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Personal profile

Research interests

Zehra Jumabhoy is a Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Bristol. She is an art historian, curator and writer specialising in modern and contemporary South Asian art and its diasporas. She is interested in exploring and analysing the socio-political contexts of South Asian art history, including its relationship to British Imperial pasts and presents as well as ideas related to Postcolonial Theory and Decolonisation. She speaks regularly at academic conferences, Biennales, museums, art fairs and literary festivals and has spoken as an art expert on TV and Radio programmes.

For more information see: www.zehrajumabhoy.com

Research interests

Zehra received a Joint Honours BA in English Literature & Philosophy from Durham University (2001), a Masters in English Literature & Philosophy from Warwick University (2003) and a Masters in Art History from The Courtauld Institute of Art (2006), where she was awarded the Stavros S. Niarchos Trust Scholarship. Subsequently, Zehra was a Steven and Elena Heinz Scholar at The Courtauld, where she completed her PhD on Indian art and nationalism (2017), supervised by Professor Julian Stallabrass. At The Courtauld, Zehra lectured on and helped design undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (2016-2020). She has been a visiting lecturer at various academic institutions in the UK, India, Pakistan and Singapore, including teaching on MA programmes dedicated to Asian art and theory at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London (2017-22) and leading core modules in the “Asian Art Histories” MA at Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore (2021-22). 

Zehra’s doctoral thesis, at The Courtauld, was titled, “Homi K. Bhabha’s Concept of National Identity and Contemporary Indian Art”. The thesis placed Bhabha’s ideas in conversation with those of Geeta Kapur, India’s pre-eminent art historian. The project encompassed India’s major artistic movements from the 1950s to the early 2000s. It discussed Modern Indian artists (e.g. The Progressive Artists’ Group); the 1980s’ Baroda School painters (e.g. Bhupen Khakhar & Gulammohammed Sheikh); prominent contemporary practitioners (e.g. Atul Dodiya, Sheela Gowda & Bharti Kher) and diasporic South Asian artists (e.g. Zarina Hashmi). Dealing with the development of the idea of the Indian nation, the thesis explored the interstices between art history, political science, postcolonial theory and continental philosophy. Since then, Zehra has been involved in a number of curatorial and research projects which explore ideas of nationalism and identity in the context of South Asian and British art.




  • Zehra Jumabhoy & Tan Boon Hui (Eds.), The Progressive Revolution: A Modern Art for a New India, Prestel, New York, 2018
  • F.N. Souza: Black on Black, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 2013. A publication accompanying an exhibition of Souza’s 1960s ‘black paintings’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London, from 8 to 28 October 2013. 
  • Upward Movement: N.S. Harsha, Victoria Miro, London, 2015. A publication to accompany the Indian artist’s solo show at Victoria Miro Mayfair, London, from 27 March to 25 April 2015.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today, Mark Holborn (Ed.), Random House, London, 2010

Peer-reviewed Journals

Chapters in Books

  • “Making Place for People?: Geeta Kapur, Secular Nationalism & ‘Indian’ art”, Brown University-led publication on Secularism in South Asia, How Secular is Art?: On the Art of Art History in South Asia. Editors: Vazira Zamindar and Tapati Guha-Thakurta. Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Forthcoming 2022.
  • “Tilting at Thresholds: Partition in Modern versus Contemporary South Asian Art & Exhibitions”, Harvard University’s publication on South Asian Partitions. Publisher: SAGE Publications, India, 2022, pp.279-312 Chapter 10 in open-source book: https://spectrum.sagepub.in/book/the-1947-partition-of-British-India-Jennifer-Leaning-9789354792908/20
  • “Making Britain Browner”, Midnight’s Family: 70 years of Indian Artists in Britain, Exhi. Cat., Ben Uri Research Unit, London, 2020, pp. 6-11. 
  • “The Look of Love: Desire and the National Imagination”, Hemen Mazumdar: The Last Romantic, Nirmalya Kumar & Caterina Corner (Eds.), Singapore Management University, Singapore, 2019, pp. 113-120
  • “The ‘New’ Indian Sculpture”, The Matter Within: Contemporary Art from India, Exhi. Cat., Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2012, pp. 18-25
  • “Me, Myself, and You”, India: Art Now, Gether et al (Eds.), Hatje Cantz, Copenhagen, 2012, pp. 64-81 


