCLA Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies and the UCLA Department of Spanish & Portuguese. Chase’s research interests center thematically on histories of cultural encounter, race and identity, religious conversion, and knowledge production, and geographically on the early modern Iberian empires in maritime Southeast Asia. He is the co-founder of the Global History Podcast, a digital history project which features interviews with scholars on research in early modern global history.

Jeffery C. J. Chen is a third-year Ph.D. student in Modern British history at Stanford University. He is currently working on revising our understanding of the First Anglo-Chinese War (1839–1842), by situating the conflict within the long history of China’s ‘South Sea’ frontier. As part of this project, Jeffery draws on visual materials—China coast paintings, engravings, commemorative objects, and ship designs—to reconstruct the cultural foundations and legacy of China’s violent introduction to modern European imperialism.

Image: William Daniell, A View of the European Factories at Canton, c. late 18th to early 19th century. Oil on canvas. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, 1999.