In Architecture in Translation, Esra Akcan offers a way to understand the global circulation of culture that extends the notion of translation beyond language to visual fields. She shows how members of the ruling Kemalist elite in Turkey further aligned themselves with Europe by choosing German-speaking architects to oversee much of the design of modern cities. Focusing on the period from the 1920s through the 1950s, Akcan traces the geographical circulation of modern residential models, including the garden city-which emphasized green spaces separating low-density neighborhoods of houses surrounded by gardens-and mass housing built first for the working-class residents in industrial cities and, later, more broadly for mixed-income residents. She shows how the concept of translation-the process of change that occurs with transportation of people, ideas, technology, information, and images from one or more countries to another-allows for consideration of the sociopolitical context and agency of all parties in cultural exchanges. Moving beyond the indistinct concepts of hybrid and transculturation and avoiding passive metaphors such as import, influence, or transfer, translation offers a new approach relevant to many disciplines. Akcan advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below for a truly cosmopolitan ethics in a globalizing world.
Esra Akcan is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is the author of (Land)Fill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City.
Acknowledgments ix Introduction. Modernity in Translation 1 Translation beyond Language 6 The Theoretical Possibility or Impossibility of Translation 9 Appropriating and Foreignizing Translations 15 The Historical Unevenness of Translation 17 The Ubiquity of Hybrids and the Scarcity of Cosmopolitan Ethics 21 1. Modernism From Above: A Conviction about Its Own Translatability 27 New City: Traveling Garden City 30 New House: Representative Affinities 52 New Housing: The Ideal Life 76 From Ankara to the Whole Nation: Translatability from Above and Below 93 2. Melancholy in Translation 101 The Melancholy of Istanbul 107 A Journey to the West 119 The Birth of the "Modern Turkish House" 133 3. Siedlung in Subaltern Exile 145 Siedlung and the Metropolis 148 Siedlung and the Generic Rational Dwelling 175 Siedlung and the Subaltern 195 4. Convictions about Untranslatability 215 Untranslatable Culture and Translatable Civilization 215 "The Original" 218 Against Translation? The National House and Siedlung 233 5. Toward a Cosmopolitan Architecture 247 Ex Oriente Lux 249 Melancholy of the East 252 Weltarchitektur-Translation of a Treatise 263 Toward Another Cosmopolitan Ethics in Architecture 277 Epilogue 283 Notes 291 Bibliography 337 Sources of Illustrations 375 Index 383