Thursday, July 26, 2012



As the preceding chapters have shown, European and American art historians have mainly addressed the art of their own civilization. Even within this privileged realm they have tended to favor particular sectors. For many scholars and lovers of art, ancient Greece and the Renaissance have enjoyed a special status. In fact the objects from those realms have often passed as normative--so many templates as it were of what art should be. Enlargements of this canon (as into the Middle Ages and modern times) characteristically kept within the European sphere. Expanding the traditional bounds seemed to threaten loss of coherence, a risk tempered by tacit and overt Eurocentrism.
To be sure, there have been exceptions to this general rule, in the form of some adventurous European and American art historians specializing in non-European art. All too often, though, there was a price to pay: their paths were lonely and methodological coherence was hard to achieve. For these reasons, and because of the Eurocentrism prevalent among their peers, the results of their endeavors have sometimes failed to command the appreciation that is their due. Fortunately, this neglect seems to be changing.
As in all branches of research, external factors have played a role. One can acknowledge this point without embracing a conspiracy theory.  Yet however meritorious the effort may have been in individual cases, attempts by Europeans and Americans to classify and evaluate the art forms of non-Western peoples did not arise from a mere spirit of curiosity, detached and immaculate. These endeavors appeared in the wake of the global expansion that characterized the Age of Exploration (1492-1800) and the Age of Imperialism (1800-1945). In their first encounters Westerners sought to trade with, convert, and if possible subjugate the "natives" they encountered. During the ensuing period, reaching its apogee under the regime of imperialism, European power relentlessly expanded.  In this process a world system took shape, a system in which alien state structures and cultures were forcefully, often brutally remolded in the Western image.
Yet these grim realities of power and domination are not the whole story. Indeed, it would be reductive to treat the history of Western art-historical understanding of non-European societies as a mere reflection of geopolitical imperatives. An incipient curiosity was commonly awakened within the framework of political and commercial interests, but over time genuine currents of sympathy emerged. This positive response fostered an effort to correct the earlier distortions accruing from venality and incomprehension. In fact, the record examined below shows much sincere Western striving to understand other peoples.  To be sure, ethnocentrism remained rife everywhere.  That being said, Europeans and Americans have one distinction in which they can take pride. Western efforts to understand exotic cultures, however faltering and uncertain, tended nonetheless to dwarf those of the exotics to understand phenomena outside their own hallowed traditions.  Westerners may have been ethnocentric, but the peoples they encountered were more so.

European Lenses for Viewing Exotic Societies.
In medieval times Europeans were not without intimations of a world beyond their own sphere; indeed these ideas were the essential precondition for Columbus' first voyage which sought a new route to a part of the already known world.i The myriad of European/non-European contacts unleashed by the process of exploration and expansion were preceded by travel reports and visual representations blending the real with the fantastic.ii  Inevitably, these mental and visual images, however stereotypical, generated expectations and colored interpretations.
First-comers in the travel literature of Christian Europe were the guides to the Holy Places of the Near East. The first significant example is the Pilgrimage of Egeria (ca. A.D. 400).iii These books provided a modicum of genuine observations, embellished with anecdotes and speculations. Above all, they accustomed the reader to the idea that rare benefits--spiritual in the first instance, then secular--would accrue from travel. After the middle of the seventh century the Jerusalem-bound pilgrim had to cope with the rigors of passing through the territory of Islam. The challenge was great, but the benefits were commensurate.
In Western Europe small buildings were erected, in a rather free form, as replicas of the Holy Sepulcher and other sacred buildings of Palestine, so as to pique the interest of the would-be traveler.
Another genre altogether is the tradition of the "Marvels of the East" cobbled up from the writings of Pliny, Macrobius and others, with folklore supplements.iv These texts gave information on the habitat and appearance of strange races, such as dog-headed persons, those with only one gigantic foot, others in which there is no head but the sense organs (eyes, mouth, nose, and ears) have "slipped" down into the chest area. These creatures figure in the twelfth-century Romanesque tympanum of the abbey church of Vézelay in Burgundy, which represents the Mission of the Apostles, showing the belief that such "monstrous" creatures nonetheless possessed reason and could be converted.v Perusing the books of the fictional travels of John Mandeville and the real, but embroidered account of Marco Polo whetted the All this lore helped to cushion Europeans against the shock of "otherness," which (they were assured) would not be so great that one could not communicate meaningfully with the aliens.  Perhaps it does not go too far to see these images as precursors of the multiculturalism of our own day. Needless to say, though, this communication would be onesided, for the strangers would be the objects of missionary work, profit, and subjugation.
