Nature and Ideology

Join us for a lecture by Avinoam Shalem  (Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University)  on the urban landscaping related to the Palestinian memory of Lifta.

When Nature Becomes Ideology: Lifta’s Silence and the Suburban Landscape of Jerusalem

Friday, November 16, 2018, 1 pm at 228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall

The modern era and especially the age of European colonialism have brought with them specific agenda for the restructuring the Levant. This era resulted in the exodus, relocation, migration and expulsion of people. The destruction of cities, villages and other rural settlements, be it de jure or de facto as part of governmental plan, and, more importantly the desire to eradicate a specific histories of these sites, namely the condemnation of memory (demnatio memoriae), are the focus of this talk.

Palestine and the present state of Israel offer a large amount of historical evidence that shed new light on the history of forgetfulness in this region rich with sites of memory, and the study of the histories of these sites might help to reconstruct of a more complete narrative for this space. Professor Shalem will focus on the village of Lifta located on the western slopes of Jerusalem. The modern history of this village reflects Zionist debates about nature-scaping and urban landscaping related to the Palestinian memory of this site.

About our speaker

Avinoam Shalem studied history of art at the universities of Tel Aviv, Munich (LMU) and Edinburgh where he earned his PhD degree in the field of Islamic art. Prior to his appointment as the Riggio Professor of the Arts of Islam at Columbia University, Shalem held the professorship of the history of Islamic art at the University of Munich and taught at the universities of Tel Aviv, Edinburgh, Heidelberg (Hochschule für jüdische Studien), Bamberg, Luzern and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He was Andrew Mellon Senior Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2006 and Guest Scholar at the Getty Research Center in 2009. Between 2007-2015, he was the Max-Planck Fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.

Shalem’s main field of interest concerns artistic interactions in the Mediterranean basin, migration of objects, and medieval aesthetics. He has published extensively on medieval Islamic, as well as Jewish and Christian art. Professor Shalem is the author and editor of ten books, including Islam Christianized (Peter Lang, second ed. 1998); The Oliphant (Brill, 2004); Facing the Wall: The Palestinian-Israeli Barriers(Walter-König, 2011); Facts and Artefacts: Art in the Islamic World. Festschrift for Jens Kröger on his 65th Birthday (Brill, 2007); After One Hundred Years: The 1910 Exhibition »Meisterwerke muhammedanischer Kunst« Reconsidered (Brill, 2010); Die mittelalterliche Olifante (Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, Berlin, 2014). He has recently edited the books Constructing the image of Muhammad in Europe (Walter de Gruyter, 2013) and The Image of Muhammad Between Ideal and Ideology: A Scholarly Investigation(Walter de Gruyter, 2014), which introduce the readers to the complex history of the conceptualisation and pictorialization of the Prophet Muhammad in the West and the lands of Islam, from the early medieval times till the 19th century.

Professor Shalem has written more than one hundred articles on varied subjects including stylistic observations, document-based researches and cultural studies, historiographies and art criticism. He also researches and publishes on issues concerning Modernity in the Islamic world, especially in the Near East. He has acted as the initiator of the series of exhibitions Changing Views that were held in Munich in 2010/2011, and co-curated the exhibition The Future of Tradition: the Tradition of Future in Haus der Kunst in Munich. Professor Shalem was one of the directors of the international, Getty-supported project Art Space and Mobility in the Early Ages of Globalization: The Mediterranean, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent 400-1650, and is currently directing the research projects When Nature Becomes Ideology: Palestine after 1947.








Click here for more of his publications.

This lecture is co-sponsored with Center for Israel Studies, Arab World Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies.