Faculty Friday: John Zarobell

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

John at a waterfall in Idaho

John Zarobell is Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Director in the International Studies Department at USF. He studied Studio Art at Hampshire College as an undergraduate and received an MA and PhD History of Art from the University of California at Berkeley.

After a couple of years of teaching at Stanford University, Tulane University and Loyola University, New Orleans, he accepted a position as a curator of European Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where he worked for six years before moving to San Francisco and taking a similar position in the Painting and Sculpture Department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. While curating blockbuster and international exhibitions, he published his first book in 2010, Empire of Landscape: Space and Ideology in French Colonial Algeria, 1830-1870. During that period he wrote for academic journals, such as Art History and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide and also began writing art criticism for San Francisco-based art periodicals Art Practical and the San Francisco Arts Quarterly.

John’s exhibition Postcolonial Contemporary at Incline Gallery, 2016

He began teaching in the undergraduate International Studies program (BAIS) in 2011. This interdisciplinary program required him to reframe his body of knowledge and work in between disciplines rather than focusing on art history. That was a welcome change since he had long pursued interdisciplinary research, focusing on issues such as colonialism, cultural and economic history, and geography. He shortly began a research project, titled Art and the Global Economy, that considers how globalization has affected the art world in the last generation, considering primarily institutions, exhibition platforms and the market for contemporary art. His particular interest is to demonstrate the multiple directions of cultural flows as a result of globalization and to circumscribe a counter-hegemonic dimension of the current art world in which formerly peripheral countries are coming to greater prominence and altering its future dynamics. This research has taken him to art events around the world and will be published by University of California Press in 2017. His next projects will be an exhibition on the art developed in emerging Asian megacities as well as a global study of artist collectives.

John with artist Shahzia Sikander in Lahore, Pakistan, 2014

Since coming to USF five years ago, Professor Zarobell has taught sixteen different classes and worked with undergraduates and graduate students in the International Studies department, and also in Museum Studies, Art History and Urban Studies. His areas of interest are global history and globalization, colonialism and imperialism, modern and contemporary art, migration, urban studies, and European studies. He also teaches an International Studies internship for the undergraduates and advises students on getting internships and professional development more generally. He is on the Jobs and Internships Task Force convened by the Career Services Center and so he follows closely the university’s efforts to prepare students for life after college. In his free time, he attends art openings and performances, curates exhibitions in nonprofit galleries, and hikes in the mountains. He no longer makes art but believes that participating in the global conversation about art through his writing will serve not only artists and arts institutions, but will help to promote a richer and more culturally diverse world.


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