Spring 2013 Abstracts & Bios

Lectures, Conferences & Events» Past Lectures & Events


Suna Cagaptay 
"Medieval Anatolia is Elsewhere: Mapping Cultural Encounters and Impasses of Architectural Historiography"
Suna Cagaptay is fulfilling a yearlong postdoctoral fellowship at the AKPIA @ MIT, while on sabbatical leave from her assistant professorship in the School of Architecture & Design at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul. She earned her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (2007) in medieval architectural history and theory, with a focus on the late Byzantine and early Ottoman periods. This year at MIT, Suna has been expanding on the themes developed in her dissertation to write a book that explores the religious and political transition as displayed in Anatolia’s material culture. The book (working title: Medieval Anatolia Is Elsewhere: Mapping Cultural Encounters and Impasses of Architectural Historiography) will be, when published, the first of its kind to examine the architectural and urban legacy of Anatolia during the period in question. Whereas previous studies present these medieval Anatolian structures as immutable, she will interpret the built environment as occupying a cultural middle ground, an approach intended to challenge scholarly assumptions caused by an overemphasis on cultural purity and homogeneity. As a result, her work will tell a more nuanced story of the Islamization of Anatolia in the late medieval and early modern period and offer context for other contemporaneous Islamic/Christian frontiers in the Mediterranean, such as those in Spain, Italy, North Africa and Palestine.

Beniamino Polimeni
"The Traditional Architecture of Libya's Nafusah Mountains: Types of Dwellings and Evolution of Urban Settlements"
Beniamino received his Master Degree from the School of Architecture of the "Università Mediterranea" of Reggio Calabria in 2004, focusing his attention on architectural conservation from both a theoretical and technical point of view. He studied from 2004 to 2006 at the School of Specialization in "Restauro dei Monumenti" in Genoa, undertaking several research and survey campaigns in the Mediterranean Maghreb and in Southern Asia. 
Since 2007 he has been cooperating with several architecture firms as building conservation consultant and designer and participating in European and International design competitions. 
In 2008 he won the Italian Prize for digital architecture, promoted by "National Association of Young Architects", on exhibition in the XXII UIA World Congress of Architecture in Torino.
In 2010 he received his PhD in "Scienze della rappresentazione e del rilievo". In his dissertation he analyzed different historical, cultural, and formal aspects that lead to the urban structures in Lybian Jabal Nafusah.
At M.I.T. he will carry out cultural and geographic research on the Ibadi regions of Maghreb.

Cinzia Tavernari 
"The Aleppo-Damascus Itinerary: A Tale of a Resilient Road and it's Cavaranserais"
Cinzia earned her MA in Islamic studies at the University of Venice (Italy) and then pursued her academic education at the Sorbonne University of Paris (France); there she received her PhD in Islamic art and archaeology in 2011. 
Her dissertation, titled “Wayside Caravanserais and Road Networks of Bilad al-Sham (XII-XVI c.)” deals with more than 70 wayside caravanserais mainly from an architectural and archaeological point of view, and focuses on their relationship with the evolution and changes of the road networks. 
During the last ten years she has been involved in numerous archaeological missions in Syria, Egypt and Morocco. To complete her doctoral research she spent several months in Syria conducting field surveys and archaeological work. 
Since 2007 she has taught History of Islamic Art, first at the Institute for Oriental Languages in Paris (France) and then at the University of Pesaro-Urbino (Italy). 
She participated in two international conferences in Rome and London (6th ICAANE and 7th ICAANE) and contributed to the recent published monograph on the Syrian site of Shayzar (C. Tonghini, Shayzar I, Brill, Leiden, 2011). She was involved in the organization of the international conference on roads and caravanserais of the world (“Caravansérails et Routes caravanières : état des savoirs et inventaires”) founded by the National School of Architecture of Paris Val de Seine (France) in 2009. 
The Aga Khan Postdoctoral Fellowship will enable Cinzia to widen her research field and to start to investigate the characteristics of the roads and wayside caravanserais of Central Asia, a strategic region at the crossroad of many of the commercial exchanges between East and West. 

Camilla Mileto and Fernando Vegas
"Restoration of Spanish Islamic Architecture: The Case of the Alhambra and the Bofilla Tower"
Some restoration works over the last two centuries have transformed historic monuments with such a success that their new aspect has become part of the collective imagination. The romantic vision of the monument has prevailed in these cases over historical rigor. This lecture unveils historical mirages and confusions that erroneous interpretations and architectural restorations of the past have generated in internationally well-known monuments, with a focus on the Alhambra and other Islamic monuments in the Iberian Peninsula. The decisions taken during restoration works have significant repercussions for historical interpretations, as well as the present and future images of the monuments.
Professors Camilla Mileto and Fernando Vegas research the history of architectural restoration and work as preservation architects on projects of international significance, including the Alhambra and other Islamic monuments in Spain. The authors have worked over the last 10 years on architectural stratigraphy analysis in the Nasrid Palaces and the restoration of the Barberia room, both at the Alhambra (Granada, Spain) and have studied the changes of the monument due to the restoration works of different times. The authors have also restored the 13th Century Islamic Bofilla Tower at Betera (Valencia, Spain), which was awarded the Domus Award of 2012.