Old Cambodian Mosques: Potentials for Another Architecture of the Future?

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To line up this new year with some visual enthusiasm and inspiration, I have decided to dig into my ”To digitalize” box. It’s a big fluffy one (for dust does fluff after a while of not forcing it to get out, take a stroll outside). Just as I opened the box, some good ol’ shots of good ol’ mosques came up. Mosques from Cambodia, often left on the side of the prayers, left to fluffy dust and collapsing sands. Continue reading

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Clichés Chams (2): The ‘’Ta Arabs’’ from India

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Broad-shouldered and imposing, sporting a large smile, a long white beard and a mysterious foreign je-ne-sais-quoi… Now aged 75, Gullar Mirsan is the guard of the Toul Tompong mosque in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The area is often referred to as the “Arab neighborhood” by the Khmer and the Cham. He looks like the “Ta Arab” – “Arab grandfathers” – who once used to live in that neighborhood now called differently. However, there is no trace of a community originating from the Middle-East. Talking with Gullar Mirsan and a few others sheds some light on this mystery. One then quickly realizes that in Cambodia, just like in Europe, Islam tends to be associated in popular imagination with the “ethnic group” from the Arabic peninsula, whereas its historical roots can actually be found in the former British colonial empire in India and its Muslim population. Continue reading