Modern Architecture and National Identity: Ottoman/Turkish Case in Global Context

Focusing on the specific experience of Ottoman Empire/ modern Turkey in the last two centuries, yet discussing this experience within a broader trans-national and comparative context, this history-theory lecture course addresses the role of architecture in the making (and continuous re-negotiation) of modern national identities outside Europe and North America. Avoiding the western/non-western binary, which privileges the \”west\” as the exclusive source of modern transformations in other parts of the world, the course looks at how imported discourses of modern architecture and urbanism are contested, selectively appropriated and transformed in peripheral geographies, reflecting the complex internal dynamics and the specific national projects of these countries in their post-imperial/post-colonial encounters with modernity. Lectures will explore: 19th century quest for \”national styles\” against the supranational/imperial discourse of neoclassicism; 20th century proliferation of \”international style\” modernism under the sponsorship of strong nation-states (especially for public, educational and industrial buildings) and the concomitant nationalist search for regional, vernacular and \”situated\” modernisms; and finally, the erosion of state-led modernization projects under the challenges of migration, urbanism, housing and globalization. Thematic lectures will be complemented by more focused, in depth discussion of selected texts, buildings and projects, to provoke meaningful comparisons with the experiences of other modern nations from Latin America and the Mediterranean to Middle East and Asia. Requirements are weekly readings, five short response essays and a longer final essay.