Arriscraft Lecture: Azra Akšamija

Thursday, March 2, 2017 6:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Presented in conversation with the student-led initiative Treaty Lands Global Stories.

Building on differences
2017 marks 150 years of colonialism since Canadian Confederation and the rise of authoritarian populism around the world. In this context, the winter lecture series brings together architects and artists, historians and designers, who are constructively struggling to create possible futures of equitable co-existence for people of different cultural beliefs and practices.

Mosque Manifesto: Propositions for Spaces of Coexistence

Our age of increasing global interdependence has witnessed the amplified migration flows and politization of identities, and within this trend, cultural differences have become political tools. Over the past decade, the increasing societal polarization in regard to visibility and presence of “Islam in the West” has become evident in biased media reports, frequent mosque conflicts and marginalization of minority groups. At the same time, contemporary trends in religious architecture bear witness to many positive developments, such as the dynamics of cultural and religious diversification of these regions. The recent “Muslim ban” in United States and the subsequent burning of the Islamic Center of Victoria in Texas have triggered an outburst of solidarity with Muslims connecting people across religious, cultural and geographic borders. 

Azra Akšamija is an artist and architectural historian, an Associate Professor in the MIT Art, Culture and Technology Program. In her multi-disciplinary work, Akšamija investigates the politics of identity and memory on the scale of the body (clothing and wearable technologies), on the civic scale (religious architecture and cultural institutions), and within the context of history and global cultural flows. Her projects explore the agency of art and architecture in cultural conflicts, and in so doing, provide a framework for analyzing and intervening in contested socio-political realities. Her book, Mosque Manifesto, published 2015 by Revolver, provides a critical response to politics of representation of Islam in the West through transcultural aesthetics and cultural mobility.