Identity, Tradition and Built Form
The Role of Culture in Planning and Development


As the twenty-first century approaches, traditional settlements in both developed and developing countries are facing major challenges created by both local and global pressures. Massive urbanization and suburbanization, the spread of consumerism, of transnationalization of capital, the internationalization of labor, and the growth of expatriate migrant populations and ethnic minorities are among the processes that have irrevocably changed the forms of traditional settlements.

Globalization trends and increased communication have additionally created, in the latter part of this century, a world system which is ripe with cultural conflict. Some argue that the world is becoming a singular economic entity characterized by its informationally interconnected modes of production and exchange under a predominantly capitalist order. Within this paradigm, tradition loses its relevance as culture becomes more informationally based and less place rooted. Yet there are those who argue that culture can never be placeless, and that development scenarios must always be based on recognizing the placeness of culture and the regional value of tradition.

As a means of maintaining their identity, many nations and communities have resorted to their traditions, religion, and ethnic roots as primary ways of identifying their collective selves. Other nations, becoming more inclusive of the “other,” have accepted a redefinition of their identity by embracing hybridity and recognizing the multicultural dimensions of their constituent groups.

IASTE has always been dedicated to studying traditional dwellings and settlements as a means of exploring the conflicts brought about by the necessity of adaptation and change. Once again, it invites specialists from different nations in such disciplines as architecture, art history, anthropology, archaeology, folklore, geography, history, planning, sociology, urban studies, and related areas to propose papers and panels which address the following themes:

  • Tradition as a means of maintaining identity in the face of change and the effects of the rise of nationalism, ethnicity, and religion on the built environment.
  • Multiculturalism and hybridity as new paradigms for the invention of tradition and embracing the culture of the “other” and the effects of such practices on the built environment.
  • Tradition in the age of globalization and communication, and the impact of placeless culture on the built environment.
  • The role of culture in the development of communities of communications and the uses of tradition in the creation and improvement of the built environment.
  • Elements of the traditional built environment and the representations of identity


Deadline for receipt of abstracts and a C.V.- February 15, 1996
Notification of accepted abstracts for conference presentation-April 15, 1996
Deadline for receipt of completed papers for possible publication in the IASTE Working Papers Series- July 1, 1996
Deadline for receipt of revised papers November 1, 1996.


Professor Nezar AlSayyad, University of California, Berkeley
Professor Jean-Paul Bourdier, University of California, Berkeley


Center for Environmental Design Research, University of California, Berkeley
Institutes for International and Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Institute for Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley
Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley


College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley

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