I’m an historian of art and architecture with expertise in medieval Islamic (or Islamicate) societies and civilization. This field developed out of, and continues to be an active agent in, colonial systems, with all the difficult and problematic issues that entails. My current research (on medieval science and technology, history games, digital immersive technologies and cultural heritage) and my commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion, is profoundly shaped by my perspectives as a cis-female-mother-wife-Asian-American-immigrant from a working-class family. I was born in the Philippines and grew up partly in Italy and mainly in the US. My background and experiences have been central to my research and publications on medieval Islamic civilization, global encounters and exchanges.

Currently I’m Senior Lecturer in Islamic Art at the University of Edinburgh and Research Affiliate, Edinburgh Futures Institute. Before arriving in Edinburgh in 2018 I was Associate Professor of Art History with tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I taught Islamic art history since 2006. Before that I held visiting lectureships at Boston Architectural College, Dartmouth College, and Brandeis University.

I haven’t always focused on the visual culture of Islamic societies – before starting the PhD I was interested in preserving America’s historic buildings and urban fabric. I completed my MA in Architectural History and Historic Preservation at the University of Virginia in 1998, where I had the chance to work on architectural conservation and restoration projects at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.   

Besides research, I most enjoy creating with others, especially through making music, and traveling with my family in pursuit of great sounds, sights, and cities. 

If you’d like to know more about me as a whole person (and not just as an academic), you can read more in my first blog post, in which I tried to explain to students who I am, what I do, and why. I hope it makes the values that inform my work clear, especially around equity, diversity, and inclusion.You can find the full post, “On diversifying art history. Perspectives from a mixed BAME academic (14 July, 2020),” here.

Fieldwork is better with family: my mom and my son, on my first doctoral research trip in 2001

© Glaire Anderson (CC BY-NC 4.0)