November 18, 2015 – Anna Arabindan-Kesson

Assistant Professor
Department of Art & Archaeology
and Center for African American Studies
Princeton University

Vision and Value: Cotton and the Materiality of Race

This talk examines the visual relationship between the cotton trade and the representation of the black body in American culture, using historical case studies and contemporary art. Juxtaposing contemporary interventions with historical moments, it examines how cotton materially influenced the way black bodies were seen, and how black Americans saw themselves, as both enslaved and free Americans. It argues that tracing this relationship deepens our understanding of the intersections of vision, value and subjectivity in the production of racial identity in nineteenth-century America, and also today.