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HKU Architecture Department: Public Lecture by Nezar AlSayyad

Lecture Synopsis:

Tahrir Square became a household name around the globe during the events of the Arab “spring” in 2011. The events of that year signaled the return of public space to arena of politics. This lecture will look at the spaces of the Arab uprisings and focus on the relationship between their virtual and physical spaces. It is particularly concerned with the spatial and temporal dimensions of these urban revolts with a particular attention to the interwoven relationship between the social media that organizes the political gatherings and communicated political messages; the practices of protest in urban spaces; and the global and national media coverage of these events. Using case studies from several Middle East Countries, with a focus on Egypt, I will show how the symbolism and the architecture of a particular square has allowed for a success of a social movement. I conclude by suggesting that the reciprocal interactions between urban space, social media, and traditional media coverage, does not simply reproduce the relations between these actors, but it also transforms them incrementally.

Date: October 31, 2014 (Friday)

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Venue: KB419, Knowles Building HKU

Speaker: Nezar AlSayyad

About the Speaker:

Nezar AlSayyad is a Professor of Architecture, City Planning, Urban Design, and Urban History.  Educated as an architect, planner, urban designer and historian, AlSayyad is principally an urbanist whose specialty is the study of cities, their urban spaces, their social practices and their economic realities. As a scholar, AlSayyad has authored and edited several books on colonialism, identity, Islamic architecture, tourism, tradition, urbanism, urban design, urban history, urban informality, and virtuality. Among his numerous grants are those received from the U.S. Department of Education, NEA—Design Arts Program, Getty Grant Program, the Graham Foundation, the SSRC, and a Guggenheim fellowship. His awards include the Pioneer American Society Book Award, the American Institute of Architects Education Honors, and the Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest honor the University of California bestows on its faculty.

In 1988, AlSayyad founded the area of Environmental Design and Urbanism in Developing Countries (EDUDC) at Berkeley, an interdisciplinary area of research and practice that connects history, theory, social processes, and design, and in the same year he also co-founded the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE), a scholarly association concerned with the study of indigenous vernacular and popular built environments around the world. Also AlSayyad also maintains a small architecture and urban design practice XXA- The Office of Xross-Xultural Architecture  which provides design and consulting work to various clients in the US and several Developing Countries.

AlSayyad holds a B.S. in Architectural Engineering and a Diploma in Town Planning from Cairo University, an M.S. in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Architectural History from UC Berkeley.  He is the author, co-author, editor, and co-editor of books in many fields, some of which have been translated to Arabic, Turkish, and Spanish.  Among these are Dwellings, Settlements and Tradition (1989), Cities and Caliphs (1991), Forms and Dominance (1992), Consuming Tradition, Manufacturing Heritage (2001), Hybrid Urbanism (2001), Muslim Europe or Euro-Islam (2002), Urban Informality (2003), The End of Tradition (2004), Making Cairo Medieval (2005), Cinematic Urbanism (2006), The Fundamentalist City? (2010), and Cairo: Histories of a City (2011).  Additionally, he has written, co-produced, and co-directed two NEA-funded public television documentaries, Virtual Cairo, and At Home with Mother Earth.  His latest book, Traditions: The Real, the Hyper and the Virtual, the subject of his seminar here at HKU was published a few months ago.