Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450 (working title)
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Has principal investigator Jessica Harrison-Hall
Has co-investigator Craig Clunas
Impact We are researching, writing and presenting a new interpretation for this period of history for Ming China 1400-1450. The three-year project of original reserach will result in a major, high-profile exhibition accompanied by a range of supporting activities. This will widen understanding of China's historic global role for diverse audiences within the UK and world-wide. There are clear social, cultural and economic benefits to understanding China and to having more students engaged with China's past as well as present. Combining investigators from the British Museum and Oxford University provides opportunities for approaching the subject in a rigorous academic way but with the dissemination of that information at the very heart of the investigations. This will expand knowledge and lead to a reinterpretation of many of the objects held internationally from this period. Promoting the understanding of China is a vital result of this research. The exhibition Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450 will run for 4 months during autumn 2014 and spring 2015 and will be supported by a large schools, community and public programme. Based on recent major British Museum and other London exhibitions, it will attract at least 150,000 visitors in London and sell at least 10,000 copies of the book with 1,000,000 visits to the supporting web materials including those for the British Museum's website in China. Numbers of adults and families attending talks, performances and other activities, such as weekend and holiday activities will be at least 30,000 and the ambitious schools and learning programme should reach at least 10,000. The exhibition will lead to considerable press coverage in this country and abroad, while supporting TV and radio programmes are being planned. Ways to extend the reach of the exhibition across the UK are being explored; a model of touring key objects to other UK Museums has been developed for previous major BM exhibitions. This exhibition will be one of two in the inaugural year of the new World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre at the BM which remains on schedule for completion in late 2013. The show will be one of the last under the Directorship of Neil MacGregor, this - combined with the subject matter, will mean this will be a very high profile exhibition. The following have been identified as the key beneficiaries of this research, but there will be others: 1. Academics and students worldwide 2. Diverse adult and family audiences, reached through visiting the exhibition, attending parts of the supporting programme of activities, watching TV or listening to radio programmes produced to support the exhibition, visiting the web resources etc. 3. Teachers and pupils in schools in London and South East England. 4. The Museum's media partners for the exhibition Economic Impact: This research will lead to a direct economic impact for the Museum and the London economy. The British Museum, a publicly funded institution, will benefit from the major commercial sponsorship that will be needed to pay for the exhibition, ticket sales and revenue generated in Museum shops and cafes from visitors, sales of publications and other merchandise. At a time of significantly reduced Government core funding to the Museum, this revenue underpins the delivery of the exhibition while any surplus supports the Museum's wider activities. British Museum exhibitions provide clear economic wider benefits for London through revenues generated by visits to the museum (transport, shops and hotels) by visitors, many of whom come from outside London (at least 45,000) or from Europe (at least 30,000). International impact: Major exhibitions play an important role in UK cultural diplomacy, supporting existing Governmental and cultural institutional relations, and acting as a base for promoting further cultural and economic links. The Deputy Premier of China was introduced to the proposed project on his 2011 BM visit
Status Closed
Identifier AH/J005479/1
abstract Understanding China, home to one quarter of mankind, is vital to all citizens of the world. China's international role is of paramount importance to us all. To understand that role we need to investigate China's historical relationships with Africa, the Middle East, South, Southeast and East Asia. The most influential period of China's cultural interaction with the wider world was the early 15th century; hence it is this period that is the focus of our research project. By researching early Ming China's courts, their cultural, military and religious activities, and foreign interaction we can present a new history of this period. This history can then be the foundation for future research. Key to the presentation of this new history is an exhibition for 2014-2015 to be shown in the new World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre (currently under construction) at the British Museum. The exhibition 'Ming Courts and Contacts 1400-1450', a book, planned academic conference and edited volume will disseminate this research to a wide range of audiences. This project is led by two Ming specialists, Jessica Harrison-Hall of the BM and Professor Craig Clunas of Oxford University and . An essential aspect of this new research will be to bring together a range of different researchers to explore the key questions at the heart of this project. For the exhibition key institutional partners will be museums, libraries and universities in Asia, North America and Europe e.g. Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, Palace Museum, Beijing, and the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The research will draw on the expertise of scholars with backgrounds in archaeology, architecture, art-history, anthropology, economics and literary studies. The imperial court of China in the early Ming enjoyed an unprecedented range of contacts with other courts of Asia (the Timurids in Iran and Central Asia, the Ashikaga in Japan, Joseon Korea) but also with Bengal, with Sri Lanka, with Africa, and even with the heart of the Islamic world in Mecca. In addition to Clunas and Harrison-Hall key authors for the book are Lothar Ledderose Professor of the History of Art of Eastern Asia at the University of Heidelberg, Germany; David Robinson - Robert H.N. Ho Professor in Asian Studies, Professor of History Colgate University, USA; Marsha Haufler (Weidner) - Professor of Later Chinese Art, University of Kansas, USA; Timothy Brook, Professor of Chinese History at the University of British Columbia, Canada; and Yuan Wenqing of Hubei Provincial Museum. In contemporary China 1400-1450 is popularly regarded as a golden age of international engagement and a model for modern China. This is demonstrated through contemporary material culture - films, postage stamps and advertising. Recent popular histories written for an English-reading audience have misinformed a general public about this period. This new research and the exhibition 'Ming Courts and Contacts 1400-1450' which will disseminate the findings will address this and present a new, well-researched history for academic and popular consumption. Key research questions are: 1. To what extent Chinese culture and society of the period 1400-1450 was shaped by contacts with other cultures and societies of the time? 2. What was the nature of that engagement - what did China appropriate from, and what did it contribute to, other cultures 1400-1450? 3. To what extent was that engagement mediated through Chinese central and regional imperial courts, as key nodes of transnational or transcultural contact? 4. What was the distinctive role of art and material culture in that engagement, and to what extent do they support or subvert the narratives derived from textual sources? 5. How does that period of sustained transnational and transcultural contact affect current Chinese state and popular perceptions of China's role in the world ?
Type Project
Label Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450 (working title)
homepage http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk:80/projects?ref=AH%2FJ005479%2F1
Title Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450 (working title)

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