Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards

Tiffany Floyd

Columbia University, Art History and Archaeology

2022 Co-Winner (Humanities)

Tiffany Floyd

Tiffany Floyd

“Dreaming of Ancient Times: Mesopotamia and the Temporal Topography of Iraqi Modern Art, 1958-2003” 

Masterfully demonstrating how the ancient past shaped artistic and intellectual production in modern Iraq, Tiffany Floyd’s meticulous dissertation is an important and exciting contribution not only to her fields of art history and Middle East studies, but also to the study of Modernism more generally, a relatively untapped field of inquiry beyond Euro-American contexts. Her work thus simultaneously fills a significant gap in the literature and helps to decolonize the Eurocentric art-historical canon as such. It is likewise pioneering in its interdisciplinary approach, synthesizing history, anthropology and literary and cultural studies. In particular, Floyd draws on Jewad Selim’s notion of istilhām al-turāth in her analysis of the work of three prominent Iraqi artists of successive generations: Mohammed Ghani Hikmat (1929-2011), Dia al-Azzawi (b. 1939), and Faisel Laibi Sahi (b. 1947). In her detailed, critical and innovative reading of these artists’ work, Floyd’s original notion of “temporal topography” comes alive as she traces how the past was integrated into the present and the symbolic power of turāth in modern Iraqi nationalism.


The dissertation was completed at Columbia University in the Department of Art History and Archaeology under the co-supervision of Zainab Bahrani and Alexander Alberro.

Return to List

Stay Connected

MESA offers several ways to stay connected: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, as well as listservs and trusty email notifications. To find out more, please follow the link below.

Connect Now