The Making of Minorities in the Middle East and North Africa: Objects, Images, Spaces, Part 1

Mellon Minorities in the Middle East & North Africa Series

The Making of Minorities in the Middle East and North Africa: Objects, Images, Spaces, Part 1

Canteen, made in Ayyubid Syria/Northern Iraq, c. 1250 (Freer Gallery of Art, F1941.10; cropped)

Workshop with Susan Slyomovics (UCLA), Ruba Kana'an (University of Toronto, Mississauga), Lamia Balafrej (UCLA), Amy Landau (UCLA), Sussan Babaie (The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London).

Friday, March 5, 2021
9:15 AM (Pacific Time)

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This two-part workshop addresses minorities and minority-formation in the art, architecture, and urbanism of the Middle East and North Africa through time. A major goal is to consider the role of visual, spatial, and material cultures in mediating minor cultural formations—how objects, images, and spaces serve to express minority cultures but also how they produce, or alternatively resist, the processes by which communities become minorities, within and against the majority cultures of the MENA region. Another aim would be to recognize the complex, varied terrain of interactions between minorities and majority cultures: to emphasize instances of transfer, exchange, and participation that challenge the binary of assimilation and opposition. Given the transhistorical scope of the workshop, the definition of what a minority is or was in the MENA cannot be generalized—even though modern categories of religious, ethnic, sexual, or gender minorities readily come to mind. In fact, one objective would be to complicate the concept of “minority,” by foregrounding minority as process, by examining the porous limits between majority and minority, and by incorporating into the historical analysis a critical reflection on what it means to write minority histories.

The second part of the workshop is scheduled to take place on March 12, 2021 at 2:00 pm (Pacific Time).

Schedule - March 5:

9:15 - 9:30 AM

 Opening remarks by Aomar Boum, Introduction by Susan Slyomovics (UCLA)


9:30 - 9:45 AM

 Exclusive Objects/Objects of Exclusions. Representing Mosul Metalwork and its Artists
 Ruba Kana’an (University of Toronto, Mississauga)

9:45 - 10:00 AM

 Slavery and the Image in Medieval Islam
 Lamia Balafrej (UCLA)

10:00 - 10:30 AM




10:45 - 11:00 AM

 Minorities in early modern Iran
 Amy Landau (UCLA)

11:00 - 11:15 AM

 Isfahan is more than Shah Abbas: Jews, Christians, Sufis and the ‘Others’
 Sussan Babaie (The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London)

11:15 AM


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies