We’ve been making good progress on our latest research on the UAC architecture. Here’s a quick selection of material from our recent twitter feeds. Next week we’ll be joined by Dr. Michele Tenzon which will finally bring the entire research team together in one place. You can expect to see some of Michele’s maps and visual representations of the UAC activity here very soon.
PhD Research Title and Summary: British Malaya: Colonialism and Architecture in Federated Malay States in 1875-1941.
Preserving colonial buildings is difficult in this modern world. In Malaysia, the difficulty can be seen from the news that arises each year regarding the decision to demolish the colonial building in the name of development especially in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city (that never stops developing). However, many non-government organizations and historians are taking action to prevent it once the news appeared. This situation may possibly be a never-ending story. Concerning this issue, I believe that education is important to prevent demolishing and adding value to the colonial buildings. Therefore, to learn the importance of heritage buildings must come from the history itself. So, conducting historical research on colonial buildings will be one of the solutions to this problem.
Figure 2 one of the heritage buildings that is no longer exist
Historically, British Malaya consists of three parts of administration systems which are Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States, and Unfederated Malay States. All three parts were later merged to be Malayan Union that leads to the forming of Malaysia this day. Upon researching, I found out that Federated Malay States have less historical research done on their British colonial buildings which leads me to focus on them.
Federated Malay States was the beginning of British establishment in the Malay Peninsula. It is intriguing to see how the British developed the states to become one of the wealthiest among their other settlements. Also, to see how the architecture style is being brought from outside into the Federated Malay States. The architecture was developing through the development of Federated Malay States and each building have their own uniqueness in their design. It is interesting to see how the process of constructing the buildings was in history also what made them choose a certain type of architectural style to apply in this environment and how the architecture was finally developed into a style that comprises the culture of the community.
Figure 4 Credit to National Archives of Malaysia
Archival research is the main data collection method for this study. The research will be conducted in several archives located in Malaysia, Singapore, and United Kingdom. Case studies also are one of the methods to explore their architecture and the development of the capital towns that were formed during the British administration in Federated Malay States. Fieldwork will be performed to observe and mapping the site also photographing the buildings with their environment.
Aims and Objectives:
Constructing a history of Federated Malay States through architectural production lens
Recording the development of colonial architecture in Federated Malay States
Analysing the factors that contribute to the development of their architecture
Recognizing the British Vision through the architecture of Federated Malay States
What did you do before the PhD Research?
I was a practice assistant at an architectural firm in Malaysia before decided to continue my studies for Part 2 in Master of Architecture at The University of Newcastle, Australia. After completing my master’s, due to some family reasons, I was needed to work near our home, so I become a graphic designer while doing part-time architectural work.
Why did you pursue a PhD, and what made you choose the University of Liverpool?
I decided to do PhD because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I also want to upgrade my knowledge in a different way than what I was used to in the architectural field. I also got interested in heritage buildings during the time of my degree in architecture when we got to visit various heritage buildings in several countries. So, I decided if I want to do a PhD, I wish to research heritage buildings as they look remarkably unique from my perspective.
For my PhD study, I have decided to study in the UK because I would like to explore a new environment and new system. Besides, the Malaysian government gives a lot of support for their citizen to study in the UK. So, sponsorship is not a problem. While selecting the university, I came across the university website and found an architecture PhD student testimonial on how it was like to study at The University of Liverpool. From there, I started to explore the School of Arts page and seeing that they are very active in architectural heritage research which is my research interest. Therefore, I thought that this university is suitable for me and immediately register the PhD.
What have you found the most fun part of the PhD, and the most challenging?
The fun part of the PhD is the knowledge that you acquire during the process. Besides, getting to know more about history and heritage buildings in my country seems a turning point for me as it increases my knowledge about my own country wherein school the history that we have learned is missing the details. It feels like you to get to learn a new story.
The most challenging part is that sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing and feeling not confident with my own research. I also feel like time is chasing after me because there are so many things to read and if you cannot focus you have to read it again. Not only that, doing a PhD makes you feel like you are in kindergarten because you have to learn everything from the very basic in your research topic. Besides, controlling your emotions and habits without affecting the PhD journey is also very challenging.
