MESA Book Awards
Wendy M. K. Shaw
Free University Berlin
2020 Albert Hourani Book Award Honorable Mention
Professor Shaw’s book is a bold and successful attempt to reconceptualize the historiography of Islamic art outside the current Euro-centric and colonial paradigm. She problematizes the Christian origins of art historical analysis in the Western academy, linking the hegemonic tendencies of the field to an epistemic violence that inherently dominates and colonizes the art of the non-western “other.” To do so Shaw takes “Islam” seriously as a category of analysis, arguing that it drives the production of Islamic art, rather than being incidental to it. In the process she places in generative tension the Islamic and Western paradigms for understanding agency and subjectivity.