EUME Berliner Seminar
Wed 13 Jul 2016 | 19:30–21:00

Arab Cities, Modernity, and Heritage

Nasser Rabbat (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Chair: Saima Akhtar (Irmgard Coninx Fellow of the Forum Transregionale Studien 2015/16), In cooperation with the ICI Berlin and ART HISTORIES AND AESTHETIC PRACTICES

ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Christinenstraße 18-19, 10119 Berlin

Arab cities experienced a series of political and existential challenges in the last two centuries. Since the early nineteenth century, they had to shed their traditional, romanticized forms and absorb and react to colonialism, nationalism, modernism, socialism, Arabism, and lastly the rise of Islamism combined with a glitzy new capitalist utopianism in the Gulf cities contrasted to the ominous disintegration of the civil order in the republics of the Arab Spring today. This talk will review these changes and contextualize them, while at the same time trying to understand and explain their interconnectedness and historical trajectory.

Nasser Rabbat is Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. As an architect and historian, his scholarly interests include the historiography of Islamic architecture, art, and cultures, urban history, and post-colonial criticism. He presents architecture in ways that illuminate its interaction with culture and society and stress the role of human agency in shaping that interplay. His books include Thaqafat al Bina’ wa Bina’ al-Thaqafa (The Culture of Building and Building Culture) (Beirut, 2002), Al-Mudun al-Mayyita: Durus min Madhih wa-Ru’an li-Mustaqbaliha (The Dead Cities: Lessons from its History and Views on its Future) (Damascus, 2010) and Mamluk History Through Architecture: Building, Culture, and Politics in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (London, 2010). Two books, L'art Islamique à la recherche d'une méthode historique, and al-Naqd Iltizaman (Criticism as Commitment) will be published in the coming year.

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