Art History and Identity


In the first year of this workshop, we considered the role identity has come to play in the history, theory, and practice of the discipline of art history. Our questions 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 included

Mark CheethamUniversity of Toronto and Clark Fellow
Whitney DavisNorthwestern University and Getty Scholar
Amelia JonesUniversity of Southern California
Michael LejaUniversity of Delaware and Clark Fellow
Kobena MercerMiddlesex University
Partha MitterUniversity of Sussex and Getty Scholar
Margaret OlinSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago
Ruth B. PhillipsMuseum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia
Griselda PollockUniversity of Leeds
Todd PorterfieldIndependent Scholar and Clark Fellow
Gary ShapiroUniversity of Richmond and Clark Fellow
Catherine SoussloffUniversity of California, Santa Cruz
David SummersUniversity of Virginia