A Tale of Two Port Cities: Al-Mahdiyya, Palermo and the Medieval Mediterranean Timber Trade

Oct 2, 2023, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
202 Jones Hall
Free and open to the public



Event Description

Ali Alibhai is an assistant professor of Islamic Art History and Material Culture at the University of Texas at Dallas and the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. Ali holds a PhD from Harvard University’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department, awarded in November 2018. He specializes in the histories of art and architecture of medieval Egypt, Tunisia, Sicily, Spain, and Morocco and is also a scholar of the histories and cultures of Muslim societies. His research focuses on the medieval Islamic world, specifically regions within the Maghrib and Mediterranean worlds. He specializes in the histories of art and architecture of medieval Egypt, Tunisia, Sicily, Spain, and Morocco, but also includes Arab Sind and Persianate-India in his research portfolio. Ali’s academic work combines the study of textual and historical studies with art and architectural history to understand further the socio-cultural history and material culture of the medieval Islamic world. Applying theories of research as a Mediterraneanist scholar, he also studies Islamic art and architecture in South Asia and East and West Africa, and the connective narratives of Art History as seen through trade and travel.

He is currently working on his monograph Medieval Islamic Soundscapes and the Symbolic Transformation of the Bell and the Adhān, which discusses the interaction of Muslims and Christians in Islamic Spain and North Africa through the expression of different public forms of sacred sound. This book project is a historical analysis and comparative study of the evolving meanings of the Muslim adhān and the Christian bell/semantron in medieval Islamic civilization through interdisciplinary research derived from art historical, material cultural, historical, juridical, literary, and religious documentation and sources.


  • Near Eastern Studies Program
  • Department of Near Eastern Studies