“Other Modernities”: Architecture and National Identity in Global Context

Focusing on the specific experience of Ottoman Empire/ Modern Turkey from the 18th century into the present, yet discussing this experience within a broader trans-national and comparative context, this course addresses the role of architecture in the making (and continuous re-negotiation) of modern national identities. 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. It also offers a critique of the canonic historiography of modern architecture, by highlighting the plurality of national, regional and/or vernacular modernisms against the presumed universalism of modern programs, technologies and aesthetic canons. Presenting the question of national identity as an integral dimension, rather than an aberration of modernity over the last two centuries, lectures will explore: the romantic 19th century preoccupation with \”national styles\” in the age of supranational imperialism and neoclassicism; the 20th century proliferation of \”international style\” modernism, paradoxically in the age of nation building by strong nation-states; and finally, today\’s penchant for \”themed national/local identities\” at a time when globalization is everywhere. Lectures will be complemented by more focused, in depth discussion of selected texts and projects. Requirements are: five short response essays through the semester and the choice of a final take-home exam or a final paper.