Photo: Cornelia Steffens 2016 (© Michele Lamprakos)
Historians of Islamic Art Association
2021 Biennial Symposium
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
April 15 - 17, 2021
How do we write histories of Islamic art and architecture, and in the service of what interests? We might proceed from questions about the intentions of patrons, the agency of craftsmen, and their responses to previous artistic production, thereby allowing artifacts and monuments to be set within a historical, social, and/or artistic context. We might also posit large-scale organizational forms—dynasties, courts, regimes, workshops, technological systems, and exchange circuits—as frames that regulate aspects of life, belief, and ultimately artistic creativity. Recent scholarship has also shifted focus to other forms of agency. For example, “reception history” and the “history of objects” have attempted to move beyond the process of creation to consider the role of later actors and material accretions for the significance of artifacts, while the "material turn" in art history has sought to challenge rigidly anthropocentric epistemologies and open up narratives told by the “stuff” of art.
The aim of this symposium is to focus on moments of “regime change” in Islamic art history and to also direct attention to “regimes” that structure our own field, raising questions of interpretation and method. Scholars will present new research focusing on art and architecture after clear political ruptures; on the replacement of one symbolic order with another; on the transfer of resources from one power to another; and on the promises and pitfalls of new frameworks and approaches to core questions about objects, material, and images, in both the academy and the museum.
The 2021 HIAA Biennial Symposium Committee:
Christiane Gruber, organizer
Anneka Lenssen, Michael Chagnon, and Alain George, committee members