Esra Akcan

Esra Akcan's scholarly work on a geopolitically conscious global history of urbanism and architecture inspires her teaching. She is the author of Landfill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City (124/3, 2004); Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (Duke University Press, 2012); Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (with S. Bozdoğan, Reaktion/University of Chicago Press, 2012); and Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA-1984/87 (Birkhäuser-De Gruyter, 2018). She has received numerous awards and has authored more than 100 articles on the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia, critical and postcolonial theory, architectural photography, migration and diasporas, translation, and contemporary architecture. These works offer new ways to understand the global movement of architecture and advocate a commitment to new ethics of hospitality and global justice. Akcan has also participated in exhibitions by carrying her practice beyond writing to visual media.

Akcan was educated as an architect in Turkey and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • 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 Architecture Department webpage .
  • 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 Architecture Department webpage

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Graham Foundation Publication Grants (for Architecture in Translation in 2010, and Open Architecture in 2017)
  • Berlin Prize, American Academy in Berlin (2016–17)
  • Researcher of the Year ("Rising Star") in the Humanities Award, UIC (2013)
  • Fellow, Rechtskulturen at the Forum Transregionale Studien (affiliated with Humboldt University and Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin–Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) (2012)
  • Fellow, Clark Art Institute (2011)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • ArchitectuREfugee, Competition entry for Turkish Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, 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)