Spring 2010 Abstracts & Bios

Lectures, Conferences & Events» Past Lectures & Events


Gulnara Kamalova
Preservation of Architectural Monuments in Kazakhstan: Policies and Methods
Abstract & Biography
Dr. Gulnara Kamalova, the head of the Research Department at the Kazakhstan Restoration Agency (Kazrestoration), will speak about the current developments in preservation of architectural heritage in Kazakhstan. In the first part of her presentation, Dr. Kamalova will discuss the scope of architectural monuments designated as national cultural heritage and the legal measures undertaken by the Kazakhstan Government to protect buildings of different historical periods. She will examine the principles of listing buildings as cultural monuments and indicate the efforts of governmental and non-governmental organizations to inform the public about national heritage. In the second part of the presentation, Dr. Kamalova will talk about the methods of conservation and restoration implemented by Kazrestoration and other preservation agencies of the Republic. She will outline the history of architectural preservation in Kazakhstan highlighting the major restoration projects launched since 1991, the year of its independence. 

Presentation by Ratish Nanda, Aga Khan Trust for Culture
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in conjunction with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at Harvard and MIT invites you to a talk byRatish Nanda (Director of AKTC India). He will present an overview on how the integration of conservation, urban, and environmental development can be a catalyst for socioeconomic change. The talk will include an overview of the AKPIA program by Professor James Wescoat.
AKTC India's work is focused in the Nizamuddin heritage precinct which comprises of the Hazrat Nizamuddin basto. Sunder Nursery, and the World Heritage Site of Humayan's Tomb. The tomb of Mirza Ghalib, South Asia's most renowned poet, is at the eastern edge of the Basti. The sites include one of the first monumental mausoleums to be built in India, with Persian-influenced architecture and the use of massive quantities of sandstone and marble, serene gardens and open spaces, and a large variety of plant species. Each of these sites holds great cultural, historic, and spiritual significance, and architectural interest.
Along with the conservation of monuments, the project focuses on implementing socioeconomic, urban, and environmental development objectives through a community centered, collaborative approach. Progress has been made in improving education, healthcare, and sanitation in the Basti, along with the development of craftsmanship skills, and research into the historic use of the area, and ancient construction techniques.
For more information please see the <http://www.akdn.org/aktc_hcp_india.asp> project brief and a recent article in the <http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?264836> Outlook magazine. If you would like more information please email: <mailto:ne@partnershipsinaction.org>

Gulru Necipoglu
Revisiting the Trope of "Unity and Variety" in Islamic Art
Gulru Necipoglu has been Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art at Harvard University since 1993 where she earned her Ph.D in 1986. Professor Necipoglu is the author of Architecture, Ceremonial Power: The Topkapi Palace (1991); The Topkapi Scroll, Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture (1995); and The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire (2005). She is also the editor of Muqarnas: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture and Supplements to Muqarnas. Her Topkapi Scroll won the Albert Hourani Book Award and the Spiro Kostoff Book Award. The Age of Sinan has been awarded the Fuat Koprulu Prize. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Palladio Center for Study of Architecture in Vicenza. Professor Necipolu's articles include interpretations of various aspects of Ottoman visual culture, comparative studies on early modern Islamic art and architecture (particularly Safavid, Mughal, Ottoman), and deal with cross-cultural artistic exchanges between Byzantium, Renaissance Italy, and the Islamic lands. Her publications also address questions of premodern architectural practice, plans and drawings, the aesthetics of abstract ornament and geometric design. Her critical interests encompass methodological and historiographical issues in modern constructions of the field of Islamic art. 

Nicolas Prouteau
Breaching the Walled Cities of Bilâd al-Shâm
Nicolas graduated from the University of Poitiers in western France. He holds a MA from University of Wales - Swansea and a DEA of Medieval Civilization from the Centre d’Études supérieures de civilisation médiévale of Poitiers. In 2005, he received his PhD from the University of Toulouse. His dissertation was titled “Architects, Engineers and Fortifications in the time of the Crusades (XIth-XIIIth c.).” In 2001 and 2002, while working on his PhD, he received a grant from the Zellidja Foundation to do research in Beirut. In 2002 and 2004, he also received grants from the Institut français d’études arabes in Damascus, Syria. He has taught Islamic history, archaeology, and art in the Universities of Poitiers, Le Mans, and Nantes, and also Beirut. 
In 2007 he collaborated with ICOMOS France and UNESCO on “Military Fortresses in the Medieval Mediterranean: A Shared Heritage,” in an effort to establish a historical link between Islamic and Frankish fortresses and urban walls in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.” He also contributed to the proceedings of two international conferences: Fortification in the Time of the Crusades (XIth-XIIIth c.) and Artillery and Fortification (XIth-XIIIth c.) 
Because of his interest in the architectural and technical exchanges between the Eastern and Western worlds, he was involved in many archaeological excavations in France and also in several locations in the Middle East, such as in Egypt (Ayyubid urban wall of Cairo), Turkey (medieval city of Ani), Syria (Qal’at Najm, Qal’at Salah al-Din/Saône), Lebanon (Qal’at Sharqif/ Beaufort, urban walls of Saida and Beirut), and Jordan (Qal’at Rabad/Ajlun), and more recently in Armenia (Yerasgavorz, Dashtadem, Dvin). Nicolas has studied the building techniques of the Seldjuks, Cheddadids, Ayyubids, and Mameluks, and the Islamic urban walls of the twelfth and thirteenth century. During his Aga Khan post-doctoral fellowship in 2010, he will focus on the technical innovations and social significance of his areas of study, all within a wider architectural, military, and religious context. 

