Charles Linn
School of Architecture, Design & Planning

Architecture professor awarded prestigious grant

Thu, 09/26/2013

LAWRENCE — Farhan Karim, an assistant professor of architecture, has been awarded a Graham Foundation grant. It will support the research for his book, “Dreaming of a Nation: Architecture and Cold War Modernization in Postcolonial Pakistan, 1947-1971.”

Farhan KarimKarim’s research shows that U.S. attempts to influence the culture of post-war, post-Colonial future of Pakistan had mixed results even as far back as the late 1950s.

During late 1940s and early 1950s, the Pakistani government hired a group of leading Western architects to help design a new city and a new parliamentary complex. They were also to aid in countrywide reformation of the primary education system, develop infrastructure and establish new campuses for tertiary-level technical education.

Spearheaded and aided by American universities, the U.S. Technical Assistance Program and the U.S. Agency For International Development, the Westerners and a number of Pakistani architects embarked on this grand project. They hoped to forge an architecture that was a quixotic hybrid of the fledgling country’s postwar reformation spirit, universal modernity and post-Colonial Muslim nationalism.

However, while the U.S. government’s Cold War interests in Pakistan and its military rulers were well-showcased in the grand, new Modernist buildings, local architects were critical of their designs. They were in favor of combining the language of universal Modernism with Pakistan’s vernacular—and which perhaps the country’s new U.S.-backed government might have preferred to put in the past.

 “The U.S. project of ‘modernizing’ postcolonial Pakistan remained problematic,” says Karim, “in the sense that the country’s postcolonial architectural culture took various trajectories, which were not anticipated by the American architects at the outset.”

The traditionalists favored expansion of their architecture to encompass an array of new possibilities — an alternative to the West’s monumental Modernist architecture. Theirs would be based on Pakistan’s own regional traditions.

“The tension felt in the early years of post-Colonial Pakistan as it reconciled the ideals of Western democracy with its traditional values is captured in its struggle to create its own Modern architectural style,” he said. “The repercussions of those efforts are still felt today, in contemporary architectural practice and pedagogy, but also in Pakistanis’ perceptions of what a liberated democratic landscape should look like.”

Karim joined the faculty of the Department of Architecture last spring after receiving a doctorate in architectural history from the University of Sydney, Australia. He taught at the University of Asia Pacific and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Farhan earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from BUET, and he practiced architecture professionally in Bangladesh and Australia.

The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts was founded in 1956. It makes project-based study grants to individuals and organizations, and it fosters the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society.  

Karim’s Graham Foundation web page can be viewed here.

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@NYTimes columnist @WCRhoden will speak at a symposium about race and sports April 23.
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times