Postdoctoral Scholar, Santa Barbara
My research concerns the artwork—in its relationship to religious traditions, the history of science, and the trajectory of leftist politics. For several years now, I have been studying forms of art practice that emerged in Iraq at different political moments over the twentieth-century. I have come to focus on the aftermath of a coup by the Baʿath Party, in 1963, when the persecution of leftists prompted a number of writers and artists to turn away from the critical vocabulary propagated by the Iraqi Communist Party, and to develop a new vocabulary in their practice. In a book I am writing about this moment, I explore what the artwork can offer at the limit of leftist politics, and in particular how it can open a horizon beyond liberalism, by re-activating forms and concepts sourced from the history of religious traditions.
I received a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015; and an AB in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2005. Before coming to UC Santa Barbara, I was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a fellow in the EUME research program at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. In 2016 I worked with the curator Catherine David to develop parts of my dissertation into a retrospective of the artist Dia al-Azzawi at the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. The gallery guide from that show can be viewed here; the full catalog is available on Amazon.
“History Regained: a Modern Artist in Baghdad Encounters a Lost Tradition of Painting,” Muqarnas 35 (2018): 229-272.
“Msalkha, or the Anti-Nude.” In Art, Awakening and Modernity in the Middle East: the Arab Nude, ed. Octavian Esanu (London, 2018), 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.