Rebecca VanDiver, assistant professor of history of art, convened a panel entitled “Diasporic Aesthetics: Towards a Definition” at the annual meeting of the Association of Art Historians held April 7-9 at the University of Edinburgh.
Although regularly understood to be the forced dispersal of individuals (often African-descended), in recent years the term ‘Diaspora’ has expanded to include not only the movement and dislocation of bodies, but also objects and ideas.
Resulting from this increased scholarly attention is a range of new applications that broaden the concept’s geographic, topical, and institutional boundaries. These new uses range from the site-specific (e.g. ‘South Asian diaspora’) to the thematic (e.g. ‘queer diasporas’).
In that vein, this panel sought to address new definitions of what might be termed Diasporic aesthetics. The assembled papers considered the impact of Armenian Genocide and its resultant Diaspora on art and architecture, questioned aesthetic strategies deployed by Black British artists and artists working in the former Yugoslav region, and explored Diasporic tropes in the work of single artists and at the most recent Venice Biennale.