Legistimizin THE Illegitimate : a Cser for Kuwait's Forgotten Modernity
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The city-state of Kuwait has undergone significant transformations since the advent of oil urbanization through vigorous, state-led development processes that constantly replace old with new. After 1950 almost all pre-oil structures inside the historic urban center were demolished to make way for a new, modern city. And, since 2003, a renewed cycle of demolition and development has destroyed that modernist landscape and replaced it with something newer still. At the same time, a sudden regret for the erasure of Kuwait’s traditional city has resulted in the renovation of pre-oil buildings into sites of national heritage. However, the destruction of the modernist city is not viewed with the same regret, for the landscape that is being erased today — and memory of the era in which it was built — is not considered a valid representation of Kuwait’s historic identity. This article relegitimizes Kuwait’s early oil modernity in the nation’s past, while considering the consequences of its erasure from the landscape, and from collective memory.