Architectures of Colonialism. Constructed Histories, Conflicting Memories

Architectures of Colonialism. Constructed Histories, Conflicting Memories

DFG Research Training Group 1913 “Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings” (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg)
BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg
From - Until
16.06.2021 - 19.06.2021
Christa Kamleithner, Institut für Bau- und Kunstgeschichte, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg

International Online Conference, 16 to 19 June 2021
BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, DFG Research Training Group 1913 “Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings”

Architectures of Colonialism. Constructed Histories, Conflicting Memories

“Architecture”, as the architect Léopold Lambert recently stated, “is, above all else, a materialisation of power relations and the enforcement of their potential violence.” This applies all the more to the architectures of colonialism, which were used to dominate and segregate people, exploit labour, and restructure land. As architectural history was for a long time written by the “colonisers” – that is the Global North –, these acts of domination have been marred by focusing on canonised buildings, architects, and specific archives, ignoring the experiences and agency of the “colonised”. But monuments provoke, and their values for society can be called into question, as the emotionally charged debates in the Black Lives Matter movement have recently demonstrated so vividly. Dealing with cultural heritage and its cultural significance necessitates a continuous process of negotiation and re-evaluation. Hence, those writing the architectural history of colonialism and colonisation should be concerned with decolonising perspectives, working on methodologies and narratives, and acknowledging actors, memories, and places that have been overlooked so far.

The conference, which assembles scholars interested in architectural, building, and construction history, archaeology, architectural conservation, and heritage studies, addresses, amongst others, the following questions: Which actors, institutions, and knowledge networks were involved in the design and building practices of colonial power, and what role did local actors play? How can we rewrite architectural history to take into account the complex topologies of knowledge circulation in a globalised world shaped by colonialism? Whose heritage are colonial sites? What different memories are attached to them, and how have they changed over time? How have the architectures of colonialism been appropriated and reused, endowed with new stories and memories? How can this entanglement of conflicting memories be dealt with? How can we reassess historical archives and material evidence to analyse the traces and material remains of marginalised subjects and made them visible? What and whose stories do these remains tell?

Concept and organisation: Vera Egbers, Christa Kamleithner, Özge Sezer, Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir, Albrecht Wiesener


16 June 2021
Time zone CEST (UTC+02:00)

19:15 Welcome and Introduction
by Albrecht Wiesener and Christa Kamleithner

19:30 Itohan Osayimwese (Brown University):
From Postcolonial to Decolonial Architectural Histories: A Method
20:10 Discussion moderated by Christa Kamleithner

17 June 2021
Time zone CEST (UTC+02:00)

Session moderated by Özge Sezer

10:00 Beatriz Serrazina (University of Coimbra):
Colonial Enterprises and Urban Design in Africa: Transnational Knowledge, Local Agency and the Diamond Company of Angola (1917–1975)
10:20 Meenakshi A (Jawaharlal Nehru University):
Portland Cement in British India: Materials, Expertise and Colonial Infrastructures, c. 1900–1940s
10:40 Discussion

11:20 Monika Motylinska (IRS Erkner):
Selling Tropical Architecture? German Networks of Planning for the Tropics in the 1930s and post-1945
11:40 Jens Wiedow (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg):
Architecture and the Construction of Colonial Narratives: The South-West Africa Pavilion at the Van-Riebeeck Festival
12:00 Discussion

Session moderated by Christa Kamleithner

14:00 Kamyar Abdi, Faezeh Dadfar (Shahid Beheshti University, Macquarie University):
Architecture and Expression of Authority: The Achaemenid Persian Empire in the Caucuses
14:20 Nuno Grancho (DINÂMIA’CET-Iscte, University Institute of Lisbon):
Decolonizing the Architectural and Urban Histories of the Colonial City of Diu
14:40 Discussion

15:20 Matthew Wells (ETH Zurich):
Networks, Data, Colonialism: Spatialised Bureaucracies at the India Office, 1867
15:40 Zulfikar Hirji (York University):
Architects of Time: Coloniality, Clocktowers and Calendars on the East African Coast
16:00 Discussion

