Deus (e)X Historia
A Conference Exploring Divinity and Reason in the Production of Knowledge

participant biographies

Samer Akkach Samer Akkach is an Associate Professor with the School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and the Founding Director of Adelaide’s Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA).  He works on cross-cultural critique, the history and theory of Islamic architecture, and the history of cosmological thinking in the Western and Islamic traditions. He recently published Abd Al-Ghani Al-nabulusi, which examines the relationship of the Islamic and European Enlightenment, particularly the Sufi author 'Abd al-Ghani and the larger impact of his thought on both Arab modernity and Europe.  It is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications in March 2007.  Other books include Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (SUNY Press, 2005) and the edited volume of conference proceedings, De-placing difference: architecture, culture, and imaginative geography (CAMEA, 2002).   He has published in a number of journals, including Muqarnas, Architectural Theory Review, Al-Mustaqbal al-Arabi, and MIT’s own Thresholds.  He was a visiting fellow with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, 2002.  Dr. Akkach is also an outstanding educator, and was awarded Adelaide’s Stephen Cole the Elder Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2003.

Kriengsak Chareonwongsak is a Mason Fellow at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Kriengsak was an elected Member of Parliament before the recent parliamentary dissolution. He is also an Executive Committee member of the Democrat Party, Thailand. He obtained first class honors and a PhD in Economics from Monash University, Australia, 1981. Professor Kriengsak has held various university teaching positions. He has also held fifty other positions in a number of national organizations and councils, including one constitutional body, the National Economic and Social Advisory Council (NESAC). As a businessman, he is the Chairman of Success Group of Companies. He is the author of 100 books and is a newspaper and magazine columnist. He is also a regular radio and television guest, discussing current issues on political talk shows. His perspectives are often highlighted in interviews in Thailand and overseas.

Arindam Dutta is an Associate Professor of Architectural History here at the Department. Dutta teaches surveys and advanced research courses at the graduate level. His teaching interests are in the area of modern architectural theory and history, imperialism and globalization, gender and body politics, Marxist thought, and post-structuralism. Dutta is the author of The Bureaucracy of Beauty: Design in the Age of its Global Reproducibility, (New York: Routledge, 2006), a wide-ranging work of cultural theory that connects literary studies, postcoloniality, the history of architecture and design, and the history and present of empire.Dutta's current work centers on two different areas. He is at work on a book entitled TransNational HaHas: The Architectonics of Capital, which examines the relationship between architectural thought and the natural and social sciences in their globalizing frame. The second project is titled, Sahmat 1989-2004: Liberal Art Practice against the Liberalized Public Sphere, and involves a major examination of the political challenges faced by artists in India with the dual rise of Hindu religious fundamentalism and the unraveling of state controls over fiscal policy effected as a result of the new financial consensus of the 1990s, termed "globalization".

Jamal J. Elias is the Class of 1965 Term Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Sufi thought in Iran, Turkey, Central and South Asia. His recent work on the philosophy and anthropology of art and cognitive theory in Islamic context will be published as A’isha’s Pillow: The Poetics of Religious Art. Additionally forthcoming is On Wings of Diesel, which addresses vehicle decoration and iconography in Pakistan. Mr. Elias also authored The Throne Carrier of God (1995) and translated South Asian poetry in Death Before Dying: The Sufi Poems of Sultan Bahu (1998). He recently published essays in Robes and Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture (ed. Steward Gordon) and Design: Essays on Popular Visual Culture and Iconography (ed. Saima Zaidi) as well as the journals Material and Muslim World. Mr. Elias has been named a Council of the American Oversees Research Center Fellow, a Miner D. Crary Fellow at Amherst College, an  American Research Institute in Turkey Fellow, and a Dana Foundation Faculty Fellow. He is a member of the research group Radical Reassessments of Arabic Arts, Language, and Literature, and has pursued his interest in developmental and human rights issues through the Five College Program in Peace and World Security as well as the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center.

