46 episodes

EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way, flows of Empires through art.

Interdisciplinary thinkers use individual artworks as artefacts of imperial exchange, revealing the how and why of the monolith ‘Empire’.

MUSIC: Combinación // The Dubbstyle.

COVER ART: Claudia Chan.

PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.

Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

EMPIRE LINES EMPIRE LINES

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way, flows of Empires through art.

Interdisciplinary thinkers use individual artworks as artefacts of imperial exchange, revealing the how and why of the monolith ‘Empire’.

MUSIC: Combinación // The Dubbstyle.

COVER ART: Claudia Chan.

PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.

Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

    Ivory Statue of St. Michael the Archangel, Basilica of Guadalupe (17th Century)

    Ivory Statue of St. Michael the Archangel, Basilica of Guadalupe (17th Century)

    Dr. Stephanie Porras carves out the Chinese connection between Spain's colonies in Mexico City and Manila in the Philippines, in a 17th century ivory statue of St. Michael the Archangel.

    With gently curving wings, the figure of St. Michael the Archangel has stood watch over Mexico City, the former Spanish colony of New Spain, since the 17th century. But this particular statue was actually produced far across the Pacific, in the smaller Spanish colony of the Philippines by Chinese or 'Sangley' sculptors, themselves immigrants to the archipelago. Whilst initially produced to furnish Catholic churches for the recently converted, such statues were quickly appropriated by those seeking to monetise mass production in Asia. Carved from African imported ivory, and modelled on artworks from the Spanish Flanders, this St. Michael from Manila embodies the intertwining of devotional and transpacific trading networks within the global Spanish empire. Rather than cultural hybrids, these statues challenge the very concept of 'Chineseness', highlighting how artists appropriated imperial Spain's territorial and mercantile ambitions for their own ends.

    PRESENTER: Dr. Stephanie Porras, Associate Professor and Chair of the Newcomb Art Department at Tulane University. She is the author of The First Viral Images, published by Pennsylvania State Press in 2023.

    ART: Ivory Statue of St. Michael the Archangel, Basilica of Guadalupe (17th Century).

    IMAGE: 'Ivory Statue of St. Michael the Archangel, Chinese Hispano-Philippine Carvers'.

    SOUNDS: The Anchorites.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936 

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines 

    • 17 min
    Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, John Greenwood (c. 1752-1758)

    Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, John Greenwood (c. 1752-1758)

    Dr. Jared Hardesty picks up the party debris littered by New England's illegal imperialists, via John Greenwood's 1750s painting, Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam.

    Drinking, gambling, and debauchery reign in a private club in Paramaribo, then the Dutch colony of Surinam. John Greenwood's 18th century scene boasts of the illegal behaviour of ship captains and merchants from Britain’s New England colonies in North America, painted for proud display in their Rhode Island offices. This souvenir of a colonial gap year obfuscates the cruelty of Dutch colonialism. But its Black figures hint at the exploitation of enslaved Africans, which underpinned these excesses of empire, and generated the wealth which transformed New England into the birthplace of US industrial capitalism. Painted at a time when it was officially illegal for outsiders to trade on the island, Greenwood's image suggests of the lucrative interimperial trade networks open to individual exploitation, which gave rise to goods like the so-called Surinam Horse. As the sole surviving painting of the artist's time in Surinam, Sea Captains is thus a unique, unintentionally subversive artefact.

    PRESENTER: Dr. Jared Ross Hardesty, Associate Professor of History at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He is the author of Mutiny on the Rising Sun: A Tragic Tale of Slavery, Smuggling, and Chocolate, and EMPIRE LINES listeners can get 30% off the text with the code RISINGSUN30.

    ART: Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, John Greenwood (c. 1752-1758).

    IMAGE: 'Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam'.

    SOUNDS: MG Studios.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936 

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines 

    • 15 min
    Map of Endowments for 'Colonial' University, New Zealand (1873)

    Map of Endowments for 'Colonial' University, New Zealand (1873)

    Dr. Caitlin Harvey maps out land transfers from Indigenous communities to European education institutions, through an 1873 Map of New Zealand’s 'Colonial' University.

    Depicting the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, a vast map outlines the lands around the Kimihia and Hakanoa Lakes and Waikato River. It's largest feature, thousands of acres in size, is labelled 'Endowment for Colonial University' - referring to the British University of New Zealand, hundreds of miles away in Christchurch. Exporting the Oxford model, 19th century settler-governments across the world supplied higher education institutions with enormous tracts of Indigenous lands, sometimes violently seized, their lease and sale generating great income. Possibly the longest-lasting myth of the land-grant university is that its operations exist in one, fixed place. Indeed, students often nostalgically associate their university with its distinct city or campus. But this map exposes their mobile and broad territorial reach, how university-building was used as a tool of imperial expansion, and who was excluded from the production of new knowledge and wealth in these new 'progressive' institutions.

    PRESENTER: Dr. Caitlin Harvey, Research Fellow in History and POLIS at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.

    ART: Map of Endowments for 'Colonial' University, New Zealand (1873).

    IMAGE: 'Endowments'.

    SOUNDS: onion.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936 

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines 

    • 16 min
    Painting of Silver Labourers in Potosí, Bolivia, from Translation of the History of the New World (c. 17th Century)

    Painting of Silver Labourers in Potosí, Bolivia, from Translation of the History of the New World (c. 17th Century)

    Dr. Saygin Salgirli mines the hidden link between four early modern empires, in a 17th century Painting of Silver Labourers in Potosí, Bolivia.

