Anti-Racism & Art History

Background reading

Last updated 1 July 2020

GUStA is working to develop a list of readings and resources to respond to the following questions: 

  • How do we confront the presence of colonial violence, white supremacy, and racism in famous artworks, art movements, and the practice of art history?
  • How do citational practices tie in to a decolonization project? How do we reflect on and implement changes in our citational footprint?
  • How do we promote anti-racist scholarship?
  • How do we decentre Western perspectives in the canon?
  • How do we disrupt the replication of an art historical canon that is predominantly white and male?

This list of background reading and resources was collected to encourage current scholars and students of art history to reflect on the state of the academy and the field of art history in North America, and to critically confront the tradition of whiteness in our scholarly practice. This list is produced in response to the worldwide call for solidarity and action against anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism that began in May 2020, and accordingly, focus on these issues. We encourage feedback on, and suggestions on the expansion of, this list. This list will soon be made available as a working google doc for feedback and editing.

Contents:

  • Systemic racism and positionality in academia and art history
  • Decolonization and indigenization
  • Anti-Blackness and white supremacy
  • Race and representation in art history, cultural studies, visual culture
  • Whiteness in galleries, libraries, archives & museums (GLAM)
  • Postcolonial perspectives on Eurocentricity/Western canon
  • Race & racism in art and art history in Canada
  • Race, architecture & the built environment

Systemic racism and positionality in academia and art history

Ahmed, Sara. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Intellectual Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. Available through UTL.

FitzPatrick Sifford, Elena, and Ananda Cohen-Aponte. “A Call to Action.” Art Journal 78, no. 4 (October 2, 2019): 118–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/00043249.2019.1684113.

Grant, Catherine, and Dorothy Price. “Decolonizing Art History.” Art History 43, no. 1 (February 2020): 8–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.12490.

hooks, bell. “Loving Blackness as Political Resistance.” In Black Looks: Race and Representation, 9–20. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992. PDF in Google Drive.

Joyce, Rosemary A. “Girling the Girl and Boying the Boy: The Production of Adulthood in Ancient Mesoamerica.” World Archaeology 31, no. 3 (2000): 473–83. https://www.jstor.org/stable/125113.

Melaku, Tsedale M., and Angie Beeman. “Academia Isn’t a Safe Haven for Conversations About Race and Racism.” Harvard Business Review, June 25, 2020. https://hbr.org/2020/06/academia-isnt-a-safe-haven-for-conversations-about-race.

Niemann, Yolanda Flores. “The Social Ecology of Tokenism in Higher Education,” Peace Review 28, no. 4 (October 1, 2016): 451–58, https://doi.org/10.1080/10402659.2016.1237098

Todd, Zoe. “Métis Storytelling across Time and Space: Situating the Personal and Academic Self between Homelands.” In Activating the Heart: Storytelling, Knowledge Sharing and Relationship, edited by Julia Christensen, Christopher Cox, and Lisa Szabo-Jones, 153–70. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018. Available through UTL.

Tourse, Robbie W. C., Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, and Nancy J. Wewiorski. “The Infrastructure of Racism: The Institutional Dimensions.” In Systemic Racism in the United States, 79–99. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-72233-7_6.

“White Supremacy Culture: Characteristics,” Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), accessed June 26, 2020, https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/white-supremacy-culture-characteristics.html. From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001.

Wright, Handel Kashope. “Positioning Blackness, Necessarily, Awkwardly, in the Canadian Academy.” Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (blog), September 3, 2019. https://www.idees-ideas.ca/blogue/positioning-blackness-necessarily-awkwardly-canadian-academy.

Wu Hung. “Locations of Comparison: Some Personal Observations.” In Comparativism in Art History, edited by Jaś Elsner, 31–41. London: Routledge, 2017. Available through UTL.

Wylie, A. “Good Science, Bad Science or Science as Usual? Feminist Critiques of Science.” In Women in Human Evolution, edited by Lori D. Hager, 29–55. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Decolonization and indigenization

Coulthard, Glen Sean. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Foreword by Taiaiake Alfred. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. Available through UTL.

Griffith, Jane. “Settler Colonial Archives: Some Canadian Contexts.” Settler Colonial Studies 9, no. 3 (July 3, 2019): 320–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/2201473X.2018.1454699.

Simpson, Audra. “Whither Settler Colonialism?” Settler Colonial Studies 6, no. 4 (October 2016): 438–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/2201473X.2015.1124427.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books, 2012 (2nd edition).

Todd, Zoe. “Indigenizing the Anthropocene.” In Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, edited by Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, 241–54. Open Humanities Press, 2015. Book available as a free PDF.

Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012). https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/18630

Anti-Blackness and white supremacy

Dancy, T. Elon, Kirsten T. Edwards, and James Earl Davis. “Historically White Universities and Plantation Politics: Anti-Blackness and Higher Education in the Black Lives Matter Era.” Urban Education 53, no. 2 (February 1, 2018): 176–95. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085918754328.

