Dr. Caecilia Pieri on Rethinking Baghdad's Built Identity and Strategies (1915-2015)

Date: 
Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 18:00
Location: 
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

BISI Annual Bonham-Carter Lecture

With the Orientalist imagery casting Baghdad as a vanished mirage, a mythic past is masking the actual city, which is seen not for what it is, but for what it was and no longer is. This lecture will explore the transformation of Baghdad's urban and architectural landscape since the early 20th century, and show how it became the harbinger of a modern inventive regionalism during and after the British Mandate, despite the fact it was challenged by continuous political instability. For 6 decades Baghdad had a leading role in the fields of modern arts, culture, and architectural modernism, which eventually paved the way for a new Iraqi architectural school. Today, after decades of wars, sanctions and population displacements, the urban practice is torn between two extremes. The center, dating back to pre-modern and modern periods, is being subjected to neglect and fragmentation, while the peripheral neighborhoods are being chosen for large-scale projects conveying a global outlook.

Documenting the past and potential urban quality of Baghdad could hopefully contribute to raising awareness about it, especially within the framework for the future "reconstruction" which foresees a new city through the radical gesture of tabula rasa.

Dr. Caecilia Pieri is an Associate Researcher at the French Institute of the Near-East (IFPO), Beirut, where she was formerly Head of the Urban Observatory (2011-2015), after spending 25 years as a Senior Editor in the field of architecture and heritage. She received her PhD at EHESS, Paris, on the subject of the modernization of Baghdad, where she has been conducting fieldwork since 2003. As the Coordinator of a research program within IFPO/AUF, "Heritage at war in the Mediterranean region", in partnership with 6 universities, Dr. Pieri works on cities in conflict, and the use of heritage as a social marker and tool for politics. Dr. Pieri is a member of ICOMOS-International and DOCOMOMO-Lebanon and often collaborates with UNESCO (World Heritage) as an expert for the safeguard of modern heritage in the Arab World. Dr. Pieri has written extensively on Baghdad's architecture, among others; Baghdad Arts Deco (American University of Cairo, 2011), The Le Corbusier Gymnasium in Baghdad (Editions du Patrimoine, 2014) and her latest book Baghdad. La construction d'une capitale moderne, 1914-1960 (Presses de l'ifpo, 2015). 

Available Seats: 
41