Esra Akcan is Professor and the Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory, Department of Architecture, and Resident Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), at Cornell University, Ithaca. Akcan’s research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe, West Asia and East Africa, offering new ways to understand architecture’s role in global, social and environmental justice. She has previously taught at the University of Illinois Chicago; Humboldt University, Berlin; Columbia University, The New School and Pratt Institute, New York; and the Middle East Technical University, Ankara.

Among her books are Abolish Human Bans: Intertwined Histories of Architecture (Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2022), Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA-1984/87 (Birkhäuser/De Gruyter Academic Press, 2018), Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (Duke University Press, 2012) and Turkey: Modern Architectures in History, with Sibel Bozdoğan (Reaktion/Chicago University Press, 2012). Ongoing projects include Migration and Discrimination (with Iftikhar Dadi) and Right-to-Heal: Architecture in Transitions After Conflicts and Disasters.

She has also authored over 150 articles and essays in scholarly books and professional journals on critical and postcolonial theory, racism, immigration, architectural photography, translation, neoliberalism and global history. She has lectured globally and participated in a number of exhibitions, extending her practice beyond writing to visual media.

Akcan has received the Cornell Migration Grant (2022–2023), Einaudi Center for International Studies Grant (2022–2023) and Mui Ho Center for Cities Research Grant (2021–2022), all from Cornell University; Frieda Miller Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2019–2020); Graham Foundation Publication Grant (2010, 2017, 2020); Research Fellowship, Canadian Center for Architecture (2009, 2019); Berlin Prize, American Academy in Berlin (2016–2017); Researcher of the Year in the Humanities, University of Illinois at Chicago (2013); and Postdoctoral Fellowship, Getty Research Institute (2008–2009), among others.

She completed both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and earned an MPhil and PhD from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, New York.

SAF participation:
March Meeting 2023

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