Jinah Kim is an assistant professor of History of Art and Architecture specializing in medieval South Asian art.
Her forthcoming book (University of California Press) entitled, “Receptacle of the Sacred: Illustrated Manuscripts and the Buddhist book-cult in South Asia,” examines illustrated Buddhist manuscripts as sacred objects of medieval cultic innovation that can be animated through the presence of images. With the help of her language skills in Hindi, Sanskrit and Bengali and paleographic skills, Kim’s study challenges the conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between text and image in illustrated manuscripts and expands our knowledge of Buddhist culture in the last stage of its development in India.
Her current research project focuses on the history of early Indian manuscript painting traditions, mostly dating from the eleventh through the fourteenth centuries. By approaching the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain manuscript paintings of medieval India from the diverse perspectives of material culture, social history, formal theory, and medieval Indian discourses about color and visions, this project will examine the formative period of indigenous manuscript painting traditions and explore the relationship between the artistic practices as seen in manuscript painting production and the practices of vision in Indic religious traditions. As much surviving evidence comes from the Buddhist tradition, her study will evaluate the historical significance of the visual practices of medieval Indian Esoteric Buddhism in the development of Indic painting traditions. By identifying the fundamental characteristics of Indian manuscript painting traditions, it ultimately aims to address what is “Indian” about Indic artistic traditions.
Dr. Kim’s work has appeared in top journals in her field and subfield, including two articles in the Artibus Asiae (2010, “Unfinished Business: Buddhist reuse of Angkor Wat and its Historical and Political significance,” and “A book of Buddhist Goddesses: Illustrated Manuscripts of the Pañcarakṣā sūtra and their Ritual Use”) and one in the Journal of American Academy of Religion (2012, “Unheard Voices: Women's Roles in Medieval Buddhist Artistic Production and Religious Practices in South Asia”). Her awards include a Getty-NEH postdoctoral fellowship (2012-2013), a Mellon Fellowship for Assistant Professors at the Institute of Advanced Study (member in the School of Historical Studies, 2009-2010), a research grant from Asian Cultural Council (Ford Foundation Fellow, 2005), and a Junior Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies (2003-2004).
She received her B.A. in Archaeology and Art History from Seoul National University, and M.A. (2002) and Ph.D. (2006) in History of Art from University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she served as an assistant professor of South Asian art at Vanderbilt University and Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.