CfP: Modernity and Modernism in South Asian Art (c. 1880-1947), The 11th International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), Leiden 16-19 July 2019

Regina Hoefer's picture
Call for Papers
September 26, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Area Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Asian History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies

Dear Colleagues,


We are organizing a panel to be presented at ICAS in Leiden, 16-19 July 2019 ( and we are looking for expressions of interests and abstracts from 6-8 speakers. If you wish to participate, please send an abstract of max. 250 words and a brief CV (max. 1 page) including your affiliation and contact details to Dr. des. Regina Höfer, and Dr. Isabella Nardi,


We are also planning to publish accepted papers in a special volume of Transcultural Perspectives (E-Journal on Visual and Art History:


Deadline for sending your abstract is Wed., 26 September 2018. Acceptance of the panel will be notified by mid-December 2018.


Please, circulate widely and forward this email to anyone who might be interested.


Best wishes,


Regina Hoefer and Isabella Nardi




“Modernity and Modernism in South Asian Art (c. 1880-1947)”



Regina Hoefer

(Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut, Berlin, email:

Isabella Nardi

(Independent scholar, Italy, email:


Mainstream art history research on the modern period in South Asia is narrowly focused on a selection of practices, media and contexts, such as Raja Ravi Varma’s oil paintings and the critical responses to this artist’s adoption of academic realism by the Bengal School and the Modernist Movement in Calcutta at the beginning of the 20th century. This field is also characterized by a devaluation of hybrid colonial art forms and by a marginalization of traditional art practices that appropriate or adapt Western techniques and visual vocabularies.


The objective of this panel is to provide – without preconceived biases – a comprehensive assessment of the diverse visual scenarios that emerged in South Asia in the period from the 1880s up to the independence of India in 1947. We seek to expand current art historical debates and notions by encouraging new conversations that reconfigure our understanding of South Asian art practices as well as histories intertwined with Europe. This includes the expansion of the focus of art historical debates beyond dominant genres, contexts and narratives to examine a variety of practices characterized by innovation, experimentation and exchange within local, transregional or transnational contexts; to include art histories of geographical areas previously marginalized by mainstream discourses, such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan; to pose new theoretical questions which challenge received notions regarding the study of the period under examination.


Presentations can explore any type of art production, including painting, photography, architecture, sculpture, prints, material culture, or concentrate on the specific contribution of artists, architects or art studios. We also invite proposals that address critical and theoretical issues, such as patronage, ideologies, aesthetics, and historiography. Art historians as well as scholars specializing in areas outside art history are asked to participate. Keeping in mind the 1880-1947 time frame, topics of interest can include – but are not limited to – the following:


  • Modernism in South Asia (in Bengal and beyond); assessment of the contribution of specific artists;
  • Pre-independence court art (e.g. late Rajput court painting, arts of the South Indian courts, Sikh art); its appropriation of techniques from the Colony/Europe or vice versa;   
  • Colonial/European and Indian interactions (e.g. ‘photographic’ miniature paintings, Indo-Saracenic architecture);
  • Marginalized art practices and practitioners (e.g. the painters of Nathdwara, ‘bazaar’ or ‘calendar’ art); critiques of their ostracization from past and current art history debates;  
  • British Art Schools in the subcontinent; South Asian artists in Europe;  
  • Decolonizing art history (e.g. challenging the “Westerness” of photography);
  • Nationalism and art on the subcontinent;  
  • Collection and exhibition history (e.g. colonial art institutions and their impact on the study of South Asian art)



Contact Info: 

Dr. des. Regina Höfer, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut, Berlin:

Dr. Isabella Nardi, independent scholar, Italy: