Fall 2019 Bios and Abstracts

Lectures, Conferences & Events» Past Lectures & Events

The Mongol City of Ghazaniyya: Destruction, Spatial Reconstruction, and Preservation of the Urban Heritage
Atri Hatef Naiemi

Abstract Mongol campaigns in Iran in the thirteenth century caused extensive destruction in different aspects of the Iranians’ social life and built environment. Following the foundation of the Ilkhanids by Mongol conquerors, along with the reconstruction of the cities that had been extensively destroyed during the Mongol attack on Iran, the Ilkhans (Mongol rulers) founded a number of new settlements. Ghazaniyya is one of the major cities patronized by the seventh Ilkhan, Ghazan Khan (r. 1271–1304) in the vicinity of Tabriz. From its heyday under the reign of Ghazan Khan up until the present time, Ghazaniyya has gone through a process of destruction to the stage that the current urban fabric barely hints at its glorious history. This presentation looks at the major events which substantially ruined the architectural integrity of medieval Ghazaniyya, and shows how the current state of the city, despite the severe process of destruction, still represents the last traces of the 14th-century city. This study raises the question of whether understanding of the past can rescue the last pieces of Ilkhanid Ghazaniyya from complete destruction. 

Biography Atri Hatef Naiemi is the AKPIA postdoctoral fellow. She has completed a PhD (2019) and a MA (2014) in Art History at the University of Victoria, and a MA in Architectural Restoration at the University of Tehran (2010). She has worked as an architectural conservator in Tehran for two years. Atri’s research focuses upon the architecture and archaeology of the medieval Islamic world and the history of traditional crafts in Iran. Focusing on the urban architecture patronized by the Mongol Ilkhans in post-conquest Iran in her doctoral project, she discussed that the Ilkhanid city as a physical entity represented the dialogue between Perso-Islamic sedentary concepts and Mongolian nomadic traditions. She is currently conducting a research project on the destruction process of the Ilkhanid city of Ghazaniyya in northwestern Iran. Atri is also the holder of the Barakat Postdoctoral Research Scholarship at the University of Oxford. During her residency in Oxford in 2020, she will be working on her book project.

Reconstructing Tunisian Architectural Identity in the Context of ‘Ottomanization’, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism
Majdi Faleh

Abstract The changing character of the architecture of the Medina of Tunis has been affected by several   historical, economic, social, and cultural factors since the time of the Ottomans up   until     now. The Medina was appreciated and revisited at times, but marginalized, ignored, devalued in other instances. Its destruction or marginalization was imminent before and after the independence of Tunisia. Several historical and political factors came into play and helped to protect it. This research examines the contemporary eras of destruction or ‘near-destruction’ that the Medina faced in the modern age. It argues that these challenges, even if they attempted to harm this settlement’s urban fabric, also strengthened its architectural and planning character. This research first aims toexplore the economic, social, cultural, and political challenges of the Medina of Tunis during three modern periods. These historical periods include the late Ottoman-Husseinide period (1830-1882), French colonization (1882-1956), and the period after the independence of 1956. This research will survey the existing literature of the three periods, in particular looking at key architectural examples and urban interventions from within the medina, to understand how, despite the challenges, this organic structure reshaped its identity.

Biography Prior to joining MIT as an Aga Khan Postdoctoral Fellow, Majdi taught at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University in Australia. He also worked for the University of Western Australia, where he taught at the School of Engineering and Mathematics, School of Earth and Environment, and the School of Design. He also lectured in China at Northeast Forestry University (NEFU) in Harbin and Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology (XUAT). Majdi is also a registered architect, and he worked at international architecture firms including HKS (USA), DIFFUS (Denmark), and Architecture Studio (Paris). Some of his most exceptional academic achievements include being awarded the prestigious grant, The Fulbright Scholarship, as well as the Australian Government RTP scholarship to pursue his doctorate. His PhD thesis, "A Holistic Ethical System of Architecture in the Time of Globalization: Between Dubai and the Medina of Tunis", examined the design challenges and ethical issues that architecture and the built environment are facing in the Islamic world, and in particular in Tunisia and the UAE.