The National Endowment for the Humanities has made a $346,733 grant to a team of Qajar historians. The purpose of this grant, which lasts from May 2009 to June 2011, is to develop a comprehensive digital archive and Web site at Harvard University that will preserve, link, and render accessible primary source materials related to the social and cultural history of women’s worlds during the reign of the Qajar dynasty (1785-1925) in Iran.The Qajar dynasty is perhaps most notable for a series of intense interactions with Europe (Britain and Russia, in particular), many of which introduced cultural and political changes that still resonate in Iran today. The proposed archive will address a significant gap in the scholarship related to this important time in Iran’s history by making available personal documents, such as writings and photographs, created by and reflecting the lives of women during the Qajar era.The team is composed of Afsaneh Najmabadi, the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Professor of the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard; Nahid Mozaffari, New York University; Naghmeh Sohrabi, Brandeis University; and Dominic Parviz Brookshaw, University of Manchester, U.K.Digitizing and archiving activities supported by this grant will focus primarily on materials from private family holdings and Iranian archival holdings. Harvard already houses other digital archives related to the history of modern Iran, such as the ‘Ali Khan Vali photograph album and the Iranian Oral History Project. The new project will make Harvard’s libraries a very rich depository of archival material for the study of modern Iranian history.For more information on Harvard’s Iranian Oral History Project, visit http://ted.lib.harvard.edu/ted/deliver/home?_collection=iohp.
Some of the stories we were covering in 1972 could, with a slight twist, have been written this week. Nine Elms had become interesting because of the move of Covent Garden Market south of the river; today it is the move of the US embassy that is making headlines (and will probably provide the occasion for a president Trump visit now that completion is nearing).The future of the area around Piccadilly Circus was under review, with three big property beasts battling it out; today things have partly been resolved by The Crown Estate renaming Lower Regent Street ‘Regent Street St James’s’. We can only hope that Haymarket doesn’t get similarly homogenised.Housing was a big issue at the time. Developers were seen as the chief cause of the shortage on account of their interest in office development. Harry Hyams was the man the intelligentsia loved to hate, because his development Centre Point remained empty for years, thus becoming an example of property as a trading commodity rather than a provider of social use. It was squatted for a weekend; I wonder if those involved thought the tower (courtesy of Mike Hussey) would be converted into apartments…Housing was a big issue in 1972. Developers were seen as the chief cause of the shortageCompared with today, the 1970s housing ‘shortage’ was a near miracle of supply and demand balance, although then – as now – if you were homeless that was of little comfort. Housing campaign group Shelter was in its first flush, and one can only wonder at how an organisation that has proved so unsuccessful manages to survive.As is sometimes the case in British public life, nothing succeeds like failure: the proposition is that without Shelter, things could have been even worse. Discuss.Bizarre initiativesNow the past seems more like another planet than another country. It is hard now to understand what prompted the madness of ‘office development permits’ and ‘industrial development certificates’, which were the property world’s equivalent of post-war butter ration coupons.Whitehall knew best; the high point of government attempts to ‘control’ the property market came when Anthony Crosland (the public school/Oxford University socialist who hated grammar schools) introduced the Community Land Act in 1975.This proposition lasted about five minutes, but it was a good example of how governments of all persuasions generally misunderstood the property market, thinking that the way to deal with it was by ever-increasing control, red tape and financial penalty.In respect of the office market, this also meant bizarre initiatives such as the publicly funded Location of Offices Bureau, whose role was to try to persuade employers to move their offices out of London because it was so horrible. (Younger readers please note: I am not making this up!)Source: Shutterstock/Paul D SmithEventually, the political establishment realised that the office market was providing the factories of today and decided to leave it alone.The consequence has been a broad balance of supply and demand across many decades; a vacancy rate generally somewhere between 7% and 12%; and in anything other than the very short term, a situation in which tenants have some choice while suppliers need to think about the quality of what they are providing. This has improved both product and choice, as the BCO Awards amply demonstrate.At the BCO dinner, I briefly suggested that those responsible for the housing market might learn something from their commercial peers, but I should have added that it is mostly the political class that needs to review the past 50 years if it wants to understand why housing supply has fallen far too short. Offices and shopping have not, even if for a long period the quality of design left much to be desired. The quantum was OK.This is why the prime minister’s speech at the Conservative Party annual conference was interesting: since when did any PM pledge £2bn to a housing strategy based on proactive policies of a sort not seen in either Tory or Labour policies since the 1960s? Who cares if she had a cough?The question now, for her as it is for London mayor Sadiq Khan, is whether financial commitment and stirring speeches can translate into actual delivery of homes on the ground. I wish I could say I was holding my breath.Paul Finch is programme director of the World Architecture Festival
Veteran Portugal international Deco is poised to end his career in the country of his birth after agreeing to join Fluminense, the Brazilian club announced on Saturday.The 32-year-old midfielder will leave English champions Chelsea and sign a two-year contract on Monday, Fluminense revealed on the club’s website.“The vice president of Fluminense, Alcides Antunes, has officially signed Deco from Chelsea,” a statement said.“After intense negotiations, the player, who participated in two World Cups for the Portugal national team, got his release from the English club and will sign a two-year contract with the Tricolor. Deco will be officially presented to the press at 12:30 (local time) on Monday.”Deco, who played just once as Portugal reached the second round in South Africa, made only 14 starts for Chelsea in the Premier League last season.He struggled to make an impact in England, having been signed by former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2008. Deco, who was born in Sao Bernardo do Campo in Sao Paulo state, was previously a big hit at Spanish club Barcelona, where he won the Champions League for the second time in 2006 following his triumph with Porto two years previously.He started his career in Brazil, playing for Corinthians before Benfica took him to Portugal in 1997, and he subsequently played more than 70 times for his adopted nation.Deco will join former Barcelona teammate Juliano Belletti at Fluminense, who signed the Brazil international defender last month following his release by Chelsea.Meanwhile, Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta has signed a new five-year contract with English Premier League club Everton, ending speculation that the 28-year-old would be leaving.Source: CNN