As the historian J. H. Elliott has stressed, the crucial stage in the exploration process is the first thirty years spanning the launch of Columbus's first voyage in 1492 to Fernando Magellan's expedition to circumnavigate the globe (1519-22).vii The globe had been "encompassed" and this had been done by Europeans, not by the otherwise redoubtable Arab and Chinese seafarers. 
 Much has been said, and rightly so, of the arrogance and greed of the European globetrotters. Yet the other side of the coin must be acknowledged as well, for Europeans were genuinely curious about the peoples that they encountered, more so probably than their Islamic and Chinese counterparts, who had ventured far, but with little interaction among those they visited.viii These non-European travelers returned with little change in their attitudes, serene in their belief that there was little to be learned from "alien wisdom."
As Elliott has noted, "European civilization itself possessed certain characteristics that impeded its best efforts to 'give to those strange lands the form of our own.'" Since the fall of the Roman empire, Christendom had become accustomed to its own diversity. At the start of the sixteenth century Western Europe was divided into competing political units--Spain, Portugal, France, England, and so forth. It was shortly to be rent by the religious divide into Catholic and Protestant spheres. Moreover, debates within the medieval church had established that non-Christian societies also might be granted the right to enjoy security of property and sovereignty. Eventually, these themes were taken up by such champions of the "Indians" as Francisco de Vitoria and Bartolomé de las Casas.ix 
Europeans had traditions that equipped them to recognize, however imperfectly, the difference of other peoples from themselves. Thus the history of European efforts to come to terms with the art traditions of other civilizations was not a simple matter of mechanically repeating stereotypes, but an attempt--among some observers at least--to transcend these stereotypes in order to achieve perceptions more in accord with reality.
To be sure, there is another dimension to the story. Recent revisionist studies have emphasized the asymmetry of power relations that grew up in the wake of the West's incursions. This difference of power applied not just to the structures of observation and knowledge but to commercial exchanges, transactions that included art objects--not to forget outright seizure (looting). Originally acquired as "curios," the aesthetic value of the pieces was only discovered later. This rediscovery, generous as it often was, led--many hold--to a further distortion.  As as a result of the isolation in which the objects were displayed, museums severed the works from their original ritual and social context.x
In some cases removal of objects involved masterpieces which have come to be regarded as central to the national identity of the countries that suffered the loss. Stripped from the Parthenon in Athens to find their ultimate lodging in London's British Museum, the Elgin Marbles cannot be studied in their original site in relation to the building--the Parthenon in Athens--which they once adorned. The British Museum also houses the Benin bronzes, taken from the Nigerian city of Benin when it was sacked by a British expeditionary force in 1898. In the United States various museums hold tribal objects which the groups that created them insist are essential to the preservation of the integrity of their religion and group identity. In these, and many other cases, demands have been raised that the objects be returned to their place of origin.xi Some advocates hold that all such objects to be returned. Others have proposed compromise solutions. In any event, looting of historic sites, prompted by an underground art market, continues into the present, despite valianat efforts to stamp it out.
Apart from legal complications, there is a case to be made for permitting some objects to remain abroad so that foreigners can appreciate them. Perhaps in the light of this principle, the British Museum should return the bulk of the Benin bronzes to Nigeria, dispatching with them a quantity of British works comparable in value to those retained, so as to foster appreciation of European art in West Africa. In any event, the very tenacity with which European and American public collections cling to objects produced in non-Western countries vividly attests the value that, thanks to a widening of aesthetic horizons, their publics ascribe to them. Perhaps, since only one locality can retain the original, museums should return to the old custom of maintaining supplementary displays of good-quality copies of major works. Or this aim might be accomplished electronically, with terminals placed in various galleries so as to allow visitors to summon up images of a large variety of works in image form.  In some special exhibitions nowadays, large projections show works that are too big or fragile to be shipped.
Indisputably, contemplation of non-Western objects in European and American custody has enhanced the sense of aesthetic pluralism earlier stimulated by medieval and Egyptian art works. In a few signal instances, as in the work of Picasso, and Matisse, Kandinsky and Nolde, the actual course of a Western artist's development was shaped by such contact. And numinous encounters with the works emboldened some Westerners to seek a fuller understanding of the cultures that produced them, sometimes electing, like the indologists Stella Kramrisch and Alain Daniélou, to reside in the country of their choice for many years.

