The city of Tehran is the subject of a conference that will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, organized and hosted by the Library's John W. Kluge Center, is free and open to the public. Space is limited, however, and reservations are requested by responding to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Kluge Center at (202) 707-0113 (visit the conference web site).
Two additional sessions related to the Tehran Conference, which will also be chaired by Mina Marefat of the Kluge Center, will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 28, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 29, as part of the fifth biennial meeting of the International Society of Iranian Studies (ISIS) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi will be the keynote speaker at the ISIS meeting on Friday evening.
The Tehran Conference will bring together an international panel of scholars, architects and planners to discuss the cultural, social and political evolution of the city. The list of those who plan to attend and participate in the conference includes, in addition to Marefat, who organized the conference: Richard Frye, Harvard University; Homa Katouzian, Oxford University; Mohammad Tavakoli Targhi, University of Toronto; Terry Williams, Catholic University; Farah Pourbabai, Washington; Bernard Hourcade, Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique, Paris; and from Tehran, architects Ali Reza Sherafati, Iradj Kalantari, Farrokh Zonouzi and Yahya Fiuzi.
The Tehran Conference is part of a larger initiative at the Library of Congress called the Islamic Cities Project, which is looking at architecture as a universal prism through which broader cultural phenomena can be understood. The mission of the project is to promote public education about architecture and raise awareness of Islamic and Persian architecture and culture.
A century ago Tehran was bounded by walls and gateways with a population of less than 300,000; today it is one of the largest cities in the world. Sprawling from the mountains in the north to the salt deserts in the south, Tehran's population now exceeds well over 10 million, a figure that represented the population of the entire country only a century ago. To the outside world, however, Tehran is almost as mysterious today as it was then.
The Tehran Conference will trace the city's transformation from an inward-looking Islamic village when the Qajar dynasty chose it as the capital just over 200 years ago, to a modern, formerly Western and now Islamic, metropolis. Participants at the conference will explore the relationship between public and private realms in the city and the problematic interaction between urban masses and governing bodies in a city that is a microcosm of the country itself.
Marefat, the Library of Congress' program director of the Islamic Cities Project and former Rockefeller Scholar, is the organizer and chair of the Tehran Conference. She is an architectural historian, urban designer and a registered architect. She holds a Ph.D. in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and masters degrees in architecture and urban design from Harvard University's graduate school of design and in urban design from Tehran University. She has taught at Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Wesleyan University and the Technical University of Vienna and has conducted extensive research on Islamic architecture and its encounters with the West.
Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about any of the fellowships, grants and programs offered by the Kluge Center, contact the Office of Scholarly Programs, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4860; telephone (202) 707-3302, fax (202) 707-3595, or visit the Web at www.loc.gov/kluge.
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