Liza Oliver
liza.oliver@wellesley.edu
(781) 283-2035
Art
South Asia Studies
B.A., University of North Florida; M.A., University of South Florida; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University
Liza Oliver
Diana Chapman Walsh Assistant Professor of Art

Art historian focusing on 18th- and 19th-century Europe and South Asia, colonialism, Indian Ocean trade, and intersections of art and science.


My research concerns aesthetic and intellectual exchange between Europe, South Asia, and the West Indies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and attendant methods for interpreting material and visual culture both within and beyond colonial frameworks. I am particularly drawn to the transition from mercantile to colonial forms of interchange and how visual culture is integral to understanding such a momentous shift in the structure of the world.
 
I teach lecture courses on the Arts of Europe's Enlightenment (ARTH 259), Nineteenth-century Art (ARTH 289), and South Asian Art and Architecture (ARTH/SAS 239), with seminars focusing on European imperialism and colonialism (ARTH 312) and mercantile and diplomatic connections across Eurasia in the early modern world (ARTH 313). My future seminars will cover such themes as the visual cultures of British India, art and science in early modern and modern Europe, and visual propaganda across Britain and France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
 
I am currently engaged in two research projects. The first examines prints of political satire in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century to understand how pro- and anti-slavery debates within Britain were complicated by the discourse of universal liberty engendered by the French Revolution and the ensuing revolution in Sainte-Domingue. The second project explores how ongoing epidemics of famine in South Asia during British rule, which killed an estimated 60 million Indians, were visually constructed in relation to the British colonial state apparatus.
 
My first book project, Art, Science, and Diplomacy in Early Modern French India (under contract with Amsterdam University Press), explores the integration of the French East India Company with the eighteenth-century textile industries of India's southeast coast to examine three main themes: Indian textiles' role in the emergence of global capitalism and the slave trade, the contributions of Indian textile producers to European botanical study, and the role of Tamil merchants in developing French trade in India and the Indian Ocean. More broadly, the book seeks to look beyond a nation-state framework as a means to structure our knowledge of the world by calling attention to how maritime trade networks united the globe in the early modern period.
 
I am on leave for the 2018-2019 academic year.