Studies of networks, entanglements, and artistic connections have been key approaches in the discipline of art history during the past twenty years, and the role of portable artifacts has been particularly in the center of scholarly attention. This talk will contribute to these discourses by focusing on two case studies: on the itineraries of metal artifacts from Mamluk Syria and Egypt to regions as distant as West Africa, the Apennine peninsula, the Horn of Africa and China, and their impact on artists working across media and materials where the objects arrived, as well as on the mobility of ceramic objects and artistic responses to them from Italy to East Africa and further regions. The talk will shed new light on complex intersections between short-distance and long-distance entanglements across the medieval Afro-Eurasian world. It will show the benefits and the necessity of wider horizons beyond traditional subdisciplines such as European, Islamic, African etc. art histories, and it will address the overcoming of subdisciplinary boundaries and traditional disciplinary hierarchies as one of the challenges of transcultural art histories of the ‘global middle ages’, much discussed in the humanities and social sciences today.
Vera-Simone Schulz is an art historian working at the crossroads of African, Islamic and European art histories, and postdoctoral research associate at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI in Florence, Italy. She holds a PhD from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, her first monograph “Infiltrating Artifacts: Florence and Tuscany in their Mediterranean and Global Entanglements” is in preparation for publication, and she is currently working on her habilitation (second book) project on “Liminal Spaces in Coastal East Africa: Archipelagic Thinking and Transcultural Art Histories”. She has been visiting lecturer at the University of Stuttgart, the University of Zurich, the University of Düsseldorf, and is currently visiting lecturer at the University of Heidelberg. Her research has been supported by the German Research Foundation, the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, the Bard Graduate Center in NYC, and the University of Cambridge, among others.
Organised by Dr Jessica Barker (The Courtauld)