Iftikhar Dadi

John H. Burris Professor


Iftikhar Dadi teaches and researches modern and contemporary art from a global and transnational perspective, with emphasis on questions of methodology and intellectual history. His writings have focused on modernism and contemporary art of South and West Asia and their diasporas. Another research interest examines the film, media, and popular cultures of South Asia, seeking to understand how emergent publics forge new avenues for civic participation.

Publications include Lahore Cinema: Between Realism and Fable (University of Washington Press, 2022), a pioneering scholarly examination of mid-century cinema from Lahore; and Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (2010), which has been widely reviewed in academic and art journals and received the 2010 Book Prize from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Informed by postcolonial theory and globalization studies, the work traces the emergence of modernism by selected artists from South Asia over the course of the twentieth century. More broadly, it offers a way of writing histories of nonwestern modern art by situating modernism as transnational rather than located primarily within a national art history. Other publications include the edited volumes: The Lahore Biennale Reader 01 (2022); Anwar Jalal Shemza (2015); the co-edited book Art and Architecture of Migration and Discrimination: Pakistan, Turkey and their European Diasporas (2023); the co-edited catalog Lines of Control (2012); and the co-edited reader Unpacking Europe (2001). His essays have appeared in numerous journals, edited volumes, and online platforms. He has received grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Getty Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dadi currently serves on the editorial and advisory boards of ARTMarginsSouth Asian StudiesArchives of Asian Art, and Bio-Scope: South Asian Screen Studies, and was member of the editorial board of Art Journal (2007-11). He is advisor to the Hong Kong based research organization Asia Art Archive. He is board member of Cornell’s Institute for Comparative Modernities, has served as Chair of Cornell’s Department of Art (2010-14), and Director of Cornell’s South Asia Program (2015-16 and 2018-2023). Co-curated exhibitions include Pop South Asia: Artistic Explorations in the Popular (Sharjah Art Foundation 2022 and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art 2023);  Lines of Control on partitions and borders (Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell, 2012 and Nasher Museum at Duke University, 2013); Tarjama/Translation on the contemporary art of the Middle East and Central Asia (Queens Museum of Art, 2009 and Herbert F. Johnson Museum, 2010); and Unpacking Europe on the relation between Europe and the postcolonial world (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam, 2001). Iftikhar Dadi received his PhD in history of art at Cornell University.

As an artist, Iftikhar Dadi works collaboratively with Elizabeth Dadi. Their work investigates questions of memory and borders in contemporary globalization, and the productive capacities of urban informalities across the Global South. Their practice draws on archaeology, cinema, and art historical references, and critically engages with site-specificity. Their work has been exhibited internationally. Selected exhibitions and projects include Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023); Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland (2022); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge University (2019-20); 13th Havana Biennial, Matanzas (2019); Lahore Biennale 01, Pakistan (2018); John Hartell Gallery, Cornell University (2018 & 2015); Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (2018 & 2015); Office of Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo (2017); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016); Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (2013); Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan (2012); Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2010); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); Kunstnernes Hus-Oslo (2005); Moderna Museet-Stockholm (2005); Queens Museum of Art, New York (2005); Liverpool Biennial 03, Tate Liverpool (2002); EV+A 2002, Limerick, Ireland (2002); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000); Third Asia-Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Australia (1999); and 24th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1998).






Lahore Cinema: Between Realism and Fable (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2022).

Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).



The Art and Architecture of Migration and Discrimination: Pakistan, Turkey and their European Diasporas (New York: Routledge, 2023), co-edited with Esra Akcan.

The Lahore Biennale Reader 01 (Milan: Skira, 2022).

Pop South Asia: Artistic Explorations in the Popular (Sharjah: Sharjah Art Foundation, 2022), co-edited with Roobina Karode.

Anwar Jalal Shemza (London: Ridinghouse, 2015).

Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space (Ithaca: Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art, 2012), co-edited with Hammad Nasar.


