Dr. Radha Dalal

Interim Director of Art History


+974 4402 0779
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Islamic Art and Architecture


2011 - PhD, Art History, University of Minnesota

2003 - MA, Art History, University of Minnesota

1999 - BA, Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland


Professor Radha Dalal researches visual cultures of mobility and urbanism with a particular emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and its socio-political interactions with other European and Asian polities during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  In her dissertation, supported by grants from the Samuel H. Kress and MacArthur Foundations, she explored the evocations of loss, nostalgia, and communitas embedded in the visual and literary intersections of Istanbul and the Orient Express train. Her current research examines the narratives of modernity crafted through photography, architecture, and postcard printing in Istanbul during the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire.  Part of a five-person research team, she is also working on a Qatar National Research Fund’s National Priorities Research Program grant titled “Museums in the 21st Century and Global Art History: Building Knowledge Base through Online Resources in Qatar.”  At Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Dr. Dalal teaches global and Islamic art surveys as well as a variety of upper division courses in Islamic art and East Asian art.  Prior to joining VCU Qatar, she taught Art History and Asian Studies at the College of Charleston.

Research Interests

  • The visual cultures of mobility within the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries
  • The visual propaganda of the Khilafat movement in India
  • Cultural heritage and museum studies
  • Theories of collective memory
  • Histories of photography and urbanism.  

Teaching Experience

  • 2012-Present - Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar
  • 2009-2012 - Instructor, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina 


  • October 2014 - “In Search of the Relics of War: From the American Colony in Jerusalem to the Red Cross Museum in Washington, DC,” NEH Summer Seminar Blog
  • June 2014 - “Spaces of the Past: Nostalgia in the Murder on the Orient Express and The Last Express.” In Engaging with Videogames: Play, Theory and Practice, edited by Dawn Stobbart and Monica Evans, 265-275. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2014.
  • August 2013 - “Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753-194 edited by Zainab Bahrani, Zeynep Celik, and Edhem Eldem” (Review in caa.reviews)
  • August 2013 - “Ottoman Painting: Reflections of Western Art from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic by Wendy M. K. Shaw” (Review in caa.reviews)


  •  March 2015 - “Postcarding the Capital: Representations of Ottoman Istanbul, 1890-1914” Metropolitan History Seminar, University College London, (Invited Speaker)
  • January 2015 - “Tipu Sultan in the European Imaginary,” Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, (Invited speaker)
  • November 2014 - “Intertextual Representations of Modernity: Max Fruchtermann’s Postcards and the Sultan Abdul Hamid II Photo Albums,” Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC
  • February 2014 - “Placing the Spectator on the Scene of Conquest: Istanbul’s 1453 Panorama History Museum.”  The Bodhi Tree and Orchid Symposium in honor of Professors Catherine and Frederick Asher at College Art Association, Chicago, USA
  • September 2013 - “Istanbul and the Cartography of Modernity in the Posters of the Orient Express.”  11th Annual Conference on Transportation and Mobility on Intangible Borders, Kouvala, Finland
  • July 2013 - “Spaces of the Past: Nostalgia in The Murder on the Orient Express and The Last Express,” 5th Global Conference on Videogame Cultures, Mansfield College, Oxford, England


  • 2015-2017 Qatar Foundation National Priorities Research Program Grant, “Museums in the 21st Century and Global Art History: Building Knowledge Base through Online Resources in Qatar,” with co-PIs Drs. Dina Bangdel, Michael Schreffler, Karen Exell, and Jelena Trkulja.
  • 2014 NEH Summer Seminar Grant, “World War I in the Middle East and North Africa,” Georgetown University       
  • 2014 Faculty Research Grant, Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar
  • 2013 Center for Teaching Excellence Grant, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
  • 2007 Getty Library Research Grant, The J. Paul Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
  • 2006-2007 Kress Travel Fellowship, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York
  • 2006-2007 MacArthur Dissertation Grant, ICGC, University of Minnesota
  • 2006 Language Study Grant (Ottoman Turkish), Institute of Turkish Studies, Georgetown University
  • 2005 MacArthur Pre-dissertation Grant, University of Minnesota
  • 2001-2002 MacArthur Interdisciplinary Program on Global Change, Sustainability and Justice Fellowship, University of Minnesota

Professional Service

  • 2012-2015 Appointed Member, International Committee, College Art Association (CAA)
  • 2013 Field Study Co-Leader, Greek Temples Site in Agrigento, Sicily with Dr. Leah Long, Virginia  Commonwealth University, Qatar
  • 2013 Faculty Observer, Islamic Art in Spain Course with Dr. Michael Schreffler, Collaboration between Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and University of Cordoba, Spain
  • 2013 Workshop Co-Leader, Tasmeem Art and Design Conference Art History Workshop on “Objects as Locus of Hybridity and Hybrid Making: Transcultural, Transhistorical, and Global Explorations,” Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar