12 November – 17 November 2022
21 March 2022
Professor Yudhishthir Raj Isar
About the course
As a result of globalisation, ways of life and cultural expressions have become more widely shared than ever before. Forms and ideas in the visual arts, music, literature and the performing arts traverse cultural boundaries at an unprecedented pace. We have become ever more conscious of cultural borrowings across geographical, religious, and ethnic boundaries. However, we also see many conflicts arising in the name of preserving perceived cultural purity. This course is designed to explore different understandings of the notion of culture: both as ways of life and as the products of intellectual and artistic creativity, and why they need to be nurtured, renewed and passed on to future generations. Aspirations to the beautiful and the good in architecture, urban planning and music, the three key domains in which the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) operates, mirror human aspirations for the good life. In this context, using case studies, the course will introduce participants to the philosophical underpinnings, methods and impacts of the work of the AKTC. In addition to lectures, discussions, and workshops, the course will include guided visits to sites of relevance to Fatimid history as well as the Museum of Islamic Art and Al-Azhar Park.
Aims of the programme
- Examine the complex range of meanings of the term ‘culture’.
- Understand that beauty in the arts is not purely functional or meant only for the enjoyment of the educated few; it has intrinsic value, for spiritual and ethical reasons.
- Understand the contributions of AKTC to architecture, urban heritage, and traditional music in the Muslim world as key components of the cultural heritage of humanity.
- Explore the importance of cultural literacy in avoiding conflicts, facilitating dialogue, enhancing creativity, and promoting the spirit of pluralism.
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