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Dialogue through the Image

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Asian Christian Art and Interreligious Discourses in Historical and Contemporary Asia

image of International Journal of Asian Christianity

This paper examines the relationship between the transmission of religion (specifically Christianity) and not texts but visual images, in this instance as embodied in Christian art. The paper is not an exercise in art history as such but an attempt to build a model of the multiple effects of the reception of a new visual culture on a range of cultural dimensions, and in particular the ways in which the new visual discourse transforms ideas about the self, the body, nature, and a wide range of other significant elements of culture. The paper explores the ways in which Christian art transformed subjectivities across wide areas of Asia and contributed in a major way to the establishment of what has become known as modernity. It argues that processes of religious conversion are not only cognitive but also involve the internalization of new forms of representation, ritual, clothing, and other forms of material culture. Studies of the transmission of Buddhism in Asia have suggested that this artistic and material dimension is critical, and the paper raises the question as to what extent the same can be said about the transmission and reception of Christianity. The paper also makes methodological suggestions about fresh ways of linking art history to the analysis of cultural change, especially as it relates to questions of religious transformation.

Affiliations: 1: O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonepat, Delhi NCR, India


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