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International Symposium 


From Centre to Periphery:

Collecting Chinese Objects in Comparative Perspective


19–22 September 2019 

Venue: Slovene Ethnographic Museum (SEM)

Alma M. Karlin with her collection (source: Department of Manuscripts, National and University Library, Slovenia)

The symposium is conceived as a response to the challenge of situating the history of the collecting of Chinese and other East Asian objects and of their cultural connotations in the global context. The collections of Central and Eastern European regions and the interconnection of such collections at the periphery with the major collections in larger centres are the focus of the symposium. This could further shed light on the understanding of the orientalist discourses in areas that were not part of the former colonial centres.


Keynote Speakers

We invited two keynote speakers.


Stacey Pierson is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her areas of specialization include ceramic history (China) and the history of collecting and display. Her most recent publication, Private Collecting, Exhibitions and the Shaping of Art History in London: the Burlington Fine Arts Club, was published in 2017. In her keynote speech, entitled Collecting China: a Comparative study of approaches to collecting and its interpretation in China and Europe, 1500-1900, she will present the collecting history in a wider context by comparing the collecting and the interpretation of Chinese objects in Europe and China during the period 1500-1900, i.e. the time when the material was collected simultaneously in both locations.


Hans Bjarne Thomsen is a Professor and Chair for East Asian Art History at the Institute of Art History at the University of Zurich as well as the Secretary of European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology. His primary academic focus lies on research into Western museum collections of East Asian art with an emphasis on determining the provenance of the objects and describing the routes of transfer. His area of specialization further includes topics such as artistic exchange and knowledge transfer between cultures as well as inter-cultural appropriations and adaptations of art. He also takes special interest in collaborative arts and the relationship between words and images. In his keynote speech, entitled Collapsing Walls: Rethinking East Asian Art Collections in Europehe will suggest ways of rethinking European unity in terms of global art and future research into collections of Chinese and East Asian art.


Symposium Programme

Link to the full symposium program: Symposium programme

Link to the book of abstracts: Book of abstracts

Link to the symposium flyer and poster: Flyer, Poster



The symposium programme will include workshops on four different themes. They will be led by renowned experts in the field:


  • Katherine Anne Paul:

Buddhist and Other Religious Statues at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum (venue: Exhibition building of SEM)

Friday, 20 September, 15:00–17:00


  • Helen Wang:

Chinese Numismatic Collection of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum (venue: Administration building of SEM)

Saturday, 21 September, 17:30–19:00


  • Stacey Pierson and Sabrina Rastelli:

East Asian Ceramics and Porcelain at the National Museum of Slovenia (venue: National Museum of Slovenia)

Sunday, 22 September, 11:30–13:30


  • Richard van Alphen and Chou Wei-chiang:

Database, Digitalisation and Visualisation of Chinese Collections (venue: Administration building of SEM)

Sunday, 22 September, 15:00–17:00



The registration will open on Thursday, 19 September, at 13:00 at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum (Administration building).

No conference fee.



Slovene Ethnographic Museum (SEM), Administration building

Metelkova ulica 2, 1000 Ljubljana


How to get from the hotel Pri mraku to the venues (SEM & National Museum of Slovenia):


The symposium is financially supported by the Taiwanese Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation (CCK) for scholarly exchange and the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS). It is organized as part of the project East Asian Collections in Slovenia: Inclusion of Slovenia in the Global Exchanges of Objects and Ideas with East Asia (2018-2021) (no. J7-9429), funded by the Slovenian Research Agency.


The symposium is jointly organized by the following institutions:


Chief Organizers: 

  • Nataša VAMPELJ SUHADOLNIK - natasa [dot] vampeljsuhadolnik [at] ff [dot] uni-lj [dot] si
  • Helena MOTOH - helena [dot] motoh [at] zrs-kp [dot] si


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