Rachel Nelson receives the jointly awarded 2016 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art

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Rachel Nelson

Established in 2010, the Rhonda A. Saad Prize aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The award is offered to a graduate student or recent post-doctoral scholar working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. 

A number of highly qualified papers from throughout the US and abroad were received, resulting in the decision of jointly awarding the 2016 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art to Rachel Nelson’s “On Perpetual Conflict: Palestine in Emily Jacir’s Art Practices” and Nancy Demerdash’s “Urbanisme d’Urgence: Postwar Tunisian Modernisms & Revisionist Reconstructions.”

Rachel Nelson is a PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A lecturer in the Department of the History of Art & Architecture at DePaul University, Nancy Demerdash received her PhD in Art & Archaeology from Princeton University in October 2015.

The Rhonda A. Saad Prize review committee acknowledges that the two papers are highly original, well researched, clearly articulated and masterfully incorporated the relevant theoretical materials. Above all, the committee commends Demerdash and Nelson for successfully engaging in fresh and in-depth arguments about interrelations of art and politics. Demerdash’s paper shows how Tunisia’s post-WWII socio-political tensions, including its independence from French colonial rule, were articulated in the country’s postwar building program. Nelson, on the other hand, explores the significance of art in understanding the very many nuances of the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict.


Image: Emily Jacir and Anton Sinkewich, Untitled, selected books on or about Palestine or by Palestinian authors, 2003.