Nasser Rabbat:
The Twain Already Met: Levantine Architecture and Classicism

Folio depicting the figure of Aristotle

Folio depicting Aristotle, from the earliest manuscript of the Kitāb naʿt al-hayawān, attributed to ibn Bukhtishu (British Library, or. 2784, f.96)

Garth Fowden once wrote, “There are roads out of Antiquity that do not lead to the Renaissance.” Focusing on Levantine architecture (the architecture of the Eastern Mediterranean), I argue that late antique and early Islamic architecture used classical architecture as a heritage to build upon, modify or deconstruct in a conscious attempt to chart a novel, or, perhaps more accurately, a Post-Classical architecture.  This allows me to revisit the dominant historiography that posits the West as the sole heir to the Classical Tradition and to propose a model of transcultural epistemic universality in which Islamic culture is an essential participant along with the nascent European Renaissance. 

Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor and the Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT.  His interests include Islamic architecture, urban history, contemporary Arab art, heritage studies, and post-colonial criticism.  He has published numerous articles and several books on topics ranging from Mamluk architecture to Antique Syria, 19th century Cairo, and urbicide.  His most recent book is ‘Imarat al-Mudun al-Mayyita (The Architecture of the Dead Cities) (2018).  His book on the 15th century Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi, Writing Egypt: Al-Maqrizi and His Historical Project will come out in late 2022 from Edinburgh University Press.  His co-edited book, Construction as Destruction: The Case of Aleppo will be published in early 2023 from AUC Press. Prof. Rabbat worked as an architect in Los Angeles and Damascus and held several academic and research appointments in Cambridge MA, Princeton, Los Angeles, Cairo, Granada, Rome, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Munich, and Bonn.  He regularly contributes to several Arabic newspapers and consults with international design firms on projects in the Islamic World. 

15 November 2022, 6:00pm

 This event will take place in person only. 

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze, Italia

To participate in person please email KHI-Presse@khi.fi.it to reserve a seat.



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