Friday, February 26, 2010


Fellowship position to begin August 15, 2010

The Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship program at Ithaca College supports promising scholars who are committed to diversity in the academy in order to better prepare them for tenure track appointments within liberal arts or comprehensive colleges/universities. The Fellowship in Art History will support a doctoral student in one or more of the following areas: Latin American Art, Latino Art, the Arts of Africa or the Arts of the African diaspora. The fellow will build upon the Department of Art History’s commitment to the cultural and geographical expansion of its curriculum by bringing to the department and its students cutting-edge approaches to the research and teaching of one of these sub-fields. Depending upon the fellow’s scholarly area, opportunities for interaction and scholarly exchange include the college’s Latin American Studies program, its Center for the Study of Race, Culture and Ethnicity, and specialist colleagues in the departments of History, Modern Languages and Literatures, and Anthropology.

Qualifications: Enrollment in an accredited program leading to a Ph.D. degree at a U.S. educational institution and commitment to a career in teaching at the college or university level are required. Prior to August 15, 2010, the fellow must be advanced to candidacy at his or her home institution with an approved dissertation proposal. Preference will be given to those candidates in the final writing stages of their dissertation. Candidates must also be authorized to work in the United States.

Successful candidates will show evidence of superior academic achievement, a high degree of promise of continuing achievement as scholars and teachers, a capacity to respond in pedagogically productive ways to the learning needs of students from diverse backgrounds, sustained personal engagement with communities that are underrepresented in the academy and an ability to bring this asset to learning, teaching, and scholarship at the college and university level, and a likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship. Underrepresented candidates whose exclusion from membership in the American professoriate has been severe and longstanding are strongly encouraged to apply.

Terms of fellowship: this fellowship is for the academic year August 15, 2010 to May 31, 2011 and is non-renewable. The fellow will receive a $20,000 stipend, housing or a housing allowance of $8000, $5000 in research support, office space, and access to Ithaca College and Cornell University libraries. The fellow will teach one course in their area of specialty in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. The fellow will be invited to speak about her/his dissertation research in relevant classes and at special events at Ithaca College and will be encouraged to engage in intellectual dialog within the department and across the campus.

Interested individuals should apply online at, and attach a letter of interest and a curriculum vita. Questions about the online application should be directed to the Office of Human Resources at (607) 274-1207. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

Under separate cover, please arrange to have two letters of reference sent to: Chair, Department of Art History, Ithaca College, 1160 Gannett Center, Ithaca, NY 14850-7275.

Ithaca College is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Members of underrepresented groups (including people of color, persons with disabilities, military veterans and women) are encouraged to apply.

Suzanne Blier, Ife Brass heads and President Yar'Adua

It used to be said that the magnificent, highly naturalistic brass heads made by sculptors from ancient Ife (in southwestern Nigeria)--but which the German enthologist Leo Frobenius initially said was proof of the existence of the mythic Greek city, Atlantis--might have been heads of royal funerary effigies. But the Harvard art historian Susan Blier claimed with great critical precision in her article on Obalufon Arts" in Art Bulletin some years ago that the these heads must have indeed been used in succession politics in the royal houses of Ife. How? Well, she suggested that they were not used as  surrogate portraits of the king whose death was kept secret until the intrigues of succession were sorted out. Persuasive as that argument was, it seemed quite implausible to me at the time. After all, how can a whole people be fooled by a lifeless piece of sculpture (with all the fake facial hair and supposedly impressive dress).

But the events of the past 3 months in Nigeria, in some bizarre way, have convinced me about the plausibility of Professor Blier's insight on the Ife heads. Come to think of it. Since the Nigerian president Umaru Yar'Adua left the country last November, till now that we are TOLD that he has returned, and installed in the Presidential Villa, no one other than his wife and about four other members of his shadowy kitchen cabinet have set their eyes on or spoken to the man, not even the key members of the government who should be privy to our national secrets. The president retains his office (never mind the Acting President thing) on the evidence of a strange interview he supposedly granted the BBC from Saudi Arabia in January, and on the rumor that he was the principal passenger of a mysterious plane that sneaked into Nigeria in the dead of the night two days ago.

To imagine that I wasted so much of my time wondering how the people of Ile-Ife, according to Blier, could have been "fooled" to think that the king was alive on the evidence of a physical, realistic looking portrait with a face possibly shielded by his beaded crown as tradition allowed, when in 21st-century Nigeria, a king is running the country simply on the basis of a voice recording and, now, the mysterious arrival of plane and ambulance at the Abuja airport.

Anyways, it does not help my nationalist ego to equate the most populous black nation with small ancient kingdom of Ife. But let me ask as loudly as I can. How do we know that it is not a corpse that is ruling Nigeria? And couldn't Yar'Adua's kitchen cabinet find a good artist, say the American sculptor Duane Hanson (if he can be bribed to return from the dead), to make a terrific--talking, mobile--effigy of the man; something that miracle-seeking and prayerful Nigeria can see and listen to, and thank God that their 3-month national prayers have been answered. Nigerians deserve this spectacle, while the succession intrigues continue in the Abuja royal house.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Job: Curatorial Assistant - Arts of Africa, Americas, Asia

Baltimore Museum of Art - Curatorial Assistant, Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands

Location: Maryland, United States
Institution Type: Nonprofit
Position Type: Research Professional
Submitted: Monday, February 15th, 2010
Main Category: African Studies
Secondary Categories: Art and Architectural History
African and Middle Eastern History

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) seeks a Curatorial Assistant for the Department of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The Curatorial Assistant will join the curators for African and Asian art in a department holding an important collection of over 6,000 objects and a strong record of scholarship and major art exhibitions, particularly for the arts of Africa. The Curatorial Assistant will report to the Associate Curator for African Art, and will also assist the Associate Curator for Asian Art, occasionally working with consulting curators and visiting scholars. The Curatorial Assistant is responsible for both the administrative functions of the department and research assistance for the collection and exhibition projects.


