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Detail of box, Spain, 1400-1450, wood covered in micromosaic decoration in bone and other woods, V&A 270-1895

Detail of box, Spain, 1400-1450, wood covered in micromosaic decoration in bone and other woods, V&A 270-1895

Name: Marta Ajmar

Head of V&A/RCA History of Design Postgraduate Programme.
Joint Head with Dr Sarah Teasley of the V&A/RCA Postgraduate Programme in History of Design.
Co-Director V&A Research Institute Pilot Project (VARI), supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

I received my MA and PhD from the Warburg Institute (University of London). I also hold degrees from the Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言文化大学) and the ISMEO (University of Milan).

Research Interests
My research takes the 'design' and material culture of Renaissance and Early Modern Italy and the Mediterranean world as a point of entry into wider questions about the epistemology of the arts, processes of globalization, the circulation of technological knowledge and practices, the historicity of materials, and histories of labour and artisanal skill in the longue durée.

Between 2009-12 I was CI and consultant on the research project ‘Healthy Homes, Healthy Bodies. Domestic Culture and the Prevention of Disease in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy’, supported by the Wellcome Trust.

From 2002 until 2006 I directed the research project, funded by the Getty Foundation and the AHRC, for the major V&A exhibition At Home in Renaissance Italy, which I co-curated.

Current research and teaching
My current book project, entitled ‘Material Mimesis: Reconnecting the Arts in the Global Renaissance’, explores the complex networks of relations between the arts in the period 1400-1600. Concentrating on questions of artisanal skill, material translation, technological emulation and the epistemology of materials in Italy, the Mediterranean and Asia, it proposes a re-centering of the so-called 'productive' arts and a re-assessment of their understanding and global long-term connections.

Between 2012 and 2014 I presented aspects of this research at the European University Institute (Florence), the Taiwan Association of Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies annual conference (Taichung University), the ICOM-CC ‘Art Technological Sources and Research’ symposium (Brussels), the University of North Carolina (MEMS Dorothy Ford Wiley Crossroads Lecture), the British School at Rome, the ‘Ephemerality and Durability in Early Modern Visual and Material Culture’ symposium (CRASSH, University of Cambridge), ‘The Making of Chinese Painting: 700 to the present’ conference (V&A), the UCL Anthropology Department Research Seminars, the RIHA Annual Lecture (Courtauld Institute Research Forum) and the VII Atelier Doctoral, ‘Sources pour l’histoire économique européenne (XIII -XVII siècles)’.

My teaching is directly informed by my research interests and I greatly enjoy the rich opportunities for exchange with students that our seminar-based teaching and our access to the V&A collections allows.

I am currently supervising two PhD students, Alessandra Chessa and Joséphine de Staël.

Book-length publications
‘Approaching the Italian Renaissance Interior: Sources, Methodologies, Debates’ (Oxford, 2007); ‘At Home in Renaissance Italy’ (London, 2006); and ‘Approaches to Renaissance Consumption’ (Oxford, 2002).

Recent articles
‘Mechanical Disegno’, RIHA Journal, Special Issue ‘When Art History Meets Design History’ (March 2014, 0084 - http://www.riha-journal.org/articles/2014/2014-jan-mar/special-issue-art-design-history/ajmar-mechanical-disegno); ‘The Global Renaissance: An Investigation of Cross-Cultural Objects in the Early Modern Period’, in Global Design History, eds. G.Adamson, G.Riello and S.Teasley (Routledge, 2011), (with Luca Molà); ‘Geography and the Environment’, in A Cultural History of Childhood and Family, eds. S.Cavallo and S.Evangelisti (Oxford, 2010).
Forthcoming contributions include chapters in The Routledge Handbook of Globalisation & Archaeology and in In Good Health: The Non-Naturals in Early Modern Culture and Society.
External professional activities and collaborations

Between 2012 and 2014 I have held visiting professorships at the University of North Carolina and at the VII Atelier Doctoral, ‘Sources pour l’histoire économique européenne (XIII -XVII siècles)’, (École normale supérieure, Université Paris 7, École française de Rome, Università di Siena). My academic memberships include the Advisory Board of ‘Making and Knowing’ (Columbia University); the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters, British School at Rome; the IHR Mellon Fellowships Committee for Art History; and the AHRC Peer Review College.

In recent years I have been a project member in a number of externally funded collaborative research projects, including The Luxury Network. Luxury and the Manipulation of Desire: Historical Perspectives for Contemporary Debates (Leverhulme International Network, Warwick University, V&A, Cambridge University, University of Bologna, EUI, University of Melbourne, Stockholm University); AHRC Global Arts (University of Warwick, Ashmolean Museum, V&A); AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (Royal College of Art, V&A, Royal Holloway University of London).

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