أهلاً | welcome
I am an associate professor and the Hamad bin Khalifa Endowed Chair for Islamic Art in the Department of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, where I teach courses on the art, architecture, and material culture of the Middle East and Islamic world. My role at VCU also extends to chairing the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art. I hold a PhD in art history from Binghamton University, State University of New York, an MA in Art Criticism & Theory from Art Center College of Design, and a BFA in graphic design from the American University of Beirut. My research interests include:
Arabic book + print culture | Islamic art, architecture, + material culture since 1800 | history of reading + publishing | the history and theory of exhibitions, museums, and collecting practices | studies of modernity, orientalism + global networks of exchange | cultural history in the Ottoman world | global art historiographies | Modern and Contemporary art from the Middle East
My first book Printing Arab Modernity: Book Culture and the American Press in Nineteenth-Century Beirut (Leiden: Brill, 2016) examines the American Protestant mission’s Arabic publications printed in Beirut for Ottoman readers during a period dominated by Islamic and Christian manuscript practices. The book also explores the growing significance of the visual dimensions of print technologies for such audiences, specifically how print reflected a push-pull dynamic between the continuity of scribal customs and an experimentation with new technologies, which was indicative of a moment when local intellectuals were formulating a visual language that negotiated their varied communal concerns, political motivations, and intellectual conceptions of a modern society.
My current book project on printed portraiture explores the rise of lithograph and engraved portraits of men and women dignitaries, intellectuals, and political figures, which first appeared to a wide Arabic readership in printed books and journals during the mid-to-late nineteenth century when photography and oil painting were gaining traction amongst local practitioners. These printed images were produced via diverse image-making technologies, which saw innovative overlaps with contemporaneous artistic practices. Through the analysis of the intersections between artistic practice and the illustrated press, my new project contributes to the wider field of art historical scholarship by offering a new perspective on similar developments in the Arab world.
I also currently serve as an Assistant Editor for the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.
Visit my Google Scholar webpage for a list of my publications.