Contemporary African Art in Global Entanglement: Neo-colonialism, Western Patronage, and the Postcolonial Paradox

Contemporary African Art in Global Entanglement: Neo-colonialism, Western Patronage, and the Postcolonial Paradox

Vernon Press
United States
Takes place
From - Until
28.04.2023 -
Connections Redaktion, Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig

Vernon Press invites book chapters for a forthcoming edited volume on the subject of “Contemporary African Art in Global Entanglement: Neo-colonialism, Western Patronage, and the Postcolonial Paradox.”

Contemporary African Art in Global Entanglement: Neo-colonialism, Western Patronage, and the Postcolonial Paradox

Like classical African art, the global visibility of contemporary African art is essentially the result of Euro-American patronage and publicity, revealing a unique entanglement. Africa remains in a complicated, compromising, and beneficial relationship with the global north, influencing all aspects of the continent’s existence and culture, including art. Global capitalism and the flooding of cheap second-hand goods and waste to Africa; Western art market monopoly, technological advancement, Chinafication - the new benevolent imperialism, and advanced gender de-hegemonizing dialogues against patriarchy give form and meaning to African art and material culture today. Recent debates on restitution and repatriation further highlight shades of this complex interconnectedness in historical and modern temporalities. With this global entanglement and what the Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano calls patrón de poder colonial (the colonial matrix of power) still inspiring and dominating African artistic production and scholarship, it calls for new approaches to the continent’s art narratives, history, marketing, and the question of decoloniality. What does decoloniality mean in the face of globalization? How do we navigate the postcolonial paradox? How do we equilibrate the lopsided art market dominated by Europe, America, and recently China to centrally position Africa in determining the value of African arts? How do we shift the geography of knowledge generation, as Walter Mignolo prescribes, when the global north controls the narratives of African art and material culture through patronage? With monetized African galleries serving as conduits for transferring artworks to the global north for profit, how do we promote African art scholarship in Africa? Most significantly, should we still rely on the ambiguous and narrow conception of rejecting global north epistemologies in the name of decoloniality? Or instead, critically engage Ruth Simbao’s theory of Strategic Southerness and Ramon Grosfoguel’s Relative Exteriority as new frameworks to reflect on the realities of current transcontinental entanglements that continue to shape contemporary African art and scholarship?

This edited volume examines the position of contemporary African artistic practices, history, and scholarship within global and transcontinental networks - beneficial or otherwise. It seeks to publish chapters with unique takes on African arts and visual culture that explore the implications of global entanglement on the continent’s creative practice. Particularly chapters that interrogate issues of patronage, museology, restitution, gender inequality in African art history, the politics of gallery presentation/representation, contemporary themes in African artistic expressions, and the global art market economy exposing these complex entanglements. We welcome contributions from Africans in Africa and the diaspora, as well as non-African Africanists, that address one or two of the following areas and other topics related to the volume’s theme:
- The impact of North American and European patronage on contemporary African art practice and scholarship.
- Global art market monopoly and the valuation of African art.
- Critique of galleries in Africa.
- African art history - decolonization, de-westernization, and the postcolonial paradox.
- Historical and contemporary analysis of the African art market.
- Restitution and entangled universalism
- The influence of global capitalism on contemporary African art themes and genres.
- Ethical frameworks for north-south collaborations to rethink African art scholarship.
- Rethinking African art history, theory and training through Strategic Southerness and Relative Exteriority.
- Recontextualizing the future of classical African art in contemporary ethnographic museums in Europe and America.

Please send the under-listed items as a single document to with the following:
- An extended abstract outlining your chapter’s conceptual core – 500 words.
- A short biography(s) – 200 words.
- A one-page reference list.

Proposal submission deadline: June 15, 2023

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