Fall 03

(back to Lectures)

Lorraine Ali

MTV, The Middle East & Mainstream Media: Using Music and the Arts to Expose Another Side of Arab Culture


Lorraine Ali came to Newsweek in May 2000 as a general editor and music critic. She's covered everything from the Grammy Awards to the growing subculture of Christian rock and has interviewed everyone from rapper Eve to Johnny Cash. She has also written about the Arab-American community for the Newsweek's Society and Nation sections, and reported from Egypt on the Arab reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

Prior to joining Newsweek, Ali was a senior critic for Rolling Stone, a music columnist for the Los Angeles Times and Mademoiselle, as well as a regular contributor to GQ.  Ali has also written for The New York Times, The Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, Harper's Bazaar and US magazine. She was voted 1997's Music Journalist of the Year. In 1996, she was Best National Feature Story honors at the Music Journalism Awards. Her story on Palestinian rappers, "West Bank Hardcore," made it into the book DaCapo Best Music Writing, 2001.

Ali is an Iraqi American whose father immigrated from Baghdad to Los Angeles in the 1950s. Her mother is of French-Canadian descent and was born and raised in Los Angeles. Ali has always been fascinated with cross-cultural stories, and is busy writing a book about growing up between dueling cultures. 

Helene Lipstadt

Bourdieu's Battle in Algeria: War, Ethnosociology, Photograph


On the occasion of the death of his friend Pierre Bourdieu in January 2002, Jacques Derrida characterized Bourdieu? achievement as the refounding of sociology through the integration into it of philosophy. The reverberations of this recasting can be measured by the wide-spread use of his signature concepts of field, cultural capitals, and habitus. In architecture, his influence has been most continuously and extensively felt by students of Islamic architecture. However, their focus on Bourdieu? ethnological study of the Berber House (la maison Kabyle) arguably came at the cost of attention to his other Algerian work H???e Lipstadt employs Bourdieu? writings; interviews; and especially, his rediscovered photographs of Algeria to describe how his encounter with Algeria between 1958 and 1964 transformed the trained philosopher into the philosophical ethnosociologist and reshaped his m??ier or craft, in short, his own habitus. Bourdieu often likened his craft to that of an artist?. Lipstadt? retracing of that craft back to his Algerian years gives students of architecture new reasons to read Bourdieu? Algerian studies and gives those who have read them one more reason to mourn his loss.

Related recent publications by Lipstadt: "Pierre Bourdieu, Images d?lg?ie. Une affinit? ??ective. Institut du Monde Arabe, 24 January-2 March [2003]," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 63, March 2004, forthcoming. "Can 'art professions' be Bourdouean fields of cultural production? : The case of the architecture competition," Cultural Studies 17, 3/4, 2003, 390-419.* "Learning from St. Louis: The Gateway Arch, the canon, and the sociology of Bourdieu," Harvard Design Magazine 3, June 2001, 4-15.* "Theorizing the competition: The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu as a challenge to architectural history," Thresholds 2, 2000, 23-36.* *Available in the HTC office, 10-303

Thomas Milo

Tell Tale - The Alphabet, Outcome of Millennia of Mayhem


Tom Milo was educated at the Vossius Gymnasium, Amsterdam; followed by 4 years of Slavic Studies with Old Church Slavonic, Russian, Bulgarian & Macedonian at the University of Amsterdam, 6 years of Turkish Studies with Ottoman Turkish, Modern Turkish, Azeri & Yakut Turkic at the University of Leiden with additional Arabic Studies including Modern Standard Arabic as well as Egyptian, Lebanese and Moroccan Arabic at the University of Amsterdam.

Obtained HGV (heavy goods vehicle) driving license and worked in Saudi Arabia in a Dutch trucking company 1976-77. This turned out to be an excellent way to improve conversational and driving skills in both Arabic and Turkish, as the firm mainly employed Turkish drivers on the roads between the North Sea and the Gulf.

