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Research

  • Dreaming of a Nation: Architecture and Cold War Modernization in Postcolonial Pakistan, 1947-1971
  • GRANTEE
    Farhan Sirajul Karim
    GRANT YEAR
    2013

Constantinos A. Doxiadis, Comilla Academy for Village Development.

In the two decades following the creation of Pakistan, a group of leading Western architects were hired by the Pakistani Government to construct quintessential democratic institutions for the new nation-state. Spearheaded and aided by US universities, architects, and the Technical Assistance Program, the group embarked on a grand project: forging a quixotic hybrid of postwar reformation spirit, modernization theory, and postcolonial Muslim nationalism. However, while the US cold-war interest in Pakistan and its military rulers was well showcased in the new institutional buildings, local architects were critical of this hybrid modernism. They favored expansion of architectural meaning to an array of new possibilities—an alternative to modernism, based on regional tradition. These ideological frictions were expressed in myriad ways through the complex rhetoric of architecture and spatial innovations of the era. This research, for the first time, gathers the many pieces of history into a single narrative and offers a global historical perspective of the modern architecture of undivided Pakistan. This research offers geopolitical perspective on modern architecture that documents the involvement of the United States and Pakistani institutions and individuals in a project that defies the orthodoxies of post colonial studies: the United States as a struggling agent of postcolonialism.

Farhan Sirajul Karim is an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, Design, and Planning (SADP) at the University of Kansas. He received a PhD in the history of architecture from the University of Sydney, Australia, for his dissertation Global Transference of Architectural Modernism: India between 1937 and 1959. Karim's current work focuses on three different areas: a historical inquiry of American Do-it-Yourself (DIY) culture (1948–1990), with an emphasis on the shifting notion of domesticity and what that shift meant for postwar American women;. a cultural history of reinforced concrete in India (1910–1955), which traces the threads connecting architectural modernism, the anti-colonial movement, and tectonic evolution in South Asia; and a critical account of the development of modern architecture in postcolonial Pakistan (1947–1971). This research explores a transnational perspective of postcolonial modernism as being a cold-war construct of ideological transferences between local and global agencies.