VCUarts Qatar to host 10th Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium

VCUarts Qatar, Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university’s three-day conference will put its spotlights on Islamic Art History and the Global Turn at the 10th Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art which to be held from November 11-13, 2023.

The theme of this year’s symposium is ‘Islamic Art History and the Global Turn: Theory, Method, Practice’.  The symposium is led by co-chairs, Dr. Radha Dalal and Dr. Hala Auji.

Dr. Dalal is Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture and Director of the Art History program at VCUarts Qatar. Her research focuses on visual cultures of mobility and urbanism, with a particular emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and its socio-political interactions with other European and Asian polities during the 19TH and early 20th centuries.

Dr. Auji is an associate professor of Art History at VCUarts in Richmond and the Hamad bin Khalifa Endowed Chair for Islamic Art. Informed by her interdisciplinary background in graphic design, criticism and theory and art history, Auji’s research explores the history of the book, print culture, cultural modernity, museum practices, and portraiture in the Islamic world, with a focus on Arabic-speaking communities of the Eastern Mediterranean

The conference is open to the public, free of charge. Further information on the conference is available at

Those who would like to attend the event can register at 

Globalisation’s sociological and economic concerns have extended to issues related to art and visual culture, including the varied approaches used to study art history. The Tenth Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art examines how art history’s concerns with the Global Turn, as well as associated calls for decolonial, diverse, inclusive, and equitable histories, have been taken up by scholars, educators, curators, and related practitioners of Islamic art history.

Although scholarship on how Islamic art is studied, collected, and exhibited is on the rise, what is less addressed is how the field’s various commitments have related to pedagogical and curating practices. Bridging this gap between theory and practice, the 2023 Symposium explores how the past two decades of debating methodologies for diverse, inclusive, decolonial, and global Islamic art histories have taken shape in classrooms, galleries, and related settings.

The opening evening will feature the keynote address followed by a reception. The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Finbarr Barry Flood. Flood is director of Silsila: Center for Material Histories and William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of the Humanities at the Institute of Fine Arts and Department of Art History, New York University. He researches and writes on the art, architecture, and material culture of Islamic and Islamicate societies. His work has been supported by fellowships from the University of Oxford, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Getty Research Institute, the Carnegie Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

“Now, more than ever, we feel there is a need for informed, critical, and nuanced scholarship to help us, and our students, make sense of the complex world we live in, broaden our understanding of the human experience, and foster civic dialogue. Pedagogical and curatorial practices, as forms of critical discourse, play an especially vital role toward achieving this objective, says Dr. Dalal.

“For our students at VCUarts Qatar and VCUarts, and the general public, these symposia have presented opportunities to interact with the world’s most eminent artists, scholars, and curators in the field. Islamic Art History and the Global Turn: Theory, Method, Practice aims to continue that long-standing tradition with the hope of nurturing a more empathetic, inclusive, and intellectually nimble global citizenry poised to solve the challenges facing our world today.”

Since it was first held in 2004, each edition of the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art has addressed significant themes and issues in understanding the visual arts of the Islamic lands. The symposium is co-sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VCUarts Qatar and Qatar Foundation and has been held every two years since 2004. It has grown to be one of the most prestigious events focusing on Islamic art in the world, in the process making the latest and most interesting scholarship in this diverse field available and accessible to a wide audience, ranging from students and scholars, to artists, architects, designers and the interested public.

Following each Symposium, the research and discussions presented are compiled and edited into a book published by Yale University Press. The latest such book – “The Environment and Ecology in Islamic Art and Culture” – based on the conference of the same name held in 2021, is currently on sale.