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Giulia Smith

Dr Giulia Smith is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Ruskin School of Art and Worcester College, University of Oxford (2019–2022). Previously she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute (2016–2017) and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art (2018–2019).

Dr Giulia Smith specialises in modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on the legacies of Empire in Britain and across the Atlantic world. Her research focuses in particular on the eco-aesthetic and eco-poetic traditions of the transnational Caribbean in relation to Eurocentric, and especially British, conceptions of nature, landscape and ecology. Titled Living Landscapes: Biotic Resistance in the Transnational Caribbean, her current book project considers visual objects and literary texts produced in the second half of the twentieth century alongside contemporary artworks that mobilise geophysical entities and climatic phenomena in support of counter-hegemonic critiques of colonial and neo-colonial regimes of oppression and environmental exploitation. Preliminary publications relating to this research are forthcoming with Tate Publishing and in British Art Studies.

In 2020, she was awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to organise an international workshop on ‘Art, Politics and Ecology in Modern Guyana’. The project expanded with the support of a Paul Mellon Centre Event Support Grant, jointly awarded to Dr Giulia Smith and Dr Kate Keohane, and is now scheduled to take place as part of a comprehensive research stream on ‘Biotic Resistance: Eco-Caribbean Visions in Art and Exhibition Practice’ (forthcoming at Oxford University in 2021). 

Dr Giulia Smith is also working on a book titled Crip Aesthetics: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Sickness, which examines the work of living artists whose practice pivots on the politics of sickness, healing and survival. Bringing together current theoretical discourses on collective debility, environmental disaster and racialised trauma, the book considers the possibilities and the problems opened up by the adoption of these terms within the mainstream art world. Extracts of this research are forthcoming in an article for Art History titled ‘Chronic Illness as Critique: Crip Aesthetics Across the Atlantic’ (due for publication at the start of 2021).

In the past, Dr Giulia Smith has published articles on a range of subjects, from the representation of interracial love in the aftermath of Windrush (Third Text, 2021), to the gender politics of the postwar art world (British Art Studies, 2015). Her art criticism has appeared in Art Monthly, Frieze and Wellcome Collection Stories, among other platforms. Dr Giulia Smith has also collaborated on exhibitions and research programmes with multiple museums and galleries, including South London Gallery, ICA, Showroom and Arcadia Missa. Previously, she was a curatorial intern at the Guggenheim Museum, NYC and The Drawing Center. Her approach to pedagogy was shaped by more than eight years of experience teaching in UK universities, as well as by one critical experience in the museum education sector. Between 2017–18, Dr Giulia Smith was the historian in residence at South London Gallery/Wellcome Library as part of a long-term program focused on supporting a diverse group of young people aged 14-21 in their self-directed exploration of the archive of the Peckham Experiment (London, 1926–1950), a modernist architectural complex and community health centre devoted to promoting radical wellbeing at grassroots level. Her teaching remains informed by the non-hierarchical and multidisciplinary ethos of this project. At the Ruskin School of Art, Dr Giulia Smith offers a variety of courses on anti-imperialist, anti-racist, feminist and eco-critical art practices. Currently, she co-teaches with Dr Onyeka Igwe the undergraduate module ‘Unlearning Whiteness’.