Postgraduate Diploma Course in Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT) | Postgraduate Certificate Course in Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT)

Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT)


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The museum is under attack. And deservedly so. Having come a long way from its ancient Greek understanding as a philosophical institution and place of contemplation and debate, over the last five hundred years, the story of the museum has been indelibly linked to the grand narratives of European colonial plunder, postcolonial nation-building, and as the citadels of high art. Museums have very nakedly served as tools to further the agendas of the institutions, nations, and the money that have created and nurtured them. In another grand narrative, the museum fulfils a further seemingly insatiable desire – to know. To know the lives and worlds of cultures deemed unknowable, to take and keep, store and study, the material wealth of the planet – both human and beyond; to catalogue and trace, order and compile systems through which sense-making can move decidedly beyond the murky realms of the felt, the imagined and the mythic, into the stone and cloth, bone, and metal of the real. And finally, the museum has existed to show ­­– to display material wealth and cultural capital, to dictate the trajectories of intellectual thought and proclaim that what it holds is of fundamental value. 

Of course, grand narratives are also obvious targets to fire upon. And as we peer into each opening left by the reckoning of history upon the museum, we realise that these are not clean and careful cuts but rather painful gaping wounds. But perhaps there is an argument to be made, that the intellectual and often material rubble left by each attack leads us meandering back to a museum’s original, ancient purpose – to be a site for debate, reckoning and a reach towards other possible understandings that have thus far been discarded. 

This year, the Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory rubric at Jnanapravaha Mumbai zooms into this critical moment of rupture and asks what forms repair could take. Over a fourteen-session series, we examine contemporary debates on the museum’s entangled past, its current crisis, and its possible futures. Considering a broad understanding of the museum as a site for a public encounter with art, culture, politics and history, the series engages with scholars, artists, and curators at the forefront of these debates. Apart from analysing traditional understandings of museums, the exhibition, the biennale, the art fair, physical and online spaces, and collective forms of creative organising all become critical sites of inquiry. As an online series, this edition of the ACT course has the benefit of engaging with cutting-edge scholarship from across the globe, both through its speakers as well as its participants.


Lecture Schedule

26 Oct '23 (Thursday)

Keynote Lecture: The Museum as an Object Lesson 

- Arjun Appadurai


2 Nov '23 (Thursday)

"A Uncomfortable Tour": Through the Indian Museum Kolkata 

- Tapati Guha-Thakurta


3 Nov '23 (Friday)

The Brutish Museum

- Dan Hicks


7 Nov '23 (Tuesday)

Museum Montage: Inclusion as Dispossession

- David Joselit


14 Nov '23 (Tuesday)

The Rise and (Fall?) of the Post-Colonial Documenta 

- Sunil Shah


17 Nov '23 (Friday)

Biennales: Between the Extractive and the Sustainable 

- Anthony Gardner


21 Nov '23 (Tuesday)

After Institutions - The Inner workings of Institutional Critique 

- Karen Archey


23 Nov '23 (Thursday)

Lumbung-ing: A Spatial Practice 

- Farid Rakun


28 Nov'23 (Tuesday)

Against Museology 

- Sabih Ahmed


30 Nov '23 (Thursday)

Collecting as Practice  

- Aaron Cezar


5 Dec '23 (Tuesday)

Museum as Ethos: Give the Body Back 

- Zoe Butt


7 Dec '23 (Thursday)

Archive as Fantasy 

- Diwas Raja KC 


9 Dec '23 (Saturday) - 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM IST

Museums and Wealth: The Politics of Contemporary Art Collections 

- Nizan Shaked


12 Dec'23 (Tuesday)

Contact Session with participants 

- Adira Thekkuveettil


15 Dec '23 (Friday)

Between Possession and Dispossession: The Museum as Immersive Space (In Memory of Kavita Singh) 

- Kajri Jain


Classes, unless otherwise specified on the schedule of lectures, are from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm IST, Mainly on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

All classes will be online.

Students are expected to make a sincere attempt to attend all classes. To obtain an ACT Certificate, students must have at least 75% attendance at live online classes (held on Tuesdays & Thursdays evening). 

Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before registering.


26 Oct - 15 Dec, 2023


Rs. 15,000
(PG Certificate)

Registrations Closed