The Environment and Ecology in Islamic Art and Culture
9th Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art

November 6-8, 2021 in Doha, Qatar.

As for the earth, We spread it out… and caused everything to grow there in perfect balance – Surah 15:19

An eco-conscious ethos is intrinsic to Islamic scripture and culture. This sensitivity profoundly influences the relationship between human beings, deputized as stewards of nature by Allah, and the environment they inhabit. Historical and contemporary Islamic visual traditions have demonstrated this consciousness in urban planning, landscape architecture, water management, and many other art forms. Despite this awareness, in the present epoch of the Anthropocene, human intervention has caused irreparable damage to the planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems. As art history shifts its disciplinary attention to the unfolding global crisis, this symposium considers how an ecological art history can examine objects, materials, and the built environment through the lens of Islamic culture. It also seeks to push beyond binaries of human/non-human and culture/nature in which the human and the cultural are privileged over other species and the natural world. Humans, within this ontological framework, are part of the environment and in possession of unique capacities necessary to address climate change, sustainability, and environmental conservation.

Registration for the Symposium will open from June 1, 2021. The Symposium will be primarily a virtual event this year. We are hoping to be able to host a limited in-person audience, but will not have final information on whether this will be possible until July or August 2021.


To receive Symposium updates, subscribe to our periodic newsletter here.


Symposium Organizers

Radha Dalal, Interim Director of Art History and Assistant Professor of Islamic Art (VCUarts Qatar)
Jochen Sokoly, Associate Professor of Islamic Art (VCUarts Qatar)
Sean Roberts, Lecturer in Early Modern Art (University of Tennessee)