Dr Lianming Wang

Visiting scholar

Lianming Wang has taught at the University of Würzburg (Lecturer, 2009-11) and Heidelberg University (Assistant Professor, 2014-21). He has held an Art Histories Fellow (2018/19) in the research group “Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices” at the Berlin-based Forum Transregional Studies (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz). His areas of research include global encounters of arts and culture in early modernity and the artistic practices and materiality associated with trans-territorial animals.

Wang is the author of Jesuitenerbe in Peking: Sakralbauten und transkulturelle Räume 1600-1800 (2020), and has organized workshops and conferences related to Sino-European exchanges, including Reframing Chinese Objects: Practices of Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, 1400-1800 (co-organizer), and Before the Silk Road: Eurasian Interactions in the First Millennium BC (chief-organizer). Wang is the recipient of the Klaus Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Prize and the Academy Prize of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Animal enjoyed a momentous status in China’s early-modern histories as both the subject and object of long-distance commercial interactions and vibrant global encounters. Defined as “transgressive animals,” ranging from Central Asian steeds and peacocks to Mediterranean coral and hornbill skull, shagreen, pangolin scale, and numerous feather tributes from South Asia, their trans-territorial and indeed global movement deconstructed existing ecological, sociobiological, and even geopolitical regimes.

This interdisciplinary project seeks to explore China’s early-modern global histories through an analytical “animal lens.” Approaching four themes connected to transgressive animals – space and built environment, monumentality, materiality, and knowledge –, it attempts to discuss the wide array of agencies that animals performed in shaping economic, diplomatic and artistic connections in terms of their types of movement – physical, conceptual, commercial and intellectual. To be specific, the project explores the multi-layered copying and translation of images, issues of collecting and display as well as the entangled histories of material practices that relate to transgressive animals.

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