Selected recent essays:

“Art and the 1947 Partition of South Asia,” and “Pakistani Diaspora Artists in the UK,” in Art and Architecture of Migration and Discrimination: Turkey, Pakistan, and Their European Diasporas, eds. Esra Akcan and Iftikhar Dadi (Abingdon: Routledge, 2023).

“Lithographic Assemblages: The Urdu Art Book in the Age of Print,” in Old Stacks, New Leaves: The Arts of the Book in South Asia, ed. Sonal Khullar (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2023).

“Ganesh Haloi: Infinite Abstraction,” in Ganesh Haloi: A Rhythm Surfaces in the Mind, ed. Natasha Ginwala and Jesal Thacker (Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2023).

“Introduction: Lahore Is Lahore,” in The Lahore Biennale Reader 01, ed. Iftikhar Dadi, (Milan: Skira, 2022).

 “Legacies and Futures: An Interview with Iftikhar Dadi,” in Twentieth-Century Indian Art, ed. Partha Mitter, Parul Dave Mukherji, and Rakhee Balaram (London: Thames & Hudson, 2022).

“Between Neorealism and Humanism: Jago Hua Savera,” in Forms of the Left: Left-Wing Aesthetics and Postcolonial South Asia, ed. Lotte Hoek and Sanjukta Sunderason (London: Bloomsbury, 2022).

A Questionnaire on Global Methods,” October 180 (Spring 2022): 16-19.

“Installation,” in BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies 12, no. 1-2 (2021): 106-112.

A Questionnaire on Decolonization,” October 174, no. 3 (2020): 27-30.

“Citizenship and Art,” PIX Citizenship Issue 16 (March 2019): 18–21.

Affiliations of Postcolonial Art History,” Oxford Art Journal 43, no. 2 (August 2020).

“Visual Culture and the Popular.” Visual Culture Questionnaire - M+ Stories, January 14, 2020.

“Reflections on the Havana Biennial at Matanzas (2019),” Anthropology Now 11, no. 3 (June 10, 2020): 74–81.

“Abstraction in the Arab World,” in Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, ed. Suheyla Takesh and Lynn Gumpert (New York: Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 2020), 50–59.

“Calligraphic Abstraction,” in A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, Volume 2, ed. Finbarr Barry Flood and Gülru Necipoğlu (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), 1292–1313.

“Lineages of Pakistan’s ‘Urdu’ Cinema: Mode, Mood and Genre in Zehr-E Ishq / Poison of Love (1958).” Screen 57, no. 4 (December 2016): 480–87.

 “Modernity and Its Vernacular Remainders in Pakistani Cinema,” in Cinema and Society: Film and Social Change in Pakistan, ed. Ali Khan and Ali Nobil Ahmed (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2016), 77–100.

“Reflections on the Conception of Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art,” in Jameel Prize 4, ed. Tim Stanley and Salma Tuqan (Istanbul: Pera Müzesi, 2016), 70–78.

“Frayed Geographies and Fractured Selves: Shilpa Gupta’s Untitled (2014-15),” in My East is Your West (Delhi: Harper Collins, 2016), 70-75.

“The Aesthetics of the American Qur’an Project,” in American Qur’an: Artwork by Sandow Birk (New York: Liveright, 2016), 429–34.

“The Middle East and South Asia: Aesthetic Mobilities,” in Imperfect Chronology: Arab Art from the Modern to the Contemporary Works from the Barjeel Art Collection (Prestel, 2015), 81-88.

“Mapping Asia.” Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 13, no. 6 (2014): 82-89.

“Chughtai’s Revival of Mughal Cosmopolitanism,” Cosmopolitanisms in Muslim Contexts: Perspectives from the Past, ed. Derryl MacLean and Sikeena Karmali (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 127-155.


In the news

ARTH Courses - Spring 2024

VISST Courses - Spring 2024

ARTH Courses - Fall 2024

VISST Courses - Fall 2024