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Transculturalism proposes an approach to contemporary Asian art practices that addresses the conditions defining the modern experience of Asian artists living and working outside of their home countries. It is a term derived from the word transculturation, which describes the process of adjustment and re-creation that arises from the convergence of different cultures. The term became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a period defined by major social changes wrought by globalization, increased mobility and ethnic intermingling that affected local community networks in both home and host countries, and also an upsurge in interest paid to contemporary art in and out of Asian countries.

Cuban anthropologist and humanist Fernando Ortiz (1881–1969) developed the concept of transculturalism in the 1940s, when he coined the term transculturation in a pioneering description of Afro-Cuban culture (Contrapunto cubano del tabaco y el azúcar, 1947). Ortiz devised the term to counter the notion of acculturation introduced by the British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (...