Archiv der Kategorie 'Allgemein'

Evolution of a refuge city – Town and unit planning enabling refugees to sustain themselves

by Shaikha f Al-Mubaraki

tutors: Dr. Abdulmutalib Al-Ballam, Professor Quinsan Ciao

Kuwait University, Dept. of Architecture, College of Engineering and Petroleum

Discipline(s): Architecture

Project text:

More than 55% of refugees never return to their homeland, staying in camps for an average of 17 years, occasionally even for a lifetime. Hence there is a desperate need for refugee camps to be able to evolve into towns. Camps have existed since 1951 but until today, the approach to planning such camps has not changed. Due to its simplicity, a ‘military-like’ grid arrangement became the prototype applied all around the world, with no specific reference to location, culture or climate. Refugees are individuals who have become displaced and torn away from their urban fabric, which changes the most essential existential need – the need to dwell. Therefore, tracing the natural process of dwelling and resettlement should be the basis for planning a camp, as it is the natural way in which people become acquainted with a place. Current planning provides aid and protection for the refugees, but does not teach them how to sustain themselves. The manner in which the camp is created suggests an end to natural growth. Therefore designing a possibility for the refugees to sustain themselves would be a much more efficient solution, enabling a refugee to generate, create and produce, and thus move back naturally into his environment. A closer look at the type of refugees in the camp is important; considering differences in culture, religion and traditions when planning would lead to different outcomes depending on the region. Encouragement of self-sustaining strategies, like farming, would categorize refugees as an agrarian society rather than simply as a displaced one. Allocating different spaces for people with different possessions and family sizes would also generate a more natural order. As for the living unit, it is important that the method of building allows easy access to all refugees of all ages, by means of available materials with techniques that are not foreign. Thus, the act of making becomes the act of healing.

International Summer Academy held in Istanbul

The Summer Academy was organised in collaboration with Boğaziçi University, ‚Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe‘ (EUME), a joint research program of the the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in cooperation with the German ‚Orient-Institute Istanbul‘, the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin, and the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Leiden.

Held at the Ottoman Bank Museum in Istanbul, the academy offered an opportunity for young scholars to present and discuss their current research on cities, pluralism and cosmopolitanism. The Summer Academy was chaired by a group of prominent scholars; Asef Bayat (ISIM, Leiden), Edhem Eldem (Bogaziçi University, Istanbul), Ulrike Freitag (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin), Nora Lafi (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin), and Stefan Weber (AKU-ISMC, London).

The International Summer Academy was based on the theme of Living Together: Plurality and Cosmopolitanism in the Ottoman Empire and Beyond and related debates on cosmopolitanism to the historical experiences of cities in the Ottoman Empire, its successor and its neighbouring states – in the Balkans, Anatolia, and the Arab and Muslim world.

During the academy, AKU-ISMC Professor Modjtaba Sadria presented a lecture entitled ‘Cities: Social Borders, Complex Spaces and Intersections’. In addition to academic lectures and seminars, students participated in a range of excursions, including one to the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Fener, Istanbul.

Among the sessions, three were directly related to research at AKU-ISMC (all concerning the Tripoli project). Participants discussed space, social order, consumption, and material culture as interrelated topics. Each session discussed one theme based on the context of a selected text, while overall, the focus was on the question of how social groups negotiated and constructed borders and cohesion.

Sassmannshausen and Weber introduced the first session – ‘The Spatial Turn – Space, cities, neighbourhoods and houses and a non-linear approach to history’. The session explored the analytical framework of space and asked how new perspectives on social action and trans-regional development could be developed, while approaching space as a complex venue of interaction able to challenge linear perspectives.

The second session – ‘Knowing one’s place – Approaching notions of social order and distinction’, was introduced by Papamichos-Chronakis and Bodenstein. It dealt with social categories, in particular questioning whether definitions such as ‘family’, ‘middle class’ or ‘elite’ are helpful analytical categories.

Inal and Weber presented the final session – ‘Material Culture – Habitus, taste and patterns of consumption’, which dealt with the mechanisms used to draw social borders. It investigated how social borders are articulated or constructed and their expression in social and physical space and material culture.

The diverse range of sources and approaches presented during the sessions portrayed a kaleidoscopic picture of Middle Eastern societies. Over the course of the academy, participants exchanged and sought out new methodological tools. Through this, they were able to explore processes to describe complex systems of societies in different settings, attempting to present different modes of living together.

During the sessions, the question was raised as to whether cosmopolitanism can be considered a useful tool to discuss the multilayered societies of the Middle East. Weber noted that participants rejected cosmopolitanism as a tool but understood it more as a description of ‚living together‘. The term as it is used today is loaded with positive views (as an ideological judgment) and can therefore hinder objective analysis.

“Defining cosmopolitanism clearly would help to attribute it as a description of certain societies. The Ottoman nineteenth century had many socially complex, multi-cultural and cosmopolitan places, spaces and social agents. Historians, as many of the participants were, describe and analyse interconnected individuals and groups and thus may use the historiographical concept of histoire croisée,” Weber reflected.

“During the presentation… most participants were more interested in the processes of social formation, distinction, integration of socially complex societies of very different social groups and their ways of negotiation and distribution of different forms of capital, following Bourdieu’s theory.”

“In their case studies, participants looked into moments of history where the local and global acted or influenced persons of different backgrounds living together and the configuration, dynamics and changes of groups, defined of different elements like class, gender, social-religious identity, etc. Others analysed how contemporary societies deal with this past: the reception and creation of histories, with implications for concepts such as ‚heritage‘ and ideologically loaded places, developing themselves as agency over societies.”

The Summer Academy allowed scholars to explore a number of aspects related to social history and questions of spatial organisation, local agencies and vernacular modernities in the cities of the Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions. By offering perspectives of cosmopolitanism ‘from below’, the Academy helped to stimulate debates and conceptions of the contemporary city, civil society, multicultural societies, migration, and cosmopolitanism.

The Summer Academy was funded by AKU-ISMC and EUME with contribution from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. The Academy was coordinated by Georges Khalil.

Online Resources

* List of Participants and their Fields (EUME Berlin)
* The Tripoli Project
* Discussing Cities
* Stefan Weber profile page
* Modjtaba Sadria profile page

Related Articles

* Summer Academy in Istanbul

External Links*

* Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe (EUME Berlin)
* Bogaziçi University, Turkey
* Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany
* Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Germany
* Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany
* German ‚Orient-Institute‘, Istanbul
* International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Netherlands

Multiple Modernities in Muslim Societies – Tangible Elements and Abstract Perspectives

Edited by: Modjtaba Sadria

Is there any such thing as modernity in Islamic societies and, if so, what are the identifiable elements of this modernity? Here, a leading group of thinkers and practitioners from diverse theoretical backgrounds pose the question of what it means to be modern – exploring notions of myriad ‚multiple modernities‘ that operate beyond the Western singular definition of modern civilisation.

This volume represents a major new contribution to the debate about modernity, this volume offers new perspectives and ways of considering experiences of modernity in non-Western societies. Questions about which aspects of civilisation might be identified as the tangible elements of modernity are discussed, both within the built environment – the cities, architecture, the material cultural heritage – and within the lived environment – in culture, politics and economics. The interplay between modernism, secularism and religion is explored and the view of the religious state and modernity as mutually exclusive is challenged.

While Muslim societies are chosen as the primary focus, the subject of the discussion has clear relevance to other cultural contexts and contributes to the wider debate on modernity. Rather than pose final solutions to the ‘problem’ of modernity within Muslim societies, the contributors instead create a space for the opening, questioning and recasting of the debate. This is an important contribution to the fields of Architecture, Cultural Studies, and Middle East and Islamic Studies.



Farrokh Derakhshani

As Director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Derakhshani introduces the work of the Award and its core goal of framing architecture as a social act and responsibility. As the inaugural workshop in the Knowledge Construction series, the aim of the workshop is outlined as a means of addressing the most significant issues and debates relating to architecture in Muslim societies. Derakhshani gives an overview of the layout of the volume, which includes both the papers and the subsequent, rich discussion which formed the essence of the workshop.

Modernities: Re-posing the Issues

Modjtaba Sadria

Approaches to issues of modernity in Muslim societies – whether the possibility of Muslim modernities is supported or rejected – have generally framed these issues as problems that must be solved. The opening paper discusses possible alternative epistemological approaches to the study of a plurality of modernities, comparing the dominant problem solving approach with an alternative problem-posing approach. Through its ability to problematise existing orders of knowledge and produce new ways of thinking, it is argued that problem-posing offers a more fruitful method to investigate issues relating to modernities, architecture and Muslim communities.

From Civilisations to Multiple Modernities: The Issue of the Public Sphere

Armando Salvatore

Salvatore approaches the discussion of the possibility and characteristics of Muslim modernities through the notion of civilization, and asks if we can consider there to be an Islamic modernity as part of the problematic of multiple modernities. Using Habermas’ notion of the public sphere and communicative action, and critically assessing modernity in relation to democracy and secularism, it is suggested that there exist fundamental anti-modernities in the experiences of modernity. This essay explores the fundamental tension of Islamic modernity between maintaining their core legacies, while also coping with a hegemonic, Western modernity.

Iranian Islamic Modernities

Masoud Kamali

The third essay in the volume critiques the tradition of social science meta-narratives that frame modernity as an exclusively western invention, aligned with a linear model of development. The author provides a comprehensive overview of the history of modernization in Iran, examining in particular the changing role of Islam and the relationship between civil society and the state. Kamali argues that the concept of multiple modernities opens the way to generating more socially and historically specific understandings of modernities.

Why Critical Modernism?

Charles Jencks

The contribution from Jencks discusses modernity from the perspective of critical modernism and its development and expression within art and architecture, with its intrinsic characteristics of skepticism and disenchantment. It is argued that the differences between forms and critiques of modernism to a large extent operate within the same discourse; they are ‘prefix-modernities’. This essay questions whether modernity can ‘grow up’ and move beyond this.

From Critique in Modernity to Critique of Modernity

Modjtaba Sadria

Looking from a non-political perspective at issues of modernities, Sadria underlines the social recognition of human autonomy as a prerequisite for criticism and self-criticism. The essay argues that criticism is an important tangible element of modernity, and asks how we can understand criticism as an ontological tool. A model for understanding the concept of criticism is proposed that highlights four archetypal forms of criticism, discussed in relation to two key axes: political orientation and the position of the critic. The degree to which these forms of criticism reflect underlying premises of modernity, while at the same time contesting them, is outlined.

Counter Space of Islamic Modernity

Homa Farjadi

The essay outlines the difference between the discourses of modernization and modernity and discusses the possibilities for lived spaces that emerge from each. Challenging conventional approaches to architecture and urban planning, the notions of ‘counter-design’ and the ‘open city’ are proposed as key ways to negotiate and bring together these two discourses in new forms of spatial modernity. The author offers a fascinating discussion of both planned and unexpected instances of this spatial modernity in relation to Islamic cities.

A Destructive Vacuum: The Marginalisation of Local Knowledge and Reassertion of Local Identities

Farid Panjwani

What are the impacts of the privatization and globalization education on local contexts? This essay discusses how increasingly universalised standards of education have led to a dissociation of education – particularly higher education – from local and national contexts. The resulting marginalization of local knowledge and local identities is discussed, as well as the space this creates for the flourishing of Islamist ideology and affiliation. A reconceptualisation of education to address these issues is outlined.