James Elkins is the E.C. Chadbourne Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Professor of Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Head of History of Art at the University College Cork, Ireland. He also teaches in the Department of Visual and Critical Studies at the University of Chicago where he received his Ph.D. in Art History in 1989. His writings focus on the history and theory of images in art, science, and nature, most notable for this conference is his 2004 book,On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. Some of his other publications include: The Poetics of Perspective (1994), The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing (1996), Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts: Art History as Writing (1997), On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them (1998), The Domain of Images, On the Historical Study of Visual Artifacts (1999), and Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis (1999). His current projects include a book called Success and Failure in Twentieth-Century Painting.

Tapati Guha Thakurta is Professor of History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta, India. She received her Ph.D. in history from Oxford University in 1988, and her research interests include the art history and cultural history of modern India, museum practices, and popular visual culture. Her publications include: The Aesthetics of the Popular Print: Lithographs and Oleographs from 19th and 20th Century India (2006), Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India (2004), Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal: An introduction to the pictorial and photographic material in the documentation archive of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (2002), In Her Own Right: Remembering the Artist, Karuna Shaha (2001), Representing the Bengali Modern: Dharmanarayan Dasgupta (2000), and The Making of a New 'Indian' Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, c.1850-1920 (1992). Her recent articles also address questions of culture, nationalism, and representation, such as “Lineages of the Modern in Indian Art: The Making of a National History”, in Kamala Ganesh and Usha Thakkar, ed. Culture and the making of Identity in Contemporary India (2005) and “From Spectacle to ‘Art’: The Changing Aesthetics of Durga Puja in Contemporary Calcutta,” Art India (2004).

Her book Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India from 2004 has been hailed by scholars such as Dipesh Chakrabarty and Donald Preziosi as an articulate, incisive, and well-argued study of the lost local pasts of India in the nineteenth and twentieth-century that have been constructed around a corpus of monuments, archaeological relics, and artworks. These objects map the tense imbrications between the “colonial” and the “national” and become strong signifiers of India’s civilization and antiquity. She demonstrates that the workings of varied disciplines and institutions are closely tied to the pervasive authority of the nation, and yet the status of nationhood is inherently complicated by the movement from the consolidation of Western expertise to the more recent regional and nativist claims to architectural and artistic inheritance.

Mark Jarzombek, is professor of the history and theory of architecture at MIT, where he has taught since 1995, coming to MIT from Cornell University where he taught for nine years. Currently the director of the History Theory Criticism Section of the Department of Architecture, he has worked on a range of historical topics from the Renaissance to the modern and in particular on nineteenth and twentieth century architecture and aesthetics. He recently published, along with co-author Vikram Prakash and illustrator Frank Ching, a major textbook, entitled A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006). Jarzombek has received numerous awards, including a Post-doctoral Resident Fellowship at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Humanities and Art, Santa Monica, California, in 1986, and fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1993), the Canadian Center for Architecture (2002), and the Clark Institute (2005). He has published in a wide range of journals including the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Assemblage, and Renaissance Studies.

Caroline Jones studies modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on its technological modes of production, distribution, and reception. Previous to completing her art history PhD at Stanford University in 1992, she worked in museum administration and exhibition curation and completed two documentary films. Her books include Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist, (1996/98, winner of the Charles Eldredge Prize from the Smithsonian Institution), and the recently published Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg's Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (2005). She co-edited Picturing Science, Producing Art (1998), and has recently published the edited volume "Sensorium: embodied experience, technology, and contemporary art" (2006). Jones's ongoing research interests include globalism and new media art.

the land foundation was initiated in 1998 and offers artists a site for contemplation and social engagement. It is located in proximity to the village of Sanpatong, Thailand; close to the provincial capital of Chiang Mai. The region suffers from seasonal floods and year-round high water, leading to decreased production for rice farmers. The land acquired by the foundation was obtained without the concept of ownership and was to be cultivated as “open space…with certain intentions toward community, towards discussion, and towards experimentation in other fields of thought.” The land foundation follows the philosophy and agricultural technique of the Thai farmer Chaloui Kaewkong, pursuing his ideas regarding topography and irrigation. By agreement with the local authorities, the land will not draw on the strained local electrical grid; it thus also serves as a place for developing natural renewable resources (such as biogas and animal-powered generators) to meet its energy needs. The foundation also provides for experimentation in the areas of housing and sustainable design. Numerous artists and design firms, including Kamin Lertchaiprasert, Tobias Rehberger, R&Sie, Superflex, and Rirkrit Tiravanija have participated in designing various innovative structures on the site.

