Spring 2017 Abstracts and Bios

Lectures, Conferences & Events» Past Lectures & Events

Portraits of Oil Urbanism

El Hadi Jazairy
AKPIA Post-Doctoral Fellow
Research Scientist
, Center for Advanced Urbanism, MIT

El Hadi Jazairy is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan and currently Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism where his research focuses on Urbanism and Energy Systems. He is also founding partner of the award winning practice DESIGN EARTH. His work has been widely recognized with several honors, including the Young Architects Prize from Architectural League of New York, ACSA Faculty Design Award, the Europan 6 award, and the Regle d’Or de l’Urbanisme. He is co-author of Geographies of Trash (Actar, 2015) and Two Cosmograms (SA+P Press, 2016) as well as editor-in-chief of New Geographies 4: Scales of the Earth (Harvard GSD, 2010). His recent writings have been published in the Journal of Cultural Geography, the Journal of Architectural Education, the Avery Review, Kerb Journal, Topos, MONU, and San Rocco. El Hadi holds a Doctorate of Design from Harvard University, a Master of Architecture from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Architecture from La Cambre in Brussels.
Personal Website: www.design-earth.org
The contemporary environmental, political and financial crises have brought energy to the forefront of design concerns, emphasizing once again that geography has a significant role to play for the design of oil infrastructure. This talk will review findings from DESIGN EARTH research on Hassi Messaoud Oil Urbanism, After Oil in the Gulf, and the Future of Oil Company Towns to discuss ways in which representation could play an instrumental in discussions about energy transition.

The Mosque and the Arcade: Academy and Nationhood in the Cold War Middle East
Burak Erdim
AKPIA@MIT Post-Doctoral Fellow
North Carolina State University

Burak Erdim is an Assistant Professor of Architectural History at North Carolina State University where he teaches lecture and seminar courses on the history of modern architecture and urbanism exploring space production in relation to the economic and political processes of colonialism, decolonization, nationalism, neo-colonialism, and globalization. His research examines the operations of transnational planning cultures during the post World War II period and the reconceptualization of the disciplines of architecture and community planning as one of the central components of social and economic reconstruction projects during the Cold War. His current work focuses on the establishment and planning of the Middle East Technical University (METU), which was initially founded as a School of Architecture and Community Planning in Ankara, Turkey, in 1956. METU’s conceptualization as an academic institution and a land development model stands out among its contemporaries as the product of a full range of agents and agencies operating during this period. Erdim contributes regularly to publications and symposia on transnational modernisms. One of his recent essays on METU was featured in, Mid-Century Modernism in Turkey: Architecture across Cultures in the 1950s and 1960s, edited by Meltem Ö. Gürel (Routledge, 2015).  He received his Ph.D. in December 2012 in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Virginia where he also completed his Master’s degree in Architecture.
Contemporary events and discourse renders any recollection of the existence of a secular and social democratic culture in the Middle East like a dream of an improbable and distant past. Yet, one also finds its dying vestiges and its desperate voice in the debates and clashes such as the numerous headscarf debates or the relatively recent confrontations over prayer on the Middle East Technical University Campus that are usually left out of global media streams, which are unable to comprehend or unwilling to provide a longer view of the re-appearance of Islam and religion as a dominant political voice during the post-World War II period in the Middle East.
In the renderings that sought to project an appropriate image for the Middle East Technical University in 1959, the United Nations sponsored consultants from the University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts positioned a mosque and an arcade as the two dominant components surrounding a courtyard to define the social structure of this model community. This projection situated with a dominant view of the governmental center of Turkey’s capital appeared highly objectionable to Turkish administrators and professionals who methodically mobilized their bureaucratic ranks to wrestle the control of the project from their foreign counterparts.
This lecture examines how the Turkish bureaucratic elites continued the project begun by their foreign counterparts but recast METU’s identity along conceptions of nationhood that were more compatible with Turkey’s national revolutionary ideology. At the same time, the ideal image of the Middle East initially put forward by the Penn team also persisted to make up the dominant strands of contemporary perceptions of the region, positioning itself ironically at odds with one of its most ambitious and comprehensive projects.

Graveyard of the Clerics: Islamic Activism in Saudi Suburbia
Pascal Menoret
Renée and Lester Crown Professor in Modern Middle East Studies
Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University

In the suburbs of al-Khobar, 2010 - © Pascal Menoret

The redevelopment of downtown al-Qatif, 2010 - © Pascal Menoret

Pascal Menoret completed his PhD in 2008 from the Department of History at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. He joined Brandeis University in 2015 after three years at NYU Abu Dhabi and two post-doctoral fellowships at at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and at Princeton’s Transregional Institute.
Pascal Menoret's research combines urban history and social anthropology. His latest book, Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt, (Cambridge University Press, 2014) explores the relationship between urban planning and youth unrest in the Saudi capital. His new book project, entitled Graveyard of the Clerics: Islamic Activism in Saudi Suburbia, is an ethnography of the Saudi Islamic movements. He has published The Saudi Enigma: A History (Zed Books, 2005) and L'Arabie, des routes de l'encens à l'ère du pétrole (Gallimard, 2010). He edited The Abu Dhabi Guide: Modern Architecture, 1968-1992 (FIND/NYUAD 2014), a guide to thirty modernist landmarks of the UAE capital.
Before his doctoral fieldwork in Riyadh (2005-07), Pascal studied Arabic with Houda Ayoub in Paris and German philosophy with Gérard Lebrun at the Université de Provence. He wrote his MA thesis on a Saudi TV series, Tash Ma Tash, and his BA thesis on religion and politics in Hegel’s philosophy. He graduated from the Lycée Lacordaire in Marseille in 1994.
What Saudi activists call “Islamic Action” (al-‘amal al-islami) became the most efficient way for them to engage with the public realm after big Saudi cities were forcibly turned into individualizing and depoliticized suburbs, North American style. The Islamic movement in Saudi Arabia emerged as a political force in the 1970s and 1980s, at the very moment when Western urban planners designed new Saudi cities where they injected counterinsurgency devices and implemented free market solutions. Salafism, for instance, emerged on the outskirts of Mecca and Medina, and could not have been possible without the kind of freedom you get in the new Saudi suburbs. Born in Egypt in the 1920s, the Muslim Brotherhood had to espouse the Saudi way of life on four wheels in order to attract followers. This talk will present one chapter of my working manuscript, tentatively entitled Graveyard of the Clerics: Islamic Activism in Saudi Suburbia.

