Empire, Architecture, and the City
French-Ottoman Encounters, 1830-1914
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- Published: 2008
- Subject Listing: Middle East Studies, Architecture
- Bibliographic information: 368 pp., 223 illus, 33 in color, bibliog., index, 7 x 10 in.
- Series: Studies in Modernity and National Identity
Winner of the 2010 Spiro Kostof Award (sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians)
Empire building and modernity dominate the history of the nineteenth century. The French and Ottoman empires capitalized on modern infrastructure and city building to control diverse social, cultural, and political landscapes. Zeynep Celik examines the cities of Algeria and Tunisia under French colonial rule and those of the Ottoman Arab provinces. By shifting the emphasis from the “centers” of Paris and Istanbul to the “peripheries,” she presents a more nuanced look at cross-cultural exchanges. The different political agendas of the French and Ottoman empires reveal the myriad meanings behind remarkably similar urban forms and buildings. This lavishly illustrated volume makes numerous archival plans, photographs, and postcards available for the first time, along with reproductions from periodicals and official yearbooks.
Roads, railroads, ports, and waterways served many imperial agendas, ranging from military to commercial and even ideological. Interventions changed the urban fabrics in unprecedented ways: straight arteries were cut through cities, European-style quarters were appended to historic cores, and new industrial and mining towns, military posts, and administrative centers were built according to the latest trends. These major feats of engineering were carefully planned to construct a modern image while addressing practical concerns of growth and communication.
Celik discusses public squares as privileged sites of imperial expression, as evidenced by the buildings that defined them and the iconographically charged monuments that adorned them. She examines the architecture of public buildings. Theaters, schools, and hospitals and the offices that housed the imperial administrative apparatus (city halls, government palaces, post offices, police stations, and military structures) were new secular monuments, designed according to European models but in a range of architectural expressions.
Public ceremonies, set against modern urban spaces, played key roles in conveying political messages. Celik maps out their orchestrated occupation of streets and squares. She concludes with questions on how the various attitudes of both empires engaged cultural differences, race, and civilizing missions.
Zeynep Celik is distinguished professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She is the author of several books including The Remaking of Istanbul: Portrait of an Ottoman City in the Nineteenth Century, Displaying the Orient, and Urban Forms and Colonial Confrontations: Algiers under French Rule.
"In her remarkably researched study, Zeynep Celik not only constructs an innovative parallel between a dwindling empire and a developing one, but she also sheds light on the mutual observation policies of Turkey and France. Empire, Architecture, and the City sets new standards in the study of colonial city planning and building design, challenging accepted views on European domination, thanks to a precise comparison of the agents and ideologies at work." - Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, New York University
“Empire, Architecture, and the City is very original for its in-depth comparison of the Ottoman and French empires in Arab regions, their political policies, and architectural and ceremonial symbols. The comparison turns out to be an effective way of explaining common themes and variations, mutual influences, and the differences between the empires." - Ira M. Lapidus, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
“This is an extremely significant project since it fundamentally questions and, through its judicious deployment of extensive data, demonstrates that the old binary of East versus West, Islam versus Christianity, can not historically be defended.” - Julia Clancy-Smith, Department of History, University of Arizona