Franklin, Maria. “A Black Feminist-Inspired Archaeology?:” Journal of Social Archaeology, August 11, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1177/146960530100100108.

Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, edited by Jonathan Rutherford, 222–37. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1990. Link to PDF.

hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992. PDF in Google Drive.

Sharpe, Christina Elizabeth. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016. Read the introduction.

Wright, Handel Kashope. “Positioning Blackness, Necessarily, Awkwardly, in the Canadian Academy.” Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (blog), September 3, 2019. https://www.idees-ideas.ca/blogue/positioning-blackness-necessarily-awkwardly-canadian-academy.

Race and representation in art history, cultural studies, visual culture

Fowler, Chris. “From Identity and Material Culture to Personhood and Materiality.” In The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies, edited by Dan Hicks and Mary C. Beaudry, Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199218714.013.0015.

Hager, Lori D., ed. Women in Human Evolution. London: Routledge, 1997.

Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, edited by Jonathan Rutherford, 222–37. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1990. Link to PDF.

Hall, Stuart, Julia Evans, and Sean Nixon, eds. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. 2d ed. London: Open University, 1997.

Harris, Michael D. Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Pinder, Kymberly N. Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History. New York: Routledge, 2002. Available through UTL.

Stam, Robert, and Louise Spence. “Colonialism, Racism, and Representation: An Introduction.” Screen 24.2 (1983): 2–20.

Whiteness in galleries, libraries, archives & museums (GLAM)

Berger, Maurice. “Are Art Museums Racist?” Art in America 78 (1990): 68–77. PDF in Google Drive.

Cairns, Puawai. “‘Museums Are Dangerous Places’ – Challenging History.” Te Papa’s Blog: Museum of New Zealand, October 19, 2018. https://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2018/10/19/museums-are-dangerous-places-challenging-history/.

Griffith, Jane. “Settler Colonial Archives: Some Canadian Contexts.” Settler Colonial Studies 9, no. 3 (July 3, 2019): 320–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/2201473X.2018.1454699.

Jensen, Robert. “The Myth of the Neutral Professional.” In Questioning Library Neutrality: Essays from Progressive Librarian, edited by Alison M. Lewis, 89–96. Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press, 2008. Link to PDF from Progressive Librarian.

Luker, Trish. “Decolonising Archives: Indigenous Challenges to Record Keeping in ‘Reconciling’ Settler Colonial States.” Australian Feminist Studies 32, no. 91–92 (April 3, 2017): 108–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/08164649.2017.1357011.

Sentance, Nathan. “Maker Unknown and the Decentring First Nations People.” Archival Decolonist [-o-] (blog), July 21, 2017. https://archivaldecolonist.com/2017/07/21/maker-unknown-and-the-decentring-first-nations-people/.

Postcolonial perspectives on Eurocentricity/Western canon

Bhabha, K. Homi. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. London and New York: Penguin, 1978.

Shalem, Avinoam. “Dangerous Claims: On the ‘Othering’ of Islamic Art History and How It Operates within Global Art History.” Kritische Berichte: Zeitschrift Für Kunst- Und Kulturwissenschaften 2 (2012): 69–86.

Shohat, Ella, and Robert Stam. Unthinking Eurocentrism. London: Routledge, 1994. Available through UTL.

Spivak, Gayatri. “Can the Subaltern Speak? Speculations on Widow Sacrifice.” Wedge (Winter/Spring 1985): 120–130.

Voss, Barbara L. “Domesticating Imperialism: Sexual Politics and the Archaeology of Empire.” American Anthropologist 110, no. 2 (2008): 191–203. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27563982.

Wu Hung. “Locations of Comparison: Some Personal Observations.” In Comparativism in Art History, edited by Jaś Elsner, 31–41. London: Routledge, 2017. Available through UTL.

Race & racism in art and art history in Canada

Dawn, Leslie Allan. National Visions, National Blindness: Canadian Art and Identities in the 1920s. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006.

Gagnon, Monika. Other Conundrums: Race, Culture, and Canadian Art. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2000.

Nelson, Charmaine, and Camille A. Nelson. Racism, Eh?: A Critical Interdisciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada. Concord, ON: Captus Press, 2004. 

Nelson, Charmaine. Towards an African Canadian Art History: Art, Memory, and Resistance. Concord, ON: Captus Press, 2019.

Nelson, Charmaine. Ebony Roots, Northern Soil: Perspectives on Blackness in Canada. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010. 

Race, architecture & the built environment

Barton, Craig Evan, ed. Sites of Memory: Perspectives on Architecture and Race. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.

Lokko, Lesley Naa Norle. White Papers, Black Marks: Architecture, Race, Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

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