What is Transnational?

Transnational is a way of understanding, researching and curating which encourages the idea that art, artists and art histories are connected beyond their countries of origin. The word ‘transnational’ encourages us all to challenge and revise western-centric art histories by highlighting the global exchanges and flow of artists and ideas.

What do we do?

Over the next five years, our vision is to redefine our existing collection of art and offer new perspectives on global art histories. Our research and programming will contribute to the reviewing and reframing of art histories. We will expand Tate’s existing commitment to developing its collections and programmes beyond Western Europe and North America.

In the below film, hear contributors to the Centre talk about its engagement with Tate’s collection, displays, exhibitions and public programmes, ensuring research is fully integrated into the workings of the museum.

What is planned?

The Centre’s research will inform future exhibitions, collection displays and acquisitions across all four Tate galleries. Our research will also be showcased on Tate’s website and social channels.

We will also produce one major symposium and six smaller events each year, shaped by and feeding into our research priorities. The Centre will proactively seek partnerships in order to widen our networks, both within and beyond the UK.

What are our priorities?

Our research priorities will be guided by Tate’s curatorial teams and the Centre’s adjunct curators working in the fields of indigeneity, Africa and the diaspora, and multiple modernisms. They will help to determine the strategic direction for future acquisitions, collection displays and exhibition programmes.

Looking at the concept of transnational from multiple points of view, some of the grounding questions that will shape the Centre’s first phase from 2019 to 2021 include:

  • How does the idea of transnational help us to rethink multiple art histories in such a way that they can replace a single western-centric canon?

  • How does the idea of transnational relate to our understandings of British art, history and identity?

  • What are the creative contributions enabled by migration and diaspora?

  • What can we learn from First Nation and indigenous artists when rethinking the role of nation states in relation to art?

  • How do multiple modernities and modernisms intersect in the first half of the twentieth century?

Opportunities to get involved

The Centre offers a variety of short-term posts that are designed specifically to offer developmental opportunities to researchers and curators from around the world. These are tiered to identify and support people at all stages of their careers. Opportunities, open calls and grant applications will be posted to this page when they arise.

Tate, Hyundai and Mori Art Museum logos


From Alexandria to Tokyo: Art, Colonialism and Entangled Histories

25–26 June 2020

Venue: Academyhills, 49F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Tokyo
Organisers: Mori Art Museum and Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational
In collaboration with the Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia University

It is a great pleasure to announce that the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational are jointly organising a symposium entitled From Alexandria to Tokyo: Art, Colonialism and Entangled Histories in June 2020.

The symposium aims to decentre present-day debates on art and colonialism. While European colonialism and imperialism have become important themes in contemporary museum and academic discourses and exhibition practices, artistic perspectives on non-European colonialism and experiences of domination remain relatively understudied. This is the case despite the complex creations and legacies that these experiences have and continue to generate. Moreover, little comparative analysis has been done in this regard, especially as pertains to art. The symposium therefore aims to shed light on the multiplicity of colonialisms spanning from North Africa to East Asia and their role in the relational constitution of the modern world. In particular, it seeks to explore art and artist focused case studies that examine undisciplined histories, memory building and the conflicting, multivalent narratives these have generated.

The pressures of post-war and post-independence reconstructions and nation buildings have long concealed the complex and contested relationships between artistic connections and exchanges and the workings of domination and inequality. The symposium will thus question whether the formation of avant-garde artistic networks connected at an international level can be separated from the hierarchical conditions under which colonial connections were formed. Secondly, it will assess how the re-evaluation of colonialism raises a challenge as much to Eurocentric art histories as to nationalist ones, which have arguably contributed in drawing new separatist and exclusionary lines.

Papers that address the following themes through the perspective of art-based practices are particularly encouraged:

  • The legacies of non-European colonialism, especially pertaining to Japan, Russia and Central Asia, the USA and the Philippines, and the Ottoman Empire
  • The politics of memorialisation in art, exhibition making and museology
  • Pan-Asianism, non-aligned movement and anti-colonial struggles
  • Art and activism in post-colonial conditions
  • The representation of cosmopolitan port cities, for example present-day Alexandria, Beirut, Izmir (Smyrna), Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Shanghai
  • Comparative perspectives with North American/European colonialisms
  • Indigenous art practices
  • Art and the representation of new forms of colonialism and domination on ethnic and/or religious minorities today


Hayashi Michio, Professor, Sophia University
Kataoka Mami, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum
Christian Kravagna, Professor, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art (Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational), Tate
Devika Singh, Curator, International Art, Tate

We invite scholars and practitioners working on relevant topics to submit a 250-word (English) or a 500-letter (Japanese) abstract, along with a 2-page CV in English or Japanese to htrc.transnational@tate.org.uk and tatexmori@mori.art.museum by Friday 6 December 2019.

