Phone: (310) 825-3779


Office: Dodd Hall 212C

On leave until July 2020 as Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Professor, Department of African American Studies, African and African American Art; Director, African Studies Center

Steven Nelson is Professor of African American Studies, African and African American Art and Director of the UCLA African Studies Center. He is currently the Treasurer of the National Committee for the History of Art and a member of the General Assembly of the Comité international d’histoire de l’art, and a Contributing Editor to Grove Art Online. Professor Nelson was a former president of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association; served as member of the advisory board for the National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA); and was Reviews Editor for Art Journal and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. His book From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture In and Out of Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2007) has won multiple awards. His writings on the contemporary and historic arts, architecture and urbanism of Africa and its diasporas, African American art history, and queer studies have appeared in anthologies and exhibition catalogues as well as in African ArtsArchitecture New York (ANY), Art BulletinArtforumArt JournalDocumentsJournal of HomosexualityMuseums InternationalNew Formations, and Politique Africaine. Professor Nelson has received numerous fellowships and visiting appointments. He is currently completing two new books titled, “Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness,” and “On The Underground Railroad.”

  • Ph.D. Harvard University, 1998
  • “Nelson Mandela’s Two Bodies,” Transition, No. 116 (2014): 130-42.
  • Karmen Geï: Sex, the State and Censorship in Dakar,” African Arts, vol. 42, no. 2 (Spring 2011): 74-81.
  • “A Tale of Two Cities: The Films of Djibril Diop Mambety,” Artforum, vol. 47, no. 3 (November 2008): 306-11.
  • From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture in and out of Africa (book). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  • “Collection and Context in a Cameroonian Village,” Museum International, no. 235 (September 2007), Paris: UNESCO/Blackwell: 22-30 (published in English, French, and Chinese).
  • “Turning Green into Black or How I Learned to Live with the Canon,” in Elizabeth Mansfield, ed. Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and its Institutions. London: Routledge, 2007, 54-66.
  • “Diaspora and Contemporary Art: Multiple Practices, Multiple Worldviews,” in Amelia Jones, ed., Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell Companions to Art History). Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 296-316.
  • “Transgressive Transcendence in the Photographs of Rotimi Fani-Kayode,” Art Journal, vol. 64, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 4-19.
  • “Freeman Murray and the Beginnings of an African American History of Art,” in Elizabeth Mansfield, ed. Art History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline. London: Routledge, 2002, 283-94.
  • New Histories. Co-editor with Lia Gangitano. Exhibition catalogue (edited volume). Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1996.