Esra Akcan

Esra Akcan's scholarly work on a geopolitically conscious global history of architecture inspires her teaching. Her research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia. Her book, Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (Duke, 2012), offers a new way to understand the global movement of architecture that extends the notion of translation beyond language to visual fields. It advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below and in multiple directions for truly cosmopolitan ethics and global justice. Her book, Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion/University of Chicago Press, 2012, coauthor Sibel Bozdoğan), is part of a series that aims at an inclusive survey of modern world architecture and is the first volume in any language to cover the entire 20th century in Turkey.

Akcan is currently working on her next book on the urban renewal of Berlin's immigrant neighborhood, through which she explores a theory of open architecture. She has received numerous awards and fellowships and has authored more than 100 articles in scholarly books and professional journals in multiple languages. She has also participated in exhibitions as an artist by carrying her practice beyond writing to visual media. She was educated as an architect in Turkey and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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Classes (Selected)

  • ARCH 1802/5802 History of Architecture IIThe history of the built environment as social and cultural expression from more recent times to the present. Architecture and urban design themes, theories, and ideas are addressed in greater detail leading to the present time.
  • ARCH 6800 State of the DisciplineThis seminar will provide a survey of architectural historiography paying particular attention to the paradigm shifts of recent decades. Through the critical readings of important texts we will discuss the current state of the field while simultaneously reconsidering our position in it. The course will address how we apply theory to practice, develop research strategies that maximize methodological alliances, imbue the study of the past with contemporary relevance, and contribute as much to other disciplines as we borrow from them.

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Researcher of the Year in the Humanities Award, UIC (2013)
  • Fellow for the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) (2012)
  • Fellow at the Clark Art Institute (2011)
  • Visiting scholar at the Canadian Center for Architecture (fall 2009)
  • Postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Getty Research Institute (2008–09)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • "Urban Renewal and its Discontents: Kreuzberg-IBA '84/87," İstanbul Design Biennale, İstanbul Museum of Modern Art, İstanbul (2012)
  • "(Land)Fill İstanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City," First Architectural Festival of İstanbul, Darphane, İstanbul (2004)
  • "(Land)Fill İstanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City," Urban Flashes-Istanbul exhibition, Garanti Galeri, İstanbul (2004)

Publications (Selected)