Autonomy remains a powerful notion in contemporary art world activities. With the growth of art world infrastructures in the Global South, the notion of art's autonomy persists, enacted via similar institutions, professional habitus, norms of display, exchange, and production as exist in the West.
Anthropological scholarship on non-Western art worlds tends to examine social institutions and historical processes unfolding within unequal relations of power, undercutting the art historical view that art is an autonomous domain, separate from everyday life. Yet autonomy remains a powerful notion in contemporary art world activities, as artists, curators and dealers uphold the idea that art is something whose production and evaluation should be free from economic or political interests. Even with the growth of art world infrastructures in countries such as India, South Africa, Brazil, and the UAE over the past two decades art worlds are still defined as having centres and peripheries where autonomy is enacted differently. Despite having varying (often postcolonial) histories and conditions from Euro-American contexts, the notion of art's autonomy persists, enabled via many similar institutions, forms of professional habitus, norms of art display, exchange, and production as exist in the West. Accordingly, this panel will explore how the autonomy of art is differently enacted and articulated in art world contexts across the Global South. We seek papers engaging the relationship between autonomy and art making, art marketing and the circulation of art between art worlds. How is autonomy maintained despite complex relationships between public funding, collectors and patronage? Contributions could focus on all actors, institutions and networks involved in the making and maintenance of art worlds in the Global South, including their relationship with cosmopolitan, nationalist and local discourses. We are also interested in papers that revise established theories of art worlds.