Modernity: Keep Out of Reach of Children

Fatemeh Hosseini-Shakib

This essay warns – from an insider’s perspective – of the continued presence of ethnocentrism in discourses and critiques surrounding modernity/modernization/anti-modernity. The continued presence of homogenized representations of Muslim societies is discussed, particularly in relation to Iran and Islam. The author calls for alternative critiques of modernity that adequately recognize the nuances and diversity of representations in the Muslim world.

Multiple Modernities: A Theoretical Frame

Masoud Kamali

Furthering the critique of west-centered notions of modernity, Masoud Kamali argues that the legacy of these meta-narratives still exists to a large extent in social science theory in both western universities as well as their counterparts in Muslim societies. The author outlines several theoretical suggestions that challenge these established paradigms, and contribute towards the foundation of a scientific framework that ensures a diversity of perspectives through which to understand modernity in different societies.

Some Reflections on “Tangible Elements of Multiple Modernities”

Deniz Kandiyoti

Reflecting on the key debates of the conference, Professor Kandiyoti argues that both simple and theoretically complex examples of tangible elements of modernity can be identified, and offers a succinct conceptual distinction between the terms ‘modernization’ and ‘modernity’. The author discusses the possible parameters of a theory of multiple modernities, and the need for it to address the ethical and political dimensions of the diverse manifestations of ‘modernities’.

Multiple Modernities in Contemporary Architecture

Jeremy Melvin

Melvin’s essay provides an overview of the discourse of modernity within the discipline of architecture. The particular characteristics of architecture’s modernities and how they interact with modernity in a traditional sense are discussed. The evolution of the theory of “modernism” and the historically contingent circumstances from which it arose are laid out, as well as the forms of modernity that have been inherent to architecture.

Entangled Modernity: Multiple Architectural Expressions of Global Phenomena: the Late Ottoman Example

Stefan Weber

The volume concludes with a discussion of the expressions of modernity in the architectural heritage of the Late Ottoman Empire, using the approach of an “entangled modernity”. Following a revisionist trend of historiography, this approach argues for a shared but multiple heritage. Using examples of new forms of housing and the suq in Damascus, the author argues that rather than assigning to modernity a set of binding criteria, the dimensions of modernity and social change need to first be understood within local contexts.

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Die versteckten Reize des Neo-Liberalismus

Zu berücksichtigende Argument:

1. Im letzten Viertel des 20. Jahrhunderts ist das Konzept der Soft Power zu einem wichtigen analytischen Instrument geworden, zumindest für einige Sparten der International Studies. Ich möchte hier eine Analogie dieses Soft Power Konzeptes nutzen, um den Neo-Liberalismus zu beschreiben: das wäre dass, von allen hegemoniellen Formen, der Neo-Liberalismus eine der ausgeklügelsten, kohärentesten strategischen Formen der Soft Violence gegen die Möglichkeit des friedlichen Zusammenlebens jeder einzelnen Gesellschaft der Welt darstellt. Sollte dies der Fall sein, muss die Frage lauten: wie konnte der Neo-Liberalismus während dieser Zeit eine solche Wucht erreichen? Anders gesagt, was war die interne Stärke des neo-liberalen Diskurses und was war die externe Schwäche seiner Kritik?

2. Obwohl die momentane Wirtschaftskrise Kritik gegen die zentralen Prämissen der neo-liberalen Agenda bringen könnte und de facto auch bringt, heißt dies nicht unbedingt, dass gleichzeitig auch die Schwäche der Kritik eliminiert wird. Überdies kann gar die Hypothese aufgestellt werden, dass, auf welche Weise auch immer, nachdem sich die Kurve der momentanen Krise gewendet hat, diejenigen, die eine von dem Denken des Neo-Liberalismus abstammenden Linie weiterhin verfolgen, eine regenerierte Version ihrer Agenda vorantreiben könnten bzw. wahrscheinlich auch werden.

