This conference brings together scholars from different disciplines to analyze the economic and artistic values of gold and their place in the interconnected world of Early Modern European, African, Asia and American cultures. Although gold is recognized as a "beguiling” universal equivalent as recently discussed by Zorach and Phillips (2016), the values of gold are also historically specific. The early modern world represents one of gold’s crucial transformative moments when its various meanings and roles were reaffirmed and/or transformed. The focus of the conference will be on articulating specific instances of the shifting uses, roles, and values of gold within the artistic, economic and symbolic arenas of world cultures. Changes as well as continuities in local cultures are in part conditioned by new global contacts that are sustained by gold’s importance within imperial ambitions and mercantile capitalism.
Organizer: Thomas Cummins (Harvard University)