The Morphology of Culture.
The idea that major cultural achievements have occurred in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America that are fully equal in value to those of Western (i.e. Euro-American) civilization has come to the fore in recent discussions of multiculturalism. Yet the concept of a plurality of significant civilizations is not new; it was championed by two historians of the recent past who were widely read and influential--Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee.
First appearing in Germany and Austria in the summer of 1918, Spengler's Der Untergang des Abendlandes--the Decline of the West--owed its runaway success in large measure to its apocalyptic overtones, so well attuned to the times.  The Central Powers first lost World War I and then fell into economic chaos. With its pessimistic vision of historical inevitability, the book was both diagnostic and prophecy. This topicality aside, however, the book's real contribution lay in a different sphere. As H. Stuart Hughes observed, "Spengler's new way of regarding history consisted in rejecting the traditional succession of ancient, medieval, and modern times and substituting for it a study of comparative cultures or civilizations."xii The German scholar recognized eight full-fledged civilizations: classical, "Magian" (Islamic and medieval), Western, Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, Babylonian, and Mexican.xiii 
Limitations of space and personal knowledge caused him to give less attention to the non-Western ones than would be ideal, but the key concept of parity was there. In his view, each of the major societies obeys its own distinctive principle or spirit which is worked out in terms of particular accomplishments in mathematics, religion, law, literature, art and so forth. Each civilization is self-contained, standing in no need (or capacity) for meaningful communication with any other. Despite this essential autonomy, the historical sequence of development of each civilization shows significant analogies; hence the principle of comparative morphology--similarities of form. Civilizations are predestined to undergo a cycle of birth, flowering, and decay. It is this inescapable destiny that makes the various civilizations--so different in their fundamental character--comprehensible to us. In addition, awareness of the dynamic that dictated the fate of civilizations now dead permits us to predict what lies in store for our own.
Although Spengler's book enjoyed considerable success with the educated public, it was generally condemned by specialists who faulted the writer--who was not a university professor--with many errors of detail.xiv The impoverished author had not had the leisure or resources to develop the argument properly for non-Western societies.
Arnold J. Toynbee was a British historian, classically trained. In a lecture on ancient Greece in the spring of 1920 he hazarded the possibility that all the great civilizations might have the "same plot."xv A few months later he read Spengler's book, and the seeds fell on fertile ground. But much thought and research were required to bring Toynbee's vision to maturity. The first three volumes of his Study of History appeared in 1934, and the whole work did not reach completion, with the twelfth volume, until 1961. Displaying a prodigious capacity for reading and igesting secondary sources, the British polymath was able to discern twenty-one distinct civilizations. He was particularly interested in the genesis of civilizations, which he attributed to a pattern of challenge and response, and to the factors causing their breakdown. As for the best-known case of collapse, the fall of the Roman empire, Toynbee traced it to the combined action of two forces: the internal proletariat--the oppressed Roman masses--and the external proletariat--the Germanic barbarians who ultimately could no longer be contained outside the borders of the empire.
As far as humanly possible Toynbee had done his homework.  In the 1950s, aided by a propaganda blitz mounted by the Luce publications in the United States, he enjoyed a period of great fame. As had happened with Spengler's work, however, criticisms mounted.xvi Some believed that the problem was logistical: the task was too great for one person. Others held that historiography must restrict itself to careful descriptions of particular periods and events; by contrast, macrohistory dealing with grand generalizations was simply not legitimate. And in a secular age, many were repelled by the increasing emphasis on religion that characterized the later volumes. Today, Toynbee (who died in 1975) remains a figure to conjure with only in Japan.xvii
Somehow there is an element of unfairness in the attacks.  And indeed who, as a single individual, can claim to have mastered all the varied sources of information the undertaking requires?  Certainly not the attackers.  
By present-day standards Spengler and Toynbee figure as right-wingers. This perceived affiliation, together with their assertion that all societies are foredoomed to decline, accounts for the failure of contemporary advocates of multiculturalism to acknowledge the debt to their learned predecessors. In any event, the work of the earlier scholars shows that there is nothing inherently leftist or radical about the comparative study of the cultural achievements of different societies.

