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

The Dhaka Art Summit, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) at Cornell University, and Asia Art Archive, with support from the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative, launched Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia (MAHASSA) in 2019. The research project brought together leading international faculty and emerging scholars to investigate parallel and intersecting developments in the art histories of the three regions. Following panels organised by Asia Art Archive in America and ICM at Cornell, this panel invites Carlos Quijon, Jr., Dipti Sherchan, Marian Nur Goni, and Taushif Kara, four of the participants, to present on their research, which range from the transmutation of Muslim Khoja architecture across the Indian Ocean and pan-African collection-building in the postcolonial period, to the politics of representation in Nepal and the recent exhibition histories of Southeast Asia. The panel will be moderated by Sanjukta Sunderason.

Carlos Quijon, Jr. is an art historian, curator, and critic. His criticism and writings have appeared in Artforum, MoMA’s post, Asia Art Archive's IDEAS Journal, and Trans Asia Photography Review, among others. In 2017, he was a research resident at the MMCA Seoul and a fellow of the Transcuratorial Academy both in Berlin and Mumbai. He curated Courses of Action in Hong Kong (2019), A will for prolific disclosures in Manila (2020), and co-curated Minor Infelicities in Seoul (2020). He is completing an MA in Art Theory and Criticism at the University of the Philippines.

Dipti Sherchan is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She explores the intersections of ethnography and art history to critically examine cultural politics, histories, and encounters in South Asia. In particular, she looks at the cultural politics of institutions such as art schools, museums, and galleries in Nepal as spaces where knowledge and counter-knowledge about the nation are actively produced and reproduced. 

Marian Nur Goni is a historian whose work revolves particularly around collections’ histories in and from East Africa, often examined through a diasporic focus, raising questions about the writing of history and processes of heritage-making. Marian currently conducts research on the collection of Joseph Murumbi in Nairobi in the frame of Pan-African debates around material culture, museum and restitution issues from the 1950s to the 1970s. She holds a PhD in history/art history from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris.

Taushif Kara is a Research Fellow at the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. His doctoral research focuses on the intellectual history and migration of the diasporic Khoja community in South Asia and East Africa. He is also interested in the relationship of ideas to aesthetics in the postcolonial world, especially architecture. He has lectured on Muslim political thought at SOAS, and is currently a producer at Interventions, the intellectual history podcast.

Sanjukta Sunderason is Assistant Professor at University of Leiden. Starting February 2021, she will be Senior Assistant Professor in History of Art at the University of Amsterdam. Her research expands on her interest in the aesthetics of decolonisation by looking at post-partition visual art across India, West and East Pakistan during the 1950s–60s, alongside simultaneous transnational formations of Third World cultural solidarities. Her book, Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India’s Long Decolonization, was published in 2020 by Stanford University Press.

 

Image: MAHASSA group visiting Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban/National Parliament House, Dhaka, 2020. Courtesy of Nurur Khan.
Image: MAHASSA group visiting Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban/National Parliament House, Dhaka, 2020. Courtesy of Nurur Khan.

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