The notion of modernity as a tabula rasa phenomenon that destroys the present in order to build the future is particularly complicated in the case of non-Western settings, where modernization was often understood as erasing local culture in favor of a template borrowed from the West. Historiographies of non-Western arts have mostly followed such a model, viewing fine arts, associated with modernity, as opposed to “traditional” arts, often commodified in the production of nostalgia or marketed for tourists. This article discusses the complexity of art production in non-Western contexts, beyond such reductive classifications.



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