No Direction Home: the Life and Legacy of Frantz Fanon
Adam Shatz
New York Based Author and Contributing Editor to the London Review of Books

Adam Shatz is a contributing editor at The London Review of Books and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and other publications. He has been a visiting professor at New York University and a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars. Raised in Massachusetts, he studied history at Columbia University and has lived in New York City since 1990.
A World War II hero, pioneering critic of racism in France, revolutionary psychiatrist, spokesman of the Algerian national liberation movement: Frantz Fanon lived many lives for a man who died at 36. But what thread links these “lives,” and how are we to make sense of Fanon’s writings today, several decades after the collapse of the colonial regimes he opposed? This lecture will explore how Fanon invented himself on the page while responding to a series of extreme situations. It will also reflect on Fanon’s contemporary “after-lives”.

Toward a Methodology of Decolonizing Photography
Stephen Sheehi
Professor of Arabic Studies, William & Mary

Stephen Sheehi (MA, PhD, Michigan) is the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Middle East Studies. He holds a joint appointment as Professor of Arabic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the Program of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. 
Prof. Sheehi’s work examines cultural, intellectual, art history, and the political economy of the late Ottoman Empire and the Arab Renaissance (al-nahdah al-‘arabiyah). In addition to interest in political theory, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory, his scholarly interests extend to issues of globalization, developmentalism, Middle East foreign policy, and Arab and Muslim American issues. 
Prof. Sheehi’s book, The Arab Imago: A Social History of Indigenous Photography 1860-1910 (Princeton University Press, 2016) is a ground-breaking study on the history of photography in the Arab world. The research is the first to comprehensively research native studios in Alexandria, Beirut, Cairo, Jaffa, and Jerusalem as well as early Hajj photography in al-Hijaz (now Saudi Arabia) during the late Ottoman period. In doing so, the book investigates the relationship between indigenous photography, social transformations and the creation of modern Arab society in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine before World War One. 
Prof. Sheehi’s most recent book is Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2011). The book examines the rise of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments in the West following the end of the Cold War. Sheehi analyzes the relationship between United States foreign and domestic policies and the mainstreaming of Muslim-baiting rhetoric as articulated by “rogue academics,” journalists, and national leaders from across the political spectrum. He shows how Islamophobia is expressed not only in the media but also state policy and American civil society. The book has been translated into Arabic as al-Islamofobia: al-Hamlah al-idiulujiyah dud al-Muslimin translation by Fatimah Nasr (Cairo: Dar al-Sutour, 2012). 
Foundations of Modern Arab Identity (University of Florida, 2004) is Prof. Sheehi’s first book, offering a new paradigm on the foundational writing of intellectuals of the 19th century Arab Renaissance or al-nahdah al-`arabiyah. The book discusses how reformers such as Butrus  al-Bustani, Salim al-Bustani, Farah Antun, Jurji Zaydan, and others offered a powerful cultural self-criticism along side their critiques, advocacy, and debates regarding Arab “progress and civilization” in the face of European imperialism. In offering these critical assessments of Western and Arab culture, society and politics, these Arab intellectuals established the epistemological foundation for Arab identity that informed political and cultural thought for the subsequent hundred years.  
Prof. Sheehi has published in a variety of venues on Middle Eastern photography, art, literature, and intellectual history in venues such as Third Text, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, The British Journal of Middle East Studies, Discourse, The Journal of Arabic Literature, Critique, Jouvert, The Journal of Comparative South Asian, African, Middle Eastern Studies and Encyclopedia of Islam along with publishing commentary in Common Dreams, Mondoweiss, Jadaliyya, and al-Adab. He has lectured nationally and internationally including at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, and the Library of Congress. He is also a Board Member at Kultrans’ “Synchronizing the Universal” Program, an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Olso, directed by Helge Jordheim.
This talk seeks to explore a method of decolonizing photography. It aims to disassociate “the history of photography” from being synonymous with and read as the “history of [Western] photography.” In the process of “provincializing” European photography, such a method locates photographic practice and representation within political economies of colonialism, nationalism, class formation, and capitalist order. But also, a decolonizing method must see  to track identifications themselves, identifications that are deeply engrained within and reproduced by indigenous social formations themselves and the epistemology of the photograph that from which those formations arise.  “Toward a Methodology of Decolonizing Photography,” then, argues against “alterity” without negating difference. It seeks a method to accommodate the paradoxes within photography, the seen and unseen, the interior an exterior, its documentary transparency and aesthetic opaqueness. The presentation presents a small number of examples of photographic traditions, discourses, and practices fro the 19th century Arab world in order to concretize this method, in hopes of forging, in Ngugi O’Thiong’o words,  a more “relevant” “history of photography” without vacating it of difference and power.