Jadaliyya interviews Ahmed Kanna (Dubai, the City as Corporation)


Jadaliyya: What made you write this book?

Ahmed Kanna: This is my first book. It emerged from my dissertation research. When I first started studying anthropology in graduate school, I thought I would do fieldwork in Lebanon and on Levantine cultures (having spent a couple of summers traveling and living in Damascus and especially Beirut). At around the same time (early 2000s), I started getting interested in the literature on the sociocultural dimensions of architecture. I had the good fortune of having mentors in grad school who encouraged me to always test the boundaries of anthropology, to think in interdisciplinary ways, and also the good fortune of getting involved with the architecture school of my university, where people were doing exciting work on, among other places, Dubai. I was also somewhat obsessed with Frankfurt School theory and similar writers, such as Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer (amusing, I am sure, to people who had endure my musings on “dialectics” at the time). The latter two writers, Benjamin and Kracauer, especially, inspired me to think about the urban, space, and architecture as anthropological issues.

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