Meet James Denison, Graduate Researcher

I first became involved in ‘Making African Art’ at the beginning of the summer of 2018, when our project was a different and more modest one than it is now. In the time since I have enjoyed watching it develop into an ambitious and potentially paradigm-shifting intervention in the history of African art history. My contributions to the project have primarily been research-based, as I have worked to advance our understanding of the impact of the Peace Corps and other Cold War and post-independence programs and contexts on the making, display, and study of African art in the 1960s and ’70s. In addition to researching these topics and writing up my findings, my work has included reaching out to returned Peace Corps volunteers to learn about their involvement with African art and talking with scholars who have visited with us to consult on the project. However, my favorite part of my involvement with the project has been not just “working on” but also “thinking on” our topic by contributing to ongoing conversations about the scope and orientation of our research. I am excited to see how the project will continue to change as it develops over the next few years.