Not Melaka but Marege: Islamic Art in Australia (or, "What have the Umayyads ever done for us?")

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


There is a vibrant and distinctive Islamic art heritage in Australia which deserves to be examined on its own terms. The curation of art and material culture exhibitions in multicultural Australia, where diverse interest groups contest historical narratives, presents exciting opportunities for public engagement. Both Islamic and Indigenous art share the impact of European Orientalism, social marginalization and recent politicization, and thus seek an earnest focus for cultural critique and contemporary reconciliation.This paper looks at the differing ways that two major institutions explore revised representations of, and relations between, South-East Asian, Islamic, and Indigenous Australian visual cultures to create a distinctive Australian vision of Islamic art. This is a vision that rejects the centrality of the expanded Middle East and showcases the formation of vibrant pluralist identities. The institutions are the Art Gallery of South Australia - whose Islamic art collection, commenced in 1916, forms the only permanent display in a public institution in Australia* - and Charles Sturt University, which teaches a unique Islamic art subject developed through the experiences of regional Australian students. *This is due to the ongoing work of James Bennett, Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, to whom this chapter and original conference presentation is indebted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurating Islamic art worldwide
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Malacca to Manchester
EditorsJenny Norton-Wright
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030288808
ISBN (Print)9783030288792
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameHeritage Studies in the Muslim World
ISSN (Print)2662-7906


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