Dr. des. Vera-Simone Schulz

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Phone: +39 055 24911-73

Vera-Simone Schulz is an art historian and postdoctoral research associate at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, where she is working at the crossroads of Islamic, African and European art histories. She studied art history, philosophy and Russian literature in Berlin, Moscow and Damascus, holds a PhD in art history from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and undertook extensive fieldwork in the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research has been supported by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, among others. Between 2014 and 2018, she was academic coordinator of the international research project “Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.)”, funded by the German Research Foundation. Since 2021, she is co-PI of the international research project “Material Migrations: Mamluk Metalwork across Afro-Eurasia”, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

While her doctoral dissertation and first book manuscript on Florence and Tuscany in their Mediterranean and global entanglements already went beyond the common geographical framework of art historical analyses concerned with Italy and the Islamic world by bringing also material from Africa south of the Sahara (Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Kongo and coastal East Africa) into the discussion, her habilitation and second book project moves from Florence as one of the traditional centers of art history to the Swahili coast, that is to an area that has not only been traditionally at the very periphery of the field, but that – particularly with regard to the time period before 1800 – has also been almost exclusively studied by archaeologists and anthropologists.

Together with several scholars based at institutions in a variety of African countries, Vera is co-initiator of the transdisciplinary research network “Plants in Africa and the Global South: Multi-Species Materialities, Ecologies, and Aesthetics (MMEA)” (mmea is the Kiswahili word for ‘plant’). During the academic year 2021-2022, she’ll be part of the 4A_Lab program “4A Laboratory: Art Histories, Archaeologies, Anthropologies, Aesthetics” with a research project based on a chapter of her habilitation titled “Mangrove Aesthetics along the Swahili Coast. Transcultural Entanglements and the Built Environment in Coastal East Africa”. Besides her publications in numerous peer-review journals and edited volumes, she is currently co-editing a volume on “Connectivity, Transcultural Entanglements and the Power of Aesthetic Choices in Africa” (together with Abidemi Babatunde Babalola) and a volume titled “Archaeology, Colonialism, and the History of Tourism”. Vera is a visiting lecturer in the department of art history at the University of Stuttgart (summer semester 2021) and will be a visiting lecturer in the master program on global art history at the University of Zurich in the winter semester 2021-2022.

  • Transcultural interactions at the crossroads of Islamic, African and European art histories
  • Florence, Tuscany and the Apennine peninsula in their Mediterranean and global entanglements
  • Islamic art and architecture in a transcultural perspective
  • African art history and Afro-Eurasian dynamics
  • Plants in Africa and the Global South: Multi-species materialities, ecologies, and aesthetics (MMEA)
  • Cross-cultural mobility of artifacts
  • Intersections between architecture, objects, and ornamentation
  • Artistic dynamics across media and materials
  • Transcultural art history


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