Book Projects



PUBLISHER: Manchester University Press
ISBN: 978-1-7849-9254-5 (HARDCOVER)
ISBN: 978-1-5261-3252-9 (PAPERBACK)


Productive failure: Writing queer transnational South Asian art histories


This title sets out to write new transnational South Asian art histories - to make visible histories of artworks that remain marginalised within the discipline of art history. However, this is done through a deliberate 'productive failure' - specifically, by not upholding the strictly genealogical approach that is regularly assumed for South Asian art histories. For instance, one chapter explores the abstract work of Cy Twombly and Natvar Bhavsar. The author also examines 'whiteness', the invisible ground upon which racialized art histories often pivot, as a fraught yet productive site for writing art history. This book also provides original commentary on how queer theory can deconstruct and provide new approaches for writing art history. Overall, this title provides methods for generating art history that acknowledge the complex web of factors within which art history is produced and the different forms of knowledge-production we might count as art history.


Patel’s project calls attention to neglected histories, while simultaneously dismantling the processes of circumscribing identity-based discourses via axiomatic, geographic, and appearance-based methods of determining belonging [...] Throughout the text, Patel demonstrates how imperative it is for scholars to articulate our situatedness, not only for the sake of transparency, but because it enriches cross-cultural, interdisciplinary exchange and highlights issues around cultural translation. Patel’s reworking of the discursive framing of canon formation is a significant intervention not only within South Asian art, but also for art history, visual studies, and conceptions of identity more broadly. Patel’s commitment to transparent, intersectional, hybrid, adaptable, self-reflexive, and critically engaged methods models much-needed interventions into art history, visual studies, and discourses of identity.
— Ace Lehner, Art Journal (Winter 2018)
...advances an original , rigorously self-reflexive, and provocative argument for the formulation of a New South Asian Art History conceived through the lens of queer theory and queer subjectivities
— Margo Machida, Professor Emerita, University of Connecticut
Wide ranging in his historical and methodological investments, Patel is modelling a new kind of art history, notable less for temporal and/or geographical coherence than for its sophisticated critical approach.
— Jonathan D. Katz, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Patel is a person through whose eyes one learns to see anew with one’s own.
— Donald Preziosi, Distinguished Research Professor and Professor Emeritus, UCLA
In his provocative engagement with queer subjectivities, Patel’s intervention does not only create new potentialities for the study of South Asian Art, but he also proposes an urgently needed reimagining of art historical methodology.
— Derek Conrad Murray, Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, UC Santa Cruz



(in progress)

PUBLICATION DATE: expected 2022

photo caption: Jacek J. Kolasiński, Creole Archive, 2015-19


Transregional Entanglements: Sexual Artistic Geographies (working title)

Alpesh Kantilal Patel

Since the mid-2000s, scholars have written a plethora of transnational, global, and world art histories that have systematically begun to reimagine art history beyond Euro-America. Since roughly the same period, art historians have addressed the heteronormativity of art histories by incorporating lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) subjectivities. However, there has not been any appreciable overlap between these two important developments in the discipline. Indeed, my own first book, Productive Failure: Writing Transnational South Asian Art Histories (Manchester University Press, 2018), incorporated LGBTQ perspectives into transnational South Asian art histories, but still focused primarily on the US and the UK. An LGBTQ transnational art history not focused exclusively on Western European and American contexts has yet to materialize. This monograph provisionally entitled “Transregional Entanglements: Sexual Artistic Geographies” addresses the gap in the extant literature. I will draw on Martinican-born poet and theoretician Édouard Glissant’s (1997) compelling writings on creolization to theorize my approach to this book project. “Transregional Entanglements” aims to offer an alternative to the way in which global art histories and LGBTQI art histories are being conceptualized. This book also acts as an antidote to the resurgence of toxic (and often white, male, and heteronormative) nationalism around the world.


Alpesh Yasmeen - lg.jpg

(in progress)

PUBLICATION DATE: expected 2021
PUBLISHER: Intellect
DETAILS: contributions by 35-40 artists, curators, art historians, and archivists are expected.

This anthology will become part of the Living and Sustaining a Creative Life series, edited by Sharon Louden & published by Intellect.


Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Storytellers of Art’s Histories (working title)

co-Editors: Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Yasmeen Siddiqui

We invoke “art history” in the title given its ongoing usage in pedagogy but at the same time in its broadest sense. Since at least the 1980s, there has been a deluge of art historical knowledge in the art world being produced in academia and in the curatorial and education departments of museums and non-profit spaces. However, there has been little synthesis of the wide-ranging material being produced--perhaps because of an aversion to creating canons. This anthology focuses on how the discipline of art history can no longer be confined to the rarified world of academia. It brings together first-person narratives not only of art historians but also curators, artists, educators, and archivists--who are based in various countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia. The book argues that all of these kinds of practitioners already impact the construction of art’s histories but there has been no serious reflection to date on how their work comes together productively to write and teach art history. Of special interest is animating the sometimes-vexed relationship between the fairly new field of curatorial studies and the much older field of art history. 

Storytellers of Art’s Histories is distinguished by its effort to transparently perform the mechanics of storytelling as animated in art history. Our commitment to an inter-generational, non-hierarchical approach among the five knowledge-producers (art historian, curator, artist, educator and archivist) that organize the book aims to upend the field’s caste system and open the field up for exploration by a broader base of future practitioners than is usually understood and accepted as possible among undergraduate students looking for fruitful areas of study and work.