Programme: Architecture - PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research

Start date: January 2018

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Bengali Nationalism within the Modern Architectural Inception of Bangladesh, 1947-1971

Mohona Reza is an architect and architectural historian, pursuing her PhD in Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh, supervised by Dr Richard Anderson and Dr Alex Bremner. She is passionate about teaching and collaborating with the university as a tutor. Her research focusses on the public buildings in Bangladesh during the cold war context of East and West Pakistan between 1947 and 1971. From the colonial anxiety to the rebuilding of one nation with two halves of Pakistan, this project will unravel the connections between geopolitical tensions, socio-economical concerns and culture-religion perplexities through the study of the postcolonial buildings, which were built under the notion of Modernism and nationalism. Additionally, she is interest in the colonial networks of different periods and postcolonial modern architecture, specifically relating to the nationalism, world politics and nation building. Mohona received her bachelor’s in Architecture from BRAC University (2014) and a MSc in Architectural History and Theory from the University of Edinburgh (2017). She is keen to associate herself with different activities relating to architecture, publishing and design. In between her academic studies, she runs a personal blog, worked as a junior architect and enjoy being an architectural tour guide in the city of Edinburgh. She is also involved in various lectures, conference and seminars around UK and South Asia.

Mohona Reza has started working as a part-time tutor for Architectural History 1A and 1B in the University of Edinburgh. The tutor role is very connected with her research as both focuses on Architectural History. It helps her to continue the research simultaneously with her teaching. She is very keen to collaborate herself with academics, research and publishing.

The proposed research will argue that how the conception of ‘nation-building’ is intertwined with the modern architectural endeavours in East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh) during the cold war period between 1947 and 1971. It will unravel the consciousness of nationalism by analysing a series of public buildings which was built in the course of geo-political resistance after the India-Pakistan partition in the postcolonial epoch. The study will explore the key architectural transitions that helped creating a coherent and contextual relationship between postcolonial modernisation and nation-building.

The architectural movement not only depicts the spatial transformation during the resistance but also presents a narrative of awakening from the supremacy. In an attempt to gain control in the Eastern part, the ruling Government of Pakistan sought to appease the subaltern populace by developing the province. These development schemes brought architectural opportunities for both foreign and local architects to explore Modernism within a postcolonial network. Being aware of the paradoxical situation of the region, the architects took full credibility to explore the rooted ethnicity of Bengal and amalgamate Modernity in their design and regional planning. Thus, the research methodology will cover other sub-discipline in relation to establish a connection between ethnicity, nationalism and architecture. Additionally, the research elicits evidence from the National Archive, the Liberation War Museum, the Ministry of Housing and Public Works Department in Bangladesh, published literature and documents after the Independence (1971), interviews with architects and site visits to demonstrate the infrastructures within a wider field of resources.

The topic has been untouched by critical analysis and thought, thus it unlocks a wider possibility for new research in the history of Bangladeshi architecture. This thesis will also contribute to the literary sectors on modern architecture globally.

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