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About the Internationalism and Cultural Exchange

The research network Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870-1920 (ICE) is an interdisciplinary project which explores the interface between internationalism and the arts at a crucial historical moment.

It brings together academics and curators from across the world to debate the problems and possibilities of artistic and cultural exchange and encounter in the period, and to explore the implications of ‘transnational history’ for teaching, research and display in the arts and humanities.

The years 1870–1920 were characterised by national consolidation, empire-building and catastrophic war. As part of the same process of collective encounter and self-definition, they were marked by international cooperation, proposals for world government, and transnational communities which challenged the normative nature of the nation state. The arts were undoubtedly central to the formation of national identities, and artists, writers, musicians, dramatists were expected to shore up national traditions.

However, their lives were often cosmopolitan and their practices shaped by cross-cultural collaboration. ICE takes the elements of nationhood (eg race, place, language) and examines the alternatives which were debated by artists at the turn of the twentieth century. It asks:

  • what imagined communities did they build to cross national boundaries?
  • what were their sites of operation?
  • how did they communicate?
  • what infrastructures did they develop?
  • what beliefs or practices held them together?
  • what histories did they construct for themselves?
  • what futures did they project?


Three themes structure our enquiry:

  • Sites of Internationalism examines capital cities, regional networks, and temporary sites such as exhibitions.
  • Language and Translation explores the idea of art as a universal language, transnational systems of inscription, and translation between national traditions.
  • World Citizens examines the cosmopolitan individual, whether as celebrity, mediator or misfit.


  • Dr Grace Brockington, Principal Investigator
  • Dr Sarah Turner, Co-Investigator

Forthcoming events

Sorry, there are no planned events at the moment; please visit the events archive to see our previous events.


For general correspondence regarding the project, email iceresearchnetwork@gmail.com. To contact a specific member of the project, see the people webpage.