Wednesday, September 27, 2023 - 4:00pm
Loria Hall 351 (190 York Street)
A lecture by Sugata Ray, University of California, Berkeley.
From New Spain to Mughal India: Rethinking Early Modern Animal Studies with a Turkey, ca. 1612
We now stand face to face with the Sixth Extinction, the most devastating mass extinction event in the past sixty-six million years. How might art history, which has conventionally taken works produced by the human species as its archive and locus of analysis, respond to this crisis? Might a renewed attention to human-animal relations alter art history’s speciesist bias? And what might such an art history look like? Taking a ca. 1612 painting of the North American turkey—a bird that was introduced in the Indian Ocean World through European ecological imperialism in the Americas—by the Mughal artist Mansur as a point of departure, this talk narrates a history of art that perceives visual representations of the natural world, not merely as a technique to colonize and specimenize nonhuman life but as an outcome of interspecies relations in the early modern period. The aim is to obfuscate Enlightenment species boundaries to make way for a porous art history in which the other—animal or otherwise—dwells in difference.