History of Art


Tomás Harris Lecture: Sanjukta Sunderason 1 - 'Art as Archives of Decolonial Liberation'

16 May 2023, 6:00 pm–8:30 pm

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This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Tamar Garb – History of Art


Roberts Building
G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming LT
Gower St
United Kingdom

Aesthetics of Decolonization: Thinking from 20th-century South Asia

How can we conceptualise relations between the historical time and artistic forms of 20th-century decolonization? What might the nodes, scales, and archives of such conceptualization be? What does thinking via ‘aesthetics of decolonization’ bring to such an exercise? And what indeed are its methods? In a set of two talks, I will draw out these questions from the scales of South Asian artistic imagination (1940s-1980s), rather than provide conclusive answers. I will explore two key themes in the two talks:

The first talk, “Art as archives of decolonial liberation” will focus on the 1970 sketchbook of the East Pakistani/Bangladeshi artist Zainul Abedin. It will explore the genre of combat imagery – of struggle, resistance, displaced living – that lies scattered across multiple sites of decolonial movements in the 1960s and the 1970s – and read together reveal new scales for understanding decolonial liberation.

Lecture: Roberts Building, G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming LT (18:00-19:00)
Reception: South Cloisters (19:00-20:30)


About the Speaker

Sanjukta Sunderason

Historian of 20th-century aesthetics at University of Amsterdam

Sanjukta Sunderason is a historian of 20th-century aesthetics, working on the interfaces of visual art, (left-wing/socialist) political thought, and historical transition during 20th-century decolonization in South Asia and across transnational formations in the Global South. She is the author of Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India’s Long Decolonization (Stanford University Press, 2020) and co-editor (with Lotte Hoek, University of Edinburgh) of Forms of the Left in Postcolonial South Asia: Aesthetics, Networks, and Connected Histories (Bloomsbury, 2021). Her writings have appeared across multiple peer-reviewed journals including Third Text, British Art Studies, South Asian Studies, etc. She is currently working on a second monograph on transnational conceptualizations of art and liberation across 20th-century decolonization, thinking from the locational scales of South Asia. Sanjukta is based the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where is Senior Lecturer (UD1) in Art History at the University of Amsterdam. She is part of the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, and coordinator of the research group Decolonial Meridians: Arts-Histories-Theories. She lectures and supervises broadly across themes of aesthetics and decolonization, global modernisms, trans-disciplinary cultural theory, postcolonial and decolonial thought.

More about Sanjukta Sunderason