3. Bei der Betrachtung von momentanen Süd-Süd Beziehungen müssen wir zwei spezifische Dimensionen mit in unsere Perspektive einbeziehen, die mit lokalen und regionalen Kontexten in Verbindung stehen. Faktoren, die dabei konvergieren oder divergieren, sind unsere Verständnisse von der globalen Auswirkung und Wahrnehmung des Neo-Liberalismus. Einer dieser Faktoren ist die perverse Funktion des Staates in zumindest einigen Gesellschaften des Südens, neo-liberale Politik zu praktizieren, und gleichzeitig die globale Vormachtsstellung des Neo-Liberalismus zu kritisieren. Mit anderen Worten ist das, was in diesen Gesellschaften praktiziert wird, womöglich das schlimmste Beispiel Neo-Liberaler Politik, durchgeführt ohne auch nur ein Hauch von Transparenz. Der zweite Faktor in diesem Zusammenhang ist der Aufruf zu individuellem Unternehmertum und, in einem weiteren Sinne, nach Individualismus als Möglichkeit der Emanzipation der Menschen, ein Aufruf der implizit oder explizit im neo-liberalen Diskurs zuhause ist. Die Auffassung, dass diese Individualität in manchen gesellschaftlichen Kontexten eingezwängt, zurückgehalten, enthalten oder gar gezwungen ist, im Verborgenen zu operieren, kann sehr verführerisch sein.

Nun erscheint es wichtig, Süd-Süd Beziehungen als essentielle emanzipatorische Beziehungen zu ent-idealisieren. Süd-Süd Beziehungen sind zweifältig: auf der einen Seite kann man sagen, dass sie durch Fehlverhalten entstanden sind. Limitationen, Sicherheitskosten und Protektionismus vom Norden auferlegt durch Verhandlungen mit dem Süden, haben eine Art Süd-Süd Beziehung erzwungen, die als Ersatz für die angestrebte Beziehung mit dem Norden agiert; sie wird zu einer Art Temporärlösung, bis sich die Süd-Nord Beziehungen verbessern. Auf der anderen Seite könnten Süd-Süd Beziehungen auch eine Möglichkeit sein, Interferenzen in und Kritik an den existierenden Arbeitsbeziehungen im Süden zu vermeiden, die zu erwarten wären, käme der Partner aus dem Norden. In diesem Falle könnten Süd-Süd Beziehungen eine nützliche Ausfahrtstraße für das ‚Empire‘ sein, jegliche Erhebung von Stimmen über die Härte der Arbeitsverhältnisse im Süden verstummen zu lassen.

5. Ein Versprechen, eine Möglichkeit und eine Idee: Wenn die neo-liberale Hegemonie auf globaler Ebene reproduziert und beibehalten werden kann, kann ein gewisser geistiger Raum für Gedanken über – und letztendlich die Schaffung von – Alternativen zur neo-liberalen Agenda bedacht, organisiert und praktiziert werden innerhalb einer Süd-Süd Beziehung, die nicht notwendiger Weise geographisch ist; eine Süd-Süd Beziehung die dem Neo-Liberalismus kritisch gegenübersteht und die Verwegenheit besitzt, die Welt anders zu betrachten. In diesem Falle könnte das Beste, was der Norden zu bieten hat, in die Süd-Süd Beziehung integriert werden.

