New Books Network

In her original and thought-provoking book Ornamentalism (Oxford University Press, 2019), Anne A. Cheng illustrates the longstanding relationship between the ‘oriental’ and the ‘ornamental’....

In her original and thought-provoking book Ornamentalism (Oxford University Press, 2019), Anne A. Cheng illustrates the longstanding relationship between the ‘oriental’ and the ‘ornamental’. So doing, she moves beyond a simple analysis of objectification to reveal the powerful role Ornamentalism plays in constituting modern ideas of personhood, racialized femininity and the figure of the Asian woman. Drawing on examples from the realms of law, popular culture and art from the 19th and 20th centuries, Cheng deepens our understanding of racial formation by demonstrating how race and gender are conceived not only in relation to the body, but inorganic ornamentation as well.

Anne A. Cheng is Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Princeton University.


Sitara Thobani is Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the performance arts in colonial and postcolonial South Asia and its diasporas, especially as these relate to formations of nation, gender, sexuality and religion. She received her DPhil in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Oxford University, and is the author of Indian Classical Dance and the Making of Postcolonial National Identities: Dancing on Empire’s Stage (Routledge 2017).