Papers & Publications
All papers available upon request

May 2015 

A Nexus of Power: Situating the grid within regional geopolitical developments of the GCC

This paper examines developments of transnational network building within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), specifically looking into the capacity of infrastructure connectivity as a spatial tool for sustenance and power building within a nation. This study aims to distill the economic, political, and social concerns that come forth with the GCC Interconnection Grid project as it spans 6 countries, looking at how its being deployed at each scale. This study highlights the Interconnection Grid network as an indispensable unit functioning within collaborative efforts in creating stronger economic, political, and social networks within the GCC region. On the one hand, this analysis concludes that the strength of this project lies within the collaborative efforts put forth to strengthen and secure the Gulf as a regional geopolitical force. On the other hand, certain negotiations lead to energy winners and loser. However, when implemented, I contend that the grid proves to be manageable as a tool for political security, rather than economic assurance that it claims to build upon. Yet, it proves to employ design as an agency for political and economic control.

 

Keywords: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Infrastructures, Interconnectivity, Nation building, Electric consumption, Regional power, sustaining growth

[pdf] [bibtex]

January 2016

Saba George Shiber: (Re)presenting the ‘Arab’ City

In this paper, I examine Saba Shiber’s work to argue that he is a product of cross-cultural encounters whose professional career centered around criticizing the booming Arab cities, legitimizing the Arab heritage, and defining an Arab architectural language anchored within an intellectual framework of urban literature. By using both, Edward Said’s theories on the exiled intellectual, and Franz Fanon’s theories on the native intellectual, I attempt to complicate Shiber’s construction of a differentiated ‘Arab’ identity. Illustrating how Shiber depended on borrowing and adopting Western theories, I argue that his writing approach, thus, ambiguously oscillates between Arab Nationalist narratives, nostalgic regionalism, and functional modernist ideals. I am also indebted to Ahmet Ersoy’s argument in expanding Orientalism beyond its binary, to help situate Saba Shiber’s position as a cross-cultural figure within the larger urban design and city planning discourse. Saba Shiber’s project of resistance, reflects a clear-cut agenda in re-representing the value of the Arab city in ways that can compete with other world cities. His attempt at documenting an alternative history for the Arab city could fall into the problematic of further exotifying the established “Islamic” and “Arab” elements. Yet, his texts reframe these histories using modern discourses of beauty, function, science, and reason. To illustrate Shiber’s work on canonizing the definition of Arab Cities, I use one of his two major texts, Recent Arab City Growth, to further investigate his polemic discourse against the hegemonic modernization processes at that time.

Keywords: Islamic Architecture, Saba Shiber, Edward Said, Orientalism, Self-representation, Architectural representation

[pdf] [bibtex] 

December 2015

From Al-Safat to Al-Erada: A Spatial Account of Politics

This paper looks at how space in Kuwait is a receptacle of history, both created and manipulated by the spatial appropriation of political movements as well as the ruling authorities. Both the political protests of the 1938 Majlis Movement and the political protests of 2012 highlight a progression of youth-led opposition movements seeking more active and participatory developments by spatially claiming their political rights. Beginning with a historical background of Kuwait City, this paper probes into the power relationships embedded within the transformation of spatial forms. To better understand the intersection of power and space, this study will trace the deployment of public space for political dissent, starting from the events of 1938 to the most recent events of 2012. This study will focus on Al-Safat Square, the National Assembly building, and Al-Erada Square as contested sites for political struggles.

In turn, I demonstrate the ways in which public spaces have been rede ned by virtue of the multiple spatial tactics employed by both political authorities and socio-political movements. By looking at historical urban interventions, this study draws on the apparatus of architecture and urban planning as tools of construction and reconstruction. Finally, this analysis demonstrates that the government’s spatial tactics respond and learn from the varied forms of political dissent, thus transforming the city accordingly. The diverse actors in the political dispute over governance make distinct claims in multiple spaces throughout the urban landscape of Kuwait City and transform spaces into public stages of political aspirations through collective actions.

Keywords: Kuwait, Public Space, Civic Space, Spatial Politics, Socio-political movements, Urban planning, Spatial tactics

[pdf] [bibtex] 

May 2016 

Spatial Practice: The Politics of “Activating” Public Space in the State of Kuwait

This thesis examines the socio-spatial dialectics that unfold throughout the development of public spaces in Kuwait. In my thesis, public space is understood as a space of urban dialogue between the state, the city, and the people.  This dialogue can be understood by examining the spatial dynamics between three complex agents: the State, Kuwaiti citizens, and public space.

This thesis examines the historical development of two site-specific typologies in Kuwait: first, the political actions taken in squares and streets; and second, the design interventions in large and small park networks within the city of Kuwait. In this thesis, I investigate the political dissent movement from Al-Safat square since 1938 and Al-Erada square since 2006, and the ways in which the government responds to each. Additionally, I examine the emergence of the park networks in Kuwait since the 1960s and more recent design movements found within the Secret Garden and the MantaqaMe movement in 2013 until today, in comparison to the larger-scale Al-Shaheed Park.

This thesis argues that each space was appropriated by socio-political citizen movements as a symbolic space for political dispute over democracy or power. With each new socio-political movement, the government responds with ‘new’ legislation and spatial maneuvers aimed at disrupting these claims. Finally, I propose a more nuanced reading of public space in Kuwait, highlighting a more complex spatial relationship between the Kuwaiti citizens and the State. This thesis posits that public space is not only a container for politics but the space to reinstate spatial and political agency for a broad desire for change. Studying the two contested typologies, I seek to dismantle the neutral view of public space as simply scenic or functional in favor of a far more political history that is also a spatial history.

Keywords: Kuwait, Public Space, Civic Space, Spatial Politics, Socio-political movements, Urban planning, Spatial tactics, Politics of Space, Garden Movements

[pdf] [bibtex]