Portrait of Lisa Uddin

Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture Studies, Paul Garett Fellow and Department Chair


Before coming to Whitman in 2012, Professor Uddin taught art history and theory at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C. and studied urban-environmental visual culture as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota and Brown University. She grew up in a Swedish and Bengali white-collar immigrant family in suburban Toronto, and with artists, architects and community radio broadcasters in urban Montreal. These experiences helped shape the abiding concern in all of her work: to understand what whiteness has built in and as the United States, in what ways, and how minoritarian culture makers have engaged the built environment otherwise. 


Ph.D. Visual and Cultural Studies
University of Rochester

M.A. Visual and Cultural Studies
University of Rochester

M.A. Media Studies
Concordia University-Montréal

B.A. North American Studies
McGill University

Courses Taught by Professor Uddin

  • Introduction to Critical Art History
  • Mayhem, Machines, Manifestos: Modernism in Art and Architecture
  • Forms and Feels: Race and Visual Culture
  • Blues, Blood, Bruise: Blackness in Art
  • Indigenous Aesthetics: Native North American Art and Visual Culture
  • Senior Seminar in Art History and Visual Culture Studies

Professor Uddin’s early scholarship centered on race, animality and urbanism. Her book on U.S. zoo design, for example, demonstrated how the modernization of postwar animal exhibits expressed white middle-class fears toward the inner city and desires to suburbanize. Today, she researches Black aesthetic practices in their multiple moods, coordinates, ecologies and assemblages. She co-edits an online art criticism series devoted to blackness and the arts. She is also writing a design history of blackness in California since the 1960s, and beginning a collaborative pedagogical project against settler visual culture.

“The Fugitivity of Black Panther Oakland,” in Design Radicals: Spaces of Bay Area Counterculture, eds. Greg Castillo and Lee Stickells (forthcoming with University of Minnesota Press).

Black One Shot, eds. Lisa Uddin and Michael Boyce Gillespie, ASAP/JJune-September, 2020, June-September 2018.

“And Thus Not Glowing Brightly: Noah Purifoy’s Junk Modernism,” in Race and Modern Architecture, eds. Mabel O. Wilson, Irene Cheng, Charles Davis. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020.

" Radical Shit: Countercultural Autonomy and Composting Toilet Design,"  ASAP/J, February 13, 2020. 

" Thumper’s Descent,"  ASAP/J, August 13, 2018.

" The Matter of Black Life," Los Angeles Review of Books, January 7, 2016.  

Zoo Renewal: White Flight and the Animal GhettoUniversity of Minnesota Press, 2015.

2019, Louis B. Perry Faculty-Student Summer Research Scholarship, Whitman College 

2018, Paul Garrett Fellowship for excellence in research, teaching and service, Whitman College 

2017, Getty Library Research Grant, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA 

2017, Sally Ann Abshire award for faculty-student research, Whitman College

2012, Corcoran College of Art and Design Faculty Development Research Grant 

2009, Quadrant Fellowship in Environment, Culture and Sustainability, University of Minnesota, MN 

2008-09, Pembroke Postdoctoral Fellowship, Brown University, Providence RI 

2007, Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington DC 

2007, Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden History and Design, Garden Club of America and Landscape Architecture Foundation

2004, Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender & Women’s Studies, Graduate Research Grant 

2004, University of Rochester, Celeste Hughes Bishop Award for academic accomplishments, teaching achievements, and general contributions 

2002-06, Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Doctoral Fellowship 

2002-04, Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, Québec, Doctoral Fellowship