This conference looks at collections of Asian art in and outside Prague from the perspective of the national cultural politics interconnected with individual encounters as well as institutional cultural and diplomatic exchange in Central Europe during the 20th century. The focus will lie on collections of Asian art – hereby used as an umbrella term for East Asian, South-East Asian, South Asian, Central Asian and West Asian art. The location includes Prague and its neighbouring cultural centres in Central Europe, thereby allowing a comparison of the mechanisms of collecting and presentation across time and place in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Rather than viewing the collection as connected to a deterministic account of cultural flows through centers and peripheries, the conference will focus on international and transcontinental networks. It will look closely at the role these networks played in establishing the grounds for collecting, displaying and narrating Asian art in Central European museums, which were used as platforms for cultural diplomacy or propaganda. By revisiting historical entanglements and relational comparisons that connect Asia and Central Europe, the conference’s framework will focus on exhibitions, diplomatic exchange, and discursive aspects on art from Asia in the context of cultural politics.