The Curatorial Assistant performs a wide range of duties, including: assisting with maintenance of the permanent collection; coordinating the accessions process; cataloguing objects in collections management database (The Museum System); managing business for the Friends of the Arts of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas group; coordinating loans and exhibitions; and conducting research. The Department is planning for the reinstallation of the African collection. The Curatorial Assistant will be expected to assist with project management and research for the reinstallation, in conjunction with the Associate Curator for African Art. The Curatorial Assistant may manage work-study students, interns, and/or volunteers.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, Masters degree preferred, and demonstrated study of non-European art and cultures. At least one year of museum experience preferred, ideally in a curatorial or research capacity. We are looking for candidates who demonstrate strong abilities as follows:
• Excellent interpersonal and written communication skills
• Outstanding research skills
• Ability to work independently, as well as collaboratively with internal departments and external parties
• Skilled in multi-tasking, organization, project management, prioritization, and time management
• Possesses sound judgment and diplomacy
• Excellent computer skills (Microsoft Office Suite, object management database, and basic photo editing required)
• Knowledge of a foreign language a plus

The BMA is an equal opportunity employer and a drug-free workplace. We offer a competitive salary and a generous benefits package. For this exempt position we offer medical, dental, vision, prescription, pension plan, 403b deferred compensation retirement plan, long term disability, flexible spending account, flexible and condensed scheduling, museum shop, program and exhibition, and restaurant discounts, reduced fee gym membership and a continuing education discount. We also offer 4 weeks of earned vacation, 9 holidays, 3 personal days, a floating holiday, and 12 sick days each fiscal year.

Contact Info:
Please send cover letter, resume, and salary requirements via e-mail to with “Curatorial Assistant for the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands (AAAPI) and type your first and last name” in the subject line by or before February 28, 2010. Out of state candidates are welcome to apply, but there is no financial relocation assistance. No phone calls please.

Job Website: Click here

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Interview with Nii Thompson on

Nii Thompson who runs this commendable website tagged "All Things African" has just published her interview with me. If you care, go ahead click here:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hitler takes on Jeffrey Deitch

As anyone following the news of the artworld might have heard, Jeffrey Deitch, the A-list art dealer who owns a gallery that bears his name in Chelsea (NY), has just been appointed Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art famed for its collection of post-WWII art. Only few (please count me out!) can remember the last time an art dealer (whose business runs on the oil of high octane profitability of works of art), was asked to run an art museum, a quintessential non-profit institution. And as you can guess, not a few people in the art world, especially art museum curators are sulking, bitching about the new development, as if Mr. Deitch is sure to bring some kind of pestilence into the clean, proper, innocent, humane world they inhabit.

But if you ask me, I would say, bravo to LA MoCA and thumbs up Mr. Deitch, because it seems to me that Museums should just stop this pretense and acknowledge the nature of the world they inhabit. That they, OK sometimes, need a new set of ideas on how to survive in the very world that guarantees their existence: the world of high, stinking fat, money. Especially given that LA MoCA, almost went belly up a couple of years ago. Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Deitch is the knight with the...

In any case, he must watch his back, because museum curators are not the only ones miffed by his appointment. Incredibly, Adolf Hitler (whoever said he was dead?) is also running high temperature because of Deitch and LA MoCA (next thing, Osama will appear even more sallow with his AK-47 threatening the civilized world for allowing Mr. Deitch step into the LA Museum.

To see for yourself how badly Hitler feels about the news from Los Angeles click here:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Outrage: Nigerian Security forces and extrajudicial murders

A few months ago, I wrote about the outrageous extra-judicial murders said to have been perpetrated by the Nigerian police in Enugu, the former capital of Eastern Nigeria. I was also incensed by the blood cuddling video apparently showing Nigerian police and army execute on camera an unarmed man said to be a supporter of the Islamist sect that unleashed mayhem in North Eastern Nigeria early last year. This was in addition to the very obvious fact that the leader of that sect appears to have been murdered while in police custody, and the fact that the Nigerian government claimed that Mr. Yusuf was killed while trying to escape from custody (video of his mutilated body still showed him in handcuffs).

Today, I am sick. Sick to the stomach. Ashamed. Totally speechless and angry, after seeing a bit more of what indeed happened in Northern Nigeria during the Nigerian military campaign against the Boko Haram. Yes, I am ashamed of my country (I know this is a heavy statement to make, publicly, but to hell with the consequences). I demand of everyone who still claims to have a human soul to press for complete inquiry into what is happening in Nigeria. Yes, I know the world did not care, and never insisted on an official investigation of the mass murders of the Igbo by Northern Nigerians in 1966; that crime still festers in the world's conscience. And yes, I suspect that many will shrug and say, well, didn't these Boko Haram people claim to have some connection with Al Qaeda and had used terroristic violence against fellow Nigerian citizens, and therefore deserve what they got. Or don't these Niger Delta youths kidnap and kill, and destroy oil installations and thus should be paid in kind. Well, if you have the stomach, if you can summon the courage to watch what happened to some of these people in the hands of the Nigerian security, then click and see for yourself: