- Art History
- Liberal Arts
Trained in both history (Presidency College; Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) and art history (Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda; University of Minnesota), Sugata Ray’s research focuses on the intersections among early modern and colonial artistic cultures, transterritorial ecologies, and the natural environment. Taking the aesthetics of seeing the natural environment as a locus of inquiry, his current book project, Geoaesthetics in the Little Ice Age: Sensorium, Sacrament, and Artistic Cultures in Braj, ca. 1550–1850, examines the interrelationship between matter and (nonhuman and human) life in shaping creative practices during the Little Ice Age (1550–1850), a geological epoch marked by droughts of unprecedented intensity across the world. As an extension of his interest in the aesthetics of environmental thinking, Ray has coedited Liquescent Materiality: Water in Global South Asia (forthcoming).
Sugata Ray’s second research thematic centers on a postcolonial reading of aesthetic taxonomies and knowledge systems that have shaped the formation of art history and collecting practices in the early modern and colonial period. This leads to a new book project titled Arranging Hindostan: The Contingency of Knowledge at the Margins of the Early Modern. Publications from this project have appeared in journals such as Art History and The Art Bulletin. Researched during Ray’s tenure as the 2013 Scholar-in-Residence, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, a recent essay from this project on the relationship between exhibition cultures and the making of an Islamic art history was awarded the Historians of Islamic Art Association’s 2014 Margaret Sevcenko Prize.
Sugata Ray’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Social Science Research Council, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin, the Forum Transregionale Studien, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Hellman Fellows Fund, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities, University of California, Berkeley.