A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows

Amanda Rogers

Department of Art History

Politics, Gender and the Art of Religious Authority in North Africa: Moroccan Women’s Henna Practice

Amanda Rogers is currently a Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow in the Departments of Art History and Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. She is very excited to join the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she plans to pursue two research projects developed from her dissertation. The first, Politics, Gender and the Art of Religious Authority in North Africa: Moroccan Women’s Henna Practice, analyzes the cultural and political symbolism of henna in contemporary Morocco. Henna dye is applied on religious occasions throughout North Africa—yet only in Morocco does this feminine art symbolize a “nationalized” Islam. This project contends that Moroccan henna’s explicitly spiritual significance is grounded in local interpretations of orthodoxy and explores the mobilization of this art form as a contested emblem of social protest and political legitimacy in a climate of unrest. Her second project, entitled Semiotics of Rebellion from Morocco to Egypt:  Visual Studies of the 2011 “Arab Spring,” develops a theoretical approach to understanding the use of visual culture as an analytical methodology for decoding political strategy. This second project examines visual culture in comparative perspective across Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Algeria and examines the simultaneously local and international aspects of marketing revolution in a variety of media. Her research has been funded in part by the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, Fulbright IIE, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Fulbright Hays and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. A practicing artist and photographer, she also serves as a commentator on Middle Eastern and North African politics.