Jennifer Pruitt

Position title: Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture


Curriculum Vitae

B.A. Smith College, 1997
M.A. Harvard University, 2005
Ph.D. Harvard University, 2009

Jennifer Pruitt is a historian of Islamic art and architecture with a focus on the Arabic-speaking world. In both research and teaching, Pruitt is driven by a central question: how do multi-faith, diverse populations in the Arabic-speaking world patronize, utilize, and respond to their built environment?

Her first book, Building the Caliphate: Construction, Destruction, and Sectarian Identity in Early Fatimid Architecture (Yale, 2020), investigates the early architecture of the Fatimids, an Ismaili Shi‘i Muslim dynasty that dominated the Mediterranean world from the 10th to the 12th centuries. It argues that that architecture played a pivotal role in negotiating the kaleidoscope of religious identities in the medieval Islamic world and challenges the assumption that artistic efflorescence was a function of religious tolerance in the medieval Mediterranean. Instead, it argues that conflict and destruction played a crucial, productive role in the formation of medieval Islamic architecture.

Pruitt’s articles have appeared in the journals World ArtThe Medieval GlobeMuqarnas, and in The Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018), Sacred Precincts: Non-Muslim Religious Sites in Islamic Territories (Brill, 2015), and Encyclopaedia of Islam. She is embarking on two new book-length projects. In the first, Inheriting an Islamic Golden Age: Globalism, National Identity, and Invented Histories in the Architecture of the Arabian Gulf, Pruitt investigates the integration of classical forms of Islamic art in the contemporary architecture of the Arabian Gulf. The second project, entitled The Accretion of Memory in a Medieval Street: A Biography of the Palace Walk in Cairo (969–1500 CE), explores the architecture and urban development of Cairo’s most famous street (now known as al-Mu’izz Street). Pruitt’s work has been supported by a First Book Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fulbright, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

Building the Caliphate: Construction, Destruction, and Sectarian Identity in Early Fatimid Architecture (New Haven: Yale University Press, forthcoming March 2020)

“The Fatimid Holy City: Destroying and Building Jerusalem in the Eleventh Century,” The Medieval Globe (2018).

“Monumentalizing the Ephemeral: Ganzeer and the Rise of Cairene Street Art” World Art (2017):1–23.

“The Three Caliphates, a Comparative Approach,” with Glaire Anderson. In The Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, edited by Gülru Necipoğlu and Finbarr B. Flood (Blackwell Companions to Art History), 223–49 (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017).

Catalog entries on medieval and contemporary art of the Middle East in Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Art from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, edited by Laura Weinstein (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts Publications, 2015).

“Miracle at Muqattam: Moving a Mountain to Build a Church in the Early Fatimid Caliphate (969–995),” in Sacred Precincts: Non-Muslim Religious Sites in Islamic Territories, edited by Mohammad Gharipour, 277–90 (Boston: Brill, 2014).

“Method in Madness: Reconsidering the Destruction of Churches in the Fatimid Era,” Muqarnas 30 (2013):119–39.

Review of “In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art” (exhibition, Harvard University, Sackler Museum) College Art Association Reviews, 2013.

AH 210: The History of the World in 20 Buildings
AH 373: Great Cities of Islam
AH 305: Islamic Art and Architecture
AH 413: Art in the Age of the Caliphs
AH 440: Art and Power in the Arab World
AH 515/815: Cross-Cultural Encounters in Islamic Art
AH 515/815: Conflict and Coexistence in the Architecture of Medieval Spain
AH 600: From Mecca to Dubai: Current Issues in the Architecture of the Arabian Gulf