The Power of Symbols. The Alhambra in a Global Context

International Conference, Zurich, September 15th-17th 2016

Prof. Dr. Francine Giese / Dr. Ariane Varela Braga (University of Zurich)

In view of the current international globalisation debate this two-day conference intends to foster a re-interpretation of the Alhambra. Topics like the positioning of the Nasrid architecture in a global Islamic context, the phenomenon of cultural exchange on the Iberian Peninsula, the controversial debate of Orientalism after Said’s Orientalism (1978) or the political instrumentalisation of architecture will be the centre of attention.

Does the Alhambra – with its decorative motives and building techniques taken from the Islamic East, North Africa and the Christian Castile – not invite us to adopt a global point of view? Did the Alhambra of the 19th and early 20th century, famous through its neo-Nasrid buildings and interiors, not stand at the beginning of a global building tradition, which spread out to the New World? At the same time, the reception of the Alhambra raises conceptual questions. Has the significance of the Nasrid palace-town for the national identity of Christian Spain been perceived outside the Iberian Peninsula? Why did other nations, such as Brazil for instance, choose to represent themselves with neo-Nasrid pavilions atthe International World Exhibitions?

The world-wide fame of the Alhambra, that mostly relies upon British and French travellers of the 18th and 19th century, has however also its negative sides. How can the Nasrid palaces be conserved for future generations? Can the increasing pressure of the tourism industry be faced, and how? Which are the actual challenges that Granada, the Patronato and the international research community have to face?

The following four sections are planned:

- The Alhambra in Islamic Times
- The Alhambra and national identity
- The Alhambra in the World
- The Alhambra in the 21st century – New Challenges

Keynote Speakers

Fernando Valdés Fernández, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Pedro A. Galera Andreu, Universidad de Jaén

© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg / Thomas Scheidt

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