Die große Story

Es ist eine große Story, die unsere Überschriften im Moment in Atem hält: nicht zuletzt hinsichtlich der blanken Menge an Nullen welche die Billionen von Dollars beschreibt über die mensch erzählt. Vor kurzem wurde mir gesagt, dass in einem Jahr die ‚globale Wirtschaft‘ erfolgreich 50 Billionen Dollar hat verdampfen lassen. Man möchte meinen es würde ein dediziertes, kollektives Bemühen brauchen um eine solch gigantische Menge an Ressourcen zu vergeuden. Aber es war ausschließlich eine kleine Gruppe Menschen die dieses erreicht haben, und die Prämien dafür kassierten. Das treibt unser Blutdruck in die Höhe, aber was können wir dagegen tun? Werden wir einfach weiterhin die Headlines lesen und die Nachrichten schauen, dabei leise in unsere Lehnstühle fluchen? Zumindest sollten wir ein wenig weiter schauen, informationen sammeln und versuchen zu verstehen, wie die Schockwellen die breite Gesellschaft einwirken werden. Denn wenn die großen Stories sich mit den Billionen von Dollars beschäftigen, beschäftigen sich die kleinen mit den Zeltstädten die aus San Jose wachsen, und Sacramentos Besiedlung von neuen Wellen von Obdachlosen. Dort sind Millionen von neuen Arbeitslosen in post-industrialisierten Gesellschaften die jetzt unter der täglichen Last leiden, über die Runden zu kommen. Eine neue Generation wird sozialisiert, mitten in eine Welt mit größeren Unsicherheiten als sie sich hat vorstellen können. Sicherlich, diese beeindruckenden Statistiken machen beindruckende Headlines in den Massenmedien. Gigantische Zahlen sichern die Auflage, egal ob es eine wachsende Anzahl Menschen ist die arbeitslos werden, obdachlos, deren Häuser wieder in Besitz genommen werden, oder die unter die ‚Armutsgrenze‘ fallen. Das schafft eine ziemlich trübe Aussicht auf menschliche Kreativität und Widerstandsfähigkeit. Sehr wenige der kleinen Geschichten finden in den Medien Beachtung, denn diese sind dominiert von Finanz- und Wirtschaftssprache durch die wir die Krise zu verstehen gelernt haben. Wir bekommen ein Gefühl für für die Tragödie in Zahlen, aber sie sind angenehm abstrahiert und für uns in Diagramme gesteckt. Keine Alternativen oder positiven Interpretationen werden dargelegt oder gezeigt. Diese Stories großer Zahlen planieren die Vielfalt und Innovationskraft von Millionen von Menschen, hin zu einer bequemen, kurzen und prägnanten Zitaten passiver Statistiken. Somit tragen die Medien dazu bei, unsere kleinen Geschichten in große Zahlen zu transformieren, die Art und Weise auszulöschen, in der Menschen versuchen, das Skript nach dem sie leben neu zu erfinden.

Im Dezember 2008 und Januar 2009 tauchte ein faszinierendes ‚literarisches‘ Phänomen in Japan auf. Ein Buch mit dem Titel Kani Kousen von Kobayashi Takiji wurde für einige Wochen zum Bestseller. Die Übersetzung des Titels könnte als „Frühes Proletariat“ verstanden werden, es beschreibt die Schwierigkeiten des Alltags für die Arbeiterklasse in den 1920er Jahren. Aber dies war keine zurückblickende, historische Studie; das Buch wurde 1929 geschrieben. Zudem war das Wort ‚Proletariat‘ seit dem Ende der 1960er aus dem kollektiven japanischen Gedächtnis verbannt. Wie kann es sein dass jetzt, am Anfang des 21ten Jahrhunderts, dieses Buch die zentrale Literaturquelle für Menschen wird die versuchen, ihre momentane Situation und ihren eigenen Platz darin zu beschreiben? Dieser Versuch sich selbst neu zu definieren wurde nicht nur durch die Auswahl des Lesestoffs erreicht. In Japan gab es in letzter Zeit viele Beispiele für Menschen, die kleine Geschichten über soziales Bewusstsein und soziales Handeln kreieren. In den letzten paar Monaten ist die Anzahl an kleinen Geschichten in Japan und der große gesellschaftliche Bereich den sie abdecken mit beeindruckender Geschwindigkeit gestiegen. Nachstehend befinden sich einige Beispiele von kleinen Geschichten von Menschen die es ablehnen, nur eine Zahl in den negativen Kolumnen der Bilanzaufstellung zu sein.