                              Public Lectures & Panels (Highlights)


  • Zoom Presentation, Splitting the Difference, for “Drawing the Line, Connecting the Circle: Partition in South Asian Art” for a collaborative Independence Day Programme with Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Kalapriya Center for Performing Arts, Chicago and The 1947 Partition Archive. Speakers included Siddhartha Shah (PEM) and Guneet Singh Bhalla (1947 Partition Archive) and was chaired by Kalapriya Foundation’s President of the Board, Mridu D. Sekhar. (2021) Video:https://youtu.be/aDHqiZOiGG0
  • Lecture on “Brangwyn and the ‘British Empire’ Panels” for Workshop 2, What stories of British art travel?”, of Curating Nation Series, co-convened by the Black British Art Research Group (BAN) & UAL Decolonising Arts Institute. (2021) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gFY9NaX6DU 
  • Lectures for “Mind the Dash: The Modern/Contemporary & In-Between in Indian Art”, Zoom Talk Series with art historians Puja Vaish & Dr Siddhartha Shah. In collaboration with Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation, Mumbai, India & Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, USA (2020) Videos for Talks 1-3: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeFxJds2DB9BMdQrL0Ccfng 
  • Panels at Lahore Literary Festivals, including at Alhamra Arts Centre, Lahore (2020 & 2019); British Library, London ( 2019 & 2018) and Asia Society, New York (2018) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb-foInitAQ
  • Panel “The Progressive Artists’ Group: Creating a Modern India” at Asia Society, New York (25 October 2018). This was part of a Conference, co-organised with Professors Gauri Viswanathan & Vishakha Desai from Columbia University, New York on “The Progressive Genealogy: Art & Culture in Modern India”, New York (20 October 2018) Conference Video: https://asiasociety.org/new-york/symposium-recap-progressive-genealogy


                         Curatorial Projects (Highlights)


  • Glynn Vivian Museum, Swansea, Wales Nov 18 – Ongoing (Paul Mellon Center Research Curator): Co-curating, with Katy Freer, Head of Exhibitions at Glynn Vivian, Imperial Subjects: (Post)Colonial Conversations between South Asia & Britain. The exhibition, exploring the connections between the Subcontinent and Britain, is scheduled for Autumn 2024. The project is part of the museum’s drive to “decolonize” its collection.
  • Lenbachhaus Museum, Munich, Germany (Curatorial Advisor): Advised, alongside Pakistani art historian Dr Samina Iqbal, on the South Asian art component of the Lenbachhaus’ major exhibition, Group Dynamics II: Collectives of the Modernist Period, which ran from 18 October 2021 – 24 April 2022. See: https://www.lenbachhaus.de/en/visit/exhibitions/details/group-dynamics-collectives-of-the-modernist-period 
  • Grosvenor Gallery, London, UK (Guest Curator): Patterns of the Past: Weaving Art & Heritage in ‘Pakistani’ Art was a group show comprising 5 Pakistani artists: Ruby Chishti, Adeela Suleman, Liaqat Rasul, David Chalmers Alesworth and Bushra Waqas Khan. It was part of an annual collaboration between London’s Grosvenor Gallery and Karachi’s Canvas Gallery, running from 10 September – 1 October 2021. See: https://www.grosvenorgallery.com/exhibitions/322-patterns-of-the-past-weaving-heritage-in-pakistani-curated-by-dr-zehra-jumabhoy/overview/
  • Asia Society Museum, New York, US (Guest Curator): Co-curated The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India (14 September 2018-20 January 2019), the first exhibition dedicated to the Progressive Artists’ Group at an international institution. Coverage from The New York Times, The Wallstreet Journal, Frieze, Art in America and Artforum International. Read: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/arts/design/the-progressive-revolution-review-asia-society.html




Research interests


External positions

Paul Mellon Centre Research Curator at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea



  • Modern and Contemporary South Asian, Asian and British art
  • Nationalism
  • ‘Black’ Art & Modernism
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Art, Empire & Diaspora
  • Continental Philosophy & Aesthetics
  • Welsh art and identity
  • Art and Politics
  • South Asian History


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