Middle East Studies

Margaret Graves | Invisible Hands: Forgery and Finance in a Colonial Art Market

Margaret Graves event poster

Thursday, November 9, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room, 111 Thayer - Registration required. This event is now reached space capacity. We cannot accept any further registrations. We will be live streaming.

About the Event
Historical ceramics from the Islamic world are now held in elite collections worldwide. Many migrated westward during the late 19th-/early 20th-century heyday of Islamic art collecting when craft skills in the Middle East were being redirected towards a new market generated by the colonial project’s fanatical harvesting of artifacts: the faking, forging, and fictionalizing of antiquities. This project re-encounters ceramics faking and forgery in the Middle East as an economically logical, indigenous form of skilled craft participation in modern global capitalism, where the structures of antiquities collection derive ultimately from colonial-era resource extraction and international banking.


About the Speaker
Margaret Graves is a specialist in the art of the Islamic world, with a particular research focus on museum objects, the plastic arts (ceramics, metalwork, stonecarving), and the acts and contexts of making in the medieval and modern eras. Her first monograph, Arts of Allusion: Object, Ornament, and Architecture in Medieval Islam (Oxford University Press, 2018), won the 2019 book prize of the International Center of Medieval Studies and the 2021 Karen Gould prize from the Medieval Academy of America. Her current book project, Invisible Hands, explores the craft skills of ceramics faking and forgery for the nineteenth- and twentieth-century antiquities market. Other ongoing research topics include contemporary art that explores the legacies of colonial-era craft reform and heritage management in the Middle East; occult dimensions of medieval metalwork molding; locating a global “golden age” of faking for the international antiquities market; and collaborations with conservators on the material lives of doctored objects. Before joining the department in 2023, Professor Graves taught at Indiana University.