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Art History and its Global Provinces

Leon Wainwright
Department of History of Art and Design, Manchester Metropolitan University

Adele Tan
Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London

Despite attempts in art history to establish a more global understanding of art and its histories, it remains to be asked why the discipline has persisted with certain paradigms of division and difference. Dipesh Chakrabarty's suggestion that there is an underlying supposition in world history which 'makes it possible to identify certain elements in the present as "anachronistic"', now lays the basis for a challenge to reflect on art history's continuing attachment to reputedly 'leading' metropolitan centres, and 'belated' peripheries. How might art history avoid narrating according to spatio-temporal schemes that order the world into 'provinces'?

Exploring the intersecting themes of provincialism and anachronism, this panel will assess initiatives for problematising the global divisions of art history. We welcome descriptive as well as prescriptive papers that explore the first-person experience of writing art history; contributions that face the concrete challenges of the extant field in terms of its provincialisms; papers that examine the global hegemonies and 'inclusionism' of art history and its adjacent spaces of art practice, curating and public remembrance; and papers that tackle psychoanalytical questions about the difficulties of writing about the 'provinces'. We are particularly interested in papers that seek to explain why the turn toward diaspora, migration, exile and other postcolonial themes has failed to deliver a fresh framework for thinking about art history in any specifically global, or inter- or transnational way. Could an understanding of the global contexts of art history emerge without a provincial baggage tag?