By Jennifer Micale
March 16, 2021
From Tanzania to India, Oman to Malaysia, the Indian Ocean’s blue waters have linked cultures each historic and trendy.
“The Indian Ocean related individuals for hundreds of years, lengthy earlier than Vasco de Gama arrived. It’s all about maritime connections,” defined Professor of Art History Nancy Um, who has devoted her profession to learning the area’s artwork, structure and materials tradition.
Um not too long ago acquired a prestigious Connecting Art Histories grant from the Getty Foundation that can permit her to present again to each her self-discipline and the area she research. She is the principal investigator for Indian Ocean Exchanges, a analysis, fellowship and journey program that can assist rising art historians based mostly across the Indian Ocean rim in East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South and Southeast Asia.
Whereas artwork historians in america can draw on assets from established and well-resourced establishments, typically that’s not the case for packages in different international locations, corresponding to Sudan, Sri Lanka or Indonesia, Um defined. Artwork historical past could be a tough subject to interrupt into, and assets — together with connections to established worldwide students within the subject — make a big distinction.
“The Getty is devoted to creating certain artwork historical past prospers as a world self-discipline. We’ll be serving to artwork historians turn out to be related to one another and thrive,” she mentioned.
Purposes are at the moment due in April, and precedence will likely be given to students who’re affiliated with establishments based mostly on the Indian Ocean’s rim. Nonetheless, those that are conducting analysis on the Indian Ocean and are based mostly elsewhere may even obtain consideration.
“We wish to privilege people who can communicate from their very own expertise,” Um mentioned. “The scholarly neighborhood and most of the people wish to hear from extra native voices.”
With the $245,000 grant, the venture workforce will carry 15 students from one finish of the Indian Ocean to a different, beginning at Doha in Qatar early in 2022. From there, they’ll head to Singapore and Malaysia, ending in 2023 in Mombasa and the Swahili coast of Kenya.
Throughout their travels, they’ll go to museums and archaeological websites off the overwhelmed path, viewing collections not at the moment on show. Companions for the worldwide research excursions embody VCUarts Qatar in Doha, the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore and the Nationwide Museums of Kenya.
That’s not all. The venture workforce — which incorporates New York College Affiliate Professor of Artwork Historical past Prita Meier and consultants Athman Hussein, assistant director on the Nationwide Museums of Kenya; visiting senior fellow Imran Bin Tajudeen on the Nationwide College of Singapore; and Rutgers College Director of Cultural Heritage and Preservation Research Trinidad Rico — will provide mentorship for the fellows’ ongoing analysis tasks and steerage for his or her future skilled growth.
Whereas this system will start on-line this summer time, Um acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic may affect how this system is rolled out, together with the scheduling of the journeys. The hope is to undertake the worldwide excursions in individual, if doable.
Getty is the one main basis that helps artwork historical past and conservation on a completely worldwide foundation, and has performed an element in shaping Um’s personal profession trajectory. In 2004-5, she acquired a postdoctoral fellowship via the inspiration that gave her the chance to write down her first ebook, The Service provider Homes of Mocha: Commerce and Structure in an Indian Ocean Port (College of Washington Press, 2009); she additionally participated within the Getty Analysis Institute’s Students in Residence Program, with a fellowship in 2013-14, the place she wrote most of her second ebook, Shipped however not Bought: Materials Tradition and the Social Protocols of Commerce throughout Yemen’s Age of Espresso (College of Hawai’i Press, 2017).
She expressed her gratitude to colleagues who helped make the grant doable, together with Michelle Gardner of the Binghamton University Foundation, Kevin Boettcher of the Office of Strategic Research Initiatives, and Lisa Gilroy, Tanja DeMauro and Benjamin Fay at the Office of Sponsored Programs.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of such a terrific workforce,” she mentioned.
This program is made doable with assist from the Getty Basis via its Connecting Artwork Histories initiative.