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Dr Vivek Gupta

Postdoctoral Associate
Postdoctoral Associate in Islamic Art at the Centre of Islamic Studies, teaching in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, affiliated with the Centre of South Asian Studies
Islamic Art
South Asian Art

Vivek Gupta is Postdoctoral Associate in Islamic Art (2020-23) at the Centre of Islamic Studies. His research is on Indian Qur'an manuscripts and he pursues outreach that addresses curatorial literacy in India.

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
  • Arts 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

  • 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. He completed 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 offers 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 obtained an MA and MPhil at Columbia University where his teaching fields were Islamic Art, South Asian Literature, and Medieval and Mughal History. He completed his PhD in History of Art from SOAS, University of London under the supervision of Professor Scott Redford.

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

  • “Splendour of the City, Nagarshobha: Textile Culture of Mughal Burhanpur,” in Reflections on Mughal Art and Culture, ed. Roda Ahluwalia, 230-253, New Delhi: Niyogi Press, 2020.
  • “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.
  • “Appropriations of the Illustrated Manuscript: Shahzia Sikander’s Disruption as Rapture (2017),” in Intersections: Visual Cultures of Islamic Cosmopolitanisms, ed. Melia Belli Bose, Gainesville: U. Florida Press, in proofs.
  • “The Voice of the Indian Cuckoo in Arabic: The Adaptive Capacity of Ghulām ‘Alī “Āzād” Bilgrāmī’s Poetics in the Eighteenth Century,” forthcoming in the Journal of South Asian Intellectual History, Spring 2021.

Book reviews

British Library Asian and African studies blog

Hear from students


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