Alumni Activities: Sharon Smith at MIT


Sharon Smith (PhD, 2009) is co-organizer of the symposium New Frontiers in Gulf Urbanism, taking place March 11-12 and presented by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. For more information, visit

Sharon C. Smith is the Program Head at the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT and co-director of Archnet. Her areas of specialization include Middle Eastern art and architecture and Early Modern Italian art and architecture. Sharon sits on several boards, including the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC), and is also a Fellow of the Institute, Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM). In addition, Sharon serves as image editor for Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World. She has presented widely on issues of documentation, digitization, and the dissemination of knowledge, as well as on art historical topics primarily focused on visual and material culture in the Early Modern Mediterranean.

Material and Visual Worlds speaker series: Þóra Pétursdóttir, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

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Þóra Pétursdóttir is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Her research engages issues of contemporary archaeology, archaeological theory, and the politics of heritage, material culture studies and the “ontological turn.” Pétursdóttir has conducted research on contemporary settlements and conditions in Iceland, Northern Norway and Russia (Kola). She is a member of the international research groups “Ruin Memories” and “Object Matters” and her recent publications include: “Imaging modern decay: the aesthetics of ruin photography”, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 1(1), 2014, pp. 7-56 (with Bjørnar Olsen) and “Concrete matters: ruins of modernity and the things called heritage”, Journal of Social Archaeology 13(1), 2013, pp. 31-53.

Faculty Activities: Diane Butler at Thirsty (for Knowledge) Thursday

Diana Butler, the new University Art Museum Director, pictured in the museum located at the Fine Arts Building, Monday, October 15, 2012.

Photo by Jonathan Cohen.

Art Museum Director Diane Butler is this month’s speaker in the Thirsty (for Knowledge) series organized by the Binghamton University Alumni Association:

Quench your thirst for new insights, information and perspectives by joining us as the new Thirsty (for Knowledge) Thursday series continues.

Diane Butler, director of the Binghamton University Art Museum, will be this month’s featured speaker. Join us for lunch and her talk from noon-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the Alumni Center Lounge in Old O’Connor Hall, to learn how Butler and her team are engaging with professors and students in other disciplines to offer creative exhibitions and programs for visitors from the campus and community.

The cost of $15 per person includes a buffet lunch and pass for the parking garage. Register online by Monday, Feb. 22.

CEMERS annual bus trip to Cloisters/Metropolitan Museum of Art

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies will hold its annual bus trip to the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in Manhattan, on Friday,
March 11.

All members of the campus community are welcome. The cost of the trip is $25 for medieval studies majors and minors; $35 for all other undergraduate and graduate students; and $50 for faculty and staff.

Ticket prices include transportation to and from New York City, admission to both museums and tours of both the Cloisters and the Islamic Galleries at the Met. The bus will depart from the Binghamton University Events Center at 8:30 a.m. and will return at approximately 10.30 p.m. that evening. Participants should be ready to board the bus at 8:15 a.m. The bus will not stop on the way to New York, but a catered lunch will be available for an extra fee (and the meal, chips and beverage) will be dropped off at the bus before departure.

Information and signup available at the CEMERS office, LN-1129, by calling 607-777-2730 or by contacting Erin Stanley via e-mail ( The deadline to sign up is Friday, Feb. 26.

Faculty Activities: Nancy Um in the Getty Research Journal

See Associate Professor Nancy Um‘s article “Bridging the Mediterranean and Gujarat with the Turn of a Page: Picturing the Dimensions of Maritime Travel in an Extra-Illustrated Nineteenth-Century Book about India,” in the current issue of the Getty Research Journal. For more information,  visit

Faculty Activities: Nancy Um in the Journal of Early Modern History

See Associate Professor Nancy Um‘s introduction to the current volume of The Journal of Early Modern History, co-authored with Leah R. Clark and titled “The Art of Embassy: Situating Objects and Images in the Early Modern Diplomatic Encounter.” Um and Clark co-edited the volume, which examines the way in which works of art and other objects acted as tools of negotiation in delicate diplomatic exchanges throughout the early modern world.

Faculty Activities: Nancy Um at UNC

On February 19, Associate Professor Nancy Um will take part in the seminar Pre-modern Diplomacy and the Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, delivering a paper titled “Aromatic Diplomacy in the Indian Ocean: The Efficacy of VOC Gifts in the Late 17th and Early 18th Centuries.” See the seminar program for more information.

Early modern cross-cultural diplomacy hinged upon gifts as a mode of exemplifying the envoy’s credentials, seriousness of mission, and political clout, in addition to the sincerity of the dispatcher’s intentions. Yet, the terrain of diplomatic gifts could be particularly tricky. Standard accounts convey the impression that even the most valuable bestowals could be summarily rejected, dismissed, or even returned by their recipients. This paper situates the gifts that the Dutch East India Company officials based in Batavia bestowed across their Indian Ocean trading network in the late 17th and early 18th C within this pervasive atmosphere of gifts gone wrong. The focus will be on a class of objects, wooden boxes, filled with aromatic oils sometimes encased in porcelain vials, which were given to varied recipients that stretched from Abyssinia to the islands of Southeast Asia. It is proposed that this item, which was particularly complex in its manufacture and assemblage, may be considered a successful gift within the context of Dutch diplomatic exchange, thus exemplifying the relatively subtle understanding that VOC officials had acquired about the grammar of Indian Ocean gift practices by the end of the seventeenth century. At stake in this inquiry is also a consideration of the significant divide between the ways that textual and material evidence render and convey the early modern diplomatic encounter.

Underground Images at Rosefsky Gallery

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An opening for Underground Images, an exhibition at the Rosefsky Gallery of the posters created at School of Visual Arts for display in the New York subway system, will be held this Friday, February 12, from 5:00-7:00.  The opening will include a gallery talk at 6:00 by Beth Kleber, SVA’s archivist and the college’s foremost authority on this important collection of posters.