Esra Akcan

Akcan’s research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia, and offers new ways to understand architecture’s role in global, social and environmental justice. Her book Architecture in Translation advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below and in multiple directions for cosmopolitan ethics and global justice. Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (w.Bozdoğan) is part of a series that aims at an inclusive survey of modern world architecture. Open Architecture theorizes open architecture through the urban renewal of Berlin’s immigrant neighborhood by giving voice to both architects and immigrant residents. She is also the author Landfill Istanbul and Building in Exile: Bruno Taut in Turkey (w.Nicolai), and upcoming Intertwined Histories of Living and Learning. Currently, she is writing Right-to-Heal: Architecture in Post-Conflict and Post-Disaster Societies. Her articles explore critical and postcolonial theory, immigration, translation, racism, architectural photography, neoliberalism and global history. 

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Architectural history
  • Architectural theory
  • Global and intertwined histories of architecture
  • Migration and diaspora studies
  • Critical, postcolonial, and translation theory

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Classes (Selected)

  • ARCH 6800 State of the Discipline: Global Architecture HistoryThis 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.
  • 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 6819 Open ArchitectureThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of History of Architecture and Urbanism. The instructor(s) of the course are drawn from the permanent and visiting faculty who may either broadly or narrowly define the course's scope and content. For precise content, please see the .
  • ARCH 6805 Practicum: Building ExhibitionsThis course exercises history of architecture and urbanism's capacities for affecting contemporary events through critical associations with the past. The workshop culminates in an exhibition, publication, symposium, curricular initiative, or other public occasion. Enrollment of qualified graduate students from associated fields is encouraged.
  • ARCH 6308/ARTH 6308/SHUM 6308 Mellon Expanded Practices Graduate Seminar: Migration and DiscriminationThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of Theory of Architecture. The instructor(s) of the course are drawn from the permanent and visiting faculty who may either broadly or narrowly define the course's scope and content. For precise content please see the .
  • ARCH 6800: Architecture and JusticeThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of Theory of Architecture. The instructor(s) of the course are drawn from the permanent and visiting faculty who may either broadly or narrowly define the course's scope and content. For precise content please see the .

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University (2019–20)
  • Canadian Center for Architecture (two-time awardee: visiting scholar in 2009, and research fellow in 2019)
  • Graham Foundation (three-time awardee: special recognition for doctoral dissertation in 2003, publication grants for Architecture in Translation in 2010, and Open Architecture in 2017)
  • Berlin Prize, American Academy in Berlin (2016–17)
  • Getty Research Institute (2008–09)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • ArchitectuREfugee, competition entry for Turkish Pavilion, 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture, finalist
  • Urban Renewal and its Discontents: Kreuzberg-IBA '84/87, Istanbul Design Biennale, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul (2012)
  • (Land)Fill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City, First Architectural Festival of Istanbul, Darphane, Istanbul (2004)

Publications (Selected)

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