Landed Internationals explores how postwar encounters in housing and planning helped transform the dynamics of international development and challenged American modernity.
Series: Lateral Exchanges, Architecture, Urban Development, and Transnational Practices
Landed Internationals examines the international culture of postwar urban planning via the case of the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. Today the center of Turkey's tech, energy, and defense elites, METU was founded in the 1950s through an effort jointly sponsored by the UN, the University of Pennsylvania, and various governmental agencies of the United States and Turkey. Drawing on the language of the UN and its Technical Assistance Board, Erdim uses the phrase "technical assistance machinery" to encompass the sprawling set of relationships activated by this endeavor.
Erdim studies a series of legitimacy battles among bureaucrats, academics, and other professionals in multiple theaters across the political geography of the cold war. These different factions shared a common goal: the production of nationhood—albeit nationhood understood and defined in multiple, competing ways. He also examines the role of the American architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill; the New York housing policy guru Charles Abrams; the UN and the University of Pennsylvania; and the Turkish architects Altuğ and Behruz Çinici. In the end, METU itself looked like a model postwar nation within the world order, and Erdim concludes by discussing how it became an important force in transnational housing, planning, and preservation in its own right.