From the President | AMCA | Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey

From the President

January 2021

Dear AMCA members,

Happy New year! We have survived 2020 and we can only hope that 2021 is a healing year for all.

Although it has been some time since AMCA has circulated a letter from the President, we nonetheless have been busy and are excited to share some of our recent initiatives and our hopes moving forward into the new year. At the end of 2018, we launched a publication series in conjunction with Anthem Press. Co-edited by Sarah Rogers and I, the series is peer reviewed and dedicated to scholarly biographies of individual art works. Each publication traces the historical trajectory of an individual work of art, from the circumstances of production (including the artist’s biography and socio-cultural context of place) through its exhibition history with collectors and museums. Our inaugural publication, Commitment in the Artistic Practice of Aref el-Rayess: The Changing of Horses by Natasha Gasparian is now available and has additional support thanks to the Saradar Collection in Beirut, Lebanon. We encourage you our interested members to submit a proposal, visit:

During the pandemic, AMCA Treasurer, Pamela Karimi, and AMCA Social Media Coordinator, Elizabeth Rauh, launched (and host) AMCA’s Noqtah series on AMCA’s Instagram. The series is live and features a 60-minute talk and Q&A with scholars in the field on recent publications.

The series is an incredible resource that introduces new and emerging scholarship in the field.
Talks by Wendy Shaw, Hala Auji, Alexandra Dika Seggerman, Charlotte Banks, and Anneka Lenssen launched the series this past fall and have each received over 400 views! The recordings are available on AMCA’s Instagram: Stay tuned for new segments starting on January 21st with Zeina Maasri at 1pm EST.
Last winter, AMCA received a generous grant from the Getty Foundation as part of their Connecting Art Histories Project. AMCA current and past board and active members Sarah
Rogers, Pamela Karimi, Jessica Gerschultz, Anneka Lenssen, Dina Ramadan, Sarah-Neel Smith and I serve as principal investigators for the project, Mapping Art Histories: The Arab World, Iran, and Turkey, with Tiffany Floyd as the project manager. Working with collaborators in the region, the project aims to result in an interactive website and resource that considers the various methodologies and forums across the region in which art historical knowledge, broadly defined, is produced. Thanks to the generosity of the Getty, we are able to extend the time frame of the project for another year. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to participate. As with all of AMCA’s projects, we rely on our network to enrich the diversity and depth of each initiative. Please join our CAA session “Mapping Art Histories” on February 12, 2021 at 2 pm EST for a live Q&A following our pre-recorded panel about this exciting project. We would love to see many of you and we plan to also announce our 2021 Rhonda A. Saad Prize winner.

In the coming months, we plan to revamp and update our website and launch an online portal on our AMCA homepage ( for AMCA members to share teaching resources. We hope that you will find this useful and consider contributing.
Amidst these promising initiatives in our field, the world at large continues to suffer a pandemic that has brought to the surface all the more forcibly the radical socio-economic disparities and racial injustices that plague the world today; a state that only further underscores the necessity of the critical capacities offered by the Humanities. The year was equally challenging for the region we study and our members who reside there. We at AMCA remain committed to supporting our members and dedicated to providing opportunities for emerging scholars, at the precise moment when the fragile security of an academic career is in peril, particularly for those without tenure or job security. To that end, we have opened up the Saad Prize for recent post-doctoral scholars and in late 2019, our treasurer Pamela Karimi launched a successful fundraising campaign to ensure a robust sustainment of the Saad Prize for future young scholars. We are continuing to offer AMCA’s services and resources (available at free of charge in addition to offering a year of free AMCA membership for our junior scholar and student members. Benefits of membership include access to networks and opportunities to participate in AMCA sponsored panels at CAA and MESA as well as AMCA organized symposia and workshops, to compete in the Rhonda A. Saad Prize and participate in the AMCA-Anthem series. We are hopeful that those who can support the organization through our membership fees or a small donation will continue to do so. During this trying time, we hope to offer a bit of community (and hope) through the form of a network of collegial support.

My sincere thanks to our AMCA officers! Our accomplishments would not be possible without the valuable work of Sarah Rogers (President-Elect), Pamela Karimi (Treasurer) and Jessica Gerschultz (Secretary). A special thanks to Dina Ramadan and Sara-Neel Smith for continuing to serve AMCA in various capacities. I am equally grateful to Elizabeth Rauh (Social Media Coordinator), Sarah Johnson (H-AMCA Network Editor), Alessandra Amin, Nisa Ari, Sarah Dwider, Jessica Gerschultz (H-AMCA Reviews Editors) and our valuable Saad Prize jurors and participants. Congratulations again to Maryam Athari, winner of the 2020 Rhonda A. Saad Prize.

Our customary interview with the winner will be posted on our website soon.
We stay devoted to you and our members around the world and stand in solidarity with your quest for justice and equality. We encourage you all to reach out to us with your concerns and ideas, join one of the AMCA initiatives and committees, and request AMCA sponsorship in annual conferences. Our voice is heard through you and our representation in the field is strong through your participations.

Looking forward to meeting in person again soon.
Nada Shabout, President