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XXIst Biennial Symposium of the American Council for Southern Asian Art

India (Deccan), Peacock-shaped Incense Burner, late 15th to mid-16th century, brass. Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum Purchase, Ernest and Rosemarie Kanzler Foundation Fund, 2022.1.

From April 4 – 7, 2024, the XXIst Biennial Symposium of the American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA) will be convened at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. ACSAA symposia serve as opportunities to share one's research with the field, meet colleagues, and reconnect with mentors and graduate school cohorts. They typically attract dozens of tenure-stream faculty, curators, critics, graduate students, emeriti professors, and independent scholars from all over the world.

ACSAA, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1963. It is affiliated with the College Art Association and the Association for Asian Studies. ACSAA is dedicated to advancing the study, teaching, interpretation, conservation, and awareness of the arts of South and Southeast Asia, the Himalayan regions, and their diasporas. ACSAA embraces the diverse visual, material, and spatial cultures and the full range of media of these arts. It sees this commitment to diversity as a critical responsibility of the Council and its members in academic, curatorial, and public spheres. ACSAA approaches South Asia as a region connected to and part of transregional and multilingual phenomena and cultural worlds. The artistic cultures of these regions shaped — and were shaped by — mobilities of people, things, and ideas across oceans and over lands. Together, they constitute an expressive and extraordinary archive of longue durée continuities, violent partitions, and innovative localizations. 

ACSAA members are specialists in material ranging from the deep past to the present. This includes exploring multilayered pasts, contesting colonial underpinnings of disciplinary knowledge, and writing postcolonial histories of the regions’ arts that affect people’s lives and public spaces in the present. Members critique projects that rewrite the region’s history in ways that manipulate historical data, marginalize the role of certain groups or propagate rhetoric destructive to objects, archives, and communities.

The University of Michigan Department of the History of Art has long enjoyed a close association with ACSAA. The late Walter Spink, who taught in our department from 1961–2000, was one of thirteen founding members of the organization. Thanks to his pioneering leadership, the Visual Resource Center in Tappan Hall came to administer and house the ACSAA Color Slide Project. This path-breaking initiative began in 1974. Since then, it has inspired and informed the scholarship of many art historians, students of religious studies, anthropologists, historians, philologists, and others. Recently, much of this collection was digitized and shared widely through ARTSTOR.

All ACSAA symposium panels are free and open to the Tappan Hall community. Advance registration is not required. Deborah Klimburg-Salter, University Professor Emerita, Department of Art History, University of Vienna, Austria will deliver the keynote lecture. This event is open to all students, faculty, and staff at the University of Michigan and the wider public. (If you are located outside the Tappan Hall community please register online.) Catered receptions and meals are open to symposium participants only.

For more information about the 2024 ACSAA Symposium, including a schedule of presentations and abstracts of speakers, visit the website. You may also write to Nachiket Chanchani, Chair of the 2024 Symposium Organizing Committee, at