Dr. Natasha Eaton

Dr Natasha Eaton

History of Art



Dr Natasha Eaton is Reader in the History of Art at UCL. Her research which has been awarded grants from the V&A, AHRC, British Academy, The Leverhulme Trust, Yale University, The Freer/Smithsonian Institute, The Simon Fun, The Clark Art Institute, The Getty, The Paul Mellon Centre and the Society for 18th-century Studies, focuses on art and visual culture in South Asia.

At present Natasha is at work on a new project provisionally entitled ‘The Conditional Image: Art, empire, indenture’ (Research Fellowship, The Leverhulme Trust, 2015-16). ‘The Conditional Image’ aims to examine the legacies/redefinitions of labour, slavery, revolution, imprisonment and migrancy in eastern India, Mauritius and the Andamans c.1780 to c.1920. As the ‘mood/adverb’ for writing and painting about empire, the conditional is here taken as the barely visible interstice between slavery and labour: it slips between the contract and the customary, between sympathy and recognition, despotism and utilitarianism. Aspects of this research on the conditional focus on the idea of the ‘indent’ (binding contract, petition, penal tattoo); magic, folklore and ghosts in the colony; the thresholds between travel as imaginaire and coercion (indenture, penal labour, bondage, coolie occupancy); how missionaries might have unwittingly encouraged idolatry in their pastoral/collecting practices and the working out of an ‘a civil contract of photography’ that sought to attend to the ‘figure’ of the indentured labourer.

Key Publications

Key publications include articles in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, The Journal of Material Culture, Cultural Critique, The Art Bulletin, Comparative Studies in Society and History, MARG and Third Text. In 2013 Natasha published two monographs – Mimesis Across Empires: Artworks and networks, 1765-1860 (Duke University Press) and Colour, Art and Empire: The Nomadism of visual representation (I.B.Tauris). She is currently contracted to write a book for Ashgate on tourism and collecting in South Asia and she is the editor of a forthcoming edited volume Colour and Industry (Bloomsbury Press). As an editor of the journal Third Text Natasha is working towards a special issue on India since Independence scheduled for 2017.

Projects and Collaborations

In February 2013 Natasha and Renate Dohmen organized two South-Asia related events in New York. The first was a one-day symposium at the South Asia Institute, Columbia University. ‘South Asian Encounters: Empire, anthropologies of travel and the visual’, sponsored by Columbia University and the Historians of British Art Association. This was followed by a panel at the annual conference of the College Art Association focused on contemporary South and South East Asian art.

Teaching Interests

Natasha’s teaching interests at undergraduate and graduate levels are concerned with art, empires and South Asia.

Areas of PhD research supervision

Areas of research supervision relating to South Asia include the Imperial Picturesque, art and nationalism, women and photography, the relationship between visual culture and communism.

Recent/current PhD students with an interest in South Asia include Sanjukta Sunderason (Assistant Professor, University of Leiden), Emilia Terracciano (Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow, Oxford University), Sabitha Thekke Prakkottuthody and Mallika Leuzinger. Sanjukta, Sabitha, Emilia and Mallika, all of who work on the relationship between art, South Asia, politics and modernity, have had their PhDs funded by one or more of the following: the Commonwealth Scholarship; the AHRC; the UK-India Education and Research Initiative; the Yale Center for British Art; UCL.