CAA News Today
posted by Allison Walters — Dec 02, 2020
As a queer Latinx medievalist, I am intimately aware of the challenges faced by art historians of color. These challenges extend from the systematics of graduate training and the tenure and promotion system, as well as the unique precarities faced by BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ scholars doing research in the field. Recognizing my place as a tenured, full Professor, my aim is to use the privileges afforded to me to support early career scholars. My goals on CAA’s Board of Directors are twofold: first, to champion the needs and successes of BIPOC scholars, offering my understanding of the challenges faced particularly by Latinx scholars; second, to speak to the needs of pre-modern art historians, particularly from my expertise as a Byzantinist working across the medieval Mediterranean world.
Having received my PhD in 2014, I have faced the realities of today’s academy with dwindling job prospects and newfound publishing challenges amidst unchanging demands. At the same time, I have also moved swiftly through the tenure and promotion process at a large public institution. In my commitment to early career scholars, I wish to lead conversations as to how we rethink publication and peer review processes for a more ethical, equitable, and constructive scholarly landscape. As a medievalist, I also recognize that the needs of my field are severely underrepresented within CAA, which in past years has led to steep drops in membership due to a lack of representation and also in protest of said lack. My goal is to revitalize the visibility of and avenues of conversation for our constituents working on the ancient and medieval worlds.
Over the past ten years and since my early graduate school days, I have been committed to service responsibilities that enrich our field, from programming to administration. Currently, I am the Director of the PhD Program in Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine, where I am also a Professor of Art History and Chancellor’s Fellow. Starting next year, I am the Series Editor for the Viewpoints book series, run in conjunction with the International Center for Medieval Art (ICMA) and the Pennsylvania State University Press. I have an extensive record of serving on the governing boards and steering committees of a host of organizations, including the Medievalists of Color (MoC), the Byzantine Studies Association of North America (BASANA), and the Gender in Byzantium Bibliography Project at Dumbarton Oaks / Harvard. And, at the Medieval Academy of America, I serve on the Inclusivity and Diversity Prize Committee. At UC, Irvine, I have served on three search committees for positions diversifying our curriculum in the areas of Armenian history, Iranian archaeology, and Latinx art history, film, and media studies. Additionally, my efforts have been focused on largescale fundraising for my institution, including our new LGBTQ+ Fundraising Committee, the Faculty Development Committee for the School of Humanities, and the department of Art History’s fundraising committee.
As we look ahead, my goal is to make CAA a safe, supportive, and affirming space for BIPOC, queer, and trans scholars working across our organization’s multifaceted areas. I intend to use my extensive service background alongside my extensive research and publication experience to guide CAA into the coming decade, acknowledging my personal experience in the field as a queer Latinx art historian.