Papers can be delivered in English or Japanese only. Selected speakers will be notified by mid-January 2020. They will be provided with an economy/standard, return plane ticket (to/from Tokyo), lunch and dinner on both symposium days (25–26 June 2020) and a modest honorarium. Accommodation is not covered by the organisers but logistical assistance can be provided upon request.

For enquiries, please email: tatexmori@mori.art.museum

These posts provide curators and researchers with the opportunity to remain within the region they are working in and carry out field research in relevant areas for Tate.

The Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational is seeking to appoint an Adjunct Curator

Caribbean Diasporic Art

The Adjunct Curator will be an experienced curator or researcher of international art with in-depth, specialist knowledge on Anglophone Caribbean art and British artists of Caribbean heritage. They will provide expertise for Tate while remaining within a relevant location.

The Adjunct Curator will reflect Tate’s existing acquisition strategy and future programming priorities and promote debates and discussions on the subject within and beyond Tate. In particular, the postholder will support research towards and around a major exhibition at Tate Britain for 2021 that examines the Caribbean connections in British modern and contemporary art. The postholder will also support the research, acquisition and presentation of British artists of Caribbean descent and art from the Anglophone Caribbean with a transnational outlook.

This post will be held by a curator or researcher with experience and engagement with Caribbean communities, organisations and institutions in Britain or in the Anglophone Caribbean, as evidenced in their writings and/or curatorial projects. A Transnational outlook is important, since a specific regional focus should be considered in a broader historic and intellectual remit.

To fulfil this brief, you will need:

  • Expert knowledge as well as practical and scholarly involvement in subjects relating to Anglophone Caribbean art and British artists of Caribbean heritage in a transnational and contemporary context
  • A track record of publication and research and demonstrable knowledge of the field
  • An established network of contacts, an understanding of the issues surrounding collecting modern and contemporary art for museums
  • Excellent research and writing skills in English, including the capacity to write authoritative texts for specialist readership as well as accessible texts for a general public
  • Demonstrable excellence in verbal communication and presentation and the ability to represent Tate externally

This contract will be offered on a fixed term 2-year part-time freelance contract and will attract a fee of £20,000 per annum.

For further details, please see here​.

How to apply:

Please submit a personal statement of no more than 500 words along with a current CV and a writing sample (publish or unpublished) to: htrc.transnational@tate.org.uk by 6 January 2020.

After a shortlisting process, the final selection of candidates will be invited to an interview.

This programme provides academics and curators with the opportunity to develop their independent research that aligns with Tate’s research interests.

The Travel Grant programme is an annual award for early career scholars and curators to attend the Centre’s symposium.

Applications for this year’s grant are now closed.

Transnational in the Galleries

Dig Deeper

Past events

Integrated within Tate Modern’s Curatorial team, the Centre’s core team work with the wider Curatorial team to lead or contribute to exhibitions, collection displays, acquisitions and public events. The Centre’s core team also work closely with the Learning & Research and Digital departments as well as other colleagues at Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives, to connect Tate with a wide network of peers and academic partners.

The Centre is led by Dr Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art (Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational). Lee has had responsibilities for the research and acquisition of art from the Asia-Pacific region for the Tate collection and previously headed Tate Research Centre: Asia (2012–16). As Exhibitions & Displays Curator at Tate Liverpool she curated several exhibitions and collection displays such as Doug Aitken: The Source and Thresholds. Lee also served as the Commissioner & Curator of the Korean Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale. She recently curated Nam June Paik, which opened at Tate Modern in October 2019 and will tour in Europe, USA and Asia, co-organised by Tate Modern and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Tate Modern has recently appointed two curators, Nabila Abdel Nabi and Devika Singh, who are embedded in Tate Modern’s Curatorial team to carry out acquisition and programme related curatorial work, with a focus on the Centre’s aim of contributing to the development of the ‘transnational’ framework.