Post-Phd? Any ideas of what you’d like to do next?
I do not have anything planned yet for what I want to do next. But the options remain either to be in academia or industry. It will still be a new experience for me if I be in academia or industry. So, I would love to see how my PhD journey ended before deciding anything because I believe that at the end of my PhD, I might know what my strengths are.
Any advice for others interested in doing a PhD?
My first advise is if you do not have any research background, you might want to do some research about it like interviewing PhD students or someone who has already graduated from PhD in order for you to have a clear view of PhD journey. It will be useful as you come prepared for this journey. Secondly, you might want to do lots of reading in a wide scope around your topic and the methodology before registering for your PhD because it will save you lots of your time when you already know the basics. Lastly, you should know how to motivate yourself and enjoy the journey in the long run as this will help you during difficult times.
Following a six month delay due the COVID-19 Pandemic, our latest project to research the Architecture of the United Africa Company has finally started. With generous funding from the Leverhulme Trust, the project will run for two years and result in a series of papers, exhibition, and a monograph.
The Principal Investigator is Iain Jackson (Liverpool School of Architecture), with Co-Investigator Claire Tunstall (Global Head of Art, Archives and Records Management, Unilever Archives and Records Management). This close collaboration will allow the project to have full access to the 1000 linear metre UAC archive held at Port Sunlight, Wirral.
The three research associates for the project are Ewan Harrison, Michele Tenzon, and Rixt Woudstra.
The history of West African cities has often focused on government projects, health, segregation and so on, with far less attention given to the one of the largest contributors to the built environment – the mercantile traders and their endeavours.
This project will investigate the impact of the mercantile developments across former ‘British West Africa’ starting with the late 19thC and ending with the early years of political independence of each nation. The shops, trading centres, high streets, and factories offer an alternative view of these cities, and whilst some of these buildings are ‘everyday’ functional structures, when viewed collectively they form a large and significant assembly across the West African region. Through these buildings and wider town plans that accommodated them, the imperial mission is clearly revealed, as are changing tastes, designs, technologies, and economic positions. The architecture, interior spaces, and streetscape serves as a gauge for wider political development, as well as mapping social shifts as the quest for independence came to fruition.
One of the largest of these firms operating in West Africa was the United Africa Company (UAC). Whilst formally established in 1929 its constituent firms trace back to the late 18thC and include the Royal Niger Company (operating from the territory that is now Nigeria) and the African and Eastern Trading Company, as well as a whole range of other enterprises. These businesses were effectively operating in a quasi-government capacity and held immense power and influence over what became the colonial occupation of the region. Their contribution to the built environment shaped transport infrastructure, housing, town planning, as well as industrial development of docklands, warehouses, and factories. They also developed more glamorous projects including high-end department stores incorporating the latest design and retail environments; and shaped the fashions and cultural agenda of the towns through facilities such as cinema halls and community centres.
How did the UAC contribute to the development of the built environment in West Africa, and in what way did it shape the streets, districts, and cities within this region?
Beyond the pragmatic requirements of the business, what type of architecture and planning was it pursuing, and how did this inform the streetscape and experience of the West African city?
To develop a new historical study of West African town and cities through the buildings, plans, and infrastructure projects of one of the largest trading conglomerates in the region, the United Africa Company.
The primary data for this project is held in the UAC Archive, now part of the Unilever Archives, located in Port Sunlight, Wirral. This is a substantial collection and an unapparelled set of material relating to British and post-colonial West Africa. It is a largely ‘untapped’ archive, recently catalogued, and forms a unique set of documents relating to the various businesses ran and acquired by the UAC. In addition to the written sources, the collection includes an exceptional set of photographic records, company films, and recordings of interviews with UAC employees. We’ll also consult various other repositories including the UK National Archives; The Public Records and Archives Department(PRAAD) in Accra, and the National Archives in Sierra Leone (held at Fourah Bay College, Freetown); National Archives of Nigeria (Ibadan Branch).
