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Orientality: Beyond Foreign Affairs

June 2, 2015 – June 3, 2015
10am – 3pm over the two days
Entry to the conference is free and all are welcome. Please register in advance to ensure there is enough seating available.

Ondaatje Wing Theatre, National Portrait Gallery, London

An invitation from the Orientalist Museum in Doha – as yet a museum without walls, but owner of probably the most significant collection of Orientalist oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints dating back to the 16th century ever assembled – to its second biennial international conference on Orientalism, at the National Portrait Gallery in London on June 2–3, 2015.

The museum deflines diplomacy as ‘the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solution’ in international affairs. ‘As history has often proven, art can act as a diplomatic tool as well’. Works of art played a role as gifts during political missions, at the signing of peace treaties and at state weddings. And the recording the the rituals of diplomacy itself became a much rehearsed topic. Speakers include Dr Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Dr Firuza Melville, Professor Gerald MacLean, Ruth Brimacombe, Professor Jean Michel Massing and Anna-sophie von Celsing

Curators and independent researchers are invited ‘to (re)explore the history of diplomacy and diplomatic encounters between the Middle East and North African countries and the rest of the world in the context of art, history and culture. Proposal ideas that extend beyond these thematic areas will also be considered.’ Abstracts of 300 words, plus a short resume of 150 words, should be submitted to The museum committee will announce the final selection in September. The proceedings of the conference will be published in the biennial journal Orientality.

The first conference was held in collaboration with Pembroke College at Cambridge University in May 2013, and took at its theme ‘Cultural Orientalism and Mentality’.

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