Kamin Lertchaiprasert was born in Lopburi, Thailand, and attended the College of Fine Arts in Bangkok from 1978 until 1981. In 1987, he obtained a B.F.A. in Printmaking from Silpakorn University. Starting in 1984, Lertchaiprasert traveled through Europe and worked as a printer for other artists. His growing interest in eastern philosophy led him to return to Thailand in 1990 and become a monk. In 1991, Lertchaiprasert’s first solo exhibition was held at the Bisual Dhamma Gallery and Dialogue Gallery in Bangkok. His second solo exhibition was held at the Dialogue Gallery a year later and was entitled “Niras Thailand.” After several more solo exhibitions in Thailand, Lertchaiprasert moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand and initiated “the land project” in 1998 with his collaborator Rirkrit Tiravanija. Since then, he has embarked on many international projects, the most recent of which was a 2005 collaboration with the “nord land project” in Norway. (See also the description about the land foundation above.)

Jonathan Massey is Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. His research examines the ways architecture gives form to civil society, shapes social relationships, and regulates consumption. Articles in the Journal of Architecture, Perspecta, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and other publications have focused on festival architecture and political reform, ornament and sumptuary regulation, and the ecological design practice of Buckminster Fuller. Massey's book Crystal & Arabesque (forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press) reconstructs the techniques through which American modernists engaged the new media, audiences, and problems of mass society. He is currently writing a book on organicism in modern architecture and urban design.

Daniel Bertrand Monk is the George R. and Myra T. Cooley Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies and Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Colgate Universit.  His research focuses  on the history and spatial practices of the Israel/Palestine conflict.  The  recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security (CIPS-SSRC), Monk is the author of  An Aesthetic Occupation: The Immediacy of Architecture and the Palestine Conflict (Duke, 2002), and Evil Paradises: the Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism, co-edited with Mike Davis (New Press, 2007).

Alberto Moreiras is Sixth Century Professor of Modern Thought and Hispanic Studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  His central focus is in Latin American and Spanish intellectual history.  He received his PhD from the University of Georgia in 1987 and has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at Duke University, and as Visiting Professor at Giessen University in Germany, Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, University of Murcia in Spain, University of Chile, Emory and Johns Hopkins.  He is the author of Interpretacion y direrencia, Tercer espacio: Literatura y duelo en America Latina, The Exhaustion of Difference.  The Politics of Latin American Cultural Studies, and Linea de sombra. El no sujeto de lo politico. He is coeditor of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies.  His current teaching and research interests include 19th and 20th Century political philosophy, comparative imperial history, and Spanish and Latin American literature.  His book Piel de lobo. Morfologia de la razon imperial is forthcoming in Madrid. 

Roy Mottahedeh is the Gurney Professor of History at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1986.  He is currently the Chair of the Committee on Islamic Studies at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the inaugural director of the new Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard, charged with developing its broad and interdisciplinary scope.  An expert on Islamic social and intellectual history, Dr. Mottahedeh has authored the books Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society  (Princeton University Press, 1980) and The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran (Simon and Schuster, 1985), and translated the late Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr’s Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence into English (Oneworld, 2005).  He is currently working on a history of southern Iraq from the end of monarchy to the American-led invasion.  Dr. Mottahedeh is also a faculty advisor to the Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review.  He has received numerous prestigious awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, and an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellowship. 

Erika Naginski is a historian of European art and architecture (17th to 19th centuries). Her forthcoming book, Sculpture and Enlightenment (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute), considers the transformation of public art in an age of secular rationalism. Her current book project explores the visionary image in architecture from Piranesi to Lequeu. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in edited volumes as well as journals such as Art Bulletin, The British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Representations, Res, and Yale French Studies. In 2004, she co-edited Polemical Objects with Stephen Melville. Naginski was a junior fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University, and taught French literature and art history at the University of Michigan. She has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and has received grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the NEH, and the Fulbright Commission. She serves on the editorial board of Res.

