Dr Vivek Gupta

Postdoctoral Associate
University Positions
Postdoctoral Associate in Islamic Art at the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, teaching in History of Art and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Specialising in
Islamic Art
South Asian Art

Vivek Gupta is Postdoctoral Associate in Islamic Art at the Centre of Islamic Studies. His primary area of expertise is in Indo-Islamic manuscripts of all periods. He is the curator of Shahzia Sikander: Unbound at the West Court Gallery, Jesus College (16 Oct 2021-18 Feb 2022).

Academic interests

Vivek Gupta’s academic interests include: 

  • Islamic and South Asian Art and Architecture (ca. 1200—present)
  • Cultures of the Indian Ocean
  • Global Art Histories of the Medieval and Early Modern World
  • Modern and Contemporary Art of the Middle East and South Asia
  • Art of the Book
  • Transculturation
  • Vernacular Literature and Art
  • Histories of Affect and Experience
  • Intersections between Art and Science
  • The ‘Ludic’ arts or Arts of Play.

Degrees obtained

  • PhD, SOAS University of London.
  • MPhil, Columbia University.
  • MA, Columbia University.
  • BA, Washington University in St. Louis.

Awards and prizes

  • Bagri Foundation Grant for Shahzia Sikander: Unbound, 2021.
  • Kamran Djam Scholarship for Iranian Studies, 2017-20.
  • Saraswati Dalmia Scholarship for Indian Art, 2017-20.
  • Santander Mobility Award for Fieldwork, 2019.
  • Historians of Islamic Art Association Travel Grant, 2017.
  • Social Science Research Council Dissertation Development Fellowship, 2015.
  • Smithsonian Institution Fellowship in the History of Art, 2014.
  • Columbia University Diversity Fellowship, 2013.
  • Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Graduate Arabic Studies, 2011.
  • American Institute of Indian Studies Fellowship for Urdu and Persian Studies, 2010-11.
  • U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship for Urdu Studies, 2009.


Vivek Gupta is an art historian of the Islamic, South Asian, and Indian Ocean worlds. His first monograph will be based on his PhD, Wonder Reoriented: Manuscripts and Experience in Islamicate Societies of South Asia (ca. 1450–1600), at SOAS University of London, History of Art (2020). His thesis offered the first full-length study of how the Islamicate cosmography transformed in South Asia through an analysis of roughly fifty illustrated manuscripts. 

Gupta’s educational and professional background spans the US, UK, India, and Egypt, and art historical and philological training. From June to November 2019, he held a research placement at the British Library on illumination in Persian manuscripts. He was Assistant Curator/Fellow for Islamic and South Asian Coins (2016-17) at the American Numismatic Society in New York. In 2017, he curated the numismatic section for the National Museum of Qatar's inauguration. He has been working on Deccan art since 2012-13 when he served as a research assistant in Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibition, Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700. In 2014, he had a Smithsonian Fellowship at the Freer|Sackler Galleries to work on the Freer Ramayana as well as the Hindi poetry and manuscripts of 'Abd al-Rahim Khan-i Khanan.

Gupta earned a BA in Arabic and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis during which and after he lived in Egypt and worked on Modern Arabic Literature under the supervision of Professor Mohamed Salah Omri (Oxford). He completed his PhD in History of Art from SOAS, University of London under the supervision of Professor Scott Redford.

Since 2020, Gupta has collaborated with the Deccan Heritage Foundation and HH Sri Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar Foundation, Mysore, to produce the international webinar, From Konkan to Coromandel: Deccan Heritage, Art, and Culture. The focus of this scholarly engagement has been to make new research on the Deccan freely available to a global public. It seeks to bring together research on both the Northern and Southern Deccan regions of India cutting across Hindu, Muslim, Jain, and Buddhist material cultures.

At Jesus College’s West Court Gallery, Gupta has curated Shahzia Sikander: Unbound, which features an outdoor sculptural installation and new paintings in response to the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum. He is also on the Committee of the Intellectual Forum.

Other interests

Diversity, inclusion, and representation in art history and museums, Queer cultures of the past and present, long-distance running, and contemporary dance and performance.

Department link


Publications, links and resources

Journal articles and book chapters

  • Gupta, V. “Images for Instruction: An Illustrated Dictionary in Fifteenth-Century Sultanate India (British Library Or 3299),” Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World, vol. 38, 2021.
  • Gupta, V. “Remapping the World in a Fifteenth-Century Cosmography: Genres and Networks between Deccan India and Iran,” Indo-Persian Manuscripts, ed. A.C.S. Peacock, special issue of Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, vol. 59 no. 2 (2021): 151-168.
  • Gupta, V. “Contemporary Appropriations of the Illustrated Manuscript: Shahzia Sikander’s Disruption as Rapture,” in Intersections: Art and Islamic Cosmopolitanism, ed. Melia Belli Bose, 173-204, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2021.
  • Gupta, V. “Splendour of the City, Nagarshobha: Textile Culture of Mughal Burhanpur,” in Reflections on Mughal Art and Culture, 229–53, New Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2020.
  • Gupta, V. “Interpreting the Eye (‘ain): Poetry and Painting in the Shrine of Aḥmad Shāh al-Walī al-Bahmanī (r. 1422—1436),” Archives of Asian Art 67 no. 2 (2017): 189–208.
  • Gupta, V. “How Persianate is It? Imitation and Refraction in a Sixteenth-Century Cosmography from South Asia,” chapter forthcoming in an edited volume, Persian Cultures of Power and the Entanglement of the Afro-Eurasian World, ed. Matthew P. Canepa, Los Angeles: Getty Publications.
  • Gupta, V. “Inscribing Orality: Calligraphy, Layout, and the Vernacular Anxieties of the Chandayan Manuscripts,” in Chandayan: The Sacred and Profane in Sufism, ed. Richard Cohen, Mumbai: Marg Publications, forthcoming 2022.

Book reviews

  • Gupta, V. The Courts of the Deccan Sultanates: Living Well in the Persian Cosmopolis by Emma J. Flatt, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, May 17, 2021.
  • Gupta, V. Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century India: Poetry and Paintings from Kishangarh by Heidi Pauwels, caa.reviews, November 29, 2017. DOI: 10.3202/caa.reviews.2017.175

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