Research Associates

Alya Karame

Research Associate

Phone: +961 (0)1 359184


Alya Karame joined the OIB as Research Associate in 2022. Before that, Alya was the holder of the Mellon Postdoctoral fellowship (2019-2020) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where she also taught. She was at the University of Oxford, the recipient of the Barakat Trust Award (2018-2019), where she started working on her book project on medieval Qur’ans, due for publication in 2023. In 2016, she was part of the Kunsthistorisches Institut research program in Florence “Connecting Art Histories in the Museum” and was based for two years at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. Alya obtained her PhD in 2018 in Islamic Art History from the University of Edinburgh and her MA in History of Art & Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2011. In the last few years, she received numerous awards in support of her research and lectured widely on her work. 

From Copying to Burning the Qur’an: Creating Models & Transposing Sacrality (Alya Karame)

The Qur’an has been copied and mechanically reproduced for fourteen centuries across three continents. Its history, as a book, has been narrated through the lens of the politically powerful cultural capitals that once ruled the Islamic world and through their hegemonic aesthetic trends presenting the Qur’an as invariable.

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Forthcoming (2023). The Forgotten Qur’ans of the Medieval Eastern Islamic World: The Ghaznavid and Ghurid Dynasties. Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art, Edinburgh University Press.

“Ghaznavid Imperial Qur’an Manuscripts: The Shaping of a Local Style” The Word Illuminated: Form and Function of Qur’anic Manuscripts. Ed. Sana Mirza and Simon Rettig. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2023.

April 2018. “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” Book review, Massumeh Farhad and Simon Rettig, eds. Published by the College of Art Association, (CAA Reviews).

November 2015. “The Art of Translation: An Early Persian Commentary of the Qur’an”. Co-authored with Travis Zadeh. Journal of Abbasid Studies: Volume 2, Issue 2, 2015 (119–195).


 “To Dust to Ashes: Transposing the Qur’an’s Sacrality” 
Invited to the conference organised by the Arab Council for Social Sciences. 20 June 2022.

“Les manuscrits du Coran à Nishapur au début du XIe siècle”
Invited to Chaire Histoire du Coran, Texte et Transissmission, Collège de France. 2 June 2022.

“The Qarmathian Qur’an: From Mausoleum to Museum”
Invited to the Department of Near Eastern Sudies, Princeton University. 25 October 2021.

“Unpacking the Qur’an Manuscript Today”
Part of the Panel: Manufacturing the Sacred: Objects of Veneration in the Modern Islamic World, Silsila: Center for Material Histories. New York University. 15 October 2021.

“From Listener to Reader: The Qur’an’s Practice in the 11th Century”
Historians of Islamic Art Association Biennial Symposium. The University of Michigan: Regime Change. 15-18 April 2021.

“Secularising the Qur’an Manuscript: Gifts of the 20th Century”
Part of the Panel: Decolonising Islamicate Manuscript Studies. The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Conference. July 2021.

 “Connecting the Dots: Qur’an Manuscripts from the Ghurid to the Sultanate Period”
Connected Courts: Art of the South Asian Sultanate. The Khalili Research Centre and Wolfson College, University of Oxford. 20-21 September 2019

 “From Unification to Fragmentation: What Happened to the Qur’an Manuscript in the Tenth Century?” Invited to the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin. 27 May 2019

“Change, Continuity and Rupture: Qur’an Manuscript Production in the Central and Eastern Islamic Lands of the 11th Century”. Research Seminar of The Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford. 24 January 2019.     

“Qur’an Production in Khurasan in the 11th and 12th Centuries”.Textes et Contextes: Recherches en cours sur le monde iranien oriental. Invited to the workshop organised by Universita degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. 14 September 2018.

“The Qur’an in the Realm of the Senses”. Sensate Art Histories, a workshop organised by the ‘Connecting Art Histories in the Museum’ at the Wissenschaftkolleg in Berlin. 11 June 2018.

“The Biography of an 11th Century Ghaznavid Qur’an: Form, Function & Circulation” Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin. 13 July 2017.

 “Between Textual Ambiguity and Visual Accuracy: Arabic Calligraphy Before the 14th Century”Art Histories & Terminologies III Languages, Lexica, Aesthetics, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florenz. 12-13 December 2016.

“Uncovering the Work of ‘al-Warrāq al-Ghaznawī’: Luxurious Qur’ans commissioned by the Ghaznavid Elite”. Invited to the Symposium organized around the exhibition “Qur’ans from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul”, Freer - Sackler Gallery, Washington DC: The Deluxe Mushaf: Forms, Functions, and the Afterlife of Qur’an Manuscripts. 1-3 December 2016.

 “The Illumination of the Imperial Ghaznavid Qur’ans: A Distinct Local Style” Historians of Islamic Art Association Biennial Symposium. The Courtauld Institute of Art, London: Regionality: Looking for the Local in the Arts of Islam. 20-22 October 2016.     

 “The Travel of a Manuscript from an Imperial Commission in the 5th/11th Century to a Diplomatic Gift in the 15th/21st Century” Invited to Books in Motion: Exploring Concepts of Mobility in Cross-Cultural Studies of the Book, Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut. 5-6 May 2016.  

“Visual Manifestations in Qur’ans of the 10th and 11th Centuries: a New Role?” Part of the panel: The Book History & The Middle East. Middle East Studies Association - 48th meeting, Washington DC.
November 2014.

“Towards a Physical Reading of the Qur’an: Visual Elements in Qur’ans from the 4th/10th to the 6th/12th Century”. School of Abbasid Studies, XII conference, Istanbul Şehir University. August 2014.

Arabische Philologien im Blickwechsel. Part of the Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies, Department of History and Cultural Studies, Freie University, Berlin. March 2014.