The Cambridge Companion to Modern Arab Culture, edited by Dwight Reynolds, has recently been published by Cambridge University Press, with an essay on contemporary Arab architecture by Nasser Rabbat and essays on poetry, narrative, theater, cinema, television, art, humor, folklore, and food.


Al-Naqd Iltizaman:
Nazarat fi-l Tarikh wal ‘Ururba wal Thawra
(Criticism as Commitment:
Viewpoints on History, Arabism, and Revolution)

Nasser Rabbat
Beirut: Riad Alrayyes Publisher, 2015

This book is a collection of essays on criticism, Arabism, history and the Arab Spring. The essays all share one underlying concern that has occupied me since I began writing: how to adopt modernity, as a liberating and progressive epistemological and intellectual discourse, while acknowledging and critiquing colonialism as a product of modernity and also as the carrier of modernity to the colonized world. Although the essays in this book do not confront this problematique directly, they are all motivated by it and they all advocate criticism as the perfect tool to address this dichotomous situation.


Staging the City:
The Urban Character of Mamluk Architecture

Nasser Rabbat
Ulrich Haarmann Memorial Lecture
Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg, Bonn

This essay explores the monumental intent of Cairo's Mamluk architecture by focusing on al-Darb al-Ahmar, a major thoroughfare along the route of royal processions that linked the citadel to the heart of the city. With a rather restrained number of architectural components, Mamluk patrons competed with each other in endowing monuments along the street that emphasized verticality, visibility, and domination of their urban surroundings. Al-Darb al-Ahmar w¿N consequently transformed into a venue of exhibition where the Mamluks displayed their elaborate spatial, visual, and ceremonial grandeur and ultimately signs of their power. These Mamluk buildings attest to the outstanding monumental properties of Mamluk architecture and frame a street that, despite its deteriorating state, still exudes a bygone royal majesty.


Delta Waters:
Research to Support Integrated Water
and Environmental Management in the Lower Mississippi River
James Wescoat, Study Committe Chair
(National Academy Press, 2013)

The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research institute dedicated to advancing the understanding of coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems, both within the Gulf Coast and around the world. Their mission supports the practical application of innovative science and engineering, providing solutions that benefit society. Those who make policy for coastal and deltaic systems, as well as managers of natural resources, need high-quality science and engineering to guide their decisions. The Water Institute of the Gulf began operations in 2012 to address exactly this sort of challenge.
Delta Waters offers advice to The Water Institute of the Gulf that it might use as part of its strategic planning process. This report focuses on strategic research to support integrated water resources management in the lower Mississippi River delta and includes international comparative assessments. The recommendations of Delta Waters promote a human and environmental systems approach to scientific research that supports integrated water and environmental resources management in the lower Mississippi River and delta, and offers ideas regarding comparative assessments with other, relevant deltaic regions around the world. This report provides input for research into common deltaic problems and challenges, identifies strategic research for The Water Institute of the Gulf, and suggests ways that the organization can utilize knowledge gained from the lower Mississippi River and delta system in developing a research program to support water management decisions in other large river/delta complexes.


The Courtyard House
From Cultural Reference to Universal Relevance

Edited by Nasser O. Rabbat (London: Ashgate, September 2010)
This book presents a series of viewpoints on courtyard houses from different periods and in different regions around the world; from the Harem courtyards of the Topkapi Palace and the low-cost housing settlements of Protectorate Casablanca, to contemporary design strategies for courtyard houses in the arid Gulf region. Together, the essays illuminate issues of particular relevance in architectural, art historical, and conservation discourses today.
Contents: Preface: the courtyard house between cultural reference and universal relevance, Nasser O. Rabbat; Part I Historical and Sociological Paradigms: A house divided: the harem courtyards of the Topkapi palace, Jateen Lad; Edward W. Lane's representation of the Cairene house, Asiya Chowdhury; Tradition and transformation of the Kabul courtyard house, Marcus Schadl; Migration, urban form, and the courtyard house: socio-cultural reflections on the Pathan Mohallas in Bhopal, India, Manu P. Sobti. Part II Cultural Variations and Contemporary Adaptations: Beyond the nostalgic conservation of the past: the urban courtyard house in Korea (1920–1970), Alfred B. Hwangbo; Interiorized exterior: the courtyard in Casablanca's public and company housing (1910–1960), Monique Eleb; Talking about the courtyard: post-colonial observations on the courtyard in Sri Lanka, Anoma Pieris; Adaptation strategies for Hispanic courtyard buildings, John Reynolds; The Central Asian courtyard house and its contemporary applications, Rafi Samizay; More than a pattern: the contributions of the courtyard house in the developing world, Reinhard Goethert. Part III Architects and their Courtyard Projects: 1,000 courtyards: observations on the courtyard as a recurring design element, Hashim Sarkis; The courtyard house in Kuwait today: design approaches and case studies, Waed Al-Masri; Learning from traces of past living: courtyard housing as precedent and project, Kevin Mitchell; Index.


Mamluk History Through Architecture: Building, Culture, and Politics in Mamluk Egypt and Syria
Nasser O. Rabbat (London: I. B. Tauris, 2010)


Al-Mudun al-Mayyita fi Suriya, Durus min Madhih wa-Ru'an li Mustaqbaliha (The Dead Cities in Syria: Lessons from its History
and Views on its Future)

Nasser O. Rabbat in Arabic (al-Aws Publishers, Damascus, 2010)
This is a deliberately polemical book that examines the history and present conditions of the so-called Dead Cities in Northern Syria, a unique group of 800+ stone-built villages dating from the second to the ninth century. The book advances two main arguments. One is historical and cultural, assessing the role of this architectural marvel in the conception of Syria’s heritage and its relationship to classicism. The other is political and practical, focusing on the proposed exploitation of the area for cultural tourism and recommending instead a multi-layered approach that respects the existing population and the integration of the ecology, culture, and history in any development plan.

AKDN Media & Publications Catalogue


Studies in Architecture, History & Culture:
Articles by the 2003-2004 AKPIA@MIT Visiting Post-Doctoral Fellows

This AKPIA@MIT project aims to highlight the work of the program’s visiting fellows and make it available to our wider community on the web. The papers reflect the research done during our fellows’ stays at MIT and anticipate their larger and fuller publications later on.
See AKPIA@MIT Forum On-Line Publications for more articles by Post-Doctoral Fellows among others.

Two Squares

The Aga Khan Program at Harvard GSD. Through a series of essays by urban historians and designers the book examines the changing role of public space in the cities of Beirut and Istanbul as they undergo major urban redevelopment.

The Aga Khan Program at Harvard publishes scholarly works on the history of Islamic art and architecture. Its major publication, Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, is a volume of essays on art and architectural history. Annual volumes of Muqarnas are periodically complemented by special research supplements.
For all relevant information please visit The Aga Khan Program at Harvard and look under publications.