This article, aimed at transcultural education, examines the juncture of race and aesthetics. It argues that implicit in the hybrid identities produced by modern imperialism and colonialism is a more global figure of humanity. That figure remains suppressed by lingering race/ethnocentrism in contemporary art discourse. Postmodernist framing of art/culture as "language" has generally weakened the strong conceit of difference. But that progress is offset by failure to acknowledge how globally distributed and "pre/non-modern" that insight is, effectively making it exclusively "Western." Furthermore, postmodern linguisticism's strong identification with verbal language maintains civilized/primitive dualisms, perpetuating the denigration of nonliterate cultures.

Unfortunately, it also compromises the communicative efficacy of art/material culture. Consequently, linguisticism becomes a knot inhibiting the turn from racism to recognizing the relational origination of differences and their emergence from iconic similarity. Pivoting around iconic similarity uncovers the diverse non-Euro-Western genealogies of bricolage, collage, and cubism entangled and obscured by the resilient conceit of difference in différance. It redresses the asymmetry of attributing the deconstructive insight associated with bricolage/collage exclusively to postmodernist authorities. Nagarjuna's critique of self-generation, modernism's essential assumption, helps make the case for iconic similarity and for promoting it as a better basis for art-education theory and practice.


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pp. 22-54
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