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The Patronage of Difference: Making Indian Art “Art, Not Ethnology”

Essay Excerpt

In this article I explore how such a utopian affirmation of cultural difference-an early, more colonial version of multiculturalism-reflected elite responses to the rise of consumer capitalism. The 1920s and 1930s were a period of heightened concern with representations of the national identity as well as with the implications of mass consumption (Alexander 1980; Susman 1973, 1984). For patrons of Indian art, including those who sponsored the 1931 Exposition, commodity consumption represented both problem and solution in matters of identity; part of the solution involved recasting carefully selected commodities, produced by ethnic and racial Others, as art.2 (Mullin, 395)

About the Author

Molly Mullin is a cultural anthropologist writing a memoir, provisionally titled "Coming Home to Animals: A Memoir of Animals and Anthropology." 

Molly Mullin received her PhD in anthropology from Duke University. She has many years of experience teaching undergraduates and has taught courses on the history of anthropological theory, sex & gender, the global politics of nature, the anthropology of animals, and Native North America.

Molly Mullin provides developmental editing for graduate students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences.She lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.

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