Nabila Abdel Nabi is an art historian and curator based in London. She is currently Curator, International Art at Tate. She was previously Associate Curator at The Power Plant, Toronto and prior to that she was Gallery Manager at The Third Line, Dubai. She has worked on solo exhibitions and facilitated new commissions by artists including Hajra Waheed, Vivian Suter, Omar Ba, Emeka Ogboh, Abbas Akhavan, Kapwani Kiwanga, Karla Black, Michael Landy, Kader Attia, Amalia Pica and Jonathas de Andrade, among others. She recently curated the exhibition Hold Everything Dear at The Power Plant, Toronto. She holds an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a BA from the University of Chicago.

Devika Singh is currently Curator, International Art at Tate. Her work focuses on modern and contemporary art and architecture in South Asia and the global history of modernism. Singh was Smuts Research Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies of the University of Cambridge and a fellow at the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris. She holds a PhD from Cambridge and was a visiting fellow at the French Academy at Rome, the Freie Universität and the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. She has published widely in journals and exhibition catalogues. Recent exhibitions curated by Singh include Planetary Planning at Dhaka Art Summit (2018); Gedney in India at CSMVS, Mumbai (2017) and Duke University (2018); and Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2019).

The Centre’s activities are devised and managed by Emma Jones, Research Manager and Rachel Hajek, Research Coordinator.

Adjunct Curators will carry out field research in relevant areas.

Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational have appointed Portia Malatjie as Adjunct Curator, Africa and African Diaspora, and Pablo José Ramirez, Adjunct Curator, First Nation and Indigenous Art.

Portia Malatjie’s research focuses on expressions of African conceptions of blackness – with an emphasis on the sonic and the temporal – in contemporary African artistic practice. At the core of her research is how African spiritual practices, fugitivity, spectrality, and technology are mobilised as modes of black refusal. Portia has curated work by Helen Sebidi, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Yinka Shonibare CBE and Kemang Wa Lehulere. She is working towards a co-curated extensive research and exhibition project that instrumentalises black feminist theory to correct the exclusion of black South African women artists from a broader art history. Portia will soon be taking up a position as Lecturer in Art History and Discourse of Art at the University of Cape Town, where she will be based. She will work closely with the curatorial team at Tate Modern, including Osei Bonsu, Curator, International Art, and with the Africa Acquisitions Committee. Portia has an MA and BA from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and is completing her PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Pablo José Ramirez is a researcher and curator in the field of indigenous contemporary art practices and is based in Guatemala. His work revisits Latin American post-war societies to consider non-western epistemologies, indigeneity and transnationalism. In 2014 he worked alongside Cecilia Fajardo-Hill curating the 19th Bienal de Arte Paiz: Transvisible. He was the recipient of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Independent Curators International 2019 Research Award for Central America and the Caribbean. Among his exhibitions are: The Shores of the World: on communality and interlingual politics, Display, Prague (2018); Guatemala Después, co-curator Sheila c. Johnson Design Centre, Parsons School of Design, New York (2016); This Might be a Place for Hummingbirds, co-curator, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2015). Pablo will work closely with colleagues across the curatorial team at Tate Modern, including Michael Wellen, Curator, International Art and with the Latin America Acquisitions Committee and the North America Acquisitions Committee. He holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Steering Committee

The Centre is guided by Tate’s internal Steering Committee, which consists of Tate-wide directors and senior members of staff with expertise in Tate’s core activities including the collection, displays and exhibitions, research and national and international partnerships. The Steering Committee members input into and steer the Centre’s strategy and output and align our events with Tate’s programmes at all Tate sites: Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.


Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions & Programmes, Tate Modern


Anna Cutler, Director of Learning and Research
Cecile de Cormis, Head of Corporate Development
Ann Gallagher, Director of Collection, British Art
Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art (Europe and Americas)
Clara Kim, The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art (Africa, Asia & Middle East)
Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art (Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational)
Gregor Muir, Director of Collection, International Art, Tate Modern
Judith Nesbitt, Director of National & International Partnerships
Emily Pringle, Head of Research
Charlotte Reeves, Head of Corporate Partnerships
Andrea Schlieker, Director of Exhibitions and Displays, Tate Britain

Advisory Board

The Centre is also supported by an Advisory Board, which consists of external academics working in the field of transnational art history. The role of the Board is to advise and steer the Centre’s strategic direction and to help develop a wider network in academia and artistic communities across the world.


Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern


Professor Oriana Baddeley (University of the Arts London)
Professor Monica Juneja (Heidelberg University)
Professor Christian Kravagna (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu (Princeton University)
Professor Ming Tiampo (Carleton University)

Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational
Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
+44 (0)20 7401 5038

Rachel Hajek, Research Coordinator

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