Ruba Kana’an

Head of Research and Publications at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada

Ruba Kana’an is the Head of Research and Publications at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada. She is a specialist on the urban histories of pre-modern Muslim societies, and the interface between art and law in Muslim contexts. She has a BSc. in architecture (Jordan), and an MPhil and a DPhil in Islamic art and architecture from Oxford University. She has taught extensively at the graduate and undergraduate levels on various aspects of Islamic art and architecture (7th –19th centuries); in 2007 she developed, wrote and taught Oxford University’s first on-line course in Islamic Art and Architecture.

Kana’an’s research projects include a study of institutions of architectural patronage in Ottoman Palestine and the manner in which pre-modern Muslim societies created civic space. This research formed the basis of two articles published in the journals Levant (2001) and Muqarnas (2001). Her research has taken her to Oman where she carried out a comprehensive survey of Oman’s historical mosques, focusing on their socio-legal development and artistic influences. An important aspect of this survey concerning the uniquely decorated mihrabs of Ibadhi mosques is published in Islamic Art in Oman (2008). Most recently, her interest in the confluence between art and law in Muslim contexts has led to the reassessment of the relationship between artist and patron in medieval Muslim societies; she has carried out a study of the production and patronage of pre-Mongol metalwork in Iran and Central Asia, examining evidence from medieval compendia of contract law and artists’ signatures (Islamic Law and Society, 2009 and forthcoming in Ars Orientalis). She is currently co-editing a book titled Places of Worship and Devotion in Muslim Societies and completing a volume entitled The Arts of Medieval Muslim Societies: 10 Key Masterpieces. Kana’an is an editor for a new book series entitled Islam and Muslim Societies in the Medieval and early Modern Period.

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