Trans-Saharan Exchange and the Global Medieval: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Trans-Saharan Exchange and the Global Medieval

Excavations at Igbo Olokun
Excavations at Igbo Olokun, 2017. Photograph by Abidemi Babatunde Babalola
9:30 AM-7:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Fri April 26, 2019
9:30 AM-7:30 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


Trans-Saharan Exchange and the Global Medieval:
Visual and Cultural Studies Research at the Crossroads of Disciplines and Regions

Myers Symposium
Organized by Christina Normore and Kathleen Bickford Berzock

9:30am: Welcome

Panel 1 Crossroads: Art History and Archaeology 
10:00am – 12:30pm

Suzanne Blier, Harvard University
“A Coptic Presence in the Medieval West Africa Trade? Evidence and Further Questions”

Abidemi Babatunde Babalola, University of Cambridge, UK
“Ile-Ife in the Medieval Exchange: On "the glass bead road" in Early West Africa”

Sam Nixon, British Museum, UK
“Dots on a map: investigating the nature of early trans-Saharan towns from Morocco to Mali”

Sarah Guérin, University of Pennsylvania
“Gold work: Techniques, Exchange, and Conscience between Art History and Archaeology”

Moderator: Marc Walton, Northwestern University

12:30 – 2pm: Lunch

Panel 2: Crossroads: Islamic Studies and West African Studies 
2pm – 4:30pm

Ulrike al-Khamis, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
“Beyond the canon: Islamic art and Africa”

Michelle Apotsos, Williams College
“Spaces on the Edge: Rethinking West African Islamic Architecture Then and Now”

Abdallah Fili, Université d’El Jadida, Morocco
“Potentialités locales des villes marocaines médiévales au service du commerce transsaharien, l’exemple de Sijilmassa”

Mauro Nobili, University of Illinois
"The Southern Factor in the Development of the West African Tradition of Islamic Learning, c.1000-1500"

Moderator: Christina Normore, Northwestern University


5:30pm: Keynote: Susan Keech McIntosh, Rice University; following her talk, Susan will be joined for conversation by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Block Museum Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and curator of Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time.

This event is supported by the Myers Foundations and presented by The Block Museum and the Department of Art History at Northwestern University.

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at