Call for Applications, RSA Seminar 2019: Archipelagoes of Images

Archipelagoes of Images: Islands as Centers of Artistic Encounter and Conflict

The SACRIMA team invites applicants to participate in a cross-cultural seminar at RSA in Toronto, CA (17-19 March, 2019). 

Chiara Franceschini, LMU München
Yoshie Kojima, Waseda University, Tokyo

At once poles of attraction and spaces of confinement, nodes of local production and global exchange, targets of conquest/conversion and sites of encounter, places of arrival/importation and departure/exportation, islands foster deeply entangled histories and offer vantage points to rethink visual geographies.

This seminar investigates islands, not as cultural outliers, but as nodes of cultural and visual production in a network of artistic exchanges (e.g. diplomatic, commercial, religious). Focusing on (though not limited to) sacred imagery, we welcome proposals on art transfer, production, circulation, and use – including violent confrontations (e.g. religious conversion), image contestation and/or re-appropriations, and image survival – from scholars of Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific islands, including: Sicily and other Italian islands, Dalmatian islands, Crete, Cyprus and Greek islands, Malta, the Balearic and Canary Islands, the Azores, Madeira, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Japan, and beyond.

By reinterpreting islands as contributors to artistic networks, we aim to rethink center/periphery relations and to question received historiographies and geographies of art. Furthermore, addressing real islands might develop our understanding of ‘conceptual islands’: isolated communities and cultural archipelagoes united by social/political/religious affiliations.Combining literal and theoretical discourse effectively reframes the fractious history of art.


Potential topics to address:

-The specific forms of art production and transfer: is there such as thing as insular art?

-Sacred images as active components of imported island cults and conversion.

-Evolution of iconographic systems across individual islands/archipelagoes.

-Adaptation, reframing or contestation of sacred and/or political imagery.

-Cultural conflicts around and inside islands affecting artistic production.

-Material exports, the concept of the “Treasure Island.”

-How does distance reframe the image and its perception? In what ways does increased distance allow artistic or cultural freedoms?

-Transfer of material culture through commerce/replicas/artists, resulting in new normative expressions.

-Islands and their significance as nodes in artists’ itineraries (e.g. Caravaggio, El Greco etc.).


Submission Guidelines:

Seminars will consist of discussion of three-to-six pre-circulated essays of approximately 4,000 words. The essays will be circulated among the seminar participants well in advance of the meeting in Toronto. Prospective auditors will be required to read the essays prior to the conference as well. 

Any RSA member may submit a 150-word abstract for consideration for a seminar through the standard submissions website (opening 1 July 2018). These abstracts will count as the one allotted paper submission per member for the annual conference cycle, and will be vetted by the seminar organizers. Any abstract not selected for a seminar will then be rolled over for consideration by the conference program committee, during its review of regular submissions. Applications due 15 August 2018. 


To submit, go to