Connecting Collections is a research and teaching project driven by the extraordinary early European art collections of the Universities of Manchester and Melbourne. It is an incubator for research on images and ideas of the body in the period between about 1400 and 1700, and grows from an initiative of the vice-chancellors of the two institutions to enhance research collaboration.

Our first major research theme is ‘Foreign Bodies.’ The aim is to explore how early modern images and objects constructed the foreign, the exotic, the other. Defining foreignness – who belongs and who doesn’t – is a major contemporary issue, but the problem is not new. Saint Augustine (d. 430) argued that it was inconceivable that the Antipodes could be inhabited by humans since it would have been impossible for the descendants of Adam and Eve to have travelled to the other side of the world. However, in 1537, faced with the ‘newly discovered’ peoples of the Americas, Pope Paul III proclaimed that they were in fact human beings just like Europeans.

‘Foreign Bodies’ draws on close examination of objects from maps to manuscripts and from paintings to prints. Each month this site will present a new object from the project. A first research workshop was held in Manchester in July 2017, hosted by the John Rylands Library and the Whitworth. A second workshop will be held in Melbourne in April 2018.