Saima Akhtar received a PhD in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an MA in the history, theory, and criticism of architecture from MIT, and a BA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

She was an Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in 2014/2015 and is an Affiliated Fellow at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry. Her work appears in publications including the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and the Journal of Urban History.

Corporate Empire:
Fordism and the Making of Immigrant
Detroit 1908 – 1956

ICI Visiting Project 2014-15

Saima Akhtar will continue to work on completing her book manuscript, Corporate Empire: Fordism and the Making of Immigrant Detroit, which examines the commercial reach of a major American corporate power in the first third of the twentieth century. With the Ford Motor Company (FMC) and its social and economic programs at the center of the study, she traces the paths of commercial images and forms of spatial organization that were essential to the workings of Fordism. As a lesser-known aspect of the company’s global dealings, she looks at the FMC’s interest in and depiction of the people and regions of the greater Middle East, just on the cusp of the First War.

The creation of Ford’s advertising department, from where its promotional materials were disseminated, coincided with the mechanization of the assembly line and resulted in the rapid rise and mass circulation of Fordist imagery. These images visualized, made, and remade, global geographies of consumption and production and were as instrumental in selling Ford commodities as they were in associating civility and modernity with the spread of American technology.