John White

Graduate Student representative


John White is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art & Archeology. His research examines art objects and material culture that embody the intersections of art, nature, and science in early modern (northern) Europe, construed in a global context. Always driven by an attention to materials and materiality, his work has centered on porcelain, ivory, and other organic matter (such as plants, seashells, and coral) that in the early modern period troubled the boundaries between nature and culture—and that, crucially, were entangled in the operations of empire. In studying these materials, he is interested in their movements across both space and time within systems of trade, their representations as epistemic images in books and prints, and their power as understood through viewers’ embodied experiences with them.

Prior to Princeton, White received his B.A. from Brown University and his MSc from the University of Edinburgh, where his research focused on dance made for the camera. He subsequently did his M.A. studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Although trained since his undergraduate education in art history, he often grounds his work in methodologies borrowed from anthropology, animal studies, affect theory, the environmental humanities, postcolonialism, and the histories of science, medicine, and the occult.

In tandem with his academic work, White is a dancer and a performer. He also tutors in New Jersey state correctional facilities with Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative and volunteered for years with the New York-based Parole Preparation Project. Professionally, he has interned at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas and worked at artnet Auctions in New York.

Selected Publications

“Sea Sculpture and/as ‘Vibrant Matter’: The Material Lives of Porcelain Objects Lost and Found at Sea,” in Objects & Organisms, ed. Ella Beaucamp, Romana Kaske, and Thomas Moser (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2023).

“Intimate Encounters: Screendance and Surveillance,” International Journal of Screendance 8 (2017).

“The Test of Time: Senga Nengudi’s R.S.V.P. Series and the Materiality and Temporality of the Body,” International Review of African American Art 26, no. 2 (2016).