Kamil and Rifat Chadirji Photographic Archive
Regional Surveys

Kamil Chadirji (1897-1968), born to an influential Baghdad family, played a central role in the political life of lraq as founder and President of the National Democratic Party. His position allowed him unique opportunities to take photographs throughout Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. Kamil’s son, Rifat Chadirji (1926-2020), perhaps better known as one of the most influential Iraqi architects of the 20th century[1], was also an accomplished photographer, author, teacher, and critic. Together, their vast collection spans more than 5 decades and contains ca. 100,000 negatives and images documenting the Middle East, primarily Iraq.

The collection illustrates daily life, cultural engagement, and social conditions in the Middle East from the 1920s – 1970s. This important record also provides a unique look at the significant transformation of Baghdad’s built environment over time.

Once on loan to the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon), the entire collection has been given to the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT through a gift from the Chadirji family. In 2016, while on loan to the Arab Image Foundation and with a grant from the Graham Foundation, the photography of Rifat Chadirji, in particular, was highlighted in an exhibition entitled, Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation, which opened in Los Angeles, CA early January 2018, before returning to MIT.

For a complete list of boxes in the collection and information on how to request access, see the Collection's Page on MIT ArchiveSpace or contact akdc@mit.edu.

Archnet features a small number of prints and negatives digitized from the collection. The material on Archnet is divided into two main sections: 

While both collections contain images of people and places, the Rifat Chadirji collection also contains a collection of photographs that Rifat Chadirji took of his architectural projects

Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D.

Founding Program Head, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT

Cambridge, MA

21 December 2017

[1] Through the generosity of Rifat and Balkis Chadirji, AKDC@MIT also houses the Rifat Chadirji Architecture Archive.

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