Dr Fadi Shayya

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Biography

I am an urban-architectural researcher, and I completed my PhD at the University of Manchester’s Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG) in March 2021. I hold a MA in Theories of Urban Practice (honours) from Parsons School of Design, a Master of Urban Design from the American University of Beirut, and a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from Alexandria University & Beirut Arab University. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), and at present I convene the M.Arch Dissertation Group Architecture & Technics and the M.Arch Research Methods Workshop Mobile Architectures at the Manchester School of Architecture.

My current research interests span the transdisciplinary boundaries of urban theory, architectural humanities, STS, ANT, and the philosophy of technology. These include themes of:

  • the spatialization of warfare, with a focus on the Middle East;
  • architectural and urban associations beyond the figures of the building and the city; and,
  • the technics of infrastructuring, movement, and the making of urban form.

I received the 2020 IJURR Foundation Writing-up Grant, 2019 Faculty of Humanities PGR Mobility Grant, and 2016 SEED Studentship Award. My professional record includes practising and consulting in the Middle East and North Africa on architecture and master planning, international development, and information visualization. I edited and published the book At the Edge of the City (2010), founded/directed the research collaborative Discursive Formations (2008 – 2013), and co-produced several civic and advocacy projects in Lebanon. Moreover, my work and commentary feature in Métropolitiques, Traits Urbain, Le Courrier, The Polis Blog, Next City, World Environment, Bold Magazine, Al-Jadid, Los Angeles Times, The National, The Daily Star, Arquitetura e Urbanismo, Danish Radio, Wysokie Obcasy, Deutsche Welle, and Trouw.

Research

Politics of Survivability: How Military Technology Scripts Urban Relations

Supervisors: Prof. Albena Yaneva and Dr. Leandro Minuchin

My thesis scrutinises the spatialisation of contemporary urban warfare and its potential to script urban relations. Rather than embracing the grand narratives that explain established power structures and social systems, I embrace a symmetric perspective to the study of technology and emphasise the need to study the spatialisation of urban warfare as a process that can be better unpacked at the level of the daily functioning of military technical objects. At that level, what becomes a vital matter of concern, a disputed issue is survivability. Such survivability, I show, is a hybrid of the technical concretization of armour and the sociotechnical associations between soldiers and armoured vehicles. I analyse the former in utility patents and the latter in military publications, governmental policy documents, and secondary sources. The thesis makes three contributions to debates in urban studies, architectural humanities, and STS: 1) It advances the epistemological position that survivability is intrinsically connected to the functioning of military technical objects; 2) it expands on the relational theory of the architectural and the urban as a way of connecting, where armoured vehicles extend the scope of architectural and urban research beyond the figure of the static building; 3) it answers a methodological question about employing technical objects to study the spatialisation of urban warfare and the reduction of the landscape into terrain. All three contributions advance a pragmatist perspective on a relational politics of survivability through human-nonhuman interdependency.

 

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