South and Southeast Asian Art
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2012
M.Phil., Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, 2003
M.A., Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, 2002
B.A., University of Calcutta, Kolkata, 2000
Trained in both history (Presidency College; Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) and art history (Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda; University of Minnesota), Sugata Ray’s research focuses on the intersections among early modern and colonial artistic cultures, transterritorial ecologies, and the natural environment. His first book, Climate Change and the Art of Devotion: Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550–1850 (Global South Asia Series, University of Washington Press, 2019), examined the interrelationship between matter and life in shaping creative practices in the Hindu pilgrimage site of Braj during the ecocatastrophes of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1550–1850). As an extension of his interest in the field of eco art history, Ray has coedited Ecologies, Aesthetics, and Histories of Art (2019; with Gerhard Wolf and Hannah Baader, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut) and Water Histories of South Asia: The Materiality of Liquescence (2018; with Venugopal Maddipati, Ambedkar University, Delhi).
Sugata Ray’s current book project, provisionally titled Matter, Material, Materiality: Indian Ocean Art Histories in the Early Modern World, focuses on the global trade in exotica, natural resources, and luxury objects that shaped ecocultural perceptions of the Indian Ocean in the early modern period. In the past, Ray has published essays on theories of collecting and archiving, postcolonial theory, and methodologies for a global art history in journals such as Art History and The Art Bulletin. His 2016 essay on the collecting of Islamic art in the United States was awarded the Historians of Islamic Art Association’s Margaret B. Ševčenko Prize. Ray has recently guest edited a special issue of Ars Orientalis (2018) on translations, terminologies, and global art history.
Sugata Ray’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Social Science Research Council, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin, the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin and Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the Hellman Family Fund, and the College Art Association’s Meiss Publication Fund. He has spoken internationally on climate change and the visual arts and delivered keynotes at conferences, museums, and nonprofit organizations on eco art history.
Affiliated with the Institute for South Asia Studies and the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, Sugata Ray teaches courses on South and Southeast Asian art, as well as thematic seminars on global early modern art, eco art history, theories of collecting and archiving, postcolonial theory, and methodologies for a global art history. His doctoral students are currently working on a range of topics including the global histories of Rajput painting, exchanges between Southeast Asia and the Americas in the early modern period, and maritime networks in the Indian Ocean region. Ray welcomes undergraduate and graduate students interested in early modern and colonial South and Southeast Asian art and architecture.
“Introduction: Translation as Art History,” in “Translations and Terminologies: Global Art History at the 2016 Beijing CIHA Conference,” ed. Sugata Ray, special issue, Ars Orientalis 48 (2018): 1–19.
“Hydroaesthetics in the Little Ice Age: Theology, Artistic Cultures, and Environmental Transformation in Early Modern Braj, ca. 1560–70,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 40, no. 1 (March 2017): 1–23. Video abstract from Taylor & Francis.
“Ecomoral Aesthetics at the Vishram Ghat, Mathura: Three Ways of Seeing a River,” in Water Design: Environment and Histories, edited by Jutta Jain-Neubauer, 58–69. Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2016.
“Postcolonialism,” in The Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by John M. MacKenzie, 1–3. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.
“Shangri La: The Archive-Museum and the Spatial Topologies of Islamic Art History,” in Rethinking Place in South Asian and Islamic Art, 1500–Present, edited by Deborah S. Hutton and Rebecca M. Brown, 163–83. New York: Routledge, 2016. (Revised version of “Shangri La: The Archive-Museum and the Spatial Topologies of Islamic Art History,” Shangri La Working Papers in Islamic Art 7 (August 2014): 1–17.)
Essay awarded the Historians of Islamic Art Association’s Margaret B. Ševčenko Prize, 2014.
“The ‘Effeminate’ Buddha, the Yogic Male Body, and the Ecologies of Art History in Colonial India,” Art History 38, no. 5 (November 2015): 916–39.
“Colonial Frames, ‘Native’ Claims: The Jaipur Economic and Industrial Museum,” The Art Bulletin 96, no. 2 (July 2014): 196–212.
“Is Art History Global? Responding from the Margins,” in Is Art History Global? edited by James Elkins, 348–57. New York: Routledge, 2007 (with Atreyee Gupta).
Select Non-Refereed Writing and Media
“From Landscape to Land: Eco Aesthetics as Decolonial Imaginaire in Tulkarm,” 28 Magazine 12 (2018): 40–51. [Published in Arabic] (download as pdf)
“Would the Peepal Marry?” TAKE on India: Ecology 3, no. 1 (January 2017): 31–33.
Love across the Global South: Popular Cinema Cultures of India and Senegal, Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, University of California, Berkeley, 2017–18. (Co-curator).
(processing) – Bay Area Artists and the Archive, Worth Ryder Art Gallery, Berkeley, 2015.
“Whose Religion? Whose Speech? Whose Freedom?” TraFo-Beiträge zur transregionalen Forschung, Max Weber Stiftung, 2014.