Art and ocean objects of early modern Eurasia: shells, bodies, and materiality

Anna Grasskamp

Research output: Book/ReportBook


During the early modern period, objects of maritime material culture were removed from their places of origin and traded, collected and displayed worldwide. Focusing on shells and pearls exchanged within local and global networks, this monograph compares and connects Asian, in particular Chinese, and European practices of oceanic exploitation in the framework of a transcultural history of art with an understanding of maritime material culture as gendered. Perceiving the ocean as mother of all things, as womb and birthplace, Chinese and European artists and collectors exoticized and eroticized shells’ shapes and surfaces. Defining China and Europe as spaces entangled with South and Southeast Asian sites of knowledge production, source and supply between 1500 and 1700, the book understands oceanic goods and maritime networks as transcending and subverting territorial and topographical boundaries. It also links the study of globally connected port cities to local ecologies of oceanic exploitation and creative practices.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages220
ISBN (Electronic)9789048553303
ISBN (Print)9789463721158
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameConnected histories in the early modern world


  • Material culture
  • Art
  • Ecology
  • Early modern period
  • Eurasia


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