Undergraduate Seminar: Saying “No” to Imperialism, Visualizing Freedom
Monday | 9:00 - 12:00pm
This seminar investigates the role art played, and continues to play, in anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles. It also examines how such struggles, in turn, shape artistic languages and forms.
In the 19th century, anti-colonial movements were underway across South and Southeast Asia. Dutch-occupied Indonesia engaged in a guerrilla-style revolution. India fought the first war of independence against the British. Insurrections broke out in Spanish-controlled Philippines. In such struggles for freedom, the visual arts assumed an important role. For that which could not be spoken in words could be alluded to in visual representation. We will begin in the 19th century. Then, moving through the 20th century, we will trace theories and practices of anti-imperialism articulated by artists and intellectuals across South and Southeast Asia. Case studies will include Vietnamese guerrilla artists who participated in the Vietnam War, Socialist artists in India, and art produced under the shadows of the Khmer Rouge. Finally, we will examine contemporary resistances to state-sponsored repression and censorship by artists’ groups such as the New Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective and Ho Chi Minh City-based Propeller Group. We will juxtapose the South and Southeast Asian story with interconnected movements that unfolded across Asia, for example dissident art in China, graffiti art in Hong Kong, and underground performance art by non-conformist collectives in post-Soviet Central Asia.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (B) and Chronological period (III), depending on the topic of the final research paper or project.