In the name of racial justice


Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts is hosting a conversation with art historian and assistant professor at Northwestern University, Thadeus Dowad, on ‘Disfiguring or Refiguring?: the pasts and futures of public statues’ on August 5, 5 p.m. on Zoom.

A PhD candidate in the history of art department at the University of California, Berkeley, Dowad is currently a Paul Mellon Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) in Washington, DC and a visiting fellow at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) in Paris. A scholar of both European and Ottoman art of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Dowad’s research takes a transregional approach that redresses the historiographic separation of European and Islamic artistic traditions in order to understand their co-evolutions in the age of European empire.

The upcoming conversation, the 11th episode of the ListenIN series, is in line with what is happening in recent weeks, where activists across the West have torn down or defaced public monuments in the name of racial justice. Works of art that once memorialised historical figures known for their active roles in preserving slavery and other forms of racialised violence have transformed overnight into sites of protest and destruction.

While such cultural artefacts are permanent reminders of the exploitation and marginalisation of non-white peoples in Western societies, how can we understand such acts of erasure and dissent from an art-historical perspective? How might these actions re-invigorate, rather than negate, the meaning and value of these monuments?

The discussion will assess why acts of public intervention are important for art historians, why iconoclasm could be seen as a creative process, and the many ways that destruction has always been a part of the

history of art itself. (Zoom Live , August 5, 2020, 5 p.m.  Registration required: