Michelle McCoy is Assistant Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian art history at the University Pittsburgh, with a research focus on transcultural exchange along the eastern silk road and art’s relationship to religion and science. Her current work is rooted in the centuries leading up to the 13th-century CE Mongol conquest of Eurasia, a period when China was ruled by culturally diverse competing states that is pivotal in the formation of artistic and identity categories that are current today.
In addition to her work with Global Horizons, McCoy is an ongoing contributor to Visualization and Material Cultures of the Heavens in Eurasia and North Africa (4000 BCE–1700 CE) at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Berlin, and has previous or forthcoming publications with the Pennsylvania State University Press, Getty Publications, and IEAS Publications at the University of California, Berkeley. She has held fellowships at MPIWG, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright Foundation, and Dunhuang Foundation.
Art, Religion, and the Visible Heavens
During her stay in Bern, McCoy is working on a book about the role of the stars and planets in Buddhist, Daoist, and mortuary visual cultures within the Khitan, Song, Tangut, and Jurchen states (ca. 10th to 13th centuries CE). Works from this period document how a variety of communities dealt with new ways of representing, conceptualizing, and worshipping the heavens that emerged through transcultural exchange with Central and South Asia. Challenging both Euro- and Sinocentric modes of analysis, the book aims to show how seemingly marginal or arcane astrological practices and teachings transformed the larger histories of devotion, identity, and knowledge in the art of premodern China and Inner Asia.