SUBALTERN RISING: Racialization and Visual Culture in the Wake of Independence

Chairs: José Esteban Muñoz, New York University; Erica Agyeman, independent curator

The years 2012 and 2013 mark fifty years of independence for dozens of former colonies across the globe. This panel is dedicated to the consideration of art and other forms of expressive culture at the moment of historical transition, especially as it was evident in the reconfigured racialization of citizens, economies, geographies, and political systems.

Stamps commemorating Jamaican Independence

Commissioned public monuments and state architecture; redrawn cities, renamed streets and public spaces; and the establishment of cultural institutions—including national museums and libraries—were acts of autonomy in newly independent nations. How was the burst of creativity among artists producing work for the state, reorganized marketplaces and other commercial venues, performance, and national pageants inevitably informed by the preceding colonial order? Which post-colonial strategies reflect symbolic and stylistic borrowings from the language of European modernism in general? How do these mid-twentieth century breaks from colonial and imperial rule influence subsequent visual and cultural programs?


  • Sandra Ruiz, University of Illinois, Strategic Ricanness: The Colonial Man of Tomorrow

  • Erica Agyeman, independent curator, Nigeria’s Independence House: Anxiety and Promise

  • Annie Paul, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, Recharting Art Import/Export Routes in India: The Kochi-Muziris Biennale

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