KOBENA MERCER
B.A., St. Martin’s School of Art, 1981
Ph.D., Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, 1990
Professor, History of Art and African American Studies
kobena.mercer@yale.edu
OFFICE: Loria 558
TEL: 203.432.2671

Kobena Mercer writes and teaches on the visual arts of the black diaspora, examining African American, Caribbean, and Black British artists in modern and contemporary art. His courses and research address cross-cultural aesthetics in transnational contexts where issues of race, sexuality, and identity converge. 

His first book, Welcome to the Jungle (1994), introduced new lines of inquiry in art, photography, and film, and his work features in several interdisciplinary anthologies including Art and Its Histories (1998), The Visual Culture Reader (2001) and Theorizing Diaspora (2003). Mercer is the author of monographic studies on Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Isaac Julien, Renee Green, and Keith Piper, as well as historical studies of James VanDer Zee, Romare Bearden, and Adrian Piper. He is the editor of the Annotating Art’s Histories series, published by MIT and INIVA, whose titles are Cosmopolitan Modernisms (2005), Discrepant Abstraction (2006), Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures (2007), and Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers (2008). Professor Mercer is an inaugural recipient of the 2006 Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing awarded by the Sterling and Francise Clark Art Institute in Massachussetts.

His next book, Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s, is a collection of essays forthcoming from Duke University Press, and also published in 2014 is, "New Practices, New Identities: Hybridity and Globalization," the closing chapter in The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V, The Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press). Current research interests include the historiography of Black Atlantic visual arts and a new book-length study on Diaspora Aesthetics in Afro-Modernism.


Selected Publications
‘'Photography's Time of Dispersal and Return,' in Jill Casid ed. Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn, Williamstown and New Haven: Clark Art Institute/Yale University Press, 2013

'Art History and the Dialogics of Diaspora,' Small Axe n38, July 2012

'Interrupting Arkhe: The Installation Art of Fred Wilson," Fred Wilson, Works, 2004-2011, Cleveland Museum of Art, 2012

'Where the Streets Have No Name: A Democracy of Multiple Public Spheres,' in Helen Molesworth ed. This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s, Chicago and New Haven: Museum of Contemporary Art/Yale University Press, 2012

'Archive and Depaysment in the Art of Renée Green,' in Nichole Schweizer ed. Renée Green, Ongoing Becomings, 1989 - 2009, Zurich: JRP Ringier, 2010