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The “Olympics” of Art History: CIHA in Beijing, 2016

posted by Paul B. Jaskot — May 12, 2015

Written by Paul B. Jaskot, Nicola Courtright, and Anne Collins Goodyear.

The thirty-fourth World Congress of Art History, organized by the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA), will take place September 15–22, 2016, in Beijing, China. CIHA is a once-every-four-year opportunity to bring the world’s art historians together in what is truly a global exchange of ideas, new approaches, and innovations in all areas of the discipline. As the American affiliate to CIHA, the National Committee of the Historians of Art (NCHA), a group with strong institutional ties to CAA, is happy to encourage any and all interested art historians to get involved. Now is the time to consider applying for one of the twenty-one sections that oversee the creation of specific panels for the upcoming conference. See the NCHA website for more information and for the call for papers.

CIHA traces its roots back to the 1930s, when it was officially founded at the Brussels Congress. The organization has now vastly exceeded its original Euro-American emphasis and currently has national chapters on all the continents. This will be the organization’s first conference in China. In addition to the international gathering held every four years, CIHA also sponsors specific thematic art-history conferences such as the upcoming “New Worlds: Frontiers, Inclusion, Utopias” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 25–29, 2015).

In China, the broad overarching theme is “Terms” in art history. From there, a range of sessions will cover such topics as “Connecting Art Histories and World Art,” “Media and Visuality,” “Display,” and “Commodity and Markets,” to name just a few of the twenty-one different session topics. Each session is cochaired by an international scholar as well as a scholar based in China. All papers will be simultaneously translated into Chinese, English, French, and German. As with the last CIHA in Nuremberg, Germany, it promises to be an exciting event full of international exchange and chances to explore art and architecture in Beijing and beyond. NCHA hopes that CAA will be well represented and encourages all art historians to consider submitting a paper by the June 30, 2015, deadline.

NCHA was founded to foster participation of US scholars in the international committee, its conference, and other programs. As part of this charge, NCHA regularly provides travel support for US graduate students to the CIHA meetings and will do so again for China. In addition to sending young scholars to the quadrennial conference, NCHA, with generous funding from the Getty Foundation, also initiated a reverse exchange when it began to bring international scholars from Africa, Asia, South America, and Central Europe to the CAA Annual Conference to promote international exchange in the United States as well. That initial effort continues to be a regular part of the CAA conference, now coordinated by CAA and its International Committee with participation of NCHA members.