Creolising Queer Transnational South Asian Art Histories

Association of Art Historians (UK) Annual Conference, 2017

As part of the “Art History as Créolité/Creolizing Art History,”organized & chaired by alpesh kantilal Patel

Loughborough University

Leicestershire, England
April 6-8, 2017

Speakers included: Jane Chin Davidson, Nicola Foster, Harper Montgomery, Jacek J. Kolasiński, and Alpesh Kantilal Patel.


Creolizationdemands that constructions of art history move away from that to which they have been historically tied: bloodlines and the nation. In addition, moving beyond kinship means moving beyond heteronormativity. While a creolizing approach makes visible queer transnational South Asian art histories beyond fixed notions of identity/genealogy, this does not imply that those histories chiefly concerned with artwork by artists who are queer-identified and of South Asian descent are retrograde. Rather, creolization demands a deeply relational and nonhierarchical approach to art histories, genealogical and otherwise. In this paper, I am interested in creolizing art histories that are ‘both multiple and One, and inextricable’. The latter is Glissant’s explanation of ‘globality’ as distinct from the neo-imperialism of ‘globalisation’. Per Glissant’s logic, while these histories are multiple they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Following Glissant’s logic, strands of the multiple often intertwine and overlap and thereby cohere collectively around – but never quite approximate – the ‘One’, in this case a singular queer transnational South Asian art history. To this end, I will consider artworks by artists who are white, of South Asian descent, and of African descent—and who are and art not queer-identified--to be seen in one frame: not as equivalents but as entangled.