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Framing Bosnia: The Politics of Architecture and City Building in the Austro-Hungarian Administration of Bosnia, and Hercegovina, 1878-1903

  • Author(s): Kadkani-Schmitt, Zahra
  • Advisor(s): AlSayyad, Nezar
  • et al.


Framing Bosnia:

The Politics of Architecture and City Building in the

Austro-Hungarian Administration of Bosnia, and




Zahra Kadkani-Schmitt

Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture

University of California, Berkeley

Professor Nezar AlSayyad, Chair

The Berlin Treaty of 1878 granted the Habsburg Monarchy the right to occupy and administer the two provinces of Bosnia and Hercegovina with the ultimate goal of integrating these lands into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By looking at the architectural and urban projects of the occupying power through a critical historical lenses, this dissertation examines the Austro-Hungarian administration’s attempts to frame and re-order these formerly Ottoman lands as a modern Central European space, between 1878 and 1903. I argue that from the very beginning of the occupation, the notion of culture and cultural policies as manifested in the built environment were perceived as the most effective and preferable political tool for facilitating a fast integration of these territories into the Empire.

Using a wide range of archival documents and other sources in German and Serbo-Croatian, this study delineates the process of the Habsburg Empire’s integration of Bosnia and Hercegovina into their lands through the work of architectural and urban modernization projects. The first part of the dissertation analyses the initial spatial endeavors of the military administration between 1878 and 1882, which ranged from mapping to regulating and ordering these former Ottoman territories, that were deployed in cementing the modern infrastructure of the Austro-Hungarian plan of change. This section of the study explores why the early regulatory phase of the administration was deemed as the prerequisite for a future modernization and subsequent integration of these lands. The second half of the study shifts to considerations of a series of urban and architectural projects of the civil administration, between 1882 and 1903, that were intended to create an imperial bond between these newly acquired lands and the Habsburg monarchy. Throughout this part of the discussion, a special emphasis is given to the questions of how and why certain aesthetic values and architectural styles were generated by the Austro-Hungarian cultural policies in order to foster the process of integration.

The goal of this study is to shed light on the question of how the advance of certain aesthetic programs, architectural languages and spatial transformations were meant to help the occupying power to achieve their greater political goal of ‘civilizing mission’ in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

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