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Ph.D., Yale University
Professor Anna Arabindan-Kesson is an assistant professor of African American and Black Diasporic art with a joint appointment in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Born in Sri Lanka, she completed undergraduate degrees in New Zealand and Australia, and worked as a Registered Nurse in the UK before completing her PhD in African American Studies and Art History at Yale University.
Professor Arabindan-Kesson's research and teaching focus on Black Diaspora Art, with an emphasis on histories of race, empire, and medicine in the long 19th century. She also has interests in British, South Asian and Australian art. Her first book Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World, is available from Duke University Press. She is also writing a book, supported by an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, with Professor Mia Bagneris (Tulane University) called Beyond Recovery: Reframing the Dialogues of Nineteenth-Century Black Diaspora Art. Her second monograph is called An Empire State of Mind: Plantation Imaginaries, Colonial Medicine and Ways of Seeing. She is the director of Art Hx, a digital humanities project and object database that addresses the intersections of art, race and medicine in the British empire. She is currently a Visiting Fellow, Center for The Study of Social Difference, Columbia University and a 2021 Center for Digital Humanities Data Fellow at Princeton University. Professor Arabindan-Kesson is a board member of several arts organisations, continues to curate exhibitions and works closely with contemporary artists internationally.
In her teaching, Professor Arabindan-Kesson is committed to expanding and amplifying the spaces, and narratives, of art history. Her courses include survey classes on African American and Caribbean Art, and more specialized undergraduate and graduate seminars such as Seeing to Remember: Representing Slavery Across the Black Atlantic and Art of the British Empire(link is external) and Pathologies of Difference: Art, Race and Medicine in the British Empire
- Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton and Commerce in the Atlantic World, Duke University Press, 2021
- Barkley L. Hendricks: Photography. 1st ed. Milan: Skira editore, 2021
- “From Poetry to Paint: Robert S Duncanson and the Song of Hiawatha for Ursula Frohner (ed), Intermediality: New Perspectives in American Art, Terra Foundation of American Art Essay Series (Spring 2022)
- “The Viral and The Virus: Representations of Parangi in Colonial Sri Lanka” in Ars Orientalis vol 51, "The Graphic Art of Reproduction"
- ‘Sutapa Biswas and the Space of Diaspora’, Sutapa Biswas: Lumen, edited by Amy Tobin. Cambridge and Gateshead: Kettle’s Yard and BALTIC, 2021: pp. 11-22.
- “Seeing Empire” in Panorama: Journal of the Association of American Art, Bully Pulpit, Summer 2020
- “Caribbean Absences in African American Art History” in Eddie Chambers (ed) Routledge Companion to African American Art, (Routledge Press, New York, 2019)
- “What is Tamil For Loss? Remembering the Sri Lankan Civil War” Warscapes, May 2019
- “The Impermanence of Place: Migration, Memory and Memoir” in Deborah Willis, Ellyn Toscao and Kalia Books (ed), Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History, (Openbook Publishers, New York, 2018)