Cities: Understanding Socio-cultural Transformation workshop held in Istanbul

Cities: Understanding Socio-cultural Transformation workshop held in Istanbul

The workshop, Cities: Understanding Socio-cultural Transformation, was co-hosted by the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and İstanbul Bilgi University. The workshop was held at santralistanbul, İstanbul on the 15th and 16th October, 2008. 

santralistanbul is a conservation and regeneration project, led by İstanbul Bilgi University, involving the transformation of İstanbul's first urban scale electricity power plant, Silahtarağa (operational from 1914 to 1983), into an international hub for arts, culture, learning and education. 

Coordinated by Professor Modjtaba Sadria, the workshop aimed to provide a foundation for further research and to find different possible paths for ongoing explorations of social and cultural change in Muslim urban settings. 

In particular, the workshop focused on identifying epistemological and methodological challenges in the study of cities and socio-cultural change for the 21 st century. These issues were approached from the perspective of the built environment, the lived environment and their interaction.

The presentations addressed a number of key dimensions relating to cities and socio-cultural change, during which approaches emphasising macro-level and structural commonalities between cities as well as specificities in urban environments were highlighted. 

The two day workshop was divided into four sessions. Session one explored the notion of cities as a framework for change in value systems; session two looked at cities as built environments: transformations and implications; session three examined interactions between the built environment and the transformation of value systems; and, session four consisted of a synthesis and summary of the three previous sessions, while defining the agenda for the continuation of research in these fields. 

Using examples from Cairo, İstanbul , Bangladesh, Jerusalem, Tehran and Beirut, topics included: the problematic of urban master planning; the dynamics of poverty and urban migration; the everyday practices of religion and resistance; the historical and economic transformation of urban space; and the role of heritage conservation and public space in shaping the built and lived environments. 

The workshop was attended by a speakers and participants from around the world from a range of disciplines, including architecture, urban conservation, sociology, urbanism, urban design and political economy. 

Cities: Understanding Socio-cultural Transformation forms part of the Institute's research work about the processes of change in Muslim societies. Research about cities at the Institute includes a discussion forum, Discussing Cities, and the research group - Cities and Muslim Societies. 

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