AAAS/HISTART 2101 - Introduction to African Art & Archaeology

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Some of the questions we will investigate in this course: Is there a difference between African and Western ideas about art? Is there such a thing as ‘African’ art, or is that too general? What role does art play in today’s cultures of Africa? How useful are the categories of ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ when discussing African cultures?  How did so much African art end up in western museums and private collections? Why do we see so many artistic traditions around the world that were influenced by African art?

In this course we will explore a variety of African art forms and learn about the cultures that produce them. The course provides a historical survey as well as a thematic overview of the artistic cultures of the African continent and the African Diaspora. Emphasizing cultural diversity and complexity, we will explore the arts of a wide range of African peoples, from precolonial civilizations until contemporary times. In addition, the various artistic traditions of the African Diaspora are explored in light of their connections to the African continent. We will also examine the collection and study of African art in the Global North, as well as the history of its display in museums, and the current debate around the issue of the restitution of these collections.

Professor Sarah Van Beurden

Wednesdays and Fridays; 2:20 - 4:40 | Class #35890