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Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi: "Mapping Senufo: Visualizing Time- and Place-Based Information about Historical Arts of West Africa"

When applied to arts associated with West Africa, the Senufo label identifies a style and facilitates classification of objects for sale or study when little or no documentation exists about specific artists, patrons, or audiences. Early twentieth-century connoisseurs and scholars who first looked at objects from the African continent as art sought to delineate such discrete styles. The approach is grounded in an assumption that art style coincides with language, religion, social organization, and geography. Yet scholars have for decades recognized that art style, language, religion, social organization, and geography do not overlap so neatly. Nevertheless, the classifications and assumptions undergirding them endure in museums, exhibitions, and publications. In this presentation, Gagliardi explains how Mapping Senufo aims to recover and visualize time- and place-based information about specific arts as well as generate fresh questions for study of the arts that move beyond cultural or ethnic group classifications.
Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi is assistant professor in the Art History Department at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She was named Distinguished Junior External Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center for the 2016-17 academic year. Her scholarship draws on more than thirty months of fieldwork in West Africa as well as archival and museum-based investigations in Africa, Europe, and North America. Research for her first book Senufo Unbound: Dynamics of Art and Identity in West Africa (The Cleveland Museum of Art and 5 Continents Editions, 2015) led her to develop Mapping Senufo, an in-progress collaborative digital publication that she launched in August 2013 with support from the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. For the spring semester of 2016, she designed and organized “MAP IT | Little Dots, Big Ideas,” a series of lectures and workshops at Emory.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017. 12:00 PM


Bldg. 160, Rm. 433A


Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)




Lunch will be served.