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Kaja McGowan

Kaja McGowan

House Fellow
Professor, Director of Graduate Studies,
History of Art and Archaeology & Asian Studies
GM05 Goldwin Smith Hall
kmm22@cornell.edu  

Kaja M. McGowan is Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology. Her geographical areas of interest involve South and Southeast Asia with emphasis on Indonesia, particularly Java and Bali (both historically Indic in orientation) studied in relation to the subcontinent. Rather than see India and Indonesia, for example, as modes of influence between two points, her scholarly interests encourage studying the reciprocal relationships between neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Her research explores the flow of ideas and artifacts along this highway – architecture, bronzes, textiles, ceramics, performance traditions, and visualizations of texts like Panji Malat, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata – artifacts that move and those that are locally produced. This accounts for the shaping of ideas and the development of styles across vast geographical and historical distances. Her work is governed by the complex ways in which the History of Art and Visual Studies intersect with Anthropology, Material Culture, Colonial and Post-colonial Theory, Performance, Gender, and Religious Studies. Having first begun her study of Balinese performing arts as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, one ongoing project has involved documenting the work of painters in Bali who experiment with depicting musical sound and the rhythmic motion of the dance in their work.