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Personal Statement

个人陈述 Statement of Purpose

 
 
 

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personal statement 范文 - MIT  

2009-09-27 08:45:58|  分类: 建筑 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Personal Statement 
Nasser Rabbat 
October 4, 2006 
 
 
 
Page 1 
My scholarly focus has evolved in recent years from the cultural to the intercultural.  To my 
mind, culture, that potpourri of historical, religious, and imagined markers of identity, is no 
longer a satisfactory disciplinary framework.  My research has turned instead to the 
overlapping intercultural spaces where peoples have always met and exchanged ideas, views, 
beliefs, and practices, and, in the process, created architecture.  This is the common thread 
that runs through several of my latest articles, which deal with diverse topics ranging from 
the shaping of the taste of the Turkish medieval elite, to the conscious appropriation of 
classical principles in early Islamic architecture, to the changing political meaning underlying 
the architecture of Hassan Fathy, the father of modern vernacular architecture.   
In advocating a re-conceptualization of Islamic Architecture as a coherent yet fluid, 
multifaceted, and open-minded field of study, I formulate three questions: How can we study 
a culturally defined architectural tradition without reducing it to essential and timeless 
categories?  How can we critique the dominant architectural paradigm without totally 
discarding the idea of paradigm itself or turning away from its instructive examples?  How 
can we rethink the periodization of Islamic architectural history in a more representative way 
without cutting it off from a comparative historical framework?  These broad programs of 
research inform my next book project: writing a critical historiography of Islamic 
architecture, critical not only in pointing out the biases and shortcomings of past inquires, but 
also in highlighting the theoretical and ideological preconceptions underlying present 
inquires. 
My affiliation with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture taught me to 
approach Islamic architecture as a scholarly field in the process of redrawing its 
epistemological and methodological contours in order to become a more active and integral 
component of world architecture.  This view is guided by a personal sense of responsibility 
toward the discipline and by a belief that those who specialize in a field of study should not 
only question what they study or how but also why they are studying it.  To this end, my 
lecture courses and seminars present architecture in ways that illuminate its interaction with 
culture and society and stress the role of human agency in shaping and reshaping that 
interplay. 


I also see the Aga Khan Program as a unique vehicle to assess, adjust, and redefine 
our role as educators in a fast changing global setting and to foster academic links with the 
producers and interpreters of architecture in different parts of the Islamic world today.  What 
I have been trying to organize is a "community of interest" that brings together the members 
of our small group at MIT —students and faculty— with colleagues across the department of 
architecture and the Institute as well as in centers of study and research in the US and abroad.  
This objective has informed my policy in choosing the participants in the three extra-
academic programs I supervise: the speakers at AKPIA’s “An Evening With” lecture series, 
the recipients of our travel grants, and the postdoctoral researchers in our visiting scholars 
programs.  In this intellectual network, the role that I assigned to myself some years ago as 
interpreter of Islamic architecture and urbanism past and present has expanded in scope and 
methods but it certainly has not lost its strong humanistic grounding. 
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