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Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Since the 1980s, the discourse of art has undergone considerable transformation, the result of a rethinking of the purpose, range, and object of art, and the challenge of a number of academic fields, such as cultural and visual studies, film and gender studies, and, hardly least, postcolonial studies. These have both expanded the scope and fractured some conventional verities, in a way related to and shaped by contemporary artistic practice. This essay cannot begin to detail a “postcolonial turn” in art and visual studies, but will be devoted to three fundamental nodes within it. The kinds of issues foregrounded by postcolonial studies – about race, identity, nation, etc. – are fundamental matters in the visual arts, though perhaps less examined than they might be due to the basic conservatism demanded by what is often the market-based audience of large-scale visual productions. Even so, the postcolonial has given audiences, curators, and scholars of art terms of reference to begin to articulate these issues, and to see art anew. Although art study and artmaking today often work with a localized terminology (as “the art of Southeast Asia,” “the art of Latin America,” etc.), another older structure inheres of what are today more loaded and judgmental terms based on the Western standpoint looking beyond itself. These terms – “Orientalism,” “Exoticism,” and “Primitivism” – are both ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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