detail of a map of the Caribbean from the JCB Library

Social/Global Working Group

The Social/Global Working Group is an internal forum for faculty discussion around the question of how the highly culture-specific social history of art—one of the major disciplinary turning points of the last forty years—has been problematized, rendered obsolete as a distinctive intellectual position or, conversely, might be vitalized by or indeed vital to the global turn. Our questions include: how do the two paradigms speak to one another, if, indeed, they do? Is the social history of art still a useful idea and, if so, how might it be augmented or expanded by new ideas that have emerged with the global turn? What does a critical art history look like that is informed by both?

The group centres on the challenge of writing and teaching art history that is rooted politically, economically, and socially but that can take account of global movement, displacement, hybridity, interconnectedness, and simultaneity across different geographical sites etc. Simply put, our subject is the social history of art after the global turn. We start by mining the Institute’s own intellectual history.

A Chart of the Caribe Islands, London, c. 1675 (John Carter Brown Library)