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Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1751-2867
  • E-ISSN: 1751-2875



In 1988, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, the famous Palestinian Iraqi writer, published an article in an Iraqi magazine, in English, the title of which was ‘Baghdad in a perspective of time’. Jabra’s text praised Babylon, not Baghdad, as ‘the outward-oriented city of pluralities, capable of holding together in a viable and dynamic form a vast number of disparate elements, both human and cultural. Different races, religions, languages, all living together […]’. Perhaps it would have been difficult to express nostalgia for cosmopolitan Iraq’s multiple heritages under the leadership of Saddam Husayn, a period in which Baghdad was made selective use of as an embodiment of certain historical landmarks to the detriment of others. This article assesses some aspects of the architectural critical discourse in Iraq starting with the 1950s, a decade that witnessed the rising tide of Arab nationalism. It shows how architectural critique was used to manipulate (and/or be manipulated by) the dominant academic discourse by participating in an overall simplification of the question. This debate is pervaded by a wider one: the links between national History and nationalist historiography, i.e. the writing of History as a tool for ideology and political agendas, through the narrative of a refocused wataniyyah.


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