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Visual and Material Culture Seminar Series

Museums are supposed to be more than tourist attractions; they’re meant to be a meeting place for dialogue and reflection. For MOA curator Fuyubi Nakamura, it’s an opportunity to bring researchers from across UBC to together to share their work on visual and material culture and broaden the dialogue.

“I started this seminar after talking to some of the colleagues in the departments of Art History, Visual Art and Theory and Asian Studies as we realized that there was no opportunity for those of us who share similar interest in this field to meet and exchange ideas,” said Nakamura, “I thought it would be a good opportunity for MOA to work with colleagues in different departments across UBC to develop or strengthen the connections.”

This semester the Visual and Material Culture Research Seminar Series attracted scholars and students from across the campus and beyond, and has ranged from larger crowds to intimate groups. “This is not just a research seminar, but a forum for us to get to know each other informally,” explained Nakamura.

Participants in the series share an interest in the importance of visual and material culture; what the material can tell us about culture. For instance, scholars in this field are interested in how a film might speak to censorship under oppressive regimes, how a basket might speak to gender roles, or how photographs can record, but also maintain, relationships between researchers and their informants.

Topics have ranged from propaganda to self-portrait with no shortage of thought provoking talks that urge participants to make connections, ask questions, and enjoy the benefits of cross discipline dialogue. “This term, we have included speakers from different departments,” said Nakamura, “we hope to attract a wider and bigger audience, especially more graduate students and the public.” There is potential for scholars who look at film, design, archeological objects and belongings, and even video games, to join the conversation.

The seminars take place every second Thursday, from 3:30 and 4:30 pm in the MOA community lounge and are open to students, staff, faculty or the public. This is a chance for visitors, new and old, to engage with a different side of what MOA and UBC have to offer.

There are only two more talks left for the winter semester: On March 26 join Assistant Professor T’ai Smith, from the department for Art History, Visual Art & Theory, for a chat on how codified textile and clothing production can help us understand the movement from proto-industrial to consumer capitalism. On April 9 Kamal Arora, a PhD Candidate in Anthropology, will examine contemporary affective gendered religious practice, memory, and the material among Sikh widows in New Delhi’s ‘Widow Colony.’

For those interested in getting more information, collaborating, or presenting in the future, please contact Fuyubi Nakamura:


Photo credit: Nao tem que from Nome by Arnaldo Antunes (1993)