Safi Alsebai

Date of Award


First Advisor

Asma Abbas

Second Advisor

Brian Conolly


This thesis is an exploration of various modes of seeing at the intersection of politics and aesthetics, and their inflections on and through notions of the icon and the image, subjectivity and agency, memory, and evidence and revelation. Attempting to consider politics beyond the hold of modernity and its solution of vision, and thought beyond the real or the factual, I consider how relationships between different acts of seeing might makes room for untimely and fugitive appearences that would otherwise be appropriated or subsumed by empirical, iconic, or self-evident visions. To this end, I turn to aesthetic elaborations and experiences in medieval Islamic thought, drawing from traditions of anatomy, aniconism, theology, Peripatetic philosophy, mysticism, and dream interpretation—as well as episodes from the Qur’an—illustrating (counter)visions that riff with modern and contemporary political theory, with the hope of providing a rereading of the “image [flesh] with a lowing sound,” and a kind of seeing beyond the autopic.

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