Publications

Books

Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness (manuscript in progress, under advance contract with Yale University Press).

On the Underground Railroad (manuscript completed, under advance contract with the University of Chicago Press).

The Black Modernisms Seminars. Co-editor with Huey Copeland. Washington, DC: Center forAdvanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of ArtForthcoming 2021.

Visualizing Empire: Africa, France, and the Politics of Representation. Co-editor with Dominic Thomas and Rebecca Peabody. Los Angeles: Getty Publications. Forthcoming 2020. 

From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture in and out of Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

New Histories.  Co-editor with Lia Gangitano.  Exhibition catalogue. Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1996.

Online Publications/Websites

“The Travels of Burton Holmes,” a website containing approximately 2,200 of the traveler’smore than 16,000 hand-painted 3.5 x 4” glass slides. 

 “Bookshelf: Steven Nelson,” Art Journal Open.  2015.

 Grove Art OnlineOxford University PressGuest Editor for an update of materials on African art that includes 43 new and substantially revised essays and 24 bibliographic updates, 2014.

 “Special to MusiQology: Ken Johnson and ‘Now Dig This!’”, 2012.

Articles/Essays

France et ses colonies: Mapping, Representing, and Imagining Empire,” in Steven Nelson, Dominic Thomas, and Rebecca Peabody, eds., Visualizing Empire: Africa, France, and the Politics of Representation. Los Angeles: Getty Publications. Forthcoming 2020.

“David Adjaye’s Cosmopolitan Eye,” Terms: Proceedings of the 34thWorld Congress of ArtHistory. Beijing: Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art. Forthcoming, 2020. 

Diversity of Artists in Major U.S. Museums,” PLoS |ONE. Co-author with Chad M. Topaz, Bernhard Klingenberg, Daniel Turek, Brianna Heggeseth, Pamela E. Harris, Julie C. Blackwood, C. Ondine Chavoya, and Kevin M. Murphy. March 2019.

 “Obodo (Country/City/Town/Ancestral Village) by Njideka Akunyili Crosby,” part of the “Black One Shot Series,” ASAP Journal. July 30, 2018. 

Response: A Questionnaire on Monuments,” October 165 (Summer 2018): 138-40.

Issues of Intimacy, Distance, and Disavowal in Writing about Deana Lawson’s Work,”  Hyperallergic. June 2018. 

Ritual, Politics, and Transformation: Betye Saar,” Sculpture,vol. 37, no. 3, April 2018.

The Obama Portraits and the History of African American Portraiture,” Hyperallergic. March 2018. 

Out of Place: Migration, Melancholia and Nostalgia in Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl,” in Claudia Mattos Avolese and Roberto Conduru, eds., New Worlds: Frontiers, Inclusion, Utopias. São Paulo: Comitê Brasileiro de História de Arte (CBHA) and Comité  International d’Histoire de l’Art, 2017, 56-70. 

“Betye Saar: Extreme Times Call for Extreme Heroines,” in Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean.  Los Angeles: Craft & Folk Art Museum, 2017, 11-17. 

 “The Image of the Black in Modern and Contemporary African Art,” in David Bindman, Suzanne Preston Blier, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017, 167-212. 

“‘Daringly Experimental and Versatile’: African Artsand the Contemporary,” African Arts, vol. 50, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 16-21.

“Rodney McMillian’s Racial Unconscious,” in Naima J. Keith and Anthony Elms, eds., Rodney McMillian. New York: Studio Museum in Harlem, 2016, 121-30. 

A New Day: A New Smithsonian Museum Highlights African American History and Culture,” Frieze Masters, 2016: 17-18. Online: 

“Nairobi’s Jamia Masjid and Muslim Identity,” Transition,No. 119 (2016): 60-72. 

Global Turns in US Art History,” co-authored with Caroline A. Jones, Perspective: actualité enhistoire de l’art, 2 | 2015: 95-110 (published in French and English). 

“Nelson Mandela’s Two Bodies,” Transition, No. 116 (2014): 130-42.

“Conversation Without Borders,” in Jill H. Casid and Aruna D’Souza, eds., Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute,  2014, 79-87.                         

“Notes from the Field: Time,” Art Bulletin, vol. 95, no. 3 (September 2013): 370-71.

Karmen Geï: Sex, the State and Censorship in Dakar,” African Arts, vol. 42, no. 2 (Spring 2011): 74-81.

“His Masters’ Tools: Recent Work by Allan deSouza,” Co-author with Gemma Rodrigues and Allan deSouza, Critical Interventions 7 (Fall 2010): 132-44.

 “A Tale of Two Cities: The Films of Djibril Diop Mambety,” Artforum, vol. 47, no. 3  (November 2008): 306-11.                       

“First Word: Africa Remix Remix,” African Arts, vol. 41, no. 3 (Autumn 2008): 1, 4-8.

“Collection and Context in a Cameroonian Village,” Museum International, no.  235 (September 2007), Paris: UNESCO/Blackwell: 22-30 (published in English, French, and Chinese).

“Turning Green into Black or How I Learned to Live with the Canon,” in Elizabeth Mansfield, ed., Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and its Institutions. London: Routledge, 2007, 54-66.       

“Mark Bradford’s Allegorical Impulse,” Mark Bradford. New York: Sikkema, Jenkins & Co, 2006, 9-13. 

