(P32) Images and imaginations; Maluku and the Philippines in early modern art and illustrations


Single Panel


Session 12
Fri 15:30-17:00 K12 | 1.12


Save This Event

Add to Calendar


Show Paper Abstracts


The European expansion in maritime Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries generated a substantial body of visual representations in the form of illustrations and maps as well as fine art. Inspired by work such as Cécile Fromont in The Art of Conversion (2014) where she analyses historical interactions between the Kingdom of Kongo and European powers through a combination of art-, material culture- and archival sources, this panel opens for new discussions about historical relations between maritime Southeast Asia and Europe.
We ask questions about how images convey discourses of foreignness and exoticism in Europe, how more or less correct observations were altered to suit expectations and power relations, and to what extent we can use the visual archive as sources to the Asian side of the story.
Maluku and the Philippines are interesting cases in point. While not characterized by large kingdoms or monumental architecture, these archipelagic regions were prime objects for European expansion, by Portuguese, Spanish, English and Dutch ventures due to the enormous potential profits of trade with spices and other products.
During the successive phases of subordination in the 16th and 17th centuries a series of illustrations were made of local people, buildings, animals, birds and landscapes. Some of these were published in widely read travel literature and were reified in new versions. In another set of visual sources from the period, the setting is European and/or Christian but key components carry references to the archipelagos highlighted here.
Put short, the panel discusses what western art can tell us about Maluku and the Philippines in early modern history and what these regions meant in European imaginations of the time.