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Middle East Studies Center Lunch & Learn: "Remaking 'Half the World': Epigraphic Politics, Restoration Munificence, and Visualizing Sovereignty in Isfahan's Maidan, c. 1600-present"
Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 12:00pm
Middle East Studies Center Lunch & Learn: "Remaking 'Half the World':  Epigraphic Politics, Restoration Munificence, and Visualizing Sovereignty in Isfahan's Maidan, c. 1600-present"

Smith Memorial Student Union, room 294, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland State University
Free & open to the public


Keelan Overton will present her ongoing research on the dialogue between epigraphy, politics, and cultural heritage preservation within Isfahan’s maidan and adjacent spaces. She is particularly interested in the ephemeral nature of epigraphy and tilework on Isfahan’s Safavid religious monuments, and her research ultimately aims to position Isfahan’s maidan as a contested space wherein iconic buildings served as canvases for distinct regimes to broadcast their sovereignty and munificence over the course of four centuries.  She situates nineteenth- and twentieth-century processes of epigraphic “turf war” and propagandist restoration in relation to earlier precedents in the Islamic tradition while also considering contemporary preservation projects.


Keelan Overton is a historian of Islamic art based in Portland, OR.  She has taught surveys of Islamic art and Asian art at Portland State and is currently curating exhibitions of Mughal and Persian painting for the Seattle Asian Art Museum.  Her primary field of research examines book arts, painting and patterns of collecting and cosmopolitanism at the Bijapuri court of Ibrahim ‘Adil Shah II (r. 1580-1627).  Her secondary specialization focuses on more recent centuries and considers the documentation of Iran’s cultural heritage, the formation of American collections of Islamic art, the ceramic arts industries of Pahlavi Iran, and the refashioning of “Islamicate” space abroad, whether late-Ottoman Syrian domestic interiors or Safavid-style mosques.  She is currently preparing a book project on artistic translation between Iran and the Deccan with a focus on transcultural networks of trade, patronage, piety, diplomacy, and collecting.


The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library.

The Center’s Lunch & Learn series offers students, faculty, and members of the community an opportunity to learn about events in the region from experts in the field.  Through informal presentations followed by discussion, scholars offer academic analysis of current events including subjects such as the Egyptian revolution, humanitarian aid in Libya, and the UN vote on Palestinian statehood.  These conversations provide a forum for the community to engage in thoughtful dialogue about the region, ask questions, and share their opinions.  This responsive series fosters an increase in international awareness and a community of learning with a shared interest in the Middle East. | | 503-725-4074