Rebecca M. Brown

South Asian Visual Culture and Politics


Rebecca M. Brown is a scholar of colonial and post-1947 South Asian art and visual culture at Johns Hopkins University. She has served as a consultant and a curator for modern and contemporary Indian art for the Peabody Essex Museum, the Walters Art Museum, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. She chairs the Advanced Academic Program in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins. Her courses are often cross-listed with Political Science, East Asian Studies, Museums and Society, and Women, Gender and Sexuality. She has led seminars in History of Art and Museum Studies at Georgetown and George Washington. She lectures widely, at venues from the Art Seminar Group of Baltimore to the National Museum of Korea. She is currently editor-in-chief of Art Journal.

img: J Roffman, venue OUMA

Her PhD at the University of Minnesota focused on cities in colonial India, asking how the arrival of the British reshaped urban space in the eighteenth century. Her second major project examined how art negotiates the issues surrounding modernity in newly independent India after 1947. She then turned to a genealogical examination of the imagery of the spinning wheel from the early nineteenth century through to Gandhi’s deployment of it for the nationalist movement. Drawing on both this project and earlier work on nineteenth-century Patna, she developed an article unsettling our understanding of early 19th century Indian painting. She is currently working on a book that will explore the durations and temporalities at play in galleries and museums by  critically situating the many art exhibitions of the 1985-86 Festival of India in the US. A portion of that research, on the exhibitions of contemporary art at the Festival, appeared in Art Bulletin (September 2014).

Her publications include Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Collection (exhibition and catalog, 2011), Gandhi’s Spinning Wheel and the Making of India (Routledge 2010, paperback 2012), Art for a Modern India, 1947–1980 (Duke University Press 2009), A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture (coedited with Deborah S. Hutton, Wiley-Blackwell 2011, paperback 2015), Asian Art (coedited with Deborah S. Hutton, Blackwell 2006), and articles in Visual Anthropology, Res, Interventions, CSSAAME, Archives of Asian Art, Art Journal, Journal of Urban History, ScreenJournal of Asian Studies, and Art Bulletin.

Art for a Modern India, 1947-1980

Gandhi's Spinning Wheel and the Making of India

Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest


Associate Professor
Johns Hopkins University
History of Art
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