Mrinalini Rajagopalan
Interrupting the Archive: Indigenous Interventions to Colonial Categories of Indian Heritage 
The origins of archaeology and historic preservation in India have largely been understood as a meme of colonial control and dominance. In the case of architectural preservation particularly, it is the institutionalized practices of cataloging and conservation by the Archaeological Department in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that constructed the canon of Indian heritage. Whilst the connections between colonial power and the calcification of Indian history has been explored by art historians and archaeologists, less attention has been paid to the particular practices of negotiation between indigenous actors and colonial bureaucrats within the process of historic preservation. Assuming that colonial power did not operate within a totalizing realm, postcolonial investigations of archaeological practice in twentieth-century India must reconcile colonial hegemony with indigenous intervention and agency. This lecture will explore some examples of negotiation between colonial bureaucrats and indigenous actors in early-twentieth century Delhi, during the time that the city’s heritage was being cataloged and archived as such. It looks at the efforts by various local actors to insert alternative historical sites into the largely Euro-centric model of heritage preservation in Delhi. In doing so, this presentation hopes to raise issues regarding representation, agency vs. authority, and the negotiations between “experts” and the lay-public over archaeological categories in early twentieth-century Delhi. 
Dr. Mrinalini Rajagopalan is currently Assistant Professor/ Faculty Fellow of Urban Studies at the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. She received her PhD in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and is currently working on a manuscript titled: Objects of Desire: Excavating Islamic Architecture in Imperial, National and Postcolonial India. This book is a historical study of the institutionalization of architectural preservation in India, with a specific focus on the nation’s capital city—Delhi. She is also co-editor of the forthcoming volume: Colonial Frames/ Nationalist Histories: Architecture, Urbanism and Identity (Ashgate, 2010). Her broader areas of teaching and research interest include: the colonial legacies of urbanization and urbanism in the developing world; the intersection of archaeology and architectural preservation as entwined projects of national modernities; the historiographical traditions of Islamic art and architecture; and the use of visual culture in the production of collective memory and national sentiment in postcolonial nation-states.

Philippe Revault
Harar, a Muslim City in Ethiopia
The City of Harar is often known as the fourth Holy Islam City, by its former location on the road of Muslim Pilgrims going to Mecca. That can explain numerous mosqes and tombs as haven of memory linked to its founding Fathers. Founded on XIIth century, Harar was until the end of XIXth century known as an important trade place. Cf different stays of Arthur Rimbaud in Harar and descriptions given by Richard Burton.
My talk will present the unic character of this historical Walled City, for which we elaborated the report which permits to inscribe Harar on the list of World Heritage Center by Unesco on july 2006.
In relationship with post master education of schools of Architecture Paris Belleville and la Villette, we have been working on Harar since 2001. Cooperation evolved with time. It started with exploration and documentation about Harari Heritage , and today, we have to resolve the relevance between the urban local policies and the main recommendations about Heritage in accordance with Unesco’s Charter for preservation, improvement and management.

Imran bin Tajudeen
The Architecture of Migration: Translation and Creative Synthesis in the Mosques of Tamil, Hadhrami and Chinese Peranakan Communities in the Emporia of Nusantara
This talk will examine the architecture of small community mosques in the port cities around the Straits of Melaka and the Java Sea built by or for the Asian mercantile communities hailing from South Arabia, South India, and South China. Attention is given to the intersection of typological traditions from these respective regions and Nusantara – the maritime region of Southeast Asia that is today home to the world’s largest Muslim population. Most of these mosques date from the 18th and 19th centuries, but a few significant historic examples are extant from the 15th.
In addition to the coalescing of vernacular practices and forms noted above, these community mosques also demonstrate the impact of colonial regulations and architectural forms, and the role of Chinese contractors in projects and renovations in the 17th to 19th centuries. Thus, their hybrid accretions both enrich and question the notion or definition of the architecture of Islamic communities. The examination of the processes of translation and creative synthesis that created them over time also tests the utility and limits of ‘typology’ and ‘style’ as analytical frameworks. In this way the study hopes to demonstrate a historiographical framework through a multicultural, contextual approach to the flows and confluences of ideas and practices regarding space, form and symbolism in architecture. 
Imran studied the historic urban vernacular heritage of the port cities of insular Southeast Asia or Nusantara for his doctoral thesis at the National University of Singapore, with a focus on hybrid vernacular traditions in old urban wards, or kampung arising from intra-regional and international cultural intersections. Imran is particularly interested in the processes, underlying motivations and assumptions through which notions of ‘traditional built heritage’ have been constituted, and how they are narrated in contemporary reconstructions. He was awarded the Jeffrey Cook Prize for Best Student Paper for the Tenth IASTE Conference in 2006 for a critique of state intervention and reinvention of ethnic identities in two cultural heritage sites in Singapore. He was also one of twelve young researchers to present a paper at a roundtable at the ICOMOS 2008 International Youth Forum on Cultural Heritage in Quebec City. At the National University of Singapore, Imran worked as Teaching Assistant for modules on Singapore and Southeast Asian urban and architectural history.
Imran’s research as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT will examine the architecture of mosques in the port cities around the Straits of Melaka and the Java Sea built by or for the Asian mercantile communities hailing from South Arabia, South India and South China, focussing on the intersection of typological traditions from these respective regions and the Nusantara. These hybrid architectural artefacts will also be investigated in the context of urban history, of migration and trade and of their contemporary signification in the politics of identity.
Imran is currently also working on chapters on the planned city of Nusajaya in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and on the adaptation of the vernacular in the historic mosques of insular Southeast Asia, for two edited volumes. Imran will be presenting a paper at SAH63 in Chicago that examines the architecture of Java as the intersection of traditions in ‘Asia’ and ‘Austronesia’. From June 2010 to July 2011, he will embark on a study of mosques in Indonesia as colonial heritage as a postdoctoral fellow at Leiden University’s International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) in the Netherlands.