The Environment and Ecology in Islamic Art and Culture
Ninth Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art
Online November 8-15, 2021.
–As for the earth, We spread it out… and caused everything to grow there in perfect balance – Surah 15:19
An eco-conscious ethos is intrinsic to Islamic scripture and culture. This sensitivity profoundly influences the relationship between human beings, deputized as stewards of nature by Allah, and the environment they inhabit. Historical and contemporary Islamic visual traditions have demonstrated this consciousness in urban planning, landscape architecture, water management, and many other art forms. Despite this awareness, in the present epoch of the Anthropocene, human intervention has caused irreparable damage to the planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems. As art history shifts its disciplinary attention to the unfolding global crisis, this symposium considers how an ecological art history can examine objects, materials, and the built environment through the lens of Islamic culture. It also seeks to push beyond binaries of human/non-human and culture/nature in which the human and the cultural are privileged over other species and the natural world. Humans, within this ontological framework, are part of the environment and in possession of unique capacities necessary to address climate change, sustainability, and environmental conservation.