Z. S. Strother

Riggio Professor of African Art

Art of the African Diaspora; Central African Art
Ph.D., Yale University, 1992

Contact Information

Phone: (212) 854-8529
Office: 914 Schermerhorn Hall
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 2:15-4


Professor Zoë Strother is a specialist in Central and West African art history, with a special focus on the twentieth century (both colonial and postcolonial). She has conducted research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mali, and Senegal. Her broad intellectual project is to understand how concepts such as "mask," "power object," or "divine kingship" have been deployed to theorize power and knowledge in African societies. Her book, Inventing Masks: Agency and History in the Art of the Central Pende, was awarded the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award by the Arts Council of the African Studies Association for works published, 1998-2000. Her current research concentrates on the history of iconoclasm in Africa; the continuing legacy of primitivism; problems in methodology.

Believing that it is imperative to situate African art in dialogue with other fields and disciplines, she also serves as contributing editor for Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics and associate editor for Art in Translation, a new e-journal seeking to make available in English critical texts on visuality from around the world.

Selected Publications

Pende. Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2008. 

Inventing Masks: Agency and History in the Art of the Central PendeUniversity of Chicago Press, 1998. [Paper 1999.]

"Display of the Body Hottentot". In Africans on Stage," ed. Bernth Lindfors. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999, pp. 1-61.

"Architecture Against the State: The Virtues of Impermanence in the Kibulu of Eastern Pende Chiefs in Central Africa". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63: 3 (September 2004), pp.272-95.

"African Works." Guest editor for special issue of RES: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics devoted to methodology. (#39: Spring 2001). "Editorial. African Works: Anxious Encounters in the Visual Arts," pp. 5-23.