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Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Anton Schweizer

The two-year Fellow is given the opportunity to pursue a research project while gaining teaching experience at a graduate level, and participating in a major international research initiative on the state of scholarship in the fields of art history, archaeology, and conservation.

In Fall 2012, the Institute will welcome Anton Schweizer as the second Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. Over the past six years, Dr. Schweizer served as Assistant Professor of Japanese art history at Heidleberg University’s Institute of East Asian Art History. At Heidelberg University he completed the dissertation The Ōsaki Hachiman Shrine in Sendai and the Phenomenon of Lacquered Architecture in Momoyama Japan. During his two-year appointment at the IFA, Dr. Schweizer will conduct research for his upcoming publication, Meaningful Spaces: Topography, Architecture and Art as Political Media in Early Modern Japan, whichinvestigates the building activities of Date Masamune, a provincial warrior leader in seventeenth-century Northern Japan.

The study is based on the hypothesis that Masamune’s building projects were primarily motivated by the desire to manifest power and to create an identity for his new territory. For these aims he appropriated existing cultural models and developed complex and innovative strategies of spatial and visual expression. The research will analyze individual works of architecture as well as the semantical reorganization of the entire territory. It will consist of a series of case studies organized into two sections which approach the construction of meaningful spaces in different contexts.

While the main political protagonists of the Early Modern period and their heartlands in central Japan have been discussed in numerous Western studies, there is need of more research on local warriors and their cultural politics. The rich culture patronized by the Date clan which received great public attention from the distressing tsunami disaster in 2011 is a particularly apt example. The resulting monograph will be of relevance not only for specialists of Japanese architectural history, but also for scholars and students of religious studies, Early Modern history, social history and visual culture, and addresses questions of nation-building, interregional culture migration, and discourses of legitimacy.