- New Jersey Institute of Technology
Public Space, Modernity, and Empire Building: Ottoman Syria and Lebanon, French Maghrib, 1830-1914
This project will study nineteenth century public spaces in French colonies in the Maghrib and Ottoman provinces in the Middle East, with the argument that they represented modernity and constituted the key elements of a universal imperial iconography. The European-style avenues, streets, squares, and parks, inserted into cities ranging from major centers to smaller towns brought significant transformations to built forms and the lives of the citizens throughout. Yet, each place was shaped by its specific conditions. A close look at the production of public spaces in a comparative framework will broaden and complicate the discourse on modernity in architecture and urbanism and show the intertwined nature of empire building and the project of modernity.
Empires and Antiquities: Appropriating the Past
This project contributes to the re-conceptualization of the recent controversies over the possession of antiquities by situating the issue in a historic context and by reading it from different political and cultural positions. It examines the cultural aspects of empire-building at the time, which capitalized on the prestige of ancient history and the power attributed to possessing its material fragments, and argues that the origins of the present-day debate go back to the scramble for antiquities in the nineteenth century. Placing Istanbul, its new museum, and the tightened government control over the work of archaeologists in the Ottoman Empire at the center, the comparative study engages in analysis of claims to the past in London, Paris, Berlin, and New York.