In considering Kobena Mercer's four-volume edited series Annotating Art's Histories (2004–8), Eddie Chambers sets out to critique the often unspoken but nevertheless hegemonic and complicated racial hierarchies that exist across many of the country's universities, with particular reference to the teaching of art history. Chambers explores why certain subjects or disciplines must, apparently, have their content racially signified by prefixes, such as African American art, African diaspora art, and so on, while supposedly more elevated disciplines within art history are allowed to exist in largely racially unfettered contexts, or contexts in which the racial dimension is coded, presumed, and understood. For example, how is it that the study of American art of the nineteenth or twentieth century can be taught with no reference whatsoever to ethnic diversity? Such pathologies presuppose the marginality of black artists. Similarly, must this marginality be attended to only by the provision of separate faculty and separate curricula that have the study of black artists at their core?
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Eddie Chambers; The Difficulties of Naming White Things. Small Axe 1 July 2012; 16 (2 (38)): 186–197. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-1665623
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