MSUToday
Published: May 17, 2017

Art, art history, and design professor receives Humboldt Research Fellowship

Karin Zitzewitz, associate professor of art history and visual culture, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, an award that gives scholars from around the world the opportunity to travel to Germany for extended periods of time to do research. 

As part of the fellowship, Zitzewitz will learn to speak German and will spend the upcoming academic year at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where she will work on her next book, which focuses on the rapid formal and institutional changes in contemporary art in India and Pakistan from 1991 to 2008, or the period from the liberalization of the Indian economy to the global financial crisis.

It will be among the first books on Indian and Pakistani contemporary art published by an academic press in the United States.  

“The field of contemporary Indian art research in the United States is extremely new, offering an unusual opportunity for truly groundbreaking scholarship and to provide a strong foundation for further research,” Zitzewitz said. “The book I propose to write during the fellowship will be a substantial contribution to my primary fields of South Asian modern art history and South Asian studies, particularly because its transnational focus is so unusual in those fields.” 

Zitzewitz is ultimately interested in figuring out ways for people to understand this period of art, both in its own terms and in terms that enlarge the conversation about modern and contemporary art in general.

“The idea is not to create a separate stream of Asian contemporary art studies, but to think about the way that both modern and contemporary art have always been about the kind of movement of artists and art ideas around the world on equal footing,” Zitzewitz said. 

This will be Zitzewitz’s second book. The first, The Art of Secularism: The Cultural Politics of Modernist Art in Contemporary India, was published in 2014 and tracks how the rise of Hindu nationalist politics affected the practices of four modernist artists and the character of art world spaces.

The Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies has played a crucial role in building the field in Europe and is one of the leading places in Germany to study the relationship between Asia and Europe.

“I am absolutely delighted to have this opportunity and to be able to build a relationship with the center at Heidelberg because it’s not just about the project; it’s also about developing partnerships and having the exposure to colleagues in Europe,” Zitzewitz said. “I’m also grateful to have the support of the college and my colleagues in the department, allowing me to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Under the Humboldt Fellowship, Zitzewitz will travel to Germany in August and stay through June 2018.

Karin Zitzewitz, associate professor of art history and visual culture.

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