Professor Adnan Morshed presented a talk, entitled at “A Global Approach to Teaching Architectural History,” at the Institute of Architects Bangladesh on Sept 21, 2017. A large group of academics, architects, design professionals, and students attended the event and participated in the question-and-answer session following Dr. Morshed’s lecture. The abstract of the talk is below:
How architecture students learn about history often explains the type of architects they become. The foundation of modern historiography was laid during the West's colonial domination of the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that the West's historiographic accounts of the East would be influenced by Eurocentric ideologies. Since, in Bangladesh, as in other developing countries, we are mostly dependent on textbooks written by western authors, it is necessary to understand the western intellectual politics of framing the rest of the world. In Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, German philosopher Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) - while stating that history marches forward with a universal consciousness of freedom - argued that the kind of social conditions that were necessary to pursue self-reflection didn't exist outside the West. Hegel's philosophy of history profoundly influenced how history was written during the 19th and 20th centuries. Consider British architectural historian Bannister Fletcher's A History of Architecture, which became a standard history textbook for architects around the world, including Bangladesh, throughout the 20th century and onward. Time has come to critically rethink how we teach history in architectural schools in Bangladesh. Transcending the false boundaries of “western” and “non-western” requires a global perspective, one in which architectural production is not nation-centric but rather is conditioned by a global network of ideas.