Nour Ammari


After graduating with a BA in Art History from Loyola University Chicago in 2015, Nour Ammari matriculated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to pursue an MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism.  Her thesis, “Iconoclasm and the Islamic State: Understanding ISIS’ Destruction of Cultural Heritage,” focused on the Islamic State (ISIS) and their politicization of Iraqi and Levantine cultural heritage sites and objects of antiquity which hinged on Western conceptions of Near Eastern antiquity and shed light on the treatment of the archaeological record by the Orient and the Occident, respectively, highlighting the phenomenon of neo-Orientalist thought in relation to the study of both the contemporary and ancient Near East and its historiography.

Nour also received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies (2020) from the University of Chicago where she focused on examining the way that history and archaeology are employed to construct specific and often politicized narratives. Her thesis dealt with the iconographic and epigraphic relationship of Arab-Byzantine, Arab-Sasanian, and early Umayyad coins, and how this seemingly scattered body of material might help us understand cross-cultural links between images and Islam while constructing a unified group identity for the early Islamic Caliphate and its subjects.  This work led to a larger interest in old Arabian imagery and its development, as well as the origins of an Islamic polity and how changes in structure, legitimacy, and systems of governance manifest visually or stylistically.

Currently, she is invested in researching visual expression of beliefs or power held by the early Islamic Caliphates as a succession of a longer programme of adoption, abatement, and development of ideas.  By studying aesthetics and the development of style and changing standards of beauty, we might be able to better understand shifts in society or culture. She is also interested in exploring tension with images in late antique and early Islamic Arabia, as well as the relationship between image and Islam.  These curiosities have led to exploration of the afterlives of material culture and how they contribute to contemporary formations of identity or nationalism, as well as how antiquity is received and portrayed from ancient to modern times.

Additionally, Nour has held internships at the Palestine Exploration Fund in London, England, as well as the Jaharis Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL. She has taught courses in the history of art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and as an adjunct professor at Dominican University.