Eurocentrism vs. Multiculturalism.
In the late 1980s the multicultural controversy began to attract significant attention in the American media. Advocates of multiculturalism in American universities emerged, reacting against what they regarded as an obsession with Western civilization. What, specifically, were they against?
Courses in "Western Civ" had indeed come to occupy a privileged place in the basic prescription of required courses on most American campuses. In the aftermath of World War I, Columbia University took the lead in restructuring its topical "war issues" course so as to make it into one emphasizing the positive values of the West.xviii This course recognized the diversity of incoming students, but sought to hasten the process of the melting pot (at least for the elite who made up the bulk of the student body at the time) by establishing a core reading list fostering common values. At first there were few imitators, but gradually things changed.  After another world war Western civilization became "the most widely taught history course on American campuses."xix This program of instruction purveyed a single sequence, one that began in ancient Greece and Rome, and continued through the European Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the present.
The University of Chicago incubated another influential educational venture that was also explicitly Eurocentric. Robert M. Hutchins, president and then chancellor of the university from 1929 to 1951, was deeply concerned by the fact that the humanities were increasingly neglecting primary sources in favor of secondary studies. To combat this drift he, together with his ally Mortimer Adler, organized a set of 54 volumes, The Great Books of the Western World, which was published by the Encyclopaedia Britannica beginning in 1954. Volumes 2 and 3, known as The Syntopicon, marshal the great ideas in 102 thematic chapters; it goes without saying that the ideas are all Western. Although the Great Books curriculum was only rigorously adopted at one institution, St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, the books were promoted for for study groups and for individual use.  By 1977 nearly a million sets were sold.xx
Also Western oriented is the Dictionary of the History of Ideas, inspired by the approach of Arthur O. Lovejoy and edited by Philip P. Wiener in five volumes, and published by Scribner's in New York in 1973-74. A much enlarged version in six volumes appeared in 2004.
The most widely used American textbooks in art history, those of Helen Gardner, H. W. Janson, and Frederick Hartt, have tended to scant non-Western societies, a pattern that has persisted despite token efforts in their many succeeding editions. What would synthetic presentations that would truly reflect a global art perspective be like? Several valiant efforts have been made to span the globe in the form of exhibitions.   Here we will cite two examples.  One was Weltkulturen und moderne Kunst, held in Munich in 1972 to coincide with the Olympic Games.xxi This staggering "blockbuster" event displayed almost 2400 objects from Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the New World. There was an effort to show connections.  Some contacts were of techniques (as in ceramics and glass), others of motifs and styles. While the Munich exhibition concentrated on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Circa 1492 exhibition held at the National Gallery in Washington in 1991 covered the period from about 1400 to 1550.xxii As seen in a variety of maps and landscapes, many parallels were evident but, recognizing the autonomy of the civilizations, no attempt was made to fit the 569 objects into a single scheme. It is revealing that these two attempts at synthesis were triggered by external events, the Olympiad and the quincentenary of Columbus's first voyage. There seems to be no comparable stimulus that would lead to the coordination of such approaches into a single volume that could serve as a book of reference.
Other signs are more hopeful. Unlike the previous great conflict, World War II saw major action in the theaters of North Africa and the Pacific as well as Europe. This involvement, together with the host of new nations appearing in the Third World as colonial empires dissolved, fostered a new approach, termed area studies. This perspective allowed the culture of, say, Southeast Asia or Central America to be studied as a whole. Then too, the Korean and Vietnam Wars helped to focus interest on Asia, but often in a present-minded fashion. Valuable in and of itself, the area-studies approach had the disadvantage of compartmentalizing these programs, which rarely received much attention in the required core program for undergraduates. In this way, the dominance of Western civilization continued in mainstream undergraduate education.
