Productive failure

Writing queer transnational South Asian art histories

By Alpesh Kantilal Patel

Productive failure
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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9254-5
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: RRP £80.00, NOW £16.00
  • Published Date: June 2017
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Gender studies, gender groups, Ethnic Studies, The arts / History of art / art & design styles, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Religion: General, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies, The arts / Films, cinema, ART / Asian, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Society & social sciences / Violence in society, Gender studies, gender groups, Ethnic studies, Asia, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society, Art History, Social & cultural anthropology, History of art, RELIGION / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
  • Series: Rethinking Art's Histories


This title sets out to write new transnational South Asian art histories - to make visible histories of artworks that remain marginalised within the discipline of art history. However, this is done through a deliberate 'productive failure' - specifically, by not upholding the strictly genealogical approach that is regularly assumed for South Asian art histories. For instance, one chapter explores the abstract work of Cy Twombly and Natvar Bhavsar. The author examines 'whiteness', the invisible ground upon which racialized art histories often pivot, as a fraught yet productive site for writing art history. This book also provides original commentary on how queer theory can deconstruct and provide new approaches for writing art history. Overall, this title provides methods for generating art history that acknowledge the complex web of factors within which art history is produced and the different forms of knowledge-production we might count as art history.


'.advances an original , rigorously self-reflexive, and provocative argument for the formulation of a New South Asian Art History conceived through the lens of queer theory and queer subjectivities.'
Margo Machida, Professor Emerita, University of Connecticut

'Wide ranging in his historical and methodological investments, Patel is modelling a new kind of art history, notable less for temporal and/or geographical coherence than for its sophisticated critical approach.'
Jonathan D. Katz, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY

'Patel is a person through whose eyes one learns to see anew with one's own.'
Donald Preziosi, Distinguished Research Professor and Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles

'In his provocative engagement with queer subjectivities, Patel's intervention does not only create new potentialities for the study of South Asian Art, but he also proposes an urgently needed reimagining of art historical methodology.'
Derek Conrad Murray, Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, University of California, Santa Cruz


Alpesh Kantilal Patel is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at Florida International University, Miami


1 Introduction: Towards creolising transnational South Asian art histories
2 Authorship: Anish Kapoor as British/Asian/artist
3 Form: queer zen
4 Subject matter: writing as a racial pharmakon
5 Space/site: writing queer feminist transnational South Asian art histories
6 'Practice-led': producing art, producing art history
7 Affect: belonging
Afterword: Toward writing indigenous transnational South Asian art histories

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