The Monumental Past – A Celebration or a Suppression

Azin Saeedi1

1School Of Architecture, University Of Queensland, , Australia

The present rarely remains free from the burdens of the past. The idea of a glorious past in Asia occupies the memory of people and manifests itself through the physicality of architecture in the landscape. Its formal language is the outcome of hybridity and conflict creating a politically legitimate architecture with appeal to the masses. However, re-visiting this past is not always encapsulated in external physicality of architecture. Rather, representing this discontinuity between the past and present moves from within to outside buildings, and from spatial formalities to choreographies where ceremonies occur and engage people. In effect, the past is selectively employed, enhanced or purified and finally played out to infuse the everyday lives of people and even portray the distant future through occupations of the urban landscape. Buildings are, therefore, visual references to the authority of the past in either formality, conception, or both. These buildings extend from a spot on the built environment to urban quarters and in some cases, ensembles engaging the borders of cities. This paper questions how this monumental past and its manifestations re-create the present and future in urban landscapes across the Iranian landscape.


Azin Saeedi’s background is interior architecture and architecture. She completed her Masters and Bachelors degree at the University of Art in Iran. Her research interest is the socio-political and liturgical aspects of funerary architecture in ancient, medieval and modern Persianate Iran.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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