#17   COLOR (Spring 2024)

The question of color has been at the center of artistic debates at least since the seventeenth century, and it has remained a key issue in the historiography of art. What may be at stake in reconsidering color in its historical dimensions now? Recent research on the issue has gone in two directions. On the one hand, color has been studied as a material substance and a technology. Scholars have documented the relation between technological, industrial, and commercial developments and the quality, range, and availability of pigments and colorants available to artists, manufacturers, and consumers. Another approach has focused on the key role of color in the construction of social, racial, and gender hierarchies. Recent scholarship has revealed the intimate connection between aesthetic debates on chroma and the development of the modern discourse of race. Moreover, the eighteenth century’s feminization of color entangled with the notions of make-up and artifice has been reexamined. Clearly, it is no longer viable to think of color in purely aesthetic, ideologically innocent terms.

This issue of Journal18 aims to consider how the current interest in materiality and the matter of art could be harnessed to alter–enrich, complicate, or challenge–our understanding of the historical functions and social and cultural meanings of color in the long eighteenth century. In what ways may the materialist discussion of color as a substance inflect the account of its ideological and discursive functions? What were the new meanings and effects of color as the physical product and sign of growing global trade networks, colonial and slave economies, and expanding empires? How did colored materials­­––pigments, dyes, feathers, shells, minerals––serve as tools of hybridity and a means to delineate cultural difference? Can color’s inherent capacity for infinite nuance offer modern art historians alternative lenses onto to the past? We welcome papers that are attuned to color’s mobility, look beyond Western Europe, and decentralize Euro-centric narratives. We are especially interested in papers that consider the broader methodological questions raised by their subject and seek to develop tools to address the urgent issues posed by color.

Issue Editors
Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Harvard University
Thea Goldring, Harvard University

Proposals for issue #17 Color are now closed.

#18   CRAFT (Fall 2024)

When, where, and why does craft matter?

Craft, by definition, is any activity involving manual skill. But in the modern western world, the term typically implies specific kinds of activities that produce specific kinds of objects: things like baskets, lace, and lacquerware. In a culture that has historically privileged rationality and innovation, craft’s commitment to tradition, reliance on haptic knowledge, and association with marginalized subjects have rendered it the minor counterpart to more “serious” forms of material production. As a subsidiary to art and industry, craft has often occupied a circumscribed role in accounts of modern art and modernity’s origins in the eighteenth century. Recently, however, craft—as a more capacious category of material production—has become a crucial term in efforts to expand and diversify the study of eighteenth-century art.

This special issue builds on recent investigations while considering how craft’s ancillary role within the Anglo-European tradition has limited its capacity to transform the field. Drawing inspiration from the absence of an art/craft divide in many cultures, we are interested in exploring craft’s potential to radically reframe, reconceptualize, and globalize the history of art. By investigating craft, we also aim to shed new light on related questions of value, skill, and creativity in the making of different kinds of objects. We are inspired by recent scholarship that has asked, for example, how the repetitive nature of American schoolgirl samplers challenges celebrations of the individual maker, or how the meaningfully protracted time of wampum-making diverges from industry’s strict calculations of time and labor. Looking at the issue from a different angle, what would be the implications of discussing academic painting and sculpture as forms of craft?

By bringing together a range of studies that critically engage with handwork, we aim to highlight both the distinctive and shared concerns of craft in different making traditions. We welcome proposals for full-length articles as well as shorter pieces that explore new methods of studying craft. Taking advantage of Journal18’s online platform, the latter could take the form of photo essays, videos, interviews, or other formats that grapple with the complexities of documenting, understanding, and communicating craft-based knowledge.

Issue Editors
Jennifer Y. Chuong, Harvard University
Sarah Grandin, Clark Art Institute

Proposals for issue #18 Craft are now closed. 

#19 AFRICA: BEYOND BORDERS (Spring 2025)

Since the dawn of decolonization in 1950s and 1960s Africa, Africanist scholars have emphasized Africa’s connections to the rest of the world before the period of European colonialism. While such views have gained widespread currency among Africanists and some Africanist-adjacent scholars and journals, Africa, apart from the continent’s Mediterranean coast, is hardly discussed beyond these circles. Even when medieval and early modern (art)history and material culture studies claim to be global, Africa often remains on the periphery of the discussion of long-distance trade, artistic innovations, and material cultural exchange.

This special issue of Journal18 invites contributions that examine the confluence of the global, interregional, and local in shaping African arts, material culture, and sartorial practices. It seeks to shift standard accounts of globalization by decentering European empire-building and the colonial archive. The long eighteenth century saw the expansion of African polities and local networks of exchange flourished. Internal trade and migration were just as important as oceanic movements. Traders, merchants, and migrants constantly moved between different societies, actively facilitating the intermingling of diverse cultural forms across great distances. Artisans, both free and enslaved, were also highly mobile during this period. Archipelagic Africa, especially its port cities and mercantile polities, played a significant role in shaping the commodity networks of the entire world.

Among the questions that this issue seeks to address are: Can the discussions of African trade objects help us historicize intra-and inter-continental trade and cultural exchanges? How did African royals, travelers, enslaved, and free individuals engage with the foreign and the faraway? What can African artifacts tell us about religious, aesthetic, and cultural transformations in Africa and its internal or transregional diasporas before the colonial period? What can historic African art collecting tell us about African identities and transcultural negotiations? How did Africa inspire global artistic imaginations during this dynamic period?

We welcome proposals for contributions on related topics, including African architectural forms and notions of space; the visualization of race in pre-colonial Africa; cultures of making and their regional and transregional connections; the reception and reimagining associated with transregional or transcultural reception; African writing and graphic systems; the material cultures of enslaved/free Africans and their experiences of migration and diaspora; and the politics of eighteenth-century heritage conservation.

Issue Editors
Prita Meier, New York University
Hermann von Hesse, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Finbarr Barry Flood, New York University

Proposals for issue #19 Africa are now being accepted. Deadline for proposals: April 1, 2024.

To submit a proposal, send an abstract (250 words) and brief biography to the following addresses: [email protected] and [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]. Articles should not exceed 6000 words (including footnotes) and will be due by September 1, 2024. For further details on submission and Journal18 house style, see Information for Authors.

More future issues will be advertised soon.