    In a peaceful mountain landscape, three labourers in colourful turbans and tunics mine silver together in a metric, obedient rhythm. Likely painted for the first non-European text on the Americas, this idyllic depiction of labour has a more complicated past. Its novel, imagined imperial ideal of work is unlocatable to any specific context. Instead, it speaks to the interconnected economies of the Ottoman and Spanish Empires, South Asia, and Safavid Iran - all of which restructured their labour forces to mine silver or to produce goods to trade for it - and how wealth was really generated.

    Previously part of the Inca Empire, Bolivia's silver output drastically increased under Spanish imperial rule. With widescale extraction, harsh economic reforms, and coercive and slave labour, Potosí’s silver mines became the gossip of global imperial capitals, as imported metals flooded their markets. 'No longer workers, but the human shapes of wage-labour,' these figures reveal the overlooked connections between these newly globalised markets, the abstraction of labour rather than art, and how labour and land were reorganised to meet demand in new, capitalist modes of production.

    PRESENTER: Dr. Saygin Salgirli, Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory at the University of British Columbia.

    ART: Painting of Silver Labourers in Potosí, Bolivia, from Translation of the History of the New World (c. 17th Century).

    IMAGE: 'Mining Silver in Potosí (Bolivia)'.

    SOUNDS: CLOUDWARMER.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936 

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines 

    • 17 min
    The Tragedy of Mustapha, Fulke Greville (1609) and Roger Boyle (1665)

    The Tragedy of Mustapha, Fulke Greville (1609) and Roger Boyle (1665)

    Aisha Hussain plays out tropes of Ottoman Turks in English Orientalist theatre, in two 17th century productions of The Tragedy of Mustapha.

    In 1553, the Ottoman Sultan Soleyman ordered the murder of his eldest son and heir to the throne, Prince Mustapha. Stranger than fiction, his story speaks to the crises of succession, sibling rivalries, and infanticide that marred the imperial Ottoman Court. Though set in modern day Hungary, this true story was first - and most fully - staged by the English playwrights Fulke Greville and Roger Boyle over a century later. Greville and Boyle's Turkish tragedies closed the chasm between Ottoman Muslims and English Christians, drawing on the parallel crises facing the newly restored English King Charles II. Their characters challenged the tropes of violent, lustful Turks, revealing the merits of the Ottoman Empire, and making its people and politics more relatable for contemporary English audiences. The Mustapha story offered audiences an alternative to the monolithic view of Muslim power, asking human questions around weakness, political duty, and gender parity that apply to us all.

    PRESENTER: Aisha Hussain, PhD student at the University of Salford and Events Editor at Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs). Her research focusses on Ottoman Turkish Otherness, Orientalism, and crusading and anti-crusading discourses in early modern English drama.

    ART: The Tragedy of Mustapha, Fulke Greville (1609) and Roger Boyle (1665).

    IMAGE: 'The Tragedy of Mustapha'.

    SOUNDS: MWE.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936 

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines 

    • 15 min
    Pierced Jade Scholar's Screen, China (19th Century) (EMPIRE LINES x Freud Museum Interview)

    Pierced Jade Scholar's Screen, China (19th Century) (EMPIRE LINES x Freud Museum Interview)

    For EMPIRE LINES’ 40th episode, Professor Craig Clunas dials in from London’s Freud Museum to tell me about curating their latest exhibition, Freud and China, and shrinking the international networks of psychoanalysis.

    Smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Austria before World War II, Sigmund Freud's Chinese jade screen was amongst his most prized antiquities. Much like his chow dogs and cherry blossom trees, these modern objects were taken as historic, decorative and academic goods, exposing European ideas about Asia in the 19th century.

    Practicing from the multi-ethnic Habsburg Empire, Freud became a global celebrity as the founder of psychoanalysis, a mental health therapy which went international during his lifetime, But how much did Freud really think about China, and how did these objects help him curate his academic environment?

    Curator Craig Clunas uses this jade screen as a window into everything from Edward Said's Orientalism, the two-way flows in thought between Freud and Asia, and contemporary efforts to broaden and decolonise art history.

    Freud and China runs at the Freud Museum in London until 26 June 2022.



    PRESENTER: Craig Clunas, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art at the University of Oxford, and curator of Freud and China.

    ART: Pierced Jade Scholar's Screen, China (19th Century).

    IMAGE: 'Pierced Jade Scholar's Screen'.

    SOUNDS: Bernd Burnson.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES at: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936 

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines 

    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

kirklandiyers ,

Very engaging

These episodes are informative and engaging.

ProfReader2021 ,

Excellent resource

As an art history professor, this is a high-quality resource for engaging with the broader histories that surround the objects of art history. 10/10 recommend to all my students and colleagues!

Keggdog ,

Excellent podcast

Consistently fascinating. Empire is both a complicated and far-reaching concept, and approaching it through art and material culture is one of the better ways to understand it. I also appreciate the shorter length: it’s just enough to draw you in and leave you curious, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed if you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter.

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

Apple TV+ / Pineapple Street Studios
Shan Boodram
Pushkin Industries
iHeartPodcasts
Glennon Doyle & Cadence13
Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher