Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor of the History of Islamic Architecture and the director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His interests are Islamic architecture, urbanism, and postcolonial studies. In his research and teaching, he presents architecture in ways that illuminate its interaction with culture and society and stress the role of human agency in shaping that interplay.
During his fellowship, Rabbat will write a book on the story of Islamic architecture from its genesis to the present. The book will present Islamic architecture as a living tradition that has been unfolding for the past 15 centuries—with various twists, surges, and falls—and is still doing so. The main argument is that Islamic architecture, guided by a purposeful intellectual and aesthetic dialogue, evolved in a truly intercultural fashion.
An architect and a historian, Rabbat has published more than 60 scholarly articles and a number of books, including Mamluk History Through Architecture: Monuments, Culture and Politics in Medieval Egypt and Syria (I. B. Tauris, 2009) and The Courtyard House: From Cultural Reference to Universal Relevance (Ashgate, 2010). Among his honors are several American Research Center in Egypt fellowships, the chair of the Institut du Monde Arabe, and a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship. He contributes regularly to Arabic newspapers, consults with international design firms on projects, and maintains several Web sites focused on Islamic architecture and urbanism. Rabbat earned a PhD in architecture, art, and environmental studies from MIT.