The myth of center and periphery

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


This chapter reflects on approaches to the decentralization and decolonization of Islamic art by recognizing the agency of regionalism in teaching. The centrality of core languages and regions is a persistent myth within Islamic art which influences how Islamic art has been conceptualized and studied. But the conceptualization of Islamic art within a radiating structure of center and periphery, in which the power of the privileged core exerts influence on the marginal edge, promotes an oversimplification of a more complex reality involving dynamic exchanges across Islamic history, geography and society. Part of the problem is simply historical: from Europe and the UK, colonial practices and collection strategies have contributed to the definition of ‘Islamic’ art and its primary focus on the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. It might even be argued that the ongoing viability of this scholarly discipline is driven by its privileged access to site-specific resources from these regions. But it is important to decolonize and re-frame our pedagogy to reflect the fact that Islam is a global phenomenon and elements of Islamic art can be encountered almost anywhere – even small towns in rural Australia. We seek and support new modes of access and conversations regarding the heterogeneity of ‘Islamic’ art. The field of Islamic art looks quite different when it prioritizes local grassroots engagement over canonical global narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeconstructing the myths of Islamic art
EditorsOnur Ozturk, Xenia Gazi, Sam Bowker
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781003170525
ISBN (Print)9780367772659, 9780367772666
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Art History


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