Rewriting Critical Architectural and Urban Histories
of Nationalism, Colonialism, and Modernity
Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge
28 September 2019
The ‘Conflicted, Narratives, Future Trajectories’ symposium seeks to bring together doctoral students and recent graduates to discuss various established and emerging directions in research on cities, and to reconsider the notions of nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, and modernity towards new trajectories of research in architectural and urban history.
Following the research framework of the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research (UCR), based in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge, the symposium hopes to act as a platform for elaborating future directions for architectural research as a critical field of enquiry that can both bridge the contemporary crises facing architectural history & theory and redefine the role of architecture within urban studies.
In light of recent global migration crises, rising populism, and the ensuing realisation of the precariousness of the nation-state, rethinking the legacies of imperialism and colonialism on the shaping of both spaces and identities has become ever more critical. Within this reality, nationalism and modernity emerge as historical and homogenising concepts that can no longer adequately describe the contemporary conditions of postcolonial contexts; their limits reveal the legacies of imperialism and colonialism as present, enduring, and central to on-going conflicts.
The symposium aims to consider the following questions:
Can an expanded definition of actors and power structures, beyond the ‘nation’ and the ‘state,’ begin to describe more accurately the shaping of cities, buildings, and territories?
How does rewriting the legacies of colonial architecture and urbanism in the present challenge accepted definitions of colonial, regional, or modern urbanism?
What can architectural history and historiography tell us not only about past processes and hierarchies of power, but also their present forms and consequences for the future?
How does architecture’s disciplinary knowledge, including drawing, mapping, and other visual methods of research, clarify hidden histories of colonialism and imperialism?
How can historical methods from outside the architectural discipline, including archival and textual analysis, add to the study of architecture and urbanism in such contexts?
The aim is to foster a collective discussion on these themes and to elaborate new approaches to the writing of critical architectural histories that can trace new paths to the present and the future.
Prof. Mark Crinson, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr. Tania Sengupta, The Bartlett UCL
Dr. Lukasz Stanek, University of Manchester
Dr. Sharone Tomer, Virginia Tech
Dr. Yael Padan, The Bartlett UCL
Prof. Wendy Pullan, UCR, University of Cambridge
Dr. Maximilian Sternberg, UCR, University of Cambridge
Dr. Mark Campbell, Royal College of Art
Dr. Emily Makas, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Nadi Abusaada, University of Cambridge
Lenastina Andersson, KTH Sweden
Christopher Cowell, Columbia University
Killian Doherty, The Bartlett UCL
Yasmina El Chami, University of Cambridge
Hannah Rose Feniak, NYU
Oxana Gourinovitch, TU Berlin
Jasper Ludewig, University of Sydney
Mohona Reza, University of Edinburgh
Eva Schreiner, Columbia University
Rixt Woudstra, MIT
9.20: Opening Remarks
9.30 - 10.30: Keynote: Prof. Mark Crinson, Birkbeck (London)
10.45 - 12.15: Panel 1: Nationalism, Urban Institutions, Colonial Governance
Rixt Woudstra, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Designing the “Multi-Racial” City:
Leonard Thornton-White’s 1948 Plan for Nairobi
Nadi Abusaada, University of Cambridge: Locating Arab Urbanism in Colonial Palestine
Mohona Reza, University of Edinburgh: Bengali Nationalism in the Modern Architectural
Inception of Bangladesh, 1947-1971
Lenastina Andersson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology: Who Builds a National Museum?
Tracing Microhistories of Materials and Labour in Processes of Change
12.15 - 13.30: Lunch
13.30 - 15.00: Panel 2: Private Actors, Transnational Networks
Hannah Rose Feniak, New York University: From Modernization to Materialization:
Writing Barad into Architectural Theory
Jasper Ludewig, University of Sydney: “A State Within A State”: White Australia, German
Missionary Architecture and Aboriginal Citizenship in Turn-of-the-Century Queensland
Yasmina El Chami, University of Cambridge: Constructing Beirut: Missionary Education and
the Project of the City in 19th-Century Lebanon
Oxana Gourinovitch, Technische Universität Berlin: Soviet Modernism and Negotiation of
National Representations on the International Stage
15.15 - 16.30: Panel 3: Topography, Infrastructure, Colonial Planning
Eva Schreiner, Columbia University: Materials of Finance, Techniques of Empire: Deutsche
Bank and the German Imperial Project in the Ottoman Empire, 1888-1919
Christopher Cowell, Columbia University: The Cutting of India: Sanitaria and Settler
Killian Doherty, The Bartlett UCL: Re-rendering Rwandan Urbanism
17.00 - 18.15: Roundtable: Rethinking Methods, Future Trajectories
Tania Sengupta, The Bartlett UCL:
Reading the Colonial Periphery: the Field and/as the Archive
Sharóne Tomer, Virginia Tech:
Specters and Agents
Łukasz Stanek, University of Manchester
Yael Padan, The Bartlett UCL:
Conflicted Ethics and the Co-production of Urban Knowledge in Postcolonial Cities
18.15 - 18.30: Concluding Remarks
VENUE & REGISTRATION
The Symposium will take place in the Department of Architecture, Scroope Terrace, Cambridge CB2 1PX.
Online registrations have now closed. Limited registration will be available at the door.
This symposium is organised by PhD candidates based in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge, and is organised with the support of the School of Arts & Humanities and the Department of Architecture.
Yasmina El Chami is a Cambridge Trust Scholar and 2nd year PhD Candidate in the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, supervised by Prof. Wendy Pullan. Her dissertation looks at the construction of missionary educational institutions in nineteenth-century Lebanon, examining their role in the urbanisation of Beirut.
Nadi Abusaada is a Cambridge Trust Scholar and 2nd Year PhD Candidate in the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, supervised by Prof. Wendy Pullan. His research looks at the bureaucratic and civic spatial practices in Palestine during the late Ottoman and British Mandate period, focussing on the role of the local Arab population.
Please direct all comments or enquiries to: