Faculty of Arts


Cross-Cultural Encounters and Creativity

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for ARTHIST 703.


“Melange…a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world.” Salman Rushdie (1991)

An exploration of cross-cultural interactions and the creation of visual images and objects in all media from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-first Century, primarily in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, though also in the Middle East, North Africa, the Americas and Asia, notably China, Korea, Japan and India. Both past and contemporary visual culture are studied. The course focuses on the meanings, values and uses of works in different sociocultural contexts.
Most topics investigate European (British, French, American, Pākehā) representations of non-European people and places and encounters between people of different ethnicities, though some address works, especially contemporary, by non-Europeans involving cross-cultural contact. Historical subjects include depictions of Māori and Pacific Islands subjects, the works of Cook’s artists (Eighteenth Century), Orientalism and travelling artists like Augustus Earle and John Thomson (China). The artistic traffic between Europe and USA and Asia from the Eighteenth Century to the present is a key subject. Modern and contemporary subjects include works by diverse artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Mona Hatoum, Shirin Neshat, Anish Kapoor, Peter Robinson (NZ), Gordon Bennett (Australia) Yasumasa Morimura, Kara Walker and Man Ray. How contemporary European photographers, like Susan Meiselas, Alfredo Jaar and Donald McCullin, have addressed war in Africa, Asia and Central America is also a crucial subject.

Creative responses to exile and displacement emerge as compelling themes. For instance, representations of and by Jewish peoples, regarded as "alien" in various societies, and the work of refugee and immigrant artists from Europe, Asia and elsewhere in New Zealand can be studied too.

Other topics are depictions of new landscapes in the “New World”, works both of and by Afro-Americans and Asian peoples in different societies and indigenous peoples’ appropriations of Euro-American images and artefacts. Besides "fine arts" and photography, cartoons, comics, touristic material and graffiti, plus film, architecture and the crafts come within the course’s scope.

Primary concerns: the uses and meanings of works both when first produced and later in different contexts, the ways works were shaped by conventions in Euro-American art, the attitudes that works sustain, links between works and contemporaneous sociopolitical events (wars, colonial projects) and the resistance to them.

Are there events that can’t be represented? Can loss stimulate creativity? When does cross-cultural exchange and mixing become transethnic and cosmopolitan?

To complete this course students must enrol in ARTHIST 703 A and B.

Availability 2018

Not offered in 2018; planned for 2019


Coordinator(s) Associate Professor Leonard Bell


ARTHIST 703A: 15.0 points

ARTHIST 703B: 15.0 points



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