South Asian Art

Sculptor Ram Sutar’s 2009 bronze statue of former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Kumari Mayawati.
Sculptor Ram Sutar’s 2009 bronze statue of former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Kumari Mayawati. Manyawar Shri Kanshi Ram Sthal, Lucknow, 2011.

The University of Toronto’s Department of Art History offers excellent opportunities for studying the art and visual culture of South Asia, a vital and growing subfield within the discipline.

Core strengths

One of the first departments in North America to offer courses and graduate supervision in modern and contemporary South Asian art, the core strengths of its South Asia faculty are:

  • Indian image-cultures and their interface with politics, commerce, religion, and material infrastructures from the late 19th century to the present;
  • South Asian photography;
  • modern and contemporary art of South Asia and its diaspora; and
  • critical approaches to the art history and historiography of South Asia.


The Department’s graduate seminars foster exciting cross-regional discussions of what it means to do art history from and on non-Western spaces (particularly South Asia, East Asia, and Africa, but also Latin America), asking how this might challenge and modify the discipline’s foundational presuppositions while still addressing the specificity of images. Students participate in wider critical conversations at the cutting-edge Centre for South Asian Studies as well as gaining trans-Asian perspectives at the Asian Institute. PhD candidates are able to draw on the specialist expertise not just of distinguished faculty members in the Department of Art, but also of an exceptional cohort of stellar South Asia scholars across the University of Toronto’s three campuses, from disciplines such as History, Anthropology, Religion, and Geography. Our South Asian and African art faculty are experienced in the use of ethnographic methods in art history and are able to advise and prepare graduate students wishing to undertake field research.

Our students enjoy access to the resources of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), with its excellent South Asian photography collection, and the University of Toronto Libraries—one of the top three university library systems in North America—whose extensive holdings include publications in Hindi and other regional languages as well as archival materials at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and audio-visual media at the Media Commons. Many other academic centres, museums, and arts organizations in and around Toronto also showcase South Asian art and culture, including the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Centre for South Asian Civilizations, the Tamil Worlds Initiative at the University of Toronto Scarborough, the Aga Khan Museum, and the South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC).

Please visit our graduate program page for information about admission procedures, entry requirements and funding. For any further queries about admissions please email the Graduate Assistant. To discuss the possibilities for PhD supervision on a specific topic area please email our South Asia faculty members (below).

Faculty Areas of Interest
Kajri Jain Modern and contemporary Indian art, visual culture, and cinema; art theory; art and religion; postcolonial theory; material culture


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