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Lecture | MENA Cultures and Global Aesthetics Roundtable

Partisan Aesthetics: A Book Roundtable with Sanjukta Sunderason

Date
Tuesday 20 April 2021
Time
Location
This is an online event. Please register below to receive the link to the roundtable.

Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India’s Long Decolonization explores art's entanglements with histories of war, famine, mass politics, and displacements that marked late-colonial and postcolonial India. Introducing "partisan aesthetics" as a conceptual grid, the book identifies ways in which art became political through interactions with left-wing activism during the 1940s, and the afterlives of such interactions in post-independence India. Using an archive of artists and artist collectives working in Calcutta from these decades, Sanjukta Sunderason argues that artists became political not only as reporters, organizers and cadre of India's Communist Party, or socialist fellow travelers, but through shifting modes of political participations and dissociations.

Unmooring questions of Indian modernism from its hitherto dominant harnesses to national or global affiliations, Sunderason activates, instead, distinctly locational histories that refract transnational currents. She analyzes largely unknown and dispersed archives—drawings, diaries, posters, periodicals, and pamphlets, alongside paintings and prints—and insists that art as archive is foundational to understanding modern art's socialist affiliations during India's long decolonization. By bringing together expanding fields of South Asian art, global modernisms, and Third World cultures, Partisan Aesthetics generates a new narrative that combines political history of Indian modernism, social history of postcolonial cultural criticism, and intellectual history of decolonization.

LUCIS book roundtable

On 20 April, Dr. Sunderason will give a presentation about her book and a selection of artists and their works discussed. A selection of readers will give their responses to the book in a roundtable discussion. A virtual reception will be held afterwards in Wonder Room, to which all participants are invited.

About Sanjukta Sunderason

Until recently, Sanjukta Sunderason was Assistant Professor in South Asian Studies at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. She is a historian of twentieth-century aesthetics, working with the interfaces of visual art and political thought. She is interested in particular in the ways in which art reflects and reframes struggles, imaginations, and dialogues around twentieth-century decolonization. Since February 2021 she has been Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Amsterdam.

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