Giulia Paoletti

Assistant Professor, Art History


The Siren Project

Giulia Paoletti’s research examines nineteenth and twentieth century African art with a particular focus on the early histories of photography in West Africa. Based on two years of fieldwork, she is working on a book manuscript tracing the origins and early developments of photography in Senegal (1860-1960). The book is based on her dissertation that received the Arts Council of the African Studies Association’s 2017 Roy Sieber Award for Best Dissertation in African art (2013- 6). Besides Senegal, she did research in Mali, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and the Gambia where she has examined contemporary art practices.

Support for her research and writing include grants and fellowships from the National Museum of African Art Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in> Houston. Her articles have appeared in edited volumes and academic journals including Cahiers d'études africaines, The Metropolitan Museum Journal, Art in Translation, and African Arts. She also was a co-editor for The Expanded Subject: New Perspectives in Photographic Portraiture from Africa.

Before joining the University of Virginia faculty in 2018, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2016-18). Her curatorial practice includes three exhibitions she co-curated on historical and contemporary African photography: Oumar Ka: Gis-Gis Baol / Photos du Baol at the Dak’art Biennial OFF 2018; The Expanded Subject: New Perspectives in Photographic Portraiture from Africa at the Wallach Gallery (2016); and In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015).

At UVA, Paoletti teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on Africa’s histories of photography, modern and contemporary art, classical arts and exhibition histories.