Black Internationalist Movements and the Material World, 1850 to Recent Times

From the mid-nineteenth century through the contemporary moment, Black populations living in Africa, the Americas, and other diasporas have led significant socio-cultural and political movements, including but not limited to the Harlem Renaissance, Black Panther and Civil Rights Movement, anti-colonial freedom struggles in Africa, and Black Lives Matter. Material and visual culture has been at the forefront of these efforts. In fact, different aesthetic practices and theories emerged alongside varying yet impactful modes of visual and material production, including double/Black consciousness, Pan-Africanism, Black Power, Negritude, Afropolitanism, and Afrofuturism, to name a few examples. Black Internationalism is one of many framings to explore the vast visual and material worlds that Black populations across the globe developed in response to conditions of slavery, colonial rule, social injustice, and incarceration in order to imagine futures of independence and self-determination. This course invites students to explore these socio-cultural movements and their various acts of community building, worldmaking, and solidarity as well as the various forms of visual and material culture they involve, including portraiture, photo books, pamphlets, posters, zines, printmaking, and architectural designs. Students will engage in the critical reading of seminal texts as well as explore histories of art-making and activism through object analysis and exhibition histories. We will visit archival depositories and cultural institutions throughout New York City to learn how different artists, art professionals, and archivists envision and sustain such histories for future generations through object display and preservation. 3 credits.