Jorge Otero-Pailos is an Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University. He is the Founder and Director of Future Anterior, one of the preeminent scholarly journals of preservation history, theory and criticism. His forthcoming book Inside Postmodernism: Architectural Phenomenology and How Experience Came to Matter More Than History traces the struggle to deploy a historical consciousness within Modern architecture during the 1970s. He received his Ph.D in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture at MIT, and has held post-doctoral fellowships at the Canadian Center for Architecture and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. He currently serves as vice-president of DoCoMoMo US.

Aroon Puritat was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand and attended Silpakorn University in Bangkok, obtaining a B.Arch. in 1997. Since then, he has realized several designs, including the 2001 “Annex House” in Chiang Rai and the 2002 “Mud House” at the Chiang Mai Art Museum. Puritat is currently working on the “Umong House” project in Chiang Mai. In 2003, he participated in the group exhibition “One Day Ekkabeuk” at the Umong Sippadhrama in Chiang Mai. Puritat’s publications include many contributions to the magazine art4d, the most recent of which, “Another Station,” was published in July of 2004. Puritat also contributed an essay “The Extent of Experience” to a 2004 catalogue Nothing: A Retrospective. (See also the description about the land foundation above.)

Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  His scholarly interests comprise the history and historiography of Islamic art and architecture, urban history, and post-colonial criticism. His books include: The Citadel of Cairo: A New Interpretation of Royal Mamluk Architecture, (Brill, 1995), Thaqafat al Bina’ wa Bina’ al-Thaqafa (The Culture of Building and Building Culture) (Riad al-Rayyes, 2002), and Al-Maqrizi: The Keeper of Egypt's History (Brill, Forthcoming).  He was co-author of Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition, ed. D. Reynolds (University of California Press, 2001) and co-editor with N. AlSayyad and I. Beirman of Making Cairo Medieval (Lexington Press, 2005).  Beside publishing articles in specialized scholarly journals and edited collections, professor Rabbat regularly contributes to a number of Arabic newspapers and journals on art, architectural, and critical and cultural issues.  He serves on the boards of various organizations concerned with Islamic cultures, lectures extensively in the US and abroad, and maintains several websites focused on Islamic Architecture. 

D. Venkat Rao is a professor in the School of Critical Humanities at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages in Hyderabad, India. With a focus in image studies, critical theory, Mnemocultures and Indic studies, Professor Rao has published articles dealing with post-coloniality, the politics of marginal discourse and pedagogical methods in literary studies in several journals including the Comparative Criticism, Pre-Text, ARC, Kritikos and the Journal of Contemporary Thought. In addition to translation work, Professor Rao is also the author of In Citations: Readings in Area Studies of Culture (1999) and Of Teaching Frames: The Question of Literary Pedagogy, in The Language Curriculum: Dynamics of Change (2002). His most recent publication is a translation into English of a Telugu intellectual autobiography called The Last Brahmin (2007)."

Jonathan M. Reynolds received his A.B. from Harvard College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is currently Associate Professor of Japanese Art and Architecture at USC. Prior to joining the USC faculty, Reynolds taught at Washington University and the University of Michigan. In 2002, he was awarded the College Art Association’s Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize for his article, “Ise Shrine and a Modernist Construction of Japanese Tradition” (Art Bulletin, 2001). Reynolds’ 2001 book, Maekawa Kunio and the Emergence of a Japanese Modernist Architecture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001) examines the career of Maekawa Kunio, one of the architects responsible for the ascent of Modernist architecture in Japan. Reynolds’s current project is titled “Allegories of Time and Space: Visualizing Japanese Cultural Identity through Architecture and Photography.” He examines Hamaya Hiroshi’s “ethnographic photography” of Japan’s rural northeast, Tange Kenzô’s collaborations with the photographers Ishimoto Yasuhiro and Watanabe Yoshio to represent the Katsura Villa and Ise Shrine within a modernist frame, and the photographic representation of Okinawa as a last vestige of “authentic Japan” in the work of Tômatsu Shômei. The book will also address the apparent suspension of time and space in the fantasy of the “urban nomad” in architecture and graphic design from the late 1970s until the early 1990s.  Reynolds has published articles in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Art Journal, Kenchiku jyaanaru, Building Design, and Japan Architect. He has received fellowships from the Japan Foundation, the Getty Foundation, CASVA, and the NEH.

