Amin Alsaden is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History of Architecture at Harvard University.
Crisis & Agency: Baghdad’s Transitional Modernism (1950-1965)
"My dissertation examines the manifold ways in which Baghdad, in the years following World War II, became the locus of cultural encounters, contributing to a profound transformation of architecture globally all the while engendering a unique local movement. Overturning historical assumptions about Modernism’s arrival in the Middle East with Iraq’s renowned oil-fueled development campaign, the project highlights how, between 1950 and 1965, Iraqi artists and architects articulated a collective discourse that challenged imported practices, and succeeded in creating a characteristic aesthetic that gradually reshaped Baghdad, and was later exported to the rest of the region. The origins of the shift that occurred in this context are traced to what is identified in the dissertation as “Transitional Modernism,” a movement that emerged against the backdrop of myriad contemporaneous crises, and motivated by a heightened awareness of history, with which Iraqis galvanized a claim to contemporary global prominence. This hitherto overlooked history of reciprocity, collision, and coalescence, unfolding inconspicuously between High Modernism and Postmodernism, is what this project aims to reconstruct."
-Amin Alsaden, 2016