Art History Associate Professor Sonal Khullar received a University of Washington Royalty Research Fund (RRF) Scholar Award for her book project Fertile Grounds: Art, Primitivism, and Postcoloniality in Twentieth-Century India and Britain, which examines the intertwined histories of modern, folk, and tribal art across empire and eventually two independent nations. The book analyzes the work of four British and Indian subjects who molded the disciplines of art history and anthropology in India, Britain, and the world: the curator William G. Archer (1907-1979), the anthropologist Verrier Elwin (1902-1964), the photographer Sunil Janah (1918-2012), and the painter J. Swaminathan (1928-1994). Khullar's project traces shifting views of primitivism and postcolonial identity in art objects and ethnographic writing from the 1930s until the 1980s, contributing to emerging art historical research on exhibition histories, museum studies, and the anthropology of art.
The RRF Scholar Award provides release from teaching during spring quarter 2018 and supports research travel to archives in Britain and India. It also allows Khullar to develop material for two new undergraduate courses. Previous work on this book project has been generously supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (Yale University) and the School's Wyckoff Milliman Endowment for Faculty Excellence.