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”Contemporary Indian Aesthetics: Decolonizing, Comparative and Cosmopolitan Perspectives” by Moore Visiting Fellow Kanchana Mahadevan

July 3, 2019 @ 6:00 pm


July 3, 2019
6:00 pm


Tom Duddy Seminar Room
Philosophy Department Morrisroe House
Distillery Road,


Gerald Cipriani,


ABSTRACT:   The Kochi Biennale editions since 2012 or India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019 are ample testimonies to the themes of decolonization, comparative aesthetics and cosmopolitanism in contemporary Indian art practice.  Ananda Coomaraswamy and K.C. Bhattacharyya conceptualized these themes in the early twentieth century.   Their differences notwithstanding, they argued for the necessity of decolonization in situating the Indian art object in a nationalist context,.  However, they also endorsed cosmopolitanism through their critical and comparative re-reading of classical Indian aesthetic tradition with reference to its Western counterpart.  Their interventions pose several questions: How does one read Coomaraswamy’s and Bhattacharya’s claims for a phenomenology of the Indian art object?  Can indigenous art that emerges through an engagement with a foreign tradition be distinct?  How does one negotiate conflicting hermeneutics of tradition? Is the identity of ‘Indian’ art related to cosmopolitanism?  This paper will engage with these questions, which continue to be relevant to contemporary Indian art practice.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:   Kanchana Mahadevan Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Mumbai is at present Fellow at the Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway.