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Type: Theses
Title: The rationale of architectural discourses in post-independence Egypt: a contrapuntal reading of ‘Alam Al-Bena’a (1980-2000)
Author: El-Ashmouni, Marwa Moustafa Saad
Issue Date: 2013
School/Discipline: School of Architecture and Built Environment
Abstract: This research analyses the rationale of the local architectural discourse in Egypt and how it reframes both local and global paradigms facing the profession within the local context. An unprecedented increase in the production of such discourse coincides with the process of establishing an Egyptian identity amidst an increasingly independent modern society. The study focuses on ‘Alam al-Bena’a [World of Construction] (1980-2000), a specialized monthly journal, whose timely establishment coincided with the culmination of the infitah policy [openness to the foreign], a period which precipitated an upheaval of religious and national identities. Given this context, this study privileges the magnum opus of the eminent critic Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (1993), and his method of ‘contrapuntal reading.’ According to Said, in the discourse, colonial experiences precipitated a “structure of attitude and reference” which seeks interactively to produce two discursive forces of ‘influence’ and ‘resistance.’ Inspired by Greig Crysler in Writing Spaces (2003), I argue that these discursive forces generated “space(s) of knowledge,” which must be understood through the contrapuntal reading against the backdrop of Egypt’s complex history and key international ideas and practices. To analyse ‘Alam al-Bena’a, the contrapuntal reading as a way to read the text within its historical and contemporary contexts will be undertaken in a tripartite process which considers: Egypt’s modern history, the evolution of local discourse since its inception in 1939, and the analysis of the international proceedings of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and MIMAR. Firstly, the analysis of Egyptian modern history since the French expedition (1798-1801) will trace the origins of the two forces of ‘influence’ and ‘resistance’ until the close of the twentieth century. Secondly, the evolution of the two forces of ‘influence’ and ‘resistance’ is traced through the analysis of the local architectural discourse since al-‘Imarah [The Architecture] (1939-1959), and journals published in the 1960s, specifically, the Journal of Egyptian Society of Engineers and the few available issues of the Architectural Bulletin. Thirdly, the interplay between ‘influence’ and ‘resistance’ is analysed in the international discourse of the AKAA (1978-) and MIMAR (1981-1992), with a particular focus on their representation of the Egyptian context. This analysis reveals a potent shift in attitude, while al-‘Imarah championed international architecture, through the 1960s this emphasis was consistently eroded until the publication of ‘Alam al- Bena’a called for a ‘return’ to ‘Islamic’ architecture. Therefore, a “consolidated vision”1 of modern Egyptian architecture unfolds to reveal the consensus between national and international canons. Hence, the tri-fold contrapuntal analysis provides an objective reading of twentieth century Egyptian architecture as it explores the relationship between intellectual individuality and global values. Furthermore, it reveals discursive historical encounters which are characterised by an unconscious adoption of the principles of the colonial past and, simultaneously, conscious resistance to dominant forces originating beyond Egypt and represented in internal regimes. In this way, this research examines the multiple overt and covert influences which led to a shift in the Egyptian architectural discourses. The research thus highlights questions of imperialism and national identity and the concomitant, polarising discourses—tradition/modernity, East/West, global/local. This thesis interrogates the rationale of the local discourse and ‘Alam al-Bena’a in this context to highlight imperialism, as a global process, that has become a conduit for intellectual production in the professional sphere.
Advisor: Bartsch, Katharine Ann Ruth
Scriver, Peter Carleton
Salama, Ashraf
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Architecture and Built Environment, 2013.
Keywords: Egypt
twentieth century
attitude of reference
Alam al-Benaa
Medina magazine
al-'Imara magazine
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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