Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Art History

Department or School/College

School of Art

Committee Chair

Dr. Hipolito Rafael Chacon

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Valerie Hedquist

Commitee Members

Dr. G.G. Weix, Julia Galloway


Art History, Eurocentrism, World Art Studies, Cartography, Plurality


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Theory and Criticism


As the discipline of art history becomes increasingly global, the prevalence of European systems of thought and the supremacy of European systems of value in the way that we record, synthesize, teach, and preserve history have become increasingly apparent. This primacy of European systems of value, what we may call Eurocentrism, can be reduced to a problem of singularity: the belief in a single canon, a single timeline, or a single hegemonic center. Taking as subject; the theoretical infrastructure of the discipline itself, the Eurocentrism that has shaped it, and the past twenty years of postcolonial discourse, this paper seeks to perform a kind of exorcism: extracting the conceptual effects of the Geist from art history and reconstructing our approach to the discipline around an engagement of pluralities and a methodology we might call cartography.

The first part of this paper, entitled The Geist in the Woodwork: The Construction and Persistence of Eurocentric Methodologies, will look backward at some of the key figures in the development of art history, as identified by Vernon Hyde Minor and Laurie Schneider Adams in their texts: Art History’s History and The Methodologies of Art (respectively), and trace the ways in which these historians and philosophers established and/or enforced Eurocentric concepts or systems within the foundational architecture of art history. The second section of this paper, entitled: Eurocentrism in Action: Cultural Loss at the Intersection of Domination and Ignorance,will address the inextricable connection between art history and colonial violence through its manifestations at the theoretical level: the problem of inter-cultural brokerage by a dominant academic system; the conflation of geography and time; and the tendency of art historians to avoid hybrid case studies or fail to recognize contemporary post-colonial and diasporic artists as authentic or innovative.

. The third section of this paper, entitled: Factions within Factions: Mapping Contemporary Postcolonial Discourse and Strategies,enacts the practice of theoretical cartography by presenting a cursory review of postcolonial criticism in art history over the past twenty years as it coalesces around certain broad themes: the issue of European centrality embedded in the center/periphery model of these discussions; the question of language and the philosophical implications of such basic terms as “art,” “history,” and “conceptualism”; the benefits and dangers of using intersectional case studies as a new critical vehicle; the highly political concerns surrounding material history, preservation, and sovereignty between cultures; and the debate concerning how, or whether, the canon may be adapted to reflect these post-colonial values.The fourth and final section of this paper, Cartography as Pedagogy: Applying World Art Studies, therefore represents my attempt to shift theory into practice and to propose the means by which the methodological practice of Cartography might be applied within the context of curriculum and pedagogy. Here, I will advocate for a stronger emphasis on specialization; for a reconsideration of the role of the survey course in undergraduate curriculum; and for a survey course model that might better serve the values and goals of a World Art Studies.



© Copyright 2017 Aja M. Sherrard