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Department of History of Art


The programme aims to renew and catalyse the study of ‘the visual’ by bringing fresh voices and approaches to the University and to extend visual culture studies into specialisms and fields which are under-represented in our research communities.

  • Dr Abbas Akbari (University of Kashan) - Islamic lustreware

  • Dr Anna Reid (Princeton University) - British Surrealism

  • Professor Brian Jacobson (California Institute of Technology) - modern visual culture

  • Sana Ginwalla (Zambia Belonging Collection) - Indian-Zambian photographer and curator, in collaboration with Kerstin Hacker (Anglia Ruskin University) - decolonising photographic practice

  • Dr Che Gossett (Columbia University) - Queer/trans studies, aesthetic theory, abolitionist thought and blackness studies
    These researchers will spend two week residencies in Cambridge during the 22/23 academic year, during which time they will develop their research in conversation with collections and colleagues across the university, teach a student seminar, and deliver a public event.
    If you would like to connect with our fellows during their time in Cambridge and/or if you are interested in forging links with CVC, please contact Alex Gushurst-Moore ( Please also direct any queries to this address.

    Abbas Akbari
    Residency Dates: 13 March - 24 March
    Abbas Akbari is a multi-award winning Iranian ceramicist, based at the University of Kashan, and a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Akbari’s particular practice-based research has involved the consultation of historical recipes to rediscover the technique of decorating in lustre, an overglaze technique using metallic oxides that give the finished product a distinctive sheen.
    Akbari’s CVC Fellowship will bring new perspectives and research techniques to Cambridge, which will further highlight under-researched collections that sit at the interface between Western Asian and Western traditions. Drawing from his experience as a pottery artist, he identifies different artistic expressions and technical practices, in order to differentiate the artistic signatures of different potters involved in making lustreware in Gorgan based on the broken lustreware fragments housed in Iranian museums.
    Anna Reid
    Residency Dates: 14 November - 18 November
    Anna Reid is a historian of art and a curator. Her research readdresses modern and contemporary British histories - in their global contexts - with a focus on the interwar period and on contexts of new geological and physiological knowledge. Her doctoral research titled The Nest of Wild Stones: A Geological Way of Seeing in the British Landscape, reread the work of Paul Nash in the context of vital geophysical discoveries of the 1930s and as a resource for artists and writers working in the contemporary context of unfolding ecological knowledge. This work is published with The Dark Mountain Project; Visual Culture in Britain, British Art Studies and presented as part of the major conference and publication The Landscape Now.
    From 2019-21 Anna worked as Head of Research and as Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, where, for example, and in the context of the global pandemic, she devised the international conference British Art and Natural Forces. Anna is a research fellow as part of the Princeton University Art Hx project, addressing visual and medical legacies of British colonialism. Her work is shaped by her collaboration and curatorial work with contemporary artists such as Lucy Skaer, Elizabeth Price, Hetain Patel and Mathieu Abonnenc, including as Director and Curator at the art organization, Pavilion from 2006-16. Anna gained her PhD with the support of the AHRC Centre for doctoral research at Northumbria University. She holds an MA Goldsmiths College, an MA Courtauld Institute and she gained her BA History of Art at the University of Cambridge. Her current research readdresses and documents 1930s British Surrealism with reference to a context of innovation in the life sciences and as part of a global Surrealist movement.
    Brian R. Jacobson
    Residency Dates: 29 January - 10 February
    Brian R. Jacobson is Professor of Visual Culture at the California Institute of Technology and Director of the Caltech-Huntington Program in Visual Culture. He is currently completing two books: “The Cinema of Extractions,” a method-oriented study of cinema’s material and formal engagements with resource extraction industries, and a larger project, tentatively titled “The Art of Oil in France: A Global History, 1944-1975,” that examines how the development of the midcentury French petroleum industry shaped and was shaped by visual culture—including popular, art, and industrial/corporate cinemas, painting and sculpture, and advertising and industrial design—in material, aesthetic, and conceptual ways. Jacobson is the author of Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space (Columbia University Press, 2015), a finalist for the Theater Library Associations’ Richard Wall Memorial Award and a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and editor of In the Studio: Visual Creation and Its Material Environments (University of California Press, 2020), winner of the 2021 Society for Cinema and Media Studies award for Best Edited Collection. With James Leo Cahill and Weihong Bao, he edited “Media Climates,” the Winter 2021 issue of Representations. He has published articles in Cinema Journal, Screen, Film Quarterly, Film History, the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, Environmental History, Post45, Framework, History and Technology, Early Popular Visual Culture, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Literary Review of Canada as well as numerous anthologies and exhibition catalogs for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Musée d’Orsay. He is a recipient of fellowships including a Fulbright to France, multiple grants from the Social Science Research Council, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the University of Rochester Humanities Center, where he was in residence in 2016-17.
    Sana Ginwalla, in collaboration with Kerstin Hacker
    Residency Dates: 22 February - 8 March
    Interested in politics of identity, home and belonging, Sana Ginwalla is an Indian-Zambian artist and curator. She is the founder and creative director of Zambia Belonging – a counter-archive of photographs that explore identity, meaning and value from people that have a connection with Zambia. Zambia Belonging is an initiative under Everyday Lusaka, an art platform dedicated to shifting towards more considered visual representations of Lusaka, in order to build a contemporary archive for future generations.
    Following the completion of her Curatorship degree from the University of Cape Town, Ginwalla has curated exhibitions at the National Gallery of Zambia, Lusaka National Museum, and the Alliance Française de Lusaka. Alongside working with several upcoming and established Zambian artists, she has also curated works by internationally acclaimed British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor. Ginwalla’s curatorial work often transcends the gallery and museum space through digital, written and print media. The layered nature of being an individual of the diaspora has led her to create multimedia bodies of work that explore heritage, memory and the family archive. Working in this way allows her to further understand her identity and place in the world, and is what she aims to facilitate for others too.
    Sana is currently lecturing at Open Window University Zambia and is preparing to exhibit at the 13th Rencontres de Bamako / African Biennale of Photography as well as the launch of the new Lusaka Contemporary Art Centre in 2023.
    Kerstin Hacker is a photographer, practice-based researcher and academic based in Cambridge, UK.
    Kerstin’s artistic practice based research explores how the un-learning of established documentary photographic practices and the engagement with collaborative, slow research methods can dismantle an imagined visual familiarity with the African continent and can overcome the perceived 'otherness' of its citizens. Throughout her research Kerstin is collaborating with emerging photographers from Zambia. Together they develop strategies to contribute to a changing perception, representation and establish visual self-governance. She is exploring connections between Zambia’s photographic history, which is influenced by colonialism, socialism and most recently capitalism, and the current emerging visual practices in the country. Her long-term interests explore the use of artistic collaborative practice research to empower emerging artists from the global South.


