Art Histories
2013/ 2014

Martina Becker

Urban Places of Worship, Beirut 1950s and 1960s

Martina Becker received her PhD in Architectural History from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara (2013). She has been a visiting scholar in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University (Spring 2013). Her MA is in Art History and Museology from the University of Bern (2008), and she has a licentiate degree in Art History from the University of Barcelona (2006). From 2006 to 2008 she held the Master Grant of the University of Bern and from 2010 to 2013 she was fellow of the Marie-Curie doctoral programme ENGLOBE—Enlightenment and Global History. Her PhD dissertation on art in the early Turkish Republic traces the contingencies of concept formation, in order to approach the study of art in a way that transcends the epistemic and geographical confines of traditional art historiography.

Urban Places of Worship, Beirut 1950 and 1960s

During her time as a Fellow of Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices, Martina Becker will be working on her post-doctoral project Urban Places of Worship, Beirut 1950 and 1960s. This historiographical study is inter-religious, trans-local, and situated at the intersection of architecture and the city. The starting point for this research is the modernist Muslim and Christian buildings in Beirut. The end point is their—in a figurative sense—total dismantling. In between, it traces the trajectories of the parts that constitute the buildings’ empirical form, as well as their meaning. It asks how the places of worship were generated; which actors, means, practices, and activities were involved; and what technical, practical, and religious knowledge and thinking assembled the places. Throughout, it observes human interaction in relation to its specific material and spatial situation. The exact itinerary is unpredictable at this point, yet it is certain that the tangible and abstract aspects of the places in question will carry the research across semantic, epistemic, social, and geographic boundaries. The intent is to understand the nature of these boundaries and their role in sustaining or constraining the coexistence of the differences they enclose.