Professor Samer Akkach

Professor Samer Akkach
 Position Founding Director - CAMEA
 Org Unit School of Architecture & Built Environment
 Telephone +61 8 8313 5832
 Location Floor/Room 4 70 ,  Horace Lamb ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    Samer joined the University of Adelaide in 1993. He moved from Sydney where he received his Master of Architectural Design from the University of New South Wales in 1985, and his PhD from the University of Sydney in 1992. He is an established scholar in two fields of study: architectural history and theory and Islamic studies. He has a cross-cultural background, interdisciplinary research interests, and a unique mix of expertise. The spectrum of his expertise include:

    ·         History and theory of architecture and landscape in general, and of Islamic art, architecture and landscape in particular.

    ·         Intellectual history of the Arab-Islamic and Ottoman traditions in the early modern period (17th, 18th and 19th centuries), with a special focus on the Enlightenment and transitions into modernity in both the European and the Arab-Ottoman worlds.

    ·         Socio-urban history of Middle Eastern cities in general, and Damascus in particular, during the early modern period, with special focus on the rise of urban secularism.

    ·         Islamic cosmology (pre- and post-Copernican traditions), philosophy (pre- and early modern), and mysticism (pre- and early modern).

    Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA)

    Samer is Founding Director of the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA), which was founded in 1997. CAMEA's establishment coincided with major shifts in peoples’ attitudes towards the built environment caused by unsettling changes in three areas: environment, technology, and culture.

    ·         Awareness of the long-term environmental consequences of modern urbanisation and industrialisation has highlighted the urgent need for new approaches to a sustainable future;

    ·         Advanced communication technologies have called for new ways of perceiving and dealing with reality; and

    ·         Intense cross-cultural interactions have generated a strong demand for broader and more culture-sensitive modes of architectural thinking.

    CAMEA was founded to address the demand for new cross-cultural understanding of architecture in the context of these major global shifts. Despite the growing recognition of the importance of understanding cultural diversity, the foundations of most conventional approaches to the study of the constructed environments remain firmly seated in the European tradition. One of CAMEA’s long-term goals is to address the problems of Eurocentrism by opening up new horizons of thinking about our modern and pre-modern architecture, landscape, and urbanity. CAMEA's publications include:

    S. Akkach et al (eds), Self, Place, and Imagination: Cross-Cultural Thinking in Architecture (Adelaide: CAMEA, 1999, 2nd printing 2000).

    S. Akkach (ed.), De-Placing Difference: Architecture, Culture and Imaginative Geography (Adelaide: CAMEA, 2002, 2nd printing 2006).

    P. Scriver (ed.), The Scaffolding of Empire (Adelaide: CAMEA, 2007).

    CAMEA Fifth International Conference, July 20-23, 2016

    'Ilm:  Science, Religion, and Art in Islam 

  • Awards & Achievements

    2015-2016       Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies' Prize for Research in Humanities  and Social Science

    2012-15           ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA).

    2010-11        Visiting Professorship, Arab International University, Damascus.

    2010             Honorary Fellowship, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi’s Society, Oxford and Berkeley.

    2010             AIA Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize (commendation), for demonstrated national and international peer recognition of outstanding contributions to education in teaching, scholarship and/or research.

    2009             Hamad bin Khalifa fellowship for Islamic Art.

    2003             University of Adelaide’s Stephen Cole the Elder prize for excellence in teaching.

    2002             Visiting Research Fellowship at MIT, The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

    2001             Society of Architectural Historians of North America’s Fellowship.

  • Research Funding

    Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grants

    2012-15 Project: Islam and the Ethos of Science in the Post-Copernican Period.

    Sole Chief Investigator, recieved ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA)

    2009-11      Project: Islam and Secular Urban Culture in Early Modern Middle East.

    Sole Chief Investigator   

    2006-09      Project: Islam, Modernity and the Enlightenment: A New Perspective.

    Sole Chief investigator

  • Publications

    Major Publications

    S. Akkach (2017)        Istanbul Observatory: Destroying the Observation and Observing the Destruction (Doha: Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, forthcoming)


    S. Akkach (2015)        Damascene Diaries: A Reading of the Cultural History of Ottoman Damascus in the Eighteenth Century (Beirut: Bissan, 350 pp.)


    S. Akkach (2012)         Intimate Invocations: Al-Ghazzī’s Biography of ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (1641-1731) (Leiden and Boston: Brill, Islamic History and Civilization series, Hardback, 850 pp.)


    S. Akkach (2010)         Letters of a Sufi Scholar: The Correspondence of ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (1641-1731) (Leiden and Boston: Brill, Islamic History and Civilization series, Hardback, 556 pp.)


    S. Akkach (2007)         ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī: Islam and the Enlightenment (Oxford: Oneworld 2007, Makers of the Muslim World series, Hardback 172pp.)


    S.Akkach (2005)          Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (Albany: SUNY 2005, SUNY Series in Islam, Hardback 288 pp., paperback edition in 2006, 2nd printing in 2009).


  • Media Expertise

    CategoriesDesign, Architecture & Planning, History
    ExpertiseArab-Islamic art, design and culture; history and theory of Islamic art, architecture and landscape; intellectual history of early modernity, Arab-Islamic and Ottoman; Socio-urban history of Middle Eastern cities during the early modern period; Islamic science and cosmology (pre- and post-Copernican traditions), philosophy (pre- and early modern), and mysticism (pre- and early modern.
    NotesFounding Director, Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA); author of Cosmology and Architecture (2005); Islam and the Enlightenment (2007); Letters of a Sufi Scholar (2010); Intimate Invocations (2012); Damascene Diaries (2015); Istanbul Observatory (2017); 'Ilm: Science, Religion, and Art in Islam (2019); and Nazar; Vision and Cultural Difference (2021).

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Entry last updated: Sunday, 13 Sep 2020

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