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Rupert Arrowsmith at Chanmyay Yeiktha Monastery, Hmawbi, Myanmar, in 2013
Dr Rupert Arrowsmith is a UK-based international author and Art Historian specializing in visual art, literature, and religious mythology at a global level. A generalist by choice in a world of ever-increasing academic specialism, Rupert has published broadly on historical relationships between world civilizations disparate in space and time, and has a special interest in museums as locations where conversations between cultures are able to take place. He is an enthusiastic proponent of philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah’s concept of Cosmopolitanism, which understands culture production not in terms of its regional or intercultural dissonances, but holistically, as a universal activity that connects humanity together rather than dividing it.
Rupert holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford (Christ Church) and has published two well-reviewed books with Oxford University Press (see Writing), as well as numerous substantial articles in The Times Literary Supplement, The Burlington Magazine, Modernism/Modernity, and various other peer-reviewed journals. He is himself a peer-reviewer for Oxford University Press and for the journal Studies in the Novel.
Originally from Cornwall, England, Rupert has spent most of his life living, teaching, and writing in Southern and Eastern Asia, including Myanmar, India, China, Japan, and Singapore. He lived for a total of eleven years in Myanmar, first under the military regime and subsequently during the brief period of democratic rule (1998-2002, and 2013-2020), researching Buddhist and spiritist sculpture and anthropology, and in later years preparing The Face of the Buddha for publication.
Rupert maintains a lifelong interest in human spirituality and spiritual practices, especially with regard to varieties of mindfulness meditation. He has twice been ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk, most recently taking a vow of silence and isolating himself for ninety days at a forest retreat in Myanmar. He has written about his monastic experiences for CNN, and has described them in a USA Today documentary.
Rupert is frequently invited to conferences and literary festivals to perform readings and give lectures, and has appeared at events in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Japan, and the USA. He was invited to open the national literature festival of Bhutan in 2015 with a reading of his poem ‘The Way to Bhutan’ (see Writing), and gave the keynote address and closing speech at the international museology conference Historical Monuments and Modern Society at Shanghai University in 2018. He is a trustee of the Irrawaddy Literary Festival, and has held fellowships at The London University School of Advanced Study and at University College London.
Rupert has had a long career as an educator and has tutored and given courses of lectures in World Art History at Oxford, London University SOAS, and at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, where he was Visiting Professor of Asian Art from 2011 to 2015. He has also tutored in World Literature, Museum Studies, European Art History, and Twentieth Century Poetry and Poetics at SOAS and Oxford.
Rupert Arrowsmith in May 2022