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Landed Internationals

Landed Internationals
Planning Cultures, the Academy, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Landed Internationals explores how postwar encounters in housing and planning helped transform the dynamics of international development and challenged American modernity.

Series: Lateral Exchanges

August 2020
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320 pages | 6 x 9 | 36 b&w photos, 24 b&w illus. |

Landed Internationals examines the international culture of postwar urban planning through 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.

  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction. Housing Internationals and the Postwar World Order
  • 1. Encounters in Housing and Land Economics
  • 2. Redefining Technical Assistance: From Policy to Training and Education
  • 3. An Institute or a University? Assembling Experts and Inperts
  • 4. A New Industrial Order: The Forum and the Nation
  • 5. The Campus and the National Imaginary: Competing Narratives of Citizenship and Nationhood
  • 6. Stewards of the Land: Culture, Currency, and the Nation
  • Epilogue. METU at Large: METU as Revolution
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Burak Erdim
Raleigh, North Carolina

Burak Erdim is an assistant professor of architectural history at North Carolina State University.


Landed Internationals is an invaluable contribution to the growing understanding of the global practices of development in the twentieth century. This fascinating 'archaeology of encounters' renders in fine detail the equivocal role of international experts in the technical and political environment of Turkey. Proposing a novel paradigm of training and education as a central nexus through which to see critical actions and transformative agents, Erdim gives insights that vividly illuminate his case study while also offering broad relevance for histories of the twentieth century.”
Timothy Hyde, MIT, author of Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye

Landed Internationals is an important text. It provides an intimate, thoroughly documented, and well-crafted history of one of the modern Middle East’s most important educational institutions, the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. In the process of examining this school’s emergence in the aftermath of World War II, Burak Erdim persuasively integrates the architectural, technological, political, and ideological negotiations involved in realizing a remarkably complex project. This book provides a model of a comprehensive biography of a major built site and a fascinating narrative of the architectural expression of the problems of an emerging state.”
Annabel Jane Wharton, Duke University, author of Architectural Agents: The Delusional, Abusive, Addictive Lives of Buildings

“Focusing on a fascinating yet understudied project, Landed Internationals offers an empirically rich, materially grounded, and transnationally informed study. Mining unpublished and largely unknown sources, Burak Erdim masterfully portrays the planning of the Middle East Technical University as a series of shifting coalitions among agents and agencies working across Cold War geographies. This is a truly original contribution to the history of postwar architecture and planning, the long and multifaceted history of Turkish-American relations, and the growing field of Cold War Studies.”
Sibel Zandi-Sayek, William & Mary, author of Ottoman Izmir: The Rise of a Cosmopolitan Port, 1840-1880


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