Painting Skin: The Construction of Racial Identity through Representations of American Indians in Jacksonian America, ca. 1828-1848


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of Art History


This study explores the visual construction of race in printed and painted representations of American Indians made and exhibited in Jacksonian era America, ca. 1828-1848. It pays particular attention to the role that images of those Indians who resisted easy categorization, such as the mixed-race or "civilized" Indian, played in the complex matrix of racial and cultural identities at this critical moment in early American nation building. Through close object analysis and a careful examination of the social and political context in which such representations were made and viewed, this study illuminates how racial identity was constructed and suggest why articulating race was such an important exercise for Americans in these years.