Art History in India and Its Discontents in Global Times / Malaise de l’histoire de l’art en Inde à l’ère de la mondialisation

Par Parul Dave-Mukherji, professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi, India

18 juin 2014 – 18h30
Galerie Colbert
Salle Giorgio Vasari
entrée libre


6 rue des Petits-Champs ou 2, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris


Dans le cadre du programme « Arts et mondialisation »

What becomes of art history when the world shrinks into a planet?  Globalization has posed a challenge as much to Eurocentric art histories in the west as to nationalist art histories in India. How does one evolve a narrative for Indian art when the logic of the narrative itself is at stake?  Drawing from current debates about the impact of globalization on art history and art writing, I will assess their relevance for Indian art history and art practice. I will examine how cultural studies turn that helped widen the constituency of art objects  via an anthropological understanding of art and how this paved the way for New art history in India and finally for visual studies in its wake.

This paper will also explore the relationship between contemporary art practice and the critical tools of art history via the political and argue for a closer sync between the two as contemporary art with its experiments with temporality and spatiality, more in tune with globalized times,  has much to offer to art history and visual studies. The anthropological turn has also made us relook at art historiography and its two axis of mapping art practice through time and space. Is there a shift from the “when” to the “where” of art in contemporary art historiography and what does it say about the state of art history in India?


Parul Dave-Mukherji  is professor and former dean (2006-2013) at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She holds a PhD in Indology from Oxford University where she worked on a critical edition of The Citrasutra of the Visnudharmottara Purana (Motital Banarsidass, New Delhi, 2002). Earlier, she taught at the Department of Art History and Aesthetics, Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University in Baroda. From 2002, she became the co-convener of the Forum on Contemporary Theory and co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary Thought. She has lectured in India, Europe, China, USA, Australia, Turkey, South Korea and Japan (and has been elected as the Delegate at Large representing India on the Executive Council of the International Association of Aesthetics). As a recipient of the British Academy award, 2011, she was affiliated with Goldsmiths College, London to conduct research on globalization and Art Theory.

She is a member of the College Art Association, USA and on executive committee of International Association of Aesthetics (2002-2010); editorial board of Journal of World Art (East Anglia University); Journal of Contemporary Thought (India); and International Journal of Visual Culture (USA).

Her publications include Towards A New Art History: Studies in Indian Art (co-edited), New Delhi, 2003; “Putting the World in a Book: How Global Can Art History Be Today,” in Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence, ed. J Anderson, Melbourne, 2009. Her recent publications include “The Making of Sakuntala: The Erotica and the Paradox of Representation” in Revisiting Abhijananasakuntalam: Love, Lineage and Language in Kalidasa’s Nataka, eds. Saswati Sengupta and Deepika Tandon, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2011; “Popular Festivals, Populist Visual Culture and Modi Masks” in Democratic culture: historical and philosophical essays, ed. Akeel Bilgrami, New Delhi: Routledge, 2011; InFlux- Contemporary Art in Asia, (co-edited) New Delhi, Sage, 2013; “Art History and Its Discontents in Global Times” in Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn, eds. Jill H Cassid and Aruna D’Souza, Massachusetts: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2014.

Her forthcoming publications include an ASA volume Arts and Aesthetics in a Globalizing World, co-edited with Ramindar Kaur, London: Bloomsbury, 2014; 20th Century Indian Art, coedited with Partha Mitter and Rakhee Balaram, Skira, 2015; “Entangled Temporality: Contemporary Indian Artists and Their Retakes on the “Golden” Age in In the Shadow of the Golden Age:  Art and Identity in Asia from Gandhara to the Modern Age, ed. Julia Hegewald, Berlin: E B Verlag.

As a recipient of the Clark fellowship (September-December 2014), she will work on Anukrtivada or theory of performative mimesis found in a 10th century CE Sanskrit commentary, Abhinavabharati by Abhinavagupta , which was overlooked  by nationalist art historians for its alleged affinity with Greek theory of mimesis.

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