Conceiving the Global: Crises, Encounters, and Architecture in Baghdad, 1955-1965
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CitationAlsaden, Amin. 2018. Conceiving the Global: Crises, Encounters, and Architecture in Baghdad, 1955-1965. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the manifold ways in which Baghdad, in the years following World War II, became a locus of architectural encounters, contributing to the global transformation of the discipline, all the while engendering a unique local movement. It challenges conventional assumptions about modernism's triumph through the export of Western expertise, or its purported arrival in Baghdad with the projects that Iraq commissioned as part of its ambitious oil-funded development campaign. Although this was the first city to engage an impressive number of modernism's global figures, it was also the place where a vigorous architectural culture emerged during the same period, one that envisioned an alternative transnational imaginary and the possible contributions native architects could make to the world. Specifically, the study considers how, between 1955 and 1965, native architects and artists articulated discourses that resisted hegemonic modes of practice, advocated an engagement with contextual idiosyncrasies, and pioneered the institutionalization of architecture in Iraq and the region. It accounts for the factors—internal dynamics, as well as the contemporaneous forces that went well beyond Iraq—which precipitated the aesthetic shift that occurred by the mid 1960s, involving the polemical integration of indigenous elements, motifs, and materials into an otherwise modern framework. Indeed, the apparently self-provincializing approach deployed by native architects and artists was a deliberate attempt to assert a definition for the "global," the idea that each culture participates in making a pluralistic world, which flourishes only by amplifying diversity. Therefore, their work embodied a radical intellectual position wherein only by asserting local specificity could architects produce a quintessentially global architecture. Baghdad is viewed here as an extreme case study of an architectural culture—within a small and relatively isolated city, ostensibly on the periphery of the metropole—that evolved swiftly and intensively, arbitrating key ideas articulated locally as well as those circulating globally at the time.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41129199
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