Mohamed Elshahed

  • Fellowship Dates 2017-2018 2010-2011
  • Research Topic Transitional Modernism: Architecture and the Nation in Egypt, 1936-67
  • Fellow or Grant Type National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Affiliation Post-doctoral candidate American University in Cairo
This study tells the story of how modernist architectural practices became prominent in Egypt, particularly during a period of heightened nationalist politics starting in the 1930s. It asks: how did Egypt’s architectural modernism converge with the country’s political transition from monarchy to military republic? One way to understand this convergence of modern architecture and politics is by investigating Egypt’s mediated discourses and images of postcolonial architectural and urban transformations. Recent scholarship on postcolonial space, architecture and nationalism, and post-war modernism reveals that the Egyptianization of the architectural profession was entangled with nationalist politics; after World War II, architects and their associations sacrificed professional autonomy in favor of gaining state commissions. The shortcomings of the post-1952 modernist state aborted the still nascent Egyptian modernist architectural and urban planning culture, which continues to suffer the consequences. This research locates and connects urban and architectural histories at the “margins” of English language scholarship and brings them into conversation with what are considered canonical narratives in the dominant Eurocentric curricula. Research on works and writings produced by Arab architects during the 20th century is urgently needed as many such works have already disappeared and archives have been lost or are endangered. This book project explores the relationship between Egyptian practices, images and discourses related to architectural modernism and their regional and international counterparts. While this is an important aspect of the work, this study focuses on historicizing modernist practices in Egypt, not as translations based on European encounters but as architectural and visual manifestations of immense cultural, political, social and economic transformations taking place in Egypt at the time.

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