The application of the term "multicultural" to the present context occurred in a somewhat roundabout fashion. In Canada the word "bicultural" expressed the fact that the country had two official languages and therefore (presumably) two cultures. But this duality did not, it came to be recognized, represent the whole of Canadian society. Efforts were made to enlarge the purview by including native American and Inuits (Eskimos), among others: hence the introduction of the term multiculturalism for a new society that would recognize the participation of a plurality of ethnic groups. As Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau remarked in 1971: "Le terme biculturalisme ne dépeint pas comme il faut notre société: le mot multiculturalisme est plus précis à cet égard."xxiii The term spread to France, to Britain and other Commonwealth countries, and to the United States. This history shows that the multicultural program was originally intended to address an existing--and evolving--demographic reality within advanced industrial societies of Western stamp. Over time, however, a wish to understand the backgrounds of the nonwhite ethnics led to the spotlighting of the historical accomplishments of the societies from which they derived. Moreover, the attention given the "Third World," an expression invented and popularized as tiers monde by Alfred Sauvy in the 1950s, added a factor from world politics. Many of the Third World countries had in fact banded together in the non-aligned movement, which traces its origin to the Bandung Conference in 1955. India, Indonesia and other major participants in this grouping cherished a distinguished record of cultural achievement going back many centuries.
Thus the multicultural trend, though emerging from current political concerns, came to take on a historical dimension, spotlighting earlier flowerings of non-Western civilizations. Although sometimes perceived as anti-Western, this trend--in its more enlightened forms--seeks to provide a world perspective in which the voices of all cultures may be heard equally.xxiv Probably the most important contributor to the rise of multiculturalism in the United States was the civil rights movement of the 1960s. This led to the creation of many black studies departments and, later, Hispanic and Asian studies departments. From the outset these new disciplines dealt not only with the relevant ethnic minorities in the United States but, in principle, with the cultures of the regions from which they sprang. This dual interest, however, tended to conflate the study of other cultures in an international sense (multiculturalism in the broad sense) with the study of ethnic groups within the United States (ethnic studies). This conflation sometimes fostered the illusion that the study of an American writer who happened to be, say, black or Chinese, would immediately open a window to the original African and Chinese cultures rather than to a variant of American culture (though one that may be informed with a considerable knowledge of another culture.)xxv If knowledge of the original societies is sought, it would be more effective to study them at the source. However valuable reading Maxine Hong Kingston is for understanding the Chinese-American experience, studying Confucius or Sun Yatsen offers better access to Chinese experience.
Contemporary multiculturalism reflects the influence of anthropology, with its special concern for nonindustrialized societies. In this way anthropologists diverged sharply from the Spengler-Toynbee model, which privileges high cultures. Unfortunately, the nonhierarchical and democratic ideal championed by contemporary multiculturalists finds little support in the indigenous cultures of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, which were generally controlled by small elites cherishing patriarchal and classist values. Declining to confront the authoritarianism that lies at the root of so many non-Western societies, the multiculturalists tend to present their achievements in highly selective, idealized terms. Yet what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If major works of Western literature and art are implicated in values which we now find repugnant, the same goes for works with a non-Western pedigree. The way in which major works of Asian, African, and Amerindian origin are implicated in the prolongation of elite rule needs to be examined with more candor. In court societies the rigidity and formal dignity of sculpture, awing the viewer, project the ideology of domination. In China the high status of calligraphy and landscape painting reflects the fact that these genres were the favorites of the official class--even though this class may not have monopolized these fields as thoroughly as it liked to claim. There can be no dispute that monumental architecture has been linked everywhere with power.
In the United States, advocates of implementing multicultural policies have pointed to changing demographic trends. By the middle of the twenty-first century, perhaps even before, white people of European ancestry will probably constitute a minority. Young people entering college today are increasingly non-white. These changes should, proponents held, be reflected in the curriculum, replacing the Western "canon" with a more pluralistic one. However, this analysis neglects the fact that many new immigrants from Asia and Latin America wish to integrate with American mainstream culture and to become cognizant of the sources of its ideals. Moreover, the victory of democracy over its totalitarian adversaries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (1989-91) gives everyone an interest in learning of its origins in Greece and Western Europe. So while the demographic argument is not without force, it is less decisive than some multiculturalists claim.
Demographic shifts, actual or predicted, have also triggered demands for personnel shifts in academia. In this way the advance of multiculturalism has become linked with affirmative action programs designed to give more jobs to minorities and women. Critics of these programs claim that in some instances jobs are not assigned strictly according to merit, producing a backlash of those who feel discriminated against, together with the self-doubt among the beneficiaries. These results, it is said, will cancel out the social rewards.
Adversaries of multiculturalism and its corollaries in academia have not limited themselves to private grumbling. Those who have banded together in the National Association of Scholars resist the shift away from "Eurocentric curricula" to new ones which they feel reflect an inherent political bias.xxvi In truth, the proponents of multiculturalism and ethnic studies in the universities have often been motivated by an idealistic concern with broadening educational opportunity, but sometimes they overstepped their bounds, imposing "civility codes" that muzzled free speech. Violating the spirit of academic freedom, ideologically motivated hecklers have shouted down unpopular speakers.
