Katherine Hacker, who received her PhD in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, teaches historical and contemporary South Asian art and architecture at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Seminar topics have included: “South Asia: Rituals and Representation,” “Cartographies of Power: the Colonial City,” “Discourses of Opposition: The Subaltern in contemporary India,” and “(Re)Viewing India: Cinematic Representations of Gender, Religion and the Nation.” She is the founding director of the South Asian Film Archive, funded by the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund. Before joining UBC in 1992, she taught at Swarthmore College. She has received research awards from Fulbright, the Asia Society (formerly the John D. Rockefeller III Foundation), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, and most recently a three-year grant (2003-2006) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on the relationships between visual culture, social practice, and cultural politics and are informed by postcolonial theory and cultural studies. She is currently completing a book titled Swings, Shrines and Sirahas: Image Making and Myth Making in India. This study investigates the production and reproduction of visual representations of tribal Bastar (Chhattisgarh) in regional and national imaginings, often inscribed within the highly charged arena of cultural politics. The project considers how this terrain is negotiated and appropriated within debates on tradition and modernity, religious conflict and conversion, heritage and tourism. The book charts a course through this material by focusing on communities of brass casters and image making; on the performative, the rituals and ritual specialists who give significance to highly local practices; and third, on the site of museums which, as cultural brokers, are actively involved in the enterprise of myth making. She has published in the journals Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, Museum Anthropology, and Journal of Social Sciences (India). These and other articles on the ritual use and circulation of textiles at the important temple of Jagannath in Puri, Orissa, on tribal art, discursive and exhibition practices, and on contemporary urban artists engagement with the “folk idiom” explore the strategic deployment of visual vocabularies to address change.
She regularly presents conference papers in North America and India and has served on the executive committee of the Center for India and South Asian Research at UBC as well as on the Board of Directors of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a bi-national organization. She was elected in 2002 to a two-year term as Chair of the India Studies Committee of Shastri.