“Diaspora: Multiple Practices, Multiple Worldviews,” in Amelia Jones, ed., Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell Companions to Art History). Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 296-316.     

“Transgressive Transcendence in the Photographs of Rotimi Fani-Kayode,” Art Journal, vol. 64, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 4-19.

“Post South Africa?,” in Sophie Perryer, ed., Personal Affects: Power and Poetics in Contemporary South African Art, Volume 2. New York: Museum for African Art/Spier, 2004, 11-17.

Response to Simon Gikandi’s article, “The Short Century: On Modernism and Nationalism,” New Formations 51 (2004): 32-38.

“Allan deSouza: Seeing is (not necessarily) Believing,” in Laurie Ann Farrell, ed., Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Museum for African Art, 2003, 75-83 (Republished in Allan deSouza: A Decade of Photographs, 1998-2008, New York: Talwar Gallery, 2008).

“Freeman Murray and the Beginnings of an African American History of Art,” in Elizabeth Mansfield, ed., Art History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline. London:  Routledge, 2002, 283-94.

“Writing Architecture: The Mousgoum Tòlékand Cultural Self-Fashioning at the New Fin de Siècle,” African Arts, vol. 34, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 38-49; 93.

“First Word:  Publishing Africa,” African Arts, vol. 34, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 1; 4-8.

“‘Savages’ on the Seine:  The Mousgoum Dome at the 1931 International Colonial Exposition,” The Annals of Scholarship:  Art Practices and the Human Sciences in a Global Culture, vol. 14, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 13-25.

“The Museum on My Mind,” in Steven Nelson and Lia Gangitano, eds., New Histories. Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 199624-30. 

“Rights and Permissions,” written with Thomas Grimes, in Steven Nelson and Lia Gangitano, eds., New Histories. Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 199664-68.

“Wear Your Hat:  Representational Resistance in Safer Sex Discourse,” published simultaneously in the Journal of Homosexuality,vol. 27, no. 1/2, and Whitney Davis, ed., Gay and Lesbian Studies in Art History. Binghamton, NY:  Haworth Press, 285-304.

Reviews and Other Publications

Review of Z. S. Strother, Humor and Violence: Seeing Europeans in Central African Art, Art Bulletin, Vol. 101, no. 1 (March 2019): 122-24

Awol Erizku: Portfolio,” Aperture 223: Vision & Justice, Summer 2016: 58.

“Lewis and Other African American Artists as Abstractionists,” The International Review of African American Art (Special Issue on Norman Lewis), vol. 26, no. 1 (2016): 14.

“Wiley’s Queer Couple,” in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic. New York: Brooklyn Museum/Prestel, 2015, 84-85.

Review of Bernard Toulier, Johan Lagae, and Marc Gemoets, Kinshasa: Architecture et paysage urbains, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 73, no. 1 (March 2014):  178-79.

“Conversation: Michelle Dizon, artist; Malik Gaines, artist and Assistant Professor of Art, Hunter College; Steven Nelson, Associate Professor of African and African American Art History, UCLA,” Malik Gaines, ed., Quadruple-Consciousness. Philadelphia: Vox Populi, 2011, 8-15.

“Short Circuits,” Review of Jennifer A. González, Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art, Art Journal, vol. 69, no. 1/2 (Spring- Summer 2010): 96-99.

Participant, “Contemporary African Art History and the Scholarship: A Roundtable Discussion,” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, no. 26 (Spring 2010): 80-151.

“Le Point de vue de Steven Nelson,” Response to Jean-Pierre Warnier, The Pot-King: The Bodyand Technologies of Power, Politique Africaine, no. 112 (December 2008): 183-86

Review of Darby English, How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness, Art Bulletin, vol. 90, no. 3(September 2008): 496-500.

“Medium, Content, and Conflation,” African Arts, vol. 41, no. 3 (Autumn 2008): 11-12.

“Recalling DAK’ART,” (short essay on DAK’ART 2006: 7th Biennale of Contemporary African Art). African Arts, vol. 39, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 64.

“Mary Lum’s Remains of the Day,” (introduction to Mary Lum’s artist project) Art Journal, vol. 64, no. 4 (Winter 2005): 4.

DAK’ART 2002: 5th Biennale of Contemporary African Art: A Review, Documents 23   (Spring 2004): 26-29

Review of William Pope.L: The Friendliest Black Artist in America©, African Arts, vol. 36, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 92-93.

Review of Jonathan M. Bloom et. al., The Minbar from the Kutubiyya Mosque, Speculum,  vol. 76, no. 4 (October 2001): 1002-03.

Review of “A Chronicle Congo:  Patrice Lumumba in Urban Art.” African Arts, vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 80-82.

“The Holy Book of Africanist Art History: Chapter 20,” African Arts, vol. 32, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 86.

“What is Black Art?” (review of Richard J. Powell, Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century and Alan Read, ed., The Fact of Blackness : Frantz Fanon and Visual Representation)  Art Journal, vol. 57, no. 3 (Fall 1998): 91-94.

“Critic @ Large:  Africa as Projection and Project,” (review of “Africa:  The Art of a Continent,” and “In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present,” Guggenheim Museum, New York) ANY (Architecture New York) 16 (1996): 12-13.