Established in 1982 as the North American Historians of Islamic Art (NAHIA), the organization has since grown into an international group with members in the Middle East, Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Europe. In 1996, the name was changed to Historians of Islamic Art (HIA) to reflect the broader objectives of the organization and its efforts to foster cooperation with colleagues beyond North America. In 2006 the organization became an unincorporated association under the laws of the state of New York, and the name expanded to Historians of Islamic Art Association (HIAA).
To fulfill its objectives and promote its goals, HIAA holds a periodic Majlis (gathering) in conjunction with the annual meetings of affiliated professional associations, most often the College Art Association (CAA) and Middle East Studies Association (MESA). At these gatherings members present short papers on current research and participate in HIAA’s annual business meeting. In 2008 the association launched a series of biennial symposia, held over several days, designed to encourage in-depth discussion of themes and issues relevant to the study of Islamic arts and cultures today. The inaugural Biennial Symposium, on the theme of “Spaces & Visions,” took place at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in October 2008, and the Second Biennial Symposium, on the theme of “Objects, Collections and Cultures,” at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., in October 2010. Both conferences involved international participation, attracted large audiences, and stimulated lively debate.
The series continued with the Third Biennial Symposium, “Looking Widely, Looking Closely,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in October 2012 and the Fourth Biennial Symposium, "Forms of Knowledge and Cultures of Learning" at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto in October 2014. In October 2016, the Courtauld Institute of Art hosted the Fifth Biennial Symposium "Regionality: looking for the local in the arts of Islam" in London, UK. For For the conference programs and abstracts, click here.
Current HIAA Board
- Sussan Babaie, President
- Sheila Canby, Past President
- Kishwar Rizvi, President-elect
- Simon Rettig, Treasurer
- Amanda Phillips, Secretary
- Sinem Casale, Webmaster and News Editor
- Ruba Kana'an, H-ISLAMART Editor
- Mercedes Volait, International Representative
- Matthew Saba, Social Media Manager