Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture
History, Theory & Criticism Section


As a historian of architecture with a keen interest in cultural issues, I am simultaneously involved in three fields of study: architectural history, cultural history, and the critically paramount yet highly contentious relationship between architecture and culture. My design background and knowledge of Islamic history, cultures, and languages provide the framework for fundamental questions that define my scholarship.

My teaching has taken a similar course to that of my scholarship. I see my main pedagogical role at MIT as that of interpreter of Islamic architectural history and its cultural settings and methodological lessons to the various programs with which I am associated: HTC, the Aga Khan Program and the SMArchS program, as well as the undergraduate population at the Institute. To this end, I present the Islamic architectural tradition in ways to illuminate the interaction between architecture, the environment, and society. I focus on architectural or urban phenomena that crystallized at meaningful junctures, such as the rise of Islam, the Crusades, or colonial encounters, to elucidate their contextual complexities and uncover, understand, and expand their theoretical and critical potentialities.

My affiliation with the Aga Khan Program - the only academic program in this country devoted solely to the study of Islamic architecture - is both a continuous source of learning about the actual discourses on architecture, culture, and history in different parts of the Islamic world and a unique opportunity to foster academic linkages with the producers and interpreters of architecture in that world today. Aside from advising those students sponsored by the program, I organize a lecture series, and supervise both a travel grant and visiting scholars program. I see these activities as harbingers to further outreach programs, of which the ArchNet, the super website on Islamic architecture, is the most ambitious.