Censorship on the part of the left has been widely, and rightly, deplored. Except for a few incidents, however, contemporary art works deemed politically incorrect have not been attacked. (Perhaps that is because there are so few of them; in much of the world, artists are overwhelmingly liberal or left-wing.) As the Mapplethorpe controversy showed, censorship in the visual arts continues to be urged mainly by the right. The reasons for this late-twentieth-century anomaly are difficult to explain: the left seeks to restrict the spoken word, the right wants to limit visual expression.
This whole set of controversies is too complex to examine here in more than the most summary fashion. It is relevant to the subject of the following two chapters, however, because some advocates of multiculturalism have charged their "Eurocentrist" opponents with wilful neglect and misunderstanding of non-Western cultures. Oftentimes this has been the case. As a challenge to conventional wisdom, the new trend is a useful goad. And yet, as currently constituted, multiculturalist discourses are more effective in diagnosing a problem than offering a solution. Taken as a whole, the current spray of discussion is too present-minded and too politicized to offer much help in addressing the problems raised in this and the following two chapters.

The "Orientalism" Question.
Some multiculturalist accounts of Western efforts to understand the alien cultures hold that what is at stake is not simply neglect and myopic attachment to one's own society. They believe that the Eurocentric view of exotic peoples was an instrument serving the hegemonic ends of imperialism by relegating the subjugated societies to a permanent state of inferiority. In this light interpretation of non-Western societies is an ideological quest, in which the Western investigators find only what they are seeking. In his influential polemic Orientalism, the late Edward W. Said of Columbia University portrayed Western studies of the Orient as habitually complicit with the projection of power, serving a vital role as adjuncts and tools of imperial domination.xxvii In order to accomplish its purpose, Said holds, Orientalism systematically imposes a series of binary contrasts: the progressive West vs. the unchanging East, Occidental science vs. Oriental wisdom, despotism vs. democracy. Through these means oriental civilizations are not merely represented, but--he holds--actually constructed. These procedures serve to make the alien society manageable by eliding complexity and "totalizing" it, while reassuring Westerners of their inherent superiority.
Said's targets are mainly specialists and creative writers addressing the Arab world, but his ideas can be extended to such fields as sinology and indology, though the fit is often imperfect. Scholars of various nationalities have found Said's approach a fruitful stimulus. The Said paradigm has also made its way into art history in the interpretation of nineteenth-century salon painters depicting Middle Eastern scenes, sometimes with erotic overtones.xxviii Others, such as the arabist Bernard Lewis and the anthropologist James Clifford, have concluded that his theses are exaggerated, overlooking as they do the elements of genuine sympathy and understanding found in many thoughtful Western students of non-Western societies.xxix The ideas of Said and his followers are a stimulating challenge to complacency, but they should not be swallowed whole.
In his later work Said sought to nuance his ideas by indicating that travel and encounter with other cultures can indeed be broadening, and that the ideas of Europeans are not Unfortunately, some scholars inspired by his work are less subtle, yielding to the temptation to use the orientalist analysis as a stick with with to beat the West. In some instances, this polemic represents a leftover from the political fashion of idealizing the Third World that flourished in the 1960s and 70s, but since declined.xxxi
Critical studies in the orientalist mode tend to indict earlier scholarship for its patronizing generalizations and self-serving biases. Yet all too often the castigators of Orientalism themselves emphasize the starkness of Otherness, the vast differences between ourselves and the rest. The result of this contrast--we vs. they--is that one tends to ignore what is shared: the psychic unity of humanity, what human beings have in common that makes them human, is forgotten. This overstress on difference may be less prevalent in the study of art, where style analysis helps to perceive all works, whatever their source, as depending on line, color, and composition. Still, it is said, we see all Indian objects as the same, refusing to discriminate differences of period and quality. But this is not necessarily so. Some categories of art, such as Chinese and Japanese ceramics, have been familiar to Western collectors for centuries, and these connoisseurs have naturally sought to classify them appropriately as to style and era. A collector who prefers understated Song monochrome ceramics will not be attracted to "extrovert" famille verte pieces from the Qing Dynasty, nor will a lover of Shang ritual bronzes necessarily respond to Buddhist statuary of the Six Dynasties. This long-nurtured acquaintance has encouraged connoisseurs to adopt the indigenous dynastic chronologies of China (not to mention Japan, Korea, India, Cambodia and other historic Asian nations) as a framework for the historical ordering of the objects. It is therefore an oversimplification to say that the West has always imposed its own categories on "exotic" arts, paying no attention to the classifications evolved by the people themselves.
