CFP: Decolonizing Islamic Art in Africa, Edited Volume

Ashley Miller's picture
Call for Papers
January 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Architecture and Architectural History, Black History / Studies, Islamic History / Studies

This publication examines the status of Muslim visual and expressive cultures in the wake of decolonization in Africa.  It asks, in the years leading up to and following struggles for independence from colonial regimes across the continent, how was "Islamic art" mobilized, interpreted, transformed, or even erased in relation to projects of nation-building and in the context of new cultural and religious identities emerging across Africa and its diasporas?  It will consider the different strategies through which diverse actors--political leaders, architects, artists, museum curators, members of local religious communities, and others--approached the social and conceptual structures upheld by previous colonial regimes and explore the consequences of such processes of negotiation for the visual, spatial, and intellectual parameters framing Muslim institutions, practices, and cultural works in "postcolonial" Africa.

We also approach the topic of decolonizing Islamic art in Africa from a historiographical perspective, presenting case studies that disrupt and interrogate the colonial-era geographical and conceptual boundaries shaping the disciplines of Islamic and African art history.  In recent years, the history of Islamic art in Africa has been subject to reevaluation through critical attention to the continent's position within global networks of trade and the subsequent influence of African actors in shaping Muslim visual and material cultures within and beyond the continent, particularly during Europe's medieval period.  Less attention, however, has been given to the African continent's dynamic relationship with Islam and Muslim culture during the course of the twentieth century, a period no less marked by escalating global interest in Africa's material and cultural resources and by the active participation of Muslim Africans in new cross-regional and cross-continental religious and cultural communities.  This publication contends that attention to this longer history of African agency within a global Muslim community is crucial for speaking back to colonial frameworks that continue to distort our understanding of both "Islamic" and "African" art today.

The volume's case studies will ideally represent a broad geographical scope and may address a range of expressive practices and objects, including architecture, landscape, urban design, painting, decorative arts, ritual objects, domestic display, music, performance, etc.  While the publication is envisioned to focus on the years directly leading up to and following African independence movements, contributions exploring the continuing "decolonization" of Muslim cultural expression in Africa and the field of art history into the twenty-first century are also welcome.

Please submit a 500-word abstract, title, and bio by January 15, 2021 to  First drafts of accepted contributions due June 1, 2021.  Contributions to the volume will be approximately 6,000-8,000 words.  All essays will undergo a double-blind, peer-review process before final acceptance.

Contact Info: 

Ashley Miller, Ph.D.

Forsyth Postdoctoral Fellow

History of Art Department

University of Michigan

Contact Email: