Karin Zitzewitz


34 Kresge Art Center East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyArt, Art History, and DesignGlobal Studies in Arts and Humanities

Associate Professor
Art History & Visual Culture


Karin Zitzewitz is a specialist in the modern and contemporary art of India and Pakistan. An art historian, anthropologist, and curator, her latest research is collected in Infrastructure and Form: Globalization, Contemporary Art, India (University of California Press, 2022). Her earlier books are The Art of Secularism: The Cultural Politics of Modernist Art in Contemporary India (Hurst/Oxford, 2014) and The Perfect Frame: Presenting Indian Art: Stories and Photographs from the Kekoo Gandhy Collection (Chemould, 2003). Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the American Institute for Indian Studies, the Paul Mellon Centre, and the Fulbright program.

Her guest curatorial projects for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University include solo presentations for Pakistani artist Naiza Khan (2013) and Indian artist Mithu Sen (2014). Naiza Khan’s “Karachi Elegies” was supported by a book published jointly by the Broad Art Museum and Art AsiaPacific. Mithu Sen’s “Border Unseen” was featured in Sculpture magazine, ArtForum, and BOMB Magazine, among other outlets.

Zitzewitz has co-edited special issues of Art Journal (Winter 2019), with Nora A. Taylor, and the Journal of Material Culture (March 2022), with Manuela Ciotti. Her writings have been published in British Art Studies, ARTMargins Journal, Third Text, Visual Anthropology Review, Art History, and Journal of Asian Studies, as well as several edited volumes. She is currently Chair of the Editorial Board of Art Journal and Art Journal OPEN (2020–22), which she joined as an at-large member in 2018.

At Michigan State, Zitzewitz is core faculty in the Global Studies in Arts and Humanities Program and Muslim Studies Program, and is affiliated faculty with the Asian Studies Center and the Center for Interdisciplinarity (c4i).

Karin Zitzewitz received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University in 2006. Before coming to MSU she served as a Harper Fellow at the University of Chicago.

Awards and Honors


HA 261 “Modern Asian Art”
This course introduces students to the history of painting in China, Japan, and the Indian Subcontinent from the sixteenth century to the present. Split into thirds, the course looks at the painting of imperial courts, the artistic practices driven by the rise of European and Japanese colonialism and anti-colonial nationalism, and the art associated with post-War Japan, decolonized India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and the People’s Republic of China.

HA 461 “Selected Topics in Modern Asian Art”
These more specialized courses allow students to study the modern and contemporary art practices associated with places in Asia. Except for “Contemporary Art of Asia and the Middle East,” the focus is often on the role of colonialism and anti-colonial nationalism in shaping art practices. In these courses, students are expected to pursue research projects of their choice, drawn from within the materials introduced by the course.

HA802 “Research Methods for Artists and Designers”
This course has two goals: one, to help MFA students understand how research can inform their practice, and, two, to help prepare them for the written portion of their thesis. The course distinguishes between what is typically described as research-based art practice and the wide variety of research methods—gathering of knowledge, preparatory work, etc.—that support and become part of art making. Artistic research methods range from the apparently highly personal and idiosyncratic, to those that employ archival, art historical, or scientific methods, to social and community-based practices. In recognition of this range, around three-quarters of the class time surveys forms of artistic research, most often through art historical or art critical essays on the work of one or two artists a week that are contextualized by broader theory. Assignments that explore these issues include a presentation and the portion of the final paper that engages the work of an artist. The remaining quarter of the class is built on assignments completed throughout the term and engages the students in critical reading and writing. The goal is the production of a research sketchbook and artist statement, included as part of the final paper, that aims to situate their own work in relation to research methods.

GSAH 315 "Globalization and the Arts”
The first version of this course will has the subtheme of “Colonialism and the Art of South and Southeast Asia” and be cross-listed with HA 461.

IAH 211B "Bollywood Cinema"
What is Bollywood? Most straightforwardly, it is the film industry centered in Bombay (renamed Mumbai in 1995), India, which produces about 150-200 films a year in the Hindi language. Like Hollywood films, Hindi films are produced with a particular national audience in mind, but they circulate internationally, in post-socialist, African, and Asian countries as well as
Europe and the United States. The film we most closely associate with Bollywood is the song-and-dance extravaganza, the “masala” genre in which action, romance, and morality play are rolled into one. Bollywood films are enormously entertaining, which explains their appeal in India and around the world. But this popular cultural form also articulates important cultural themes, and is a good measure of the concerns of its viewers. This course considers a series of films that intersect with modern Indian history and provide a window into society and visual culture.


Infrastructure and Form: Globalization, Contemporary Art, India (University of California Press, 2022).

The Art of Secularism: The Cultural Politics of Modernist Art in Contemporary India (Hurst/Oxford, 2014)

University News

AAHD Professor Wins Award for Her Book on Indian Contemporary Art
Published February 10, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Karin Zitzewitz, Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, won the 2021 Millard Meiss Award for her book, Infrastructure and Form: The Global Networks of Indian…Read now »
Fund Created to Help Students Get the Art Materials They Need
Published November 6, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
a group of students showing their art
When classes at Michigan State University moved to remote learning, students in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) faced the unique challenge of emulating studio spaces from…Read now »
100-Year Anniversary of Bauhaus Celebrated at MSU
Published October 22, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
two men sitting on the ground who are holding giant white plastic wrap and strings
The College of Arts & Letters and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities came together last week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus, a famous art school…Read now »
Critical Race Studies Residency Program Begins Third Year
Published August 20, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
a man with curly hair and a blue shirt with a women with brown curly hair and a black tank top
MSU’s College of Arts & Letters’ Critical Race Studies Residency program is bringing two dynamic artists to campus for the 2019-2020 academic year to enrich the life of the greater Lansing…Read now »
Zitzewitz Appointed Interim Chair of AAHD
Published July 25, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
a women with short hair wearing glasses with a blue shirt and a pink scarf
Karin Zitzewitz, Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, has been appointed Interim Chair of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) for a two-year term,…Read now »
MFA Prize-Winning Exhibit Explores the Meaning of Value
Published May 1, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
picture of a metal-looking building, MSU's broad art museum
Jazzmyn Barbosa is this year’s winner of the Master of Fine Arts Prize, which was presented during the closing reception for the Department of Art, Art History, and Design’s 2018…Read now »
Art, Art History, and Design Professor Receives Humboldt Research Fellowship
Published May 16, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
a women with short hair and glasses with a pink and purple scarf and black dress standing in front of an art building
Karin Zitzewitz, Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, a competitive and prestigious award that gives…Read now »