    Between 2009 and 2012 she received a British Council Educational Partnership in Africa Grant for a collaboration with the University of Zambia and since 2017 she is a Fellow of the Centre for Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). In 2021 she was awarded the collaborative Affect and Colonialism WebLab Fellowship from the Freie Universität Berlin together with two Zambian photographers.


    Kerstin received a BA (Bakalaureát) in 1993 and MA (Magistr) in 1995 from FAMU, University of the Applied Arts in Prague, Czech Republic.. During her studies she was awarded Female Photojournalist of the Year (Germany) in 1993 and the Alexia Foundation Award (US) in 1995. In 1996 she moved to the UK and worked as a freelance photographer for national and international clients including The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian and Non-Governmental Organisations including Sight-Savers International, Comic Relief and Save the Children. Kerstin is currently completing a practice-based PhD 'Shooting in Zambia: (Re)negotiating Zambia's Colonial Library Through Photographic Practice'.


    Kerstin is a passionate educator and has been leading undergraduate and post-graduate photography courses at the Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University since 2000.
    Che Gossett
    Residency Dates: 6 March - 17 March

    Che Gossett is a Black non binary femme writer and critical theorist specializing in queer/trans studies, aesthetic theory, abolitionist thought and blackness studies. They are presently a postdoctoral fellow at the Initiative for a Just Society, Columbia Law School. They received their doctorate in Women's and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, New Brunswick in May 2021. They received a BA in African American Studies from Morehouse College, an MAT in Social Studies from Brown University, an MA in History from the University of Pennsylvania and were a 2019-2020 Helena Rubenstein Fellow in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.
    Che recently received a Ruth Stephan Fellowship from Beinecke Library at Yale University for the summer of 2022, for archival research with the papers of Barbara Hammer. Che will also be a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School for the fall 2022 semester in the Animal Law and Policy Program, and a visiting art critic at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design.  Spring semester 2023 they will also be spending time at the Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College, Oxford University, as they finalize their political biography of queer Japanese American AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000).