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“New Baghdad”: A Legacy of Spatial Tensions

With endless wars and internal strife in Iraq and the Middle East, it is hard to identify a more crucial area for research; the repercussions of events since 2003 have devastating consequences across the region and the globe. Considering the agency of spaces and the built environment would offer new insights into the struggle over power that has never subsided since the creation of Iraq a century ago.

About the research project

Dr Al-Naimi, an architect and researcher, applies architectural analysis to examine unexplored visual material, including maps, architectural drawings, photographs, and text from various dispersed archives. With a focus on untapped archival urban plans proposing a new Baghdad post-WWI, drawn by JM Wilson, the Scottish architect who was propelled to the position of Government Architect of Iraq by Gertrude Bell, the research elucidates on comparative colonial contexts, local resistance to colonial ambitions, and imperial anxieties. It also highlights how colonial spatial interventions underpin and reproduce current socio-political tensions.

Funder: Centre for Heritage, Newcastle University

Duration: 2022 - ongoing

PI: Dr Sana Al-Naimi - School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape