Mellon Forum: TRAUMA with Esra Akcan and Valentina Rozas-Krause

Thursday, Sep 26, 2019

Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment: NARRATIVE

The history of trauma resides in each of us---as citizens, we are marked by the history of our countries at (perpetual) war, both present and past. Cities, like individuals, bear witness to the psychological, physical, and affective consequences of individual and collective trauma. This session explores the attempts to remember, forget, or mark the landscape with our histories of trauma, moral injury, and losses. What is public versus private space/grieving? What is the ethics of memory and forgetting, the tension between memorialization and progress? How do we think about the ethics of monumentality in an increasing global practice of memorialization, even as atrocity continues to haunt our everyday?

Esra Akcan is currently the 2019-20 Frieda Miller Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and the Director of European Studies at the Center for International Studies at Cornell University. Akcan’s research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia. She offers new ways to understand architecture’s global movement, as well as its complacent or constitutive role in global and social justice. She completed her architecture degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and her Ph.D. and postdoctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York. Before coming to Cornell, she taught at UI-Chicago, Humboldt University in Berlin, Columbia University, New School, and Pratt Institute in New York, and METU in Ankara.  Akcan received awards and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, Graham Foundation, American Academy in Berlin, UIC, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, Clark Institute, Getty Research Institute, Canadian Center for Architecture, CAA, Mellon Foundation, DAAD and KRESS/ARIT.  As a scholar, she has published five books in two languages, guest edited three journal issues, and written well over a hundred scholarly articles and critical essays in multiple languages on critical and postcolonial theory, modern and contemporary architecture in West Asia and its diasporas in Europe, architectural photography, immigration, translation, globalization and global history.

Akcan’s book Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House 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 (with 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’s new book Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg defines open architecture as the translation of a new ethics of hospitality into design process. It exemplifies different inclinations towards open architecture (or the lack thereof) during the urban renewal of Berlin’s immigrant neighborhood, by giving voice not only to the established and cutting edge architects who were invited to build public housing here, but also to noncitizen residents. She has participated in exhibitions as an artist by carrying her research beyond writing to visual media.

Valentina Rozas-Krause is a Ph.D. candidate in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. She is an architect with a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In 2008, she was awarded first place in a public competition to design “Memorial Patio 29,” which was inaugurated in 2010. Her project to transform Chile's National Stadium into a public park, designed with Teodoro Fernandez Architects, was awarded first place in the “Parque de la Ciudadanía” competition (2011), and its first phase was completed in 2014. Valentina has published two books. The first, Ni Tan Elefante, Ni Tan Blanco (Ril, 2014), is an urban, architectural, and political history of the National Stadium in Chile. The second is the co-edited volume Disputar la Ciudad (Bifurcaciones, 2018) which deals with spatial strategies of oppression, resistance, memory and reparation within varying urban contexts. These join peer-reviewed articles in History & Memory, Latin American Perspectives, Anos 90, ARQ, Revista 180Cuadernos de Antropología Social, and Bifurcaciones alongside a chapter in the edited volume Neocolonialism and Built Heritage (Routledge, 2020). Her research has been supported by numerous fellowships and grants, including a Townsend Center for the Humanities Dissertation Fellowship, a John L. Simpson Research Fellowship in International and Comparative Studies from UC Berkeley, and a DAAD Dissertation Research Grant. She is currently completing her dissertation Memorials and the Cult of Apology as a Mellon/ACLS Fellow.

The event is made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Princeton University Humanities Council, Center for Collaborative History, Department of Art + Archaeology, and the Program in American Studies .