The Place of the Mosque: Genealogies of Space, Knowledge, and Power extends Foucault’s analysis, Of Other Spaces, and the “ideological conflicts which underlie the controversies of our day [and] take place between pious descendants of time and tenacious inhabitants of space.” This book uses Foucault’s framework to illuminate how mosques have been threatened in the past, from the Cordóba Mosque in the eighth century, to the development of Moorish aesthetics in the United States in the nineteenth century, to the clashes surrounding the building of mosques in the West in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Akel Kahera uses Foucault’s genealogy to elaborate on and study the subjects that are caught in the emergence of a battle—the social and political will to power, the networks of power, and the rituals of power—within the interstitial space. In going beyond individual buildings to broader geographical and genealogical dimensions of the power struggles, The Place of the Mosque reconciles the public space experience, governmentality, and micro powers, paving the way for a new philosophical language. Expanding architectural and urban regional approaches, Kahera shows the biopolitical significance of the problem of space.
Akel Isma'il Kahera is professor of architecture and sustainable urbanism at Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
Chapter One: On the Genealogy of Place
Chapter Two: Resemblances and Similitudes
Chapter Three: Architecture and Ontology
Chapter Four: Place, Biopolitics, and Legal Discourses
The Place of the Mosque wrestles with Michel Foucault’s ideas on space, while weaving together local and global notions of place, as it interrogates today’s public spectacles, from the Great Mosque of Córdoba near Madrid to the Ground Zero Mosque in Manhattan. Animating the book is the question: who defines place? What makes this query so intriguing is how its answers revolve around the interlocking dimensions of space, knowledge, and power. Like a forensic scientist, Akel Kahera expands our discussion about mosque space by unpacking various sites, assigning them a genealogy, and determining their birth history, traumatic relations, and lifestyle markings. It is a fresh and contemplative approach. Kahera is even cheeky enough to allow musings on the mosque from the great poet, Muhammad Iqbal, which foreground his point that the mosque is a ubiquitous presence in the world. And it is this fact that makes works like this one so essential to read.