Fang-Lin Hou


Several contemporary art historians have been interested in exploring how their discipline could respond to the increasing globalisation of knowledge and information by encompassing global perspectives into the methodologies that underpin their approaches to art historiography. This dissertation aims to explore how, in developing their new approaches to world art history, they have drawn on a range of natural and social sciences, thus enabling their work to be placed in a wider social, political and indeed global context. While their individual approaches are many and varied it is important to identify commonalities between them so as to highlight unifying approaches across such diversity. The dissertation begins with literature review of the key concepts I want to explore. The work of the 19th century historian, Aby Warburg is highlighted to draw attention to his early pioneering attempts to provide an intercultural perspective to art history. Recent attempts to develop new approaches to world art history are then analysed. These include works by David Carrier, Ben-Ami Scharfstein, David Summers, Esther Pasztory and John Onians. The thesis concludes with a discussion on the recent exhibition at the British Museum entitled A History of the World in 100 Objects. The dissertation will show that despite the diverse methodologies used by all of these writers and the challenges of the different media employed, all utilise concepts of borders and objects in an explicitly geopolitical context.

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