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Views of Difference: Different Views of Art

In a fascinating series of case studies, this book looks at the ways in which European colonizers interpreted the arts of the people they colonized, as well the ways in which they have tended to view art produced by the colonized and their descendants in post-colonial times. In the European colonial past, the dominant view of "difference" represented the culture of the colonized as inferior and inalterable or slow to change. This book discusses perspectives on pre-colonial Indian art expressed in the mid-nineteenth century, the early twentieth century, and the present day. It also considers the effects of imperialist ways of looking even in places without direct European colonial control. European colonizers tended to see their own artistic traditions as continually progressing but the art of colonized or non-European peoples as traditional and incapable of generating its own modernity. And, the studies in the book show, colonizers and their heirs in the twentieth century have doubted that a colonial subject could appropriate European art forms or handle them independently—a view that continues to uphold the notion of modernity as a "Europeans only" enterprise. This is the fifth volume in the series Art and its Histories, created to accompany the Open University undergraduate course by the same title.