Session moderated by Özge Sezer

16:50 Mohona Reza (University of Edinburgh):
Modern Architectural Transition in Post-Colonial Bangladesh
17:10 Gregory Valdespino (University of Chicago):
Senegalese Suburbia: Building Homes and Bureaucratic Dreams in Postwar Senegal, 1945– 1965
17:30 Discussion

19:30 Antoinette Jackson (University of South Florida):
Plantation Spaces and Memory – Heritage Interpretation, Memorialization, and Tensions of Public Use at Antebellum Plantation Sites, USA
20:10 Discussion moderated by Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir

18 June 2021
Time zone CEST (UTC+02:00)

Session moderated by Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir

10:00 Elizabeth Rankin, Rolf Michael Schneider (University of Auckland, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich):
Afrikanerdom, Apartheid, Post-Apartheid: The Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria
10:20 Georgi Verbeeck (Maastricht University, University of Leuven):
A Belgian “Museum within a Museum”: From Royal Museum for Central Africa to AfricaMuseum
10:40 Discussion

Session moderated by Albrecht Wiesener

11:20 Shraddha Bhatawadekar (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg):
Processes and Politics of Representation: The Image of Railway Architecture in 19th-Century Bombay
11:40 Yichi Zhang (University of Oslo):
Victoria Park in Tianjin: British Colonial Heritage Shaped by Interaction with an Evolving Chinese Society
12:00 Discussion

14:00 Tilman Frasch (Manchester Metropolitan University):
Alternate Currents: St. James Power Station, Singapore
14:20 Ying Zhou (University of Hong Kong):
Confounding Decolonizing “Etiquettes” and Reusing Colonial-Era Historic Buildings for Contemporary Art in the Global East: Cases from Hong Kong and Shanghai
14:40 Discussion

Session moderated by Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir

15:20 Joaquim Rodrigues dos Santos (University of Lisbon):
The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa (India) as a Paradigm of Transcultural Heritage: Values, Meanings and Conflicts
15:40 Livia Hurley (University College Dublin):
Legacy Memory Identity: Shifts in the Decolonisation of Ireland’s Architectural Heritage
16:00 Discussion

16:50 Mark Dike DeLancey (DePaul University):
Colonial-Era Architecture of the Colonized in Early 20th-Century Cameroon
17:10 Jorge Correia (Lab2PT/University of Minho):
Heritage and (Post)Colonialism, Context and Claim: Reading Built Stratigraphy in the Maghreb
17:30 Nora Lafi (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin):
Whose Heritage? The Persisting Ambiguities of the Heritagization of Colonial Architecture in the Middle East and North Africa
17:50 Discussion

19 June 2021
Time zone CEST (UTC+02:00)

Session moderated by Vera Egbers

10:00 Amy Miranda (Aarhus University):
Freeing Rome’s Captive Provinces: A Reconsideration of Imperial Architecture
10:20 Alice Santiago Faria, Antonieta Reis Leite, Mafalda Pacheco (CHAM-FCSH/NOVA, University of Coimbra):
Inquiring into (Portuguese) Colonial Heritage or how to be a Critical (Colonial) Heritage Researcher
10:40 Discussion

11:20 Lisandra Franco de Mendonça (Lab2PT, University of Minho):
Boxed Empire: Framing Memories, Architecture and Urban Space in Maputo, 1974–1976
11:40 Karin Reisinger (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna):
The Prolonged Coloniality of Mining Towns: Non-Binary Ways of Doing Material Positionality as a Researcher
12:00 Discussion

12:40 Reinhard Bernbeck (FU Berlin):
De-Subjectivizing Colonial Prisoners of War: The Wünsdorf Camp near Berlin, 1915–1918
13:20 Discussion moderated by Vera Egbers and Özge Sezer

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The conference will be held on Zoom. Please register using our online registration form by 10 June 2021:

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