Jennifer Nelson: How to Recognize a Bayoguin: The Boxer Codex, The Edwin L. Weisl Lectureship in the Arts Sponsored by the Robert Lehman Foundation
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An elite reconnaissance project undertaken by the Spanish in Southeast Asia, the Boxer Codex is a c. 1591 compilation of accounts, written in or translated into Spanish, of the peoples of Southeast Asia alongside illustrations made by a Christian Sangley (Manila Chinese) artist. How might art historical methods acknowledge then combat the manuscript's fixation on the supposed cultural inferiority of island peoples of the region--a fixation shared by both Spanish and Ming Chinese norms--? By thoroughly analyzing traces of imperial violence, as well as the imperial fetishization of what Christian Europeans, at least, wanted to destroy, art historians can honor the fraught survival of non-imperial peoples and their practices.