* | Carlsbergfondet
Til bevillingsoversigt

Border-zones of empire: art, ecology, and negotiations of territory in East Asia

Carlsbergfondets internationaliseringsstipendier


I will research a growing number of artists in East Asia, who are transforming themselves into permaculture farmers to address territorial and ecological belonging: who and what gets to live on the land and under which circumstances. This will be researched in the countryside of Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, where questions of land is closely entangled with geo-political questions: concrete land for sustainable farming is also always caught up with much larger territorial and ecological questions.

Positioned in the border-zones of global imperial histories and current Sino-imperial expansion within the region, how and why are artists at the frontline of these conflicts? And how has their art-farming become a significant contemporary eco-aesthetic and political form?


The project will be carried out at the intersection of two issues of global significance: planet spanning ecological crises, and past and present imperial endeavours (from the West and within East Asia). My research centres on farming artists, whose practices emerge from concrete issues arising from the nexus of these conflicts: they are developing ways of living off and with the land, in ways that respect natural and cultural sustainability.

In light of ecological crises and Sino-imperial ambitions in the region, researching these art practices is important for knowledge on alternative imaginations. Such imaginations are important to learn from also in the European and Danish context, given the way ecological crises increasingly tie localities together in shaping a common future.


For a first phase, the research will be carried out by conducting field work at select sites in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, for the duration of four months at each location. The field work will unfold via participant observation, participation, and interviews, drawing on my established network of artists, activists, and researchers at each site.

I will be based at and hosted by the department of anthropology at Osaka University for the entire period, but have the intellectual and material support from Tokyo University of Art, National Chiao Tung University, and Hong Kong University. For the second phase, I will be analyzing and writing up the data I have collecting during the first. This will result in both research articles and public dissemination.


By conducting in-depth fieldwork on inter-East Asian civic and artistic strivings for more sustainable livelihoods, the research contributes to cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary knowledge exchanges and imaginative dialogues on shared futures in a world of interconnected ecological and geopolitical challenges.

Art, art history, anthropology and aesthetic practices, the research will show, can and should play important roles in expanding socio-political imaginations of more sustainable long-term futures, locally and globally, by engaging diverse experiences and publics. This project aims to inspire and establish a precedent for such committed and responsible art-historical research, in interdisciplinary dialogue.