The Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) at Cornell University, Dhaka Art Summit and Asia Art Archive, with support from the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative, launch a new research project, Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia. The project brings together a team of leading international faculty and emerging scholars to investigate parallel and intersecting developments in the cultural histories of modern Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Shaped by shared institutional and intellectual developments that are closely related, these regions are marked by similar experiences during the twentieth century. These include the rise of modern art practices associated with the withdrawal of colonialism and the consolidation of nationalism, the founding of institutions such as the art school and the museum, and increasing exchange with international metropolitan centres via travel and the movement of ideas through publications and exhibitions. Viewing this in terms of statist and national art histories obscures their analysis in a comparative framework. By contrast, this programme emphasises a connected and contextualised approach to better understand both common developments as well as divergent trajectories.

The curriculum will cover both core concepts and emerging perspectives from postcolonial, decolonial, transnational, transcultural, and global discourses, with seminar topics that range from art and social difference, creolisation, exhibition histories, postcolonial nationalisms, media and popular culture, multiple modernisms, pedagogy, and transnational networks, among others. Participants will actively engage in the sessions as experts in their own respective disciplines. By presenting two papers during the course of the programme, early career scholars will be encouraged to pursue their research informed by the theoretical and art historical contexts of this project.

By integrating presentations by participants with core faculty lectures, the programme is envisioned as a reciprocal process of learning exchange. Presentations may also take place at universities in Hong Kong and Bangladesh, as well as at the Dhaka Art Summit. Field trips such as collection, museum, and modernist architecture visits and guest lectures will be organised during both the Hong Kong and Dhaka sessions. With the goal of optimising the impact of in-person workshops, virtual meetings will be held in advance of and following the respective Hong Kong and Dhaka sessions.

Emerging scholars from and with connections to Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia currently enrolled in a graduate programme in Art History, Architectural History, or Cultural Studies, or who have finished their graduate training in these fields during the last three years are encouraged to apply.

Travel and accommodation expenses will be fully covered. Participants must commit to attending both the Hong Kong and Dhaka sessions for the full duration: Hong Kong from 11–22 August 2019; and Dhaka from 5–16 February 2020; with additional distance-learning sessions to be held digitally during 2019 and the first half of 2020.

  1. To apply, please submit a single PDF document with:Your name, email address, institutional affiliation, and postal address.
  2. A statement (500–700 words), outlining the nature of your current work, its involvement with the modern art history of Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and what you believe you could gain through your participation in this programme.
  3. A two-page CV, including a selection of your most relevant publications or research projects.
  4. Two letters of recommendation.

Please email the documents specified above as a single document to by Thursday, 28 February 2019. Please list your name (last name, first name) in the subject line of the email. File name of the attachment should be LASTNAME-FIRSTNAME.PDF (your last name and first name respectively).


Preference will be given to applicants based in East Africa, North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Selection of the participants will be made based on the recommendations of the project team, comprised of Project Leader Dr Iftikhar Dadi (Cornell University); Guest Faculty: Dr Elizabeth Giorgis (Addis Ababa University), Dr Salah Hassan (Cornell University), Dr Simon Soon (University of Malaya), Dr Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Leiden), Dr Ming Tiampo (Carleton University); Organisers Amara Antilla (Solomon R Guggenheim Museum) and Diana Campbell Betancourt (Dhaka Art Summit); and the Asia Art Archive team led by John Tain (AAA Head of Research) with researchers Dr Sneha Ragavan, Dr Chương-Đài Võ, and Michelle Wong.

We aim to notify applicants of the outcomes by mid-March 2019. Dhaka Art Summit will facilitate visas to Bangladesh for accepted applicants.


Programme Partners:


Relevant content

Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia

Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia

Hong Kong: 12–21 August 2019
Dhaka: 6–15 February 2020

Screening and Talk | Chungking Global

Screening and Talk | Chungking Global

Sat, 17 Aug 2019, 11 AM – 1:30 PM

Curating Place: A Conversation across Complex Geographies

Curating Place: A Conversation across Complex Geographies

Mon, 19 Aug 2019, 7 – 9 PM