Apr/14
Esra Akan

Democracy and War: University of Baghdad between Collaboration and National Competition***Canceled***

No event has given “democracy” a worse name than the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the pretext of bringing democracy to Iraq. Since then, more controversies have obstructed Iraq’s right to heal from conflict. This lecture will discuss questions on economic, global, and environmental justice through the story of the University of Baghdad (1954–81), which allows for an analysis of architecture’s role during the transformations between the imperial, mandate, and national sovereignty periods, military and soft power, Orientalist scholarship and area studies, “new” and climate-specific architecture, and imperial and nationalist historiography. The lecture will reveal the story of a complex translation process by uncovering the collaborations and rivalries between architects, scholars, policy makers, statesmen, historians, and university administrators from multiple countries. Contrasting international relations before and after the 1980s disclose the hypocrisies of the dominant geopolitical order that started identifying a “clash” with civilizations that had been deemed allies in need of “developmental” support a couple of years earlier. After the lecture, Akcan will hold a discussion both about the lecture and her recently published book Open Architecture (2018). ***Canceled***

Esra Akan

Cornell University/Radcliffe Institute

Esra Akcan is the 2019–20 Frieda L. Miller Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University and an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. She completed her architecture degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey and her PhD and postdoctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York. She has taught at UI-Chicago, Humboldt University in Berlin, Columbia University, the New School, and Pratt Institute in New York, and METU in Ankara. Akcan has received awards and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, Graham Foundation, American Academy in Berlin, UIC, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, Clark Institute, Getty Research Institute, Canadian Center for Architecture, CAA, Mellon Foundation, DAAD and KRESS/ARIT. She is the author of Landfill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City (2004), Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (2012), Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (with S. Bozdoğan, 2012), and Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA 1984/87 (2018). Akcan is currently working on her new book project “Right-to-Heal: Architecture After Conflict and Disaster.”