ACSAA Mission Statement

The American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study, teaching, interpretation, conservation, and awareness of the arts of South and Southeast Asia, the Himalayan regions, and their diasporas. We embrace the diverse visual, material, and spatial cultures and the full range of media of these arts; and we see this commitment to diversity as a critical responsibility of the Council and its members in academic, curatorial, and public spheres.

We approach Southern Asia as a region connected to and part of transregional and multilingual phenomena and cultural worlds. The artistic cultures of these regions shaped — and were shaped by — mobilities of people, things, and ideas across oceans and over lands. Together, they constitute an expressive and extraordinary archive of longue durée continuities, violent partitions, and innovative localizations.

Members of ACSAA are specialists in material ranging from the deep past to the present. This includes exploring multilayered pasts, contesting colonial underpinnings of disciplinary knowledge, and writing postcolonial histories of the regions’ arts that affect people’s lives and public spaces in the present. We critique projects that re-write the region’s history in ways that manipulate historical data, marginalize the role of certain groups, or propagate rhetoric destructive to objects, archives, and communities. Our collective work rejects bias — including to but not limited to those based on religion, language, caste, class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship — in both scholarly and public discourse.

We support a wide range of students and scholars and encourage future generations to continue critical inquiries and the expansion of knowledge in our field. We seek interdisciplinary academic collaboration and invite engagement that builds connections between public and private institutions, such as universities, museums, research institutes, heritage spaces and archaeological sites, art festivals and auction markets, art collectives and new digital initiatives across the globe.

In all of this work — from individual, community, and institutional perspectives — we strive to create a more just, equitable, ethical, and inclusive discipline.