In some fields, however, there is merit in the claim that an obstacle to the historical understanding of non-Western art stems from the widespread belief that other cultures are stagnant and unchanging; some have even idealized this status through the notion of the traditional "authenticity" of the pristine, "noncommercial" tribal artefact. In keeping with this perception, the collector of tribal art seeks pieces that are "pure," uncontaminated by outside influences, even from other tribes. In pre-Columbian America this mistaken sense of timelessness has been corrected by the analysis of controlled excavations which have revealed the enormous changes undergone by the civilizations over time. Excavations of Inuit (Eskimo) and Australian cultures that document evolution over centuries seem to have had less impact.
Longstanding practice distinguishes between "high civilizations" such as China, Japan, and India, and "tribal cultures" such as those of Africa and Oceania. (As a rule, these last are no longer referred to as "savages" or "primitives," but some residue of these labels persists.) In the following two chapters on Western approaches to non-Western art, it will be heuristically useful to observe this separation. The writer endorses no implication of any enduring value of the distinction between the two groups, however, and both chapters contain observations applicable to both groups. All non-Western cultures have posed challenges of historical and cultural understanding, some specific to them and others of a more general import. Moreover, at various times Western art has accepted influences from China and Japan (belonging to the "high" category), on the one hand, and from Africa and Oceania ("tribal"), on the other.
As has been observed repeatedly in this book, Western art history has not even succeeded in formulating a universal schema that would apply to its own art. At best, historians have devised patterns that apply to Greek art, medieval art, the shift from the Renaissance to the Baroque, and so forth. Efforts to project the schemata of a Heinrich Wölfflin or an Henri Focillon onto non-Western art have enjoyed only limited success. The task then of creating a world-wide history of art, marked by a universal scope of the kind realized, say, in the fields of geology and paleontology, still abides.

Although much willful and self-interested misunderstanding has occurred, some astute Western observers have responded to the creative achievements of non-Western art. The task for the future will be not simply to indict Western approaches en bloc, but to build on what is useful in them, in concert with growing bodies of non-Western scholars interpreting their own traditions.

i Valerie I. J. Flint, The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992, offers fascinating glimpses of the legendary imagery that fired the imagination of Columbus and his contemporaries.
ii Mary B. Campbell, The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writings, 400-1600, Cornell University Press, 1988; and Scott D. Westrem, ed., Discovering New Worlds: Essays on Medieval Exploration and Imagination, New York: Garland, 1991.
iii John Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, Warminster, Eng.: Aris & Phillips, 1977.
iv Rudolf Wittkower, "Marvels of the East: A Study in the History of Monsters," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 5 (1942), 159-97; Campbell, Witness, pp. 47-86.
v Adolf Katzenellenbogen, "The Central Tympanon at Vézelay, Its Encyclopedic Meaning and Its Relation to the First Crusade," Art Bulletin, 26 (1944), 141-51.
vi Iain Higgins, "Imagining Christendom from Jerusalem to Paradise: Asia in Mandeville's Travels," in Westrem, ed., Discovering, 97-114; Leonardo Olschki, Marco Polo's Asia: An Introduction to His "Description of the World" Called Il Milione, trans. John A. Scott, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960.
vii J. H. Elliott, "The World after Columbus," New York Review of Books, 38:15 (October 10, 1991), pp. 10-14.
viii For a recent view of several key Asian societies viewed in their own terms, see Kirti N. Chaudhuri, Asia Before Europe: Economy and Civilisation of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. For the patterns of European reception, see the major work of Donald F. Lach (and Edwin J. Van Kley, Asia in the Making of Europe, 3 vols. in 6, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965-94. A sociology of knowledge approach informs Toby E. Huff, The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
ix Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
x Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, eds., Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
xi Jeanette Greenfield, The Return of Cultural Treasures, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
xii Oswald Spengler, New York: Scribner, 1952, p. 9. Another sympathetic introduction is Klaus P. Fischer, History and Prophecy: Oswald Spengler and the Decline of the West, New York: P. Lang, 1989. See also the biography by Anton M. Koktanek, Oswald Spengler in seiner Zeit, Munich: Beck, 1968. 
