This volume, as a companion to The Image of the Black in Western Art, the five volumes (ten books) of which appeared between 2010 and 2014, moves beyond the geographical scope of those volumes to consider art beyond Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean. It thus moves beyond the limits set by Dominique and Jean de Menil when they conceived the series in the 1960s. The idea of the present volume came out of discussions between the editors and Sharmila Sen; this volume originated at Harvard in a further collaboration between the Hutchins Center (formerly W. E. B. Du Bois Institute) for African and African American Research and Harvard University Press.
The assembly of this volume—particularly the Asia section—has proved in some respects more challenging than that of the previous volumes, for the study of images of Africans in most Asian countries is less well developed than in Europe and the United States. But for that reason it has been more full of surprises, in terms of quality and range. Each of the countries and continents considered has produced far more interesting images than even specialists thought possible at first, and we as editors have marveled at the variety of objects brought to light and their origins in such widely differing circumstances.
It has been a particular pleasure as editors to deal with a superlative group of scholars, who have produced a masterly series of essays, in some cases in difficult circumstances. We will long remember a workshop at Harvard in March 2012 in which almost all the contributors came together to shape the volume in a wonderfully collegial and exciting way.
It has been a privilege to work with them, as it has with our colleagues at the Du Bois Institute, especially Sheldon Cheek, Vera Grant, Krishna Lewis, and Abby Wolf, and fellows of the Du Bois Institute, now part of the recently inaugurated Hutchins Center. We would also like to thank Layla Bermejo, Jeff Blossom, and Ben Lewis for their excellent work on the maps.
As ever we would like to thank Dean Rosovsky for establishing the conditions under which the image archive could be housed at the Du Bois Institute (now Hutchins Center) at Harvard, and to thank President Neil Rudenstine for fulfilling those conditions and overseeing the moving of the archive from the Menil Foundation in Houston to Cambridge. We would also like to thank President Lawrence Summers for the generous space in which the archive and its library are housed within the Hutchins Center in Harvard Square.
Once again we have found it a huge pleasure working with Sharmila Sen and her wonderful colleagues at Harvard University Press—Heather Hughes, Gina Choe, Annamarie Why, Jill Breitbarth, Eric Mulder, and Abby Mumford, as well as Cheryl Lincoln, Ken Krugh, and Kevin Krugh at Technologies ’N Typography.
We have once again enjoyed working with Richard Philpott, Sara Toso, Louis Jaquet, Tasha Mathur, Cristina Lombardo, and Shalini Gupta of Zooid Pictures Ltd., who had the enormous task of gathering the photographs for the volumes and obtaining permissions, which they carried out in an exemplary fashion.
David Bindman, Suzanne Preston Blier,
Karen C. C. Dalton, and
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.