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Derivative Modernisms

Just how wide is modernism’s debt to Indigenous cultural practices? We all know that Picasso stole freely from African masks in developing his cubist aesthetic, but what other such thefts have remained hidden from view? What writers “borrowed” from Indigenous narrative contents and techniques without attribution? Which sculptors made Indigenous uses of volume and plane their own (lookin’ at you, Pompon!)? Which painters adapted Indigenous designs for apparently avant-garde results in the European setting? More broadly, how did settler government policies create the conditions of possibility for modernist experimentation and innovation? How is the politics of removal encoded in modernism’s aesthetic fireworks? Exactly how Indigenous is modernist aesthetics?

This panel proceeds from the deep suspicion that a great many more Indigenous influences shaped modernist aesthetics than have been acknowledged thus far. We seek papers that excavate such influences, with the aim of restoring credit to the borrowed-from. At the same time, we seek papers that expand the remit of modernism to include its elided Indigenous sources.

Send 250-word abstracts to Stephen Ross ( by 4 March 2019.

Conference Location: Toronto, Canada
Conference Starts: October 17, 2019
Conference Ends: October 20, 2019

CFP Submission Deadline: March 04, 2019

For more information, contact: Stephen Ross