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Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Lili Fang

COFUND Policy & Enterprise Fellow at University College, Durham University (October - December 2014)

Prof Lili Fang is Director and researcher of China Art Academy, Art Anthropology Research Center, Beijing; Member of China National Expert Committee for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage; President of Chinese Society for Art Anthropology; and Member of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress Standing Committee Scientific, Educational and Cultural Committee. 

Jingdezhen has been a Chinese centre of porcelain production for almost 1,700 years. Prof Fang has been researching the history of Jingdezhen for nine years, collecting oral histories, engaging in participant observation of the daily lives of ceramic artists, and compiling a visual record through still photography and videos. Her research examines the past hundred years during which China has changed from a traditional society to a modernized and now, internationalized society. The research covers the vicissitudes of the life and culture of the artisans in Jingdezhen during these phases: hand-crafted, family-based ceramic production during Republican China (1910-1949), mechanized ceramic production in Jingdezhen from 1949-2000 within a centrally-planned economy, and the return to handcrafted production after 2010, but now in studios inspired by the information revolution and a revitalized market economy. 

Prof Fang’s fellowship would provide a unique opportunity for collaboration between anthropologists at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, researchers in the anthropology of art in Durham (Prof Layton, Dr Tehrani and Dr Paolo Fortis), and in the history of Chinese art at the University’s Oriental Museum (Dr Craig Barclay), which is home to an internationally significant collection of Chinese ceramics that includes work created in Jingdezhen during past centuries. Prof Fang’s fellowship would facilitate the exchange of knowledge and research techniques between the two institutions, and provide an exciting opportunity for joint field research. Many of the social and cultural changes that occurred during the British Industrial Revolution over a century or more are taking place in China within a single generation. Both countries face the challenges brought about by Globalisation. Case studies of how different cultures have responded to these challenges can bring fresh insight to strategies for mitigating their potentially destructive effect on cultural tradition.