Prof. Dr. Avinoam Shalem


Prof. Dr. Avinoam Shalem

Professor für die Kunst des Islam, Fachbereich für Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie, Columbia University New York


Juli 2017
Juli 2018
Juli 2019


When Nature Becomes Ideology: The Palestinian Rural Landscape after 1947.

Cities, villages and other forms of human settlement, like works of art,
are in constant flux, a process of shaping and reshaping, of being erased,
demolished, newly designed, renovated and preserved. Like a canvas on
which marks of artistic activities – lines, scratches, stains of colors
and spots – are visually documented, the urban and rural landscapes
accumulate and display through their particular structures, urban
planning, architecture, streets, allies, parks and public monuments
histories of urban creativity and imagined landscapes of inhabitants. Thus
the plethora of built substance and nature that turns spaces into places
could be read like historical text, markers of remembering and forgetting.
The Zionist migratory venture and the expulsion of the majority of the
Palestinian population of Palestine around 1948 caused a drastic
demographic change, which had, and still has, its impact on this region.
In fact, the modern era and especially the age of nationalism have brought
with them to the whole of the Levant specific agenda that involved
destruction in the name of restructure. This era resulted in the exodus,
relocation, migration and expulsion of people. The destruction of
Palestinian cities, villages and other rural settlements, de jure or de
facto as part of Zionist governmental plan, and, more importantly, the
desire to eradicate a specific history of these sites from the collective
national memory, had their impact on the landscape of Palestine/Israel.
Thus, in this lecture the object in focus at the age of migration is the
rural landscape of Palestine/Israel. Palestine and the present state of
Israel offer a large amount of historical evidence that shed new light on
the histories of forgetfulness in this region, and its landscape appears
then as a substance that can be formed and reshaped into a commodity – an
article of trade that bears economic and political values.


    • The global context of the visual cultures of the world of Islam.
    • Medieval aesthetic thoughts on visual arts and craftsmanship.
    • The image of ‚Islamic‘ art and the historiography of the field.


Facing the Wall: The Palestinian-Israeli Barriers, with Gerhard Wolf (Walter König, Cologne, 2011).

Constructing the Image of Muhammad in Europe (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and Boston, 2013).

Die mittelalterlichen Olifante (Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, Berlin, 2014).

Gazing Otherwise: Modalities of Seeing in the Medieval Islamic Cultures, with Olga Bush. Muqarnas 23 (2015).


Avinoam Shalem

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