Skip to main content

Museums and Representations

Museums and Representations

-  Prof Kavita Singh

In the age of Enlightenment, modern ‘science,’ with its emphasis on observation and evidence, provided the first impetus for making the vast collections of objects, that eventually turned into museums. Since then, museums have become influential and authoritative institutions that have been central to the construction of many disciplines, not least of which is the history of art.

As the key site for the formation of art historical canons and the articulation of authorized heritage discourses, the institution of the museum has come under great scrutiny in recent decades. This course studies the museum as a site where objects, histories, knowledge systems and cultures are ordered and represented, and through which publics are constituted for the reception of these objects and knowledges.

Topics covered in this course will include the early history of museums and collecting; the uneasy relationship between empire, anthropology and theethnographicmuseum;museums,nationhood and decolonization; issues of heritage, cultural property and repatriation; the career of Indian art within the museum; museumising modernity; blockbuster exhibitions; museum architecture and starchitects; holocaust museums and the memorialization of trauma; and the global proliferation of the art museum form.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.