Served as a captain in the Royal Netherlands Army and did two tours of duty as an Arabic speaking officer in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Worked as a freelancer producing Moroccan dialect translations for the Amsterdam City Council Information Office. Taught courses of Turkish and Moroccan colloquial Arabic.

Incorporated DecoType (associate member of the Unicode Consortium) in 1985 together with two partners: Mirjam Somers, an architect and Peter Somers, an aircraft engineer. DecoType were the first in the industry to develop Arabic script solutions based on thorough research into the Islamic Calligraphic Tradition. DT contributes fonts and Arabic Calligraphy applications to Microsoft Office Arabic Edition and to Adobe

PageMaker Middle East, DT provides a special interface for Calligraphic typesetting; to the MacOS 9 it contributes Arabic fonts. Upgrades for Adobe InDesign and MacOSX are in the pipeline. DecoType works closely together with Tradigital (UK, Germany, Egypt) to whom DT provides research and development.

Has been involved with Unicode since 1988, when, as a consultant for Adobe Systems, he mapped all the regional and historical varieties of the Cyrillic alphabet. In the next year he joined the ISO10646 working group of the Netherlands Standardization Institute, contributing on Cyrillic and Arabic script issues. Has participated in and contributed to the International Unicode Conferences since 1991. Was three times given the honour to do the Keynote Address (IUC14Boston, MA 1999, IUC15 San Jose, CA, 1999) and, directly following the dramatic events in September 2001, at IUC19. Hosted the 16th IUC in Amsterdam.

Tom holds a Unicode Bulldog Award - looking for a good place to put it.

Gary Otte

Photographing the Void: The Camera and the Representation of Islamic Architecture


Our first impression of a building is most often formed, not from visiting the building, but vicariously, from seeing photographs of the building. On the basis of photographs, the theory and history of architecture are taught, architectural awards are conferred, and public debates are generated. Photography, with its inherent optical and temporal accuracy, has become the unconscious gauge for measuring reality. In spite of the predominant role photography plays in the representation of architecture, its strengths and limitations in this area have been largely ignored.

Islamic architecture, often presented as something exotic and regional, exists in a context that is very foreign to most westerners. Remoteness of sites, severe climates, poor infrastructures, political instability and travel restrictions have meant that a large portion of its existing monuments are difficult to visit in person. As a result, western visual knowledge of Islamic architecture is based almost exclusively on still photography. Le Corbusier said that Islamic architecture teaches us "a precious lesson - it is best appreciated walking, on foot. It is by walking, moving through that one sees the order of architecture developing." Islamic architecture does not lend itself easily to a single view, a monocular conical vision, or a finite frame.

This lecture will examine the ability of architectural photography to provide a two-dimensional translation which carries, at some level, the spatial and material experience of Islamic architecture. It uses new photographs of the Sultan Hasan Mosque Madrasa Complex in Cairo as illustrations of how photography can aid in the understanding of architectural form and space. It looks at the ability of photography to communicate, beyond the functional, structural, formal and tactile qualities, the emotional and even a measure of the phenomenal essence of Islamic space. It also looks at the often under-rated role an individual photographer can play in shaping our impressions of the buildings he or she tries to represent.


I am a freelance photographer working out of Vancouver, Canada, covering both architectural and documentary assignments. These assignments have been widespread from North America and Europe to Africa and Asia. I have a degree in Photography from The Polytechnic of Central London (since renamed The University of Westminster), and a Master of Architecture degree from Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada.

Since 1985 I have worked extensively for the Aga Khan Development Network photographing architectural, development, health, education, and cultural projects. I have photographed new buildings throughout the Muslim world as well as those built byMuslim communities in the West. I have also covered heritage restoration projects in Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zanzibar,Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Syria.

My photographs have appeared in architectural books and journals worldwide, in consumer magazines such as National Geographic, Far East Economic Review, and Paris Match, and in the reference CD-ROM The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. I have taught numerous photography workshops, seminars, and full-time college courses, and have been an invited lecturer at universities in Canada and the United States.