Art History and Identity

 2000 - 2001

In the workshops' first year, we considered the role identity has come to play in the history, theory, and practice of the discipline of art history. Questions considered included: Has identity politics shed light on the practices of artists and historians, or has it only allowed contemporary concerns to alter the nature of research? Have concerns about identity challenged traditional art history, or have they had little effect outside "minority" and "theoretical" spheres? Even within those spheres, how have concerns about historical context and semiotic patterns intersected with research questions that emphasize subjectivity and identity? How should the position of the artist and the art historian be regarded in contemporary historical and theoretical work? Is it possible to talk about identity in the arts without invoking essentialisms, even if one uses terms like "subject positions" and "performance"? Do different kinds of identity (national, religious, ethnic, gendered, political) create different sets of interpretive problems?

Participants for 2000 - 2001 included Mark Cheetham (University of Toronto and Clark Fellow), Whitney Davis (Northwestern University and Getty Scholar), Amelia Jones (University of Southern California), Michael Leja (University of Delaware and Clark Fellow), Kobena Mercer (Middlesex University), Partha Mitter (University of Sussex and Getty Scholar), Margaret Olin (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Ruth Phillips (Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia), Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Todd Porterfield (independent scholar and Clark Fellow), Gary Shapiro (University of Richmond and Clark Fellow), Catherine Soussloff (University of California, Santa Cruz), and David Summers (University of Virginia).