My research concerns the relationship between art and leftist politics in the postcolonial world. I try to understand what the artwork can offer when possibilities for political action have been foreclosed, and in particular, how the artwork becomes a site for the re-encounter with concepts from theological traditions and their re-activation as means of political critique.
For several years now, I have been working on the history of art practice in Iraq, in relation to the trajectory of leftist politics in the Middle East. I have come to focus on a period, in the aftermath of a coup by the Ba’ath Party in 1963, when the persecution of leftists resulted in disillusionment with political ideologies and a withdrawal from the public sphere. During that period, a number of artists and writers turned away from leftist politics, in search of new political concepts. I am currently working on a book that describes their turn to a concept derived from the history of Islam, and their rehabilitation of this concept, both as a concept of representation and a concept of politics.
I received a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015, and an AB from the University of Chicago in 2005. In 2014-2016, I was a fellow in the EUME research program at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. In 2016, I worked with the artist Dia al-Azzawi and the curator Catherine David to develop a part of my dissertation into a major retrospective of the artist at the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha.
- “Memories of an Origin: Yahya al-Wasiti’s Illustrations of the Maqamat of Hariri and the Modern Art of Baghdad,” Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World No. 35, 2018.
- “Msalkha, or the Anti-Nude,” in The Arab Nude, ed. Octavian Esanu. (London: Routledge, 2018) pp. 129-138.
- “The Persistence of the Image: Dhakira Hurra in Dia Azzawi’s Drawings on the Massacre of Tel al-Zaatar,” ARTMargins 2:2 (2013), 71-97.