The Rome Mosque and Islamic Centre: A Case of Diasporic Architecture in the Globalized Mediterranean
Abstract: This article’s reading of Paolo Portoghesi’s and Sami Mousawi’s Mosque and Islamic Centre in Rome (1975–95) offers an understanding of its visual program as one that can be productively framed under the concept of diaspora, a condition that evokes movement and non-linearity, and one that undermines fixity to geographical borders and cultural heritage. The first section analyses various visual elements of the mosque and the tangle of temporalities they evoke, ranging from high modernism to postmodernist historical quotation, to living craft traditions of the Islamic world.
The visual program is also conceptually tied to an idea of the Mediterranean as a geographical space between classicism and orientalism. These findings are then put into conversation with the current historiographical conditions within the study of ‘global art’ and then more specifically with the modern study of Islamic architecture. The Rome mosque is thus seen as a test case with which to provoke new methodologies in the study of twentieth-century Islamic architecture.
In the last section the concept of diaspora is introduced as a means by which to situate a monument that appears on the periphery of both the history of modern architecture and the history of Islamic architecture.