Sarah K. Rich is Associate Professor of Art History at Pennsylvania State University. She received a B.A. in art history and comparative literature from Northwestern University and a Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. in history of art from Yale University, where she honed her speciality in art after 1945 and Critical Theory, with particular attention to abstract painting produced in the United States during the Cold War era. Her publications on Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, Gene Davis, Jo Baer and others have appeared in Artforum, Art Bulletin, October and Afterimage, as well as in many exhibition catalogues and edited volumes. She has been curator or co-curator for a number of shows at Yale University Art Gallery and elsewhere, and her research has been supported by grants from the Getty Research Institute as well as by the Institute for Arts and Humanities.

Irvin Cemil Schick received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from MIT. He has taught at Harvard University (1995-2003) and at MIT, where he is currently a research scientist in the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity. He is also a cultural historian who has tackled questions of identity and modernity in Turkey, the representation of Muslim women, and the Islamic arts of the book. A specialist of calligraphic practices, he isthe author of several monographs and exhibition catalogues including: The Erotic Margin: Sexuality and Spatiality in Alterist Discourse (London: Verso, 1999), which looks at the connection between erotica, anthropology and the travel narrative from the 18th century on; Çerkes Güzeli: Bir Sarkiyatçi Imgenin Serüveni [The Fair Circassian: Adventures of an Orientalist Motif] (Istanbul, Oglak Yayıncılık, 2004); and The Art of Ebrû: Turkish Paper Marbling with Islamic Calligraphy (Worcester, Mass.: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross, 2006). He has also edited a number of volumes: M. Ug˘ur Derman Festschrift: (Istanbul: Sabancı Universitesi, 2000); with Ertugrul Ahmet Tonak, Turkey in Transition: New Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press 1987); Avrupali Esireler ve Müslüman Efendileri: "Türk" Illerinde Esaret Anlatilari [European Women Captives and their Muslim Masters: Narratives of "Turkish" Captivity] (Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2005), and with Amila Buturovic Women in the Ottoman Balkans: Gender, Culture and History (London, forthcoming 2007).

Z. S. Strother was educated at Bryn Mawr College and Yale University, receiving her Ph.D. in 1992. She is Professor in the department of art history at UCLA, specializing in twentieth century Central and West African art history. She has also taught at Columbia University and was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. Other academic accomplishments include being named to the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. Her book, Inventing Masks: Agency and History in the Art of the Central Pende (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), was recognized with the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award from the Arts Council of the African Studies Association for works published between 1998-2000. Her research addresses issues of invention, agency, reception, and the theorizing of power and knowledge; focusing on performance and ritual, Strother’s work evaluates the ways in which the visual arts function on ethnic and national levels. Strother has conducted fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, and Ethiopia. She serves on the editorial board of Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics. Articles include: “Display of the Body Hottentot” in ed. Bernth Lindfors, ed., Africans on Stage (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999); “Gabama a Gingungu and the Secret History of Twentieth-Century Art,” African Arts 32:1 (Spring 1999); “Architecture Against the State: The Virtues of Impermanence in the Kibulu  of Eastern Pende Chiefs in Central Africa,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63: 3 (September 2004), pp.272-95.

Georges Tamer is a Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.  He completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Free University in Berlin in 2000.  Dr. Tamer works on the history of the Qur’an, Islamic thought, and “Western” intellectual history.  His book, Islamische Philosophie und die Krise der Moderne: das Verhältnis von Leo Strauss zu Al-Farabi, Avicenna und Averroes (Brill, 2001), considers Leo Strauss and the influence of Al Farabi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina), and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) in Strauss’s political philosophy.  Most recently, Dr. Tamer edited The Trias of Maimonides: Jewish, Arabic, And Ancient Culture of Knowledge (Walter de Gruyter, 2005). 

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