Anna Arabindan-Kesson

Associate Professor of Art and Archaeology and African American Studies
Office Phone
102 Morrison Hall


Professor Arabindan-Kesson is an associate professor of African American and Black Diasporic art with a joint appointment in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Born in Sri Lanka, she completed undergraduate degrees in New Zealand and Australia, and worked as a Registered Nurse in the UK before completing her Ph.D. in African American Studies and Art History at Yale University.

Professor Arabindan-Kesson research and teaching focus on Black Diaspora Art, with an emphasis on histories of race, empire, and medicine in the long 19th century. She also has interests in British, South Asian and Australian art. Her first book Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World, is available from Duke University Press. She is also writing a book, supported by an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, with Professor Mia Bagneris (Tulane University) called Beyond Recovery: Reframing the Dialogues of Nineteenth-Century Black Diaspora Art. Her second monograph is called An Empire State of Mind: Plantation Imaginaries and British Colonialism. In 2020 she began directing Art Hx, a new digital project and object database that addresses the intersections of art, race and medicine in the British empire. She is currently a Visiting Fellow, Center for The Study of Social Difference, Columbia University and a 2021 Center for Digital Humanities Data Fellow at Princeton University. Professor Arabindan-Kesson is a board member of several arts organizations, continues to curate exhibitions, and works closely with contemporary artists internationally.

Teaching Interests

In her teaching, Professor Arabindan-Kesson is committed to expanding and amplifying the spaces, and narratives, of art history. Her courses include survey classes on African American and Caribbean Art, and more specialized undergraduate and graduate seminars such as Seeing to Remember: Representing Slavery Across the Black Atlantic and Art of the British Empire.


Ph.D., Yale University, 2014

Selected Publications

"Ingrid Pollard and the Aesthetics of Interruption” in Alice Correia, Anjalie Dalal-Clayton and Elizabeth Robles, Interventions in British Art History: Critical Approaches to Artists of African, Caribbean and Asian Heritage, (London: Routledge Press, 2022)

Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton and Commerce in the Atlantic World (Duke University Press, May 2021)

“With a Camera Round His Neck: Barkley L. Hendricks, Photographer" in Anna Arabindan-Kesson. Barkley L. Hendricks: Photography. 1st ed. Milan: Skira editor, 2020, pp 7–12

“The Viral and The Virus: Representations of Parangi in Colonial Sri Lanka” Ars Orientalis 51 (forthcoming 2021).

“Seeing Empire” in Panorama: Journal of the Association of American Art, Bully Pulpit, Summer 2020

“Intimate Politics: Patricia Kaersenhout’s Acts of Empathy” Small Axe: Visual Life of Social Affliction, Summer 2019

“Caribbean Absences in African American Art History” in Eddie Chambers (ed) Routledge Companion to African American Art, (Routledge Press, New York, 2019)

“Family Jules: No Naked Niggahs by Barkley L Hendricks” for Tate in Focus, Fall 2017

Start Date
Committee Chair
African American Art
Art of the Black Diaspora
Home Department and Other Affiliations
African American Studies
Art & Archaeology
Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism