International Journal of Art & Design Education

Questioning Established Histories: Light From Dark Quarters

Volume 21.1   2002



My purpose in this paper is to look at the work of a number of scholars who have challenged popular and mainstream accounts of Western and pre-Colombian American history and to assess the implications of their work to art education. There are three of these scholars whose works are pivotal. They are: Cheik Anta Diop, Ivan Van Sertima, and Martin Bernal. What is the substance of their challenge? They assert that Ancient Egypt was an African civilization, whose achievements in science, philosophy, and the arts exerted a powerful formative influence on the ancient world of Greece and pre-Columbian Middle America. This has been misrepresented in popular and mainstream European accounts of world history. The implications of their work for art education are considerable, especially to art history as it relates to multicultural issues. Indications are that we must move beyond the cultural chauvinisms that persist in texts and curriculum structures if we are to achieve truly democratic situations and these revisionist historians help us to do just that.