Nation, Identity and Modernity

Nation, Identity and Modernity, Visual Culture of India, Japan and Mexico, 1860s-1940was funded by the AHRC (then AHRB) between 2001 and 2004. A collaboration between The University of Sussex and the University of the Arts London, this major research project was led by Professors Partha MitterOriana Baddeley and Toshio Watanabe.

The aim of the project was to investigate the relationship between modernity and national identity in art, examining specifically the modern art of India, Japan and Mexico from the 1860s to the 1940s.

Although profoundly different, each of these nations experienced a powerful political, cultural and artistic impact from Europe during this period. Those involved in the project interrogated the notion of the modern and the idea of nation though the analysis of case studies in art, design and architecture. They called into question the traditional understanding of concepts of modernity and statehood though the specific manners in which they were presented in visual terms.

The project was key to the establishment of TrAIN. With Oriana Baddeley and Toshio Watanabe, TrAIN Senior Research Fellows Michael Asbury and Yuko Kikuchi were members of the project team. Fabiola Martinez and John Tran were engaged with the project as doctoral students, completing historical research on Mexico, and practice-based research on Japan and Photography respectively.

In the course of the project, collaborative, cross-cultural research was fostered by a series of workshops. The international scholars participating in these meetings included Naazish Ata-Ullah, Debashish Banerji, Renate Dohmen, Valerie Fraser, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Kaoru Kojima, Toshiharu Omuka, Jonathan Reynolds, Daniel Rycroft, Vibhuti Sachdev, Gayatri Sinha, Anthony Shelton, Anne Staples, Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo and Bert Winther-Tamaki.

The workshops, together with individual research, culminated in an international conference at the V&A Museum, London and in the preparation of an annotated bibliography – bringing together both general works on the subject and texts relating to modernity and nationalism in Japan, India, Mexico, other non-Western nations, and the West.