Cross-Cultural Encounters: Architecture, Modernity and Identity beyond the West

This course offers a theoretical framework to study the spatial, architectural and urban expressions of successive encounters between \”the west\” and the rest of the world in the colonial and postcolonial periods. It introduces influential theories and ongoing debates on orientalism, empire, nationalism, modernization, and more recently, globalization, as forces that have shaped modern histories and modern architectures outside Europe and North America. Rejecting common binary oppositions like East-West, tradition-modernity, decline-progress etc., the course intends to highlight the complexity, plurality and ambiguity of non-western identities as these societies confront, accept, modify or resist Western discourses. The course material derives extensively from the critical insights of postcolonial theory and interdisciplinary cultural studies, without losing sight of the specific formal, theoretical and technical criteria internal to the discipline of architecture. Lectures will alternate between broader theoretical overviews (looking at orientalist representation, colonial buildings, \”national styles\”, modernist projects, regionalist programs and postmodern architecture/urbanscapes in non-western contexts from Asia to Latin America) and the presentation of a specific historical example (the experience of Ottoman Empire/ Turkey from late 18th century into the present). Lectures will be complemented by weekly discussions of assigned readings. A handout of important names, dates, buildings, and further bibliography will accompany each lecture.Pedagogic Objectives:1.) To provoke historically grounded critical thinking about the formation, representation, and reproduction of cultural identities;2.) To challenge the orientalist and Eurocentric biases of traditional architectural historiography; and3.) To address issues of power and politics in architecture as they inform the experience of non-western modernities.Course Requirements:1.) Weekly readings and active participation in the class discussion of assigned readings (50%). Short written responses (1-2 pages) to one question (out of a number of assigned questions about the readings) will be required for at least five of the eleven weeks.2.) Either an essay-type take-home exam or a research paper on a relevant topic, to be decided and developed in consultation with the instructor (50%).All required readings will be available on Reserve. Students are expected to be familiar with E.Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978).