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The Art of Decolonisation: On the Possibility of Socially Engaged Art in the Postcolonial Context of East Asia

Yamamoto, Hiroki (2018) The Art of Decolonisation: On the Possibility of Socially Engaged Art in the Postcolonial Context of East Asia. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Yamamoto, Hiroki

Through a new idea of ‘the art of decolonisation’, this thesis explores the possibility of socially engaged art in the postcolonial context of East Asia. Japan, throughout its national history as an expanding empire from the late 19th century to the Second World War, has left a large number of unresolved legacies of colonialism in East Asia. These problematic legacies had remained almost intact within the architecture of Cold War, the bipolar confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, formed immediately following WWII. After the collapse of the Cold War structure in the late 1980s, then, the task of ‘decolonisation’ has become extremely pressing in East Asia. This thesis aims to unearth the potential contribution of art to the incomplete project of decolonisation, with its emphasis on, first, its visual and sensory nature and, second, the significance of ‘participation’ and ‘collaboration’ as method.

The first part of this thesis is an art-historical and cultural studies investigation of discursive practices of decolonisation in East Asia and Britain. It accompanies a theoretical reconsideration of the concept of ‘decolonisation’ and a historical reflection of the postcolonial statuses of these regions. The second part is a practice-based investigation on art’s potentiality in tackling postcolonial issues in East Asia. It discusses and analyses my own art projects conducted in Japan and Korea between 2014 and 2016. ii This thesis will help advance decolonisation of knowledge in two directions. The contribution to knowledge of this thesis is twofold. First, it expands the notion of ‘socially engaged art’ theorised in the West by examining works and projects in East Asia in conjunction with a geo-historical setting of the non-Western world.

This will contribute to the development of the scholarship critical to Euro-American centrism, dominant in Cultural Studies, in understanding non-Western art. Second, it proposes applied methods integrating artistic practice for addressing the contentious agendas that stem from colonial historiography of East Asia. This will lead us to a viable methodology that might open up alternative pathways toward more reconciled postcolonial relations among East Asian countries and regions.

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: June 2018
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 13:13
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 15:43
Item ID: 13478
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/13478

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