Historians of Islamic Art Association 2023 Biennial Symposium
March 2-4, 2023
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Rice University
The 2023 HIAA symposium will bring together an international group of established and emerging scholars of Islamic art and architecture to present new research on the theme of “Expanding Contexts.” As historians of Islamic art and architecture, we often deal with objects and edifices that are spatially and temporally removed from their contexts. Artworks are displayed in glass cases in museum galleries, and heavily restored monuments offer little clue of the social life that once unfolded in and around them. The discussion of context has long been dominated by politics, dynasties, and patronage. Recent scholarship, however, has immensely expanded the definition of the context to include urban, sensory, perceptual, social, and global settings, to name a few trends. We no longer discuss works of art and architecture as reified creations but consider them in the context of labor, craft, and everyday practices. We construe artworks not as neutral reflections of their historical settings but as agents that actively inform their contexts. Rather than seeking a definite provenance, we write transregional narratives of objects and their dynamic (cross-) cultural lives.
“Expanding Contexts” is an invitation to explore the question of context in Islamic art and architecture from new methodological and theoretical perspectives. Presentations will engage new conceptual models, strategies, and technologies for reconstructing, narrating, and visualizing the historical contexts. What are the promises and pitfalls of the digital age for reconstructing the original contexts of artworks and architectural fragments? What approaches and conceptions can we take to invoke the context and intimate the embodied experiences of historical audiences for the public in museums, academic settings, and online platforms? Is it possible to redress the acts of transmission and dislocation that have led to the creation of major collections by means of reconstructing their contexts? How can we use the context to expand the global reach of the field and narrate the past in ways that speak to broader audiences?
The 2023 Symposium Organizers and Committee:
Aimée Froom (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and Farshid Emami (Rice University), co-organizers
Nada Shabout, Stephennie Mulder, Heather Ecker, and Abbey Stockstill, committee members
Julie Timte, managing organizer
For more information, please contact: