Visual Culture and Nationalisms in the 20th and 21st Centuries
In the conclusion of his book Banal Nationalism (London: Sage, 1995, p. 177), Michael Billig writes: ‘If the future remains uncertain we know the past history of nationalism. And that should be sufficient to encourage a habit of watchful suspicion’. This warning has perhaps never been more relevant than in the second decade of the new millennium, which has seen a marked turn towards right-wing populism and nationalism.
How have art and visual culture been deployed to foster the interests of those who, in seeking to elicit support and power for only their own (perceived) nation or group, develop rhetoric and ideas underpinned by prejudice against groups conceptualized as outsiders? Alternatively, how has the visual domain served as a space for the critique and activist refusal of exclusionary nationalist interests and discourse? These two questions are explored in the conference.
Visit Our Online Exhibition
"If the future remains uncertain we know the past history of nationalism. And that should be sufficient to encourage a habit of watchful suspicion."
Participants and Presenters
Marion Arnold – Honorary Fellow in Art History and Visual Culture, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom.
Annemi Conradie – Director, Research Niche: Visual Narratives and Creative Outcomes (ViNCO), North-West University, Potchefstroom.
Abri de Swardt – Artist and writer, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Roxy do Rego – Part-time lecturer in the Education Faculty at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Zohar Elmakias – PhD candidate, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, USA.
Federico Freschi – Professor and Head of College of Art, Design & Architecture, Otego Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Sarita K. Heer – Lecturer of Art History, Fine and Performing Arts Department, Loyola University, Chicago, USA.
Philippa Hobbs – Postdoctoral research fellow, office of the SARChI Chair: South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Deléne Human – PhD candidate with the SARChI Chair: South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg, and lecturer in the Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria. email@example.com
Danielle M. Johnson – Independent scholar, Florida, USA.
Katharina Jörder – Post-doctoral researcher at the Department of African Arts, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany. Ariyuki Kondo – Professor of History of British Art and Architecture, Ferris University, Yokohama, Japan.
Juliette Leeb-du Toit – Research Associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Sanjeev Kumar – Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai, India.
Gail Levin – Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York, USA.
Staffan Löfving – Reader in Social Anthropology and Associate Professor in Intercultural Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden.
Ismail Mahomed – Director of the Centre for Creative Arts, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti – PhD candidate in Art History with SARChI Chair: Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa.
Ana Mehnert Pascoal – PhD candidate in Art History, ARTIS - Institute of Art History, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.
Horit Herman Peled – Media artist, fine arts and media culture researcher and teacher, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Yoav Peled – Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Deirdre Pretorius – Associate Professor, Graphic Design Department, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Elizabeth Rankin – Professor Emerita of Art History, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Brenda Schmahmann – Professor and SARChI Chair: South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Stephen Symons – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Vineet Thakur – Lecturer in History, Leiden University, Netherlands.
Sweety Tindde – Azim Premji Foundation, Uttarakhand, India.
Benoit Vaillot – Research Associate at the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin, Germany.
Lize van Robbroeck – Professor, Visual Arts Department, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Peter Vale – Senior Research Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria.
Paul Weinberg – Photographer, curator and research associate with the SARChI Chair: South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Erika Wolf – Professor at the School of Advanced Studies at the University of Tyumen, Siberia, Russia.
Preparation of the CR Swart sculpture at the University of the Free State by Cigdem Aydemir for Plastic Histories (2014). Photograph by Paul Mills.
9.45 – 10.00 Welcome
CARTOONS AND COMIC BOOKS
10.00-10.45 Paper 1
Sanjeev Kumar and Sweety Tindde
Democracy, Dissent and Nationalism: Narrative Through Cartoons Related to Gandhi
10.45 – 11.30 Paper 2
“Achtung Spitfeuer!” How British war comics of the 60s,70s and 80s aided the formulation of a militarised state-of-mind among white English-speaking boys during apartheid.
