I am an architectural and art historian, currently working on a paper which questions the ‘normative’ ways through which we might think about Islamic art. The paper is an extension of my doctorate in which I invited to an interdisciplinary reading of the architecture of the Safavid Isfahan and the poetry of the period. I proposed a method of using the structures of one discipline to open doors to a new understanding of the other discipline. Given this, I am interested to go further with this discussion to the mechanisms through which the Islamic art museums work. My question is in terms of the normative systems of display in the Islamic art museums. Indeed, one method is the categorisation of the artefacts via their discipline (so, simply, in a room, you can only find metalware or you can only find textiles or you can only find ceramics…). The other method categorises the objects according to the dynasty or geography (but here again, there’s a sense of avoiding to mix objects from different artistic disciplines. Is that right?). What are the other methods of display of Islamic art that I missed? Do we have any known method of display in which we can see objects from dramatically different disciplines in one place so a viewer can get a glimpse of all different varieties of objects in one take? and which method is the most popular and used method in the museological system of the Islamic art? What sources do you suggest for a comprehensive study (and history) of different methods of display in Islamic art museums?

Thank you for sharing some of the issues you address in your own research and for your questions regarding the methodologies of displaying Islamic art and material culture in museums. You refer to ‘normative’ methods used, such as presenting works by medium, dynasty, or geography. Historically, installations and exhibitions of [...]


This question is specifically about the Ottoman Conquest of the former Mamluk territories. To what extent did the Ottomans assimilate cultural traditions in art, architecture and dress from the Mamluk realms and incorporate them into their own artistic and cultural vocabulary? There is a sub question related to Ottoman costume: Do we have any evidence of whether the Ottomanisation of the Mamluk empire led to the change in what people wore, and is there any evidence that there were differences between what people wore in Istanbul, say, as opposed to in Cairo or Damascus? Similarly, to what extent would costumes in Istanbul have been affected/influenced/ inspired by costumes from the former Mamluk realms.

The interactions between the Ottoman and Mamluk courts had a long history before the Ottoman conquest of 1517. Cairo was an important centre of learning where many Ottoman religio-legal bureaucrats visited in search of knowledge, craftsmen from Mamluk lands found employment in pre-Ottoman as well as Ottoman Anatolia, and artifacts [...]


Prior to the formation of the Ottoman Empire (I.e. 14th century), how distinct were the Turkish speaking communities to the Greek-speaking Roman communities? Were they integrated as a whole group in cities and rural areas?

Sources for this period are few and not entirely reliable. What we do know is that the Rum-Seljuk capital Konya was populated by people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, with a lot of interaction between them. The political classes under the Seljuks and Muslim principalities (beyliks) included individuals of various ethnicities. [...]


During the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, despite local and world wars, the Western world witnessed earth shattering progress and changes in science, technology and art. This was not experienced by the Islamic world in the same way. What was the status of classical Islamic arts and architecture during this period, and what was the impact of Western arts on them?

What we call ‘progress’ is often defined by a Eurocentric view of history which sees the Industrial Revolution that occurred from the late eighteenth century onwards in a positive light, because of its role in what is seen as the triumph of Western culture over the East. The Industrial Revolution [...]


If I am awarded a scholarship, can I defer?

Subject to the approval of the Academic Advisory Committee, under certain circumstances, it is possible for applicants who have received a grant to support an academic programme of study to defer for a year. In the past this has been where the grant awarded by The Barakat Trust did not [...]

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