Curator at Smithsonian to give annual Humanities Festival talk at URI, April 17

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Asma Naeem
Asma Naeem, a curator at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Photo courtesy of Asma Naeem.

KINGSTON, R.I. April 10, 2018—Asma Naeem, curator at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, will be the keynote speaker for the Humanities Festival April 17 at the University of Rhode Island.

Her talk, “Leaving Yourself Behind: Entangled Histories of Partition in British India, Margaret Bourke-White and Zarina,” will start at 4:30 p.m. in Room 275 of the John H. Chafee Social Science Center, 10 Chafee Road, on URI’s Kingston campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Visitor parking will be available in a lot at 95 Upper College Road, also on the Kingston campus.

Naeem is an art historian and a curator of Prints, Drawings and Media Arts at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Specializing in American and contemporary Islamic art, Naeem is interested in the effects of displacement, the history of technology and the sensorial imagination of artist and beholder. She has taught many courses, including Modern European Art; American Art from the Civil War to the Present; and Contemporary Islamic Art. Her current project is tentatively titled, “Leaving Yourself Behind: The Partition of India and its Aftermath in American Art.”

Naeem has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, with a specialization in 19th- and 20th-century American art and a minor in 19th-century French art, and a bachelor’s degree in art history and political science from the Johns Hopkins University. Before returning to art history, she practiced law as a prosecutor in Manhattan and Washington, D.C.

“Asma Naeem’s research connects the history of photography to a relatively unknown history of the Partition of British India,” says Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, director of the Center for the Humanities. “Her work asks us to reconsider how we view the Partition and interpret the horrific history through the lens of an American photographer.”