2022 | Taking Stock: The State of Art History in 21st Century India

Taking Stock: The State of Art History in 21st Century India

Art history in post-independence India shared and was shaped by the anti-colonial logic and disciplinary practices of archaeology, Indology and museology that were put in place during the phase of high nationalism. Moreover, Indian art history has, along with these disciplines been a critical part of the nationalist mission to invent a ‘golden’ Indian past. Despite the anti-colonialist aesthetics of early art historians, it adopted the elitist ideas that privileged ‘high’ art at the expense of folk and other non-elite forms. Since the early 1980s, there has been a significant shift within art history within academic institutions in India and an expansion and diversification of theories and practice of art history. This has been resonant with moves made in art historical thinking in the west as well. Over the last decades, Marxism, feminism, cultural studies, postcolonial theory, queer theory have forced art history to question the art historical canon and its methodologies.


The central thrust of this project is to evaluate the current status of Indian art history as a discipline through an evaluation of the curricula across a range of Indian universities and art-teaching institutions of higher learning. The specific focus on the art history curriculum at this juncture is envisioned as a first step in a project to study the state of the discipline in a wider context; some of the key criteria proposed to investigate further along the way include research publications, doctoral and post graduate dissertations, conferences organized and student progression in departments and institutions where art history is taught. Specifically, the attempt is to look for ways institutions have been able to reposition the traditional art historical objects of study and methodologies by expanding and accommodating critical methods and theoretical approaches of new art history through an investigation into their curriculum.


Taking Stock: The State of Art History in 21st Century India

Date: 17–18 March 2023, 10 am – 5 pm

Venue: Revival Lords Inn, Sayajiganj, Vadodara


To view the programme schedule, click here.

Center for Art and Society, Baroda is an organization researching the relationship of art, its institutions and society with a view to foster academically and socially relevant research. Its mission is to enable cutting edge research in questions of art, society and culture in a way that can contribute to the enrichment of a range of academic disciplines as well as to a just and humane society.