xiii This roster of civilizations had a predecessor in Nikolai Yakovlevich Danilevsky's Russia and Europe of 1859.  Danilevsky identified ten specimens: Egyptian; Chinese; Assyrian-Babylonian-Phoenician; Indian; Iranian; Hebraic; Greek; Roman; "neo-Semitic" (i.e. Islamic); and European. This Russian-language work was obscure, however, and Spengler seems not to have known it.
xiv For an account of the negative criticisms, see Manfred Schröter, Metaphysik des Untergangs: eine kultur-kritische Studie über Oswald Spengler, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1949.
xv William H. McNeill, Arnold J. Toynbee: A Life, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 97.
xvi Probably the most persistent critic was the Dutch historian Pieter Geyl; see his Debates with Historians, London: Fontana, 1962, pp. 112-210. Toynbee addressed many of the criticisms in the concluding (twelfth) volume of his Study, subtitled Reappraisals (1961). Other reviews and critiques are listed in S. Fiona Morton, A Bibliography of Arnold J. Toynbee, New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
xvii His declining reputation notwithstanding, a group of essays appeared in 1989: Toynbee: Reappraisals, Toronto: Toronto University Press. Other ambitious thinkers who sought to create syntheses of civilizations included the anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber and the historian Frederick J. Teggart.
xviii Daniel Bell, The Reforming of General Education: The Columbia College Experience in Its National Setting, New York: Columbia University Press, 1966.
xix Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 312.
xx Mary Ann Druback, Robert M. Hutchins: Portrait of an Educator, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 210-21; Joan Shelley Rubin, The Making of Middlebrow Culture, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992, pp. 193-97.
xxi Weltkulturen und moderne Kunst: Die Begegnung der europäischen Kunst und Musik im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert mit Asien, Afrika, Ozeanien, Afro- and Indo-Amerika, Munich: Bruckmann, 1972.
xxii Jay A. Levenson, ed., Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.
xxiii Le grand Robert de la langue française, 2nd ed., vol. 6, Paris: Le Robert, 1985, s.v. "multiculturalisme."
xxiv Despite the enormous outpouring of writings in the last few years on the subject, it is difficult to find a comprehensive rationale stating the aims of the movement in a nonpolemical way.
A plausible attempt at this is Darryl J. Gless and Barbara Herrnstein Smith, eds., The Politics of Liberal Education, Durham: Duke University Press, 1992. The vocal critics of multiculturalism, including such writers as Allen Bloom, Dinesh D'Souza, Roger Kimball, and Camille Paglia, have focused on abuses they perceive in the movement, including intolerance, heavy-handed efforts to impose "political correctness" through speech codes, and bashing of Dead White European Males (DWEMS). Regrettably the excesses of some multiculturalist advocates have merited this castigation.
xxv For a well-documented study of the growing field of ethnic literatures, see A. Lavonne Brown and Jerry W. Ward, eds., Redefining American Literary History, New York: Modern Language Association, 1990.
xxvi See this group's quarterly, Academic Questions (1987-  ).
xxvii Edward W. Said, Orientalism, New York: Pantheon Books, 1978. Said's theses have proven fertile in engendering a host of new studies in a similar vein. However, they have not commanded universal assent, even from Islamicists. Probably the most useful and fair-minded critical response is that of Robert Irwin, For Lust of Knowledge: The Orientalists and Their Enemies, London: Alan Lane, 2008.
xxviii See, e.g., Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, London and New York: Sotheby's, 1986; and Linda Nochlin, "The Imaginary Orient," in her The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society, New York: Harper & Row, 1989, pp. 33-59.
xxix Bernard Lewis, "The Question of Orientalism," New York Review of Books, June 12, 1982, pp. 49-56; James Clifford, "On Orientalism," in his Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988, pp. 255-76.
xxx See Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism, New York: Knopf, 1993.
xxxi For incisive critiques of "Third-Worldism," see Gérard Chaliand, Revolution in the Third World: Myths and Prospects, New York: Viking Press, 1977; and Pascal Bruckner, The Tears of the White Man: Compassion as Contempt, trans. by William R. Beer, New York: Free Press, 1986.

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