Mohamed Elshahed

  • Fellowship Dates 2011-2011
  • Research Topic Nationalizing the Modern: City and Nation Building, Architectural Modernity, and the Politics of Transition in Egypt 1939-1965
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate New York University

After the 1952 coup d’état, the new regime led by Gamal Abdel Nasser undertook a massive building program in Cairo reshaping the city, its culture, and society. This research engages with postcolonial theory to study Cairo’s architectural culture as Egypt transitioned from monarchy to republic. Its aim is multifold: to position architecture and urban design as a critical tool in colonialism as well as in the formation of national culture and politics; to highlight the interrelationship between postcolonial architecture, culture, and politics with its colonial past; and to highlight the manipulation of modernist architecture not as a universalizing colonialist tool but as a nationalist one connected to internal politics as well as global culture. This project studies architectural culture in Cairo before and after the revolution to reveal the conflation of nationalism, architectural modernity, and urbanism and situate Cairo’s architectural developments during the transitional period of the 1940s-1960s in relation to contemporary local and global debates on revolution, national identity, and modern architecture. The research challenges the general discourse on nationalism and architecture that focuses on “grand symbolic” structures such as parliament buildings or national mosques. It proposes an alternative view that highlights the State’s building program in the first decade after the 1952 revolution, which was comprised mostly of schools, public facilities, and housing – or buildings that are less than “grand”. The research sheds light on the role of space in negotiating national identity in colonial and postcolonial Cairo and relies on primary materials and press debates from the period, including those that took place from the 1930s through the early 1960s on the pages of Al ‘Imara Architectural Journal.

TopicsArchitecture, HistoryThemeCities & TownsHistoric PeriodModernLocationCairo, Cairo Region


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