Liza Oliver

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 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). In Fall 2019 I am co-teaching with Professor Wesley Watters (Astronomy) a first-year seminar, The Art of Science since the Scientific Revolution (ARTH/ASTR 112Y). In the near future, I plan to teach a seminar on the visual cultures of British India.
 
My first book, Art, Trade, and Imperialism in Early Modern French India (Amsterdam University Press, 2019), examined 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 integration of Indian artisinal practices with European botanical study, and the complicated role of Tamil intermediaries in developing French trade, diplomacy, and imperialism in India. More broadly, the book looks 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 currently engaged in two research projects. The first is a book-length project that explores British colonial policies around famine, land, and agricultural labor in India during the second half of the nineteenth century, and how these policies were constituted in the photographic albums of British civil servants, engineers, and tourists. The second project examines British prints of political satire in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century to understand the similarities between pro- and anti-slavery rhetoric, and how this debate was complicated by the language of universal liberty engendered by the French Revolution and the ensuing revolution in Sainte-Domingue.