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Call for papers on African Art Historiography

22 June 2012


The Journal of Art Historiography Special Issue on African Art

The Journal of Art Historiography, a peer reviewed journal (, is interested in producing a special issue on African art.  The discursive practice of African art history is at a crucial juncture, in which rising interest in African art from a global perspective intersects with a possible fragmentation of the field into divergent disciplines each with its own focus. The historiography of African visual arts itself confronts an cross-disciplinary problem identified by Journal of Art Historiography as a concern that “contemporary scholarship will forget its earlier legacy and neglect the urgency and rigour with which those early debate were conducted. The journal is therefore committed to studying art historical scholarship, in its institutional and conceptual foundations, from the past to the present in all areas and all periods”.

African art history is particularly in need of historiographical examination, given the increasing distance between early scholarship and contemporary discourses. The last significant historiography of the field was carried out by the venerable Monni Adams in a classical essay titled “African Visual Arts from an Art Historical Perspective” (African Studies Review, 32/2, 1989: 55-103), which formed a two part overview of African Studies published in the journal, the other written by Paula Ben Amos. Although the journal African Arts has engaged the issue of African art’s discourse in various presentations in the journal to date, the kind of comprehensive analysis carried out by Monni Adams has largely been absent and is in dire need of being updated, given how much has happened in the field in the two and half decades since the article was published.

The Journal of Historiography’s special issue on African arts therefore provides a unique opportunity to revisit the history of art writing on the subject of African visual culture and create a critical dialogue between various generations of African art historians, which will ideally allow foundational research and writing to be subjected to contemporary knowledge practices. It also provides opportunity to theorize the relationships between Africa and its Diasporas, which serves to locate African art within global discourses in all contexts of its practice.

I have been asked to serve as guest editor this proposed issue and I will like to invite proposals for articles on the subject and suggestions for important texts and documents that might be included. Previous editions of the journal can be viewed on its website ( for guidance on the Journal of Art Historiography’s focus and submission guidelines.

Proposals should be no more than 400 words long and are due July 15, 2012. Completed articles (4000-12,000 words inclusive of notes) are due October 30, 2012. Previously published and articles that engage the historiography of African art in discursive contexts outside the Anglophone world are welcome and relevant articles will be translated.

Please send proposals and suggestions to:

Prof. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie

Guest Editor, Journal of Art Historiography Special Issue on African art
Prof. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie
Editor, Critical Interventions
History of Art & Architecture
2720 Ellison Bldg
University of California
Santa Barbara, California 93106-7080


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