11.30 – 12.15 Paper 3
Cartoons, Intellectuals and the Construction of Afrikaner Nationalism
12.15 – 12.45 BREAK
CONSTRUCTS OF BORDERS AND NATIONS
15.00 – 15.45 Paper 4
Nationalising the Border through War Monuments: “Nationalist Landscape” at the French-German Border (1871-1918)
15.45 – 16.30 Paper 5
The Passport as a Symbolic Site for the Contestation and Performance of Citizenship across National Borders
16.30- 17:00 BREAK
STAMPS AND NATIONALISM
17:00 – 17.45 Paper 6
Sarita K. Heer
Food for Thought: India, Postage Stamps and Banal Nationalism
9.15 – 10.15 Launch of Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism, edited by Federico Freschi, Brenda Schmahmann and Lize van Robbroeck (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2020). Ismail Mahomed will introduce the volume and will conduct a discussion with the editors and participants.
FEMINIST RESPONSES TO NATIONALISMS
10.45-11.30 Paper 7
“Courage Calls”: British Women Confronting Patriarchal Nationalism
11.30-12.15 Paper 8
“Your shadow blocks my sun”: Reading alternate histories in The New Parthenon and other films of Penny Siopis
12.15-13.00 Paper 9
Roxy Do Rego
Diane Victor’s Birth of a Nation (2008-2010): A Critique of Post-Apartheid Nationalism and Patriarchy
ISRAEL, NATIONALISM AND VISUAL DISCOURSES
15.00 – 15.45 Paper 10
Horit Herman Peled and Yoav Peled
Art, Religion and Jewish Nationalism in Israel
15.45 – 16.30 Paper 11
Between the Minefield and the Temple: Spatial Transformation and National Imaginaries in the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.
MODERNIST RESISTANCE AGAINST AUTHORITARIANISM
17.00-17.45 Paper 12
Danielle M. Johnson
Otto Dix’s The War and MoMA: Art and Activism between the Two World Wars
MODERNIST RESISTANCE AGAINST AUTHORITARIANISM (cont.)
10.30 - 11.15 Paper 13
Sir Nikolaus Pevsner’s Resistance to Authoritarianism in Twentieth-Century Architecture: A Study of the Jerusalem Committee
PHOTOGRAPHIC RESPONSES AND CRITIQUES
11.15 – 12.00 Paper 14
12.00 – 12.45 Paper 15
Abri de Swardt
"Because this is the river of unmindfulness: On Alice Mertens, Ridder Thirst and the First River as historical witness"
12.45 – 13.30 Paper 16
Figurations of the Child in Bosnian Nationalisms
13.30 – 15.00 BREAK
BETWEEN THEN AND NOW:
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR COLLECTIONS
15.00 – 15.45 Paper 17
Ana Mehnert Pascoal
Undiscussed heritage? Considerations on the mural paintings for the Noble Hall of the Palace of São Bento in Lisbon (1933-1947) and their present-day permanence
15.45 – 16.30 Paper 18
Blinded by Nationalism: the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
16.30 – 17.15 Paper 19
Juliette Leeb-du Toit
Competing Zulu nationalisms in commissioned art for structures in Ulundi and “Zululand” in the 1970s
17.45-18.30 Guided tour of the online exhibition “Family Dissemblance” by its curator, Annemi Conradie
UNPACKING GREAT TREK IMAGERY AND OTHER AFRIKANER NATIONALIST ICONOGRAPHIES
9.00 – 9.45 Paper 20
Paradox and politics in the Voortrekker Monument frieze
9.45-10.30 Paper 21
Between Afrikaner Culture, Nationalism and Technopolitics. The Voortrekker Monument and the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam in Propaganda Photographs
10.30 – 11.15 Paper 22
Vineet Thakur, Brenda Schmahmann and Peter Vale
A Globe in the Veld: A Voortrekker Centenary Monument for Karel Landman
RESISTING NATIONALISMS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
11.45-12.30 Paper 23
Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti
Confronting selective amnesia in the supposedly collective memory of a nation through art: Owen Maseko’s Sibathonthisele
BREAK 12.30 – 15.00
RESISTING NATIONALISMS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA (cont.)
15.00-15.45 Paper 24
The anti-censorship campaigns and works by Walter Battiss in apartheid South Africa
15.45-16.30 Paper 25
The Staffrider illustrations of Mzwakhe (Muziwakhe Nhlabatsi)
16.30-17.15 Paper 26
Tapestry, nationalism and counter voices in Southern Africa during apartheid
This conference was made possible through generous funding and support offered the SARChI Chair: South African Art and Visual Culture from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the University of Johannesburg.