Dear AMCA members, | AMCA | Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey

Dear AMCA members,

Dear AMCA members,

2010 was an active year for us at AMCA, as we continue to grow with your valuable support. I must say that as I write this letter and review this year’s activities, I vividly remember the workshop Silvia Naef and I organized for the Seventh Mediterranean Social and Political Research Meeting in Montecatini Terme, 22 – 24 March 2006. My aim in organizing the workshop stemmed from my personal experience as a graduate student on the subject in the USA and the lack of context, literature and support I faced. It was to establish a forum for scholars and individuals engaged in the study of modern and contemporary art from the region, and particularly encourage and support young researchers. AMCA was also envisioned as a global mechanism, not constrained by single language or geography, connecting the region and its arts with scholars from around the world and making their scholarship available worldwide. A number of the participants became members of AMCA’s founding board. I am grateful to their valuable commitment and perseverance. I am particularly grateful to Sarah Rogers, AMCA President-Elect, for the incredible job she continues to do.

As the Founding President, I stand very proud today of our accomplishments following AMCA’s first international conference, “Modern Arab Art: Objects, Histories, and Methodologies”, held in collaboration with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha in conjunction with Mathaf’s opening. For two days, from December 17-18th, established and emerging scholars gathered together to share exciting research, methodologies, and thoughts on the future of the field. It was a monumental event and we hope that the papers and engaged discussions will be available online in the coming weeks. Importantly, we are all ready in the process of organizing next year’s AMCA-Mathaf Conference. We at AMCA are deeply grateful for the support of Mathaf, which enabled our first conference to be held in the region and, critically, surrounded by the very objects we study. I am also personally grateful to the members of the Conference Committee, Sarah Rogers, Dina Ramadan and Anneka Lenssen for all their support and great organizational work.

Our MESA presence continued this year. In November we sponsored the panel, “Articulating Politics, Mobilizing Art: The Left and the Visual Arts,” organized by AMCA secretary Dina Ramadan, at the 2010 Middle East Studies Association annual meeting.  Our online review section continues to grow with reviews from AMCA-members. Please contact Sarah Rogers at if you are interested in reviewing a book or joining the review committee.

This year was also marked by tragedy as we mourn the passing of our dear friend and esteemed colleague, Rhonda Saad. Her presence is missed, especially at the Mathaf Conference for which she was integral force in designing the conference’s conceptual framework. It was to Rhonda that we dedicated the conference. In her memory, AMCA is proud to have established “The Rhonda Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art.”  We will announce the first prize of $500USD at the annual MESA meeting in 2011, and would like to thank all of you who generously donated to the fund. For donations, see AMCA’s main page or contact

Consequently, we welcomed Anneka Lenssen to the board and to assume the duties of AMCA treasurer. We are all grateful to Anneka’s immediate commitment to keeping AMCA financially sound. AMCA is a membership-based organization, and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all lapsing members to renew their memberships and/or make a donation on-line or contact In these financial hard-times, your dues and donations are very much needed.

In the meantime, we hope to see you all at the College Art association’s annual meeting in New York City this February. AMCA will host a members meeting and the affiliate session, “Modern Arab Art and Its Historical and Methodological Relationships to the Post-Colonial Context,” (February 9th 2011, 12:30-2pm). Chaired by Sarah Rogers, the session will bring together scholars Prita Meier, Robin Greeley, Nada Shabout, and Saloni Mathur for roundtable discussion on the historical and historiographical relationships between the Middle East and other locations previously assumed peripheral to the study of Modernism. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an informed and engaged discussion. Two more sessions at CAA are organized by AMCA members. For details, see AMCA’s and CAA’s websites.

I would like to thank every one of you for your hard work and dedication to making AMCA a thriving and effective scholarly group. We still have much to do and I look forward to welcoming new and renewing members to AMCA. We need all your help! We need volunteers to serve on our various committees (Review Committee and Website Committee). I encourage all of you to contact me or Sarah Rogers if you are interested, or if you have comments and ideas. Please, also send us your good news, achievements, awards, publications, etc. We are happy to post them on AMCA’s website.

Wishing you all a happy and productive new year,
Nada Shabout
December 2010