This congress calls for papers that will examine the movement of people and things around and across the Indian Ocean Rim and reveal instances or patterns of transfer that may complicate assumed centre-periphery dynamics, or correspond more closely to the idea of South-South cooperation. It looks to engage new political framings like the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) or the Group of 77 (G77) and the resulting New International Economic Order (NIEO) that would reconfigure the transfer of construction materials and labour, and consequently architectural knowledge, across this region. But it also hopes to discuss the potentialities for greater solidarity that emerged from broader philosophical notions of ‘neutralism’ ‘human dignity’ and ‘justice’ and how these have affected the ethics of construction in the Global South. Finally, it is expected that all these considerations will find a place in the discussion of migrant populations and their negotiations with these constructed political and cultural categories, living across and beyond them in a constant state of liminality.
Abstracts (300 words) for proposed papers are invited to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 20th June 2021. Congress will meet on 7th-9th November 2021.
Please see the attached Call for Papers for further details:
The University of Liverpool and The National Archives are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded collaborative doctoral studentship, under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme.
Using The National Archives extensive collections the project will investigate how the West African ‘built environment’ has been shaped to respond to various political, economic, and welfare demands and ambitions. The particular timeframe will cover the transition from colonial rule into independence period. After tracking these broader notions across ‘British West Africa’, the project will pursue a narrower focus on one of the four former British colonies.
How were ideas of ‘self’, identity, freedom, and so on, expressed through new construction and town planning? How did former colonisers, and other foreign groups attempt to shape and influence these developments in the ‘post-colonial’ period. How were notions of identity, nation, and ‘new beginnings’ expressed by the postcolonial nations?
The aim of the project is to investigate how political ideas, and notions surrounding identity, nationhood, and statecraft are expressed or manifest through the built environment.
Infrastructure, prestige projects, and grand architectural schemes are often used to infer power, or suggest modernity, development, and progress. Equally, more (seemingly) mundane developments, such as housing, can be as revealing in terms of power structures and wider ambition. In a problematic and contested political situation these types of projects become highly charged and significant expressions of a nation’s collective (and often contested) identity. This is even more meaningful in a colonial context, and architecture, town planning and infrastructure, in part, become symbolic expressions of the colonial power.
The objective of this project is to examine these notions within the West African context over a period of time that spans the late colonial era and early post-colonial period. This was a particularly volatile moment, charged with excitement and optimism, and a desire to somehow ‘start again’ and rebuild a new nation with a new vision. Architecture and planning would shift from being expressions of colonial dominance and subjugation to being expressions of nationalism, hope, and modernisation.
It is sometimes tempting to see the event of Independence as an abrupt and sudden moment. The clock strikes twelve and everything suddenly changes – and whilst this is true, it is also oversimplifying a complex event that is, to some degree, still being played-out today. There is also a sense of inertia in the built environment and existing city plans, methods of development, and networks of expertise stubbornly persist and outlast political dynasties.
The desire for the newly independent nations to express their hard-fought freedom through physical, often large-scale triumphant (sometimes infrastructure) projects was met with the former colonial power’s aspiration to continue offering technical assistance, expertise, and trade. It resulted in a complex blend of nationalism, reimagining/reinventing identity and Pan-African ambition, further mixed with the additional influences of ‘non-aligned’ socialist assistance and US, World Bank, and UN concerns.
The independence of these nations was not an abrupt severance from the former colonial power, but a feathered, gradual transition coupled with intense global interest eager to retain or cultivate influence and trade advantage.
It makes for a fascinating narrative that reveals the shift from overt imperialism, to one of post-WW2 ‘technical assistance’, ‘development’, and fiscal packages from an array of competing agencies and organisations, met with a desire to express African modernisation, liberation, and success.
Cover Letter expressing motivation for applying and pursuing a PhD on this topic.
Project Plan: This is your chance to set out how you would like to design and plan the research project and should not exceed 1000 words. Please produce a Project Plan that includes the following headings:
Proposed project outline and suggested research questions
The National Archives / other archival sources to be consulted
The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.
CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.
The student is eligible to claim additional travel and research related expenses (worth up to £1000 per year for four years) during the course of the project, courtesy of The National Archives.
· We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area.
· Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in subjects allied to the Built Environment/Architecture/History/Cultural Geography.
· A Masters level qualification is desirable but not essential. Applicants may be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting (e.g. producing and researching written reports, public outreach and liason, working with collections and archives).
· Experience of working in West Africa is desirable but not essential.
· Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the archives sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.
· As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both the University and The National Archives.
This is a joint project with AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme. The external partner is the National Archive, Kew. See View Website The award pays full maintenance for all students, both home and international students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2021/22 is £15,609, plus an allowance of £1000 per year and a CDP maintenance payment of £550 per year.
Here are the recordings from the Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning The Modern City, event from 2nd and 9th March 2021. Thank you to all of our excellent speakers, and for the interesting questions and discussions.
PROGRAMME: Session 1: Crucibles, 15:00-16:30 (UTC) Building the Modern City: Expressions of Identity, Change and Power, Moderated by Iain Jackson
This panel will explore state-sponsored programmes, planned cities and masterplans in cities such as Lagos, Tehran and Baghdad. It will examine architecture as expressions of nationalism and nationalist political agendas as well as its relationship to big business, corporations and mercantile ventures.
Rupture, Transition and Continuity in Baghdad’s Master Plans: From Minoprio to Miastoprojekt
Session 2: Vectors, 17:00-18:30 (UTC) Connecting the Modern City: Networks, Alliances and Knowledge Production; Moderated by Clara Kim
This panel will explore the practice of modern architecture through colonial-postcolonial networks and geopolitical alliances. It will explore cities in Mozambique within the context of other Lusophone countries, post-Partition East & West Pakistan, as well as the dissemination of knowledge and technical expertise through pedagogy.
Correspondences, Transfers and Memory: Maputo’s “Age of Concrete”
Farhan Karim (University of Kansas)
Archaeology of the Future: Constantinos Doxiaidis in East and West Pakistan
Patrick Zamarian (University of Liverpool)
Global Perspectives and Private Concerns: The AA’s Department of Tropical Architecture
TUESDAY 9 MARCH Session 3: Catalysts, 15:00-16:30
Fragments of the Modern City: Memories, Echoes and Whispers Moderated by Osei Bonsu
This panel will explore the collaborations, connections and entanglements that developed between art and architecture during a dynamic period of building in Morocco, India and Iraq. It will examine the legacy and afterlives of these projects through the investigation of under-recognised figures and narratives in art and architecture.
Lahbib el Moumni & Imad Dahmani (founders of MAMMA, Mémoire des Architectes Modernes Marocain)
Initiatives toward saving modern heritage of Morocco
Ram Rahman (Photographer/Curator)
Building Modern Delhi, The Nehruvian Post-Independence Renaissance
Amin Alsaden (Independent Scholar)
Syntheses Across Disciplines: Rifat Chadirji and Art-Architecture Liaisons in Modern Baghdad
With a formal existence spanning early modern to contemporary history, the British Empire supported complex networks of trade, war and settlement. It intervened in land-based expansions as well as maritime worlds and prefigured a global architectural history. Yet research that seeks to critically address the empire and its legacy poses complex challenges for the architectural historian: the mental-mapping of bureaucratic systems across multiple continents, finding evidence of buildings and landscapes for which little documentation exists, sitting with a complex past and present of race, gender, religion, nationalism and capitalism.
This writing group is formed as an empathetic structure for scholars writing books and dissertations on imperial and colonial histories. We seek to create a space for researchers to share resources on chapter writing, structuring and revision. Writing is often an isolating activity, particularly for emerging scholars with non-Eurocentric specialisations that are underrepresented in the academy. To this end, we especially encourage applications from early-career researchers and those whose primary field sites are located outside of Great Britain. This project is among the first within the society’s new Race and Ethnicity network, a new effort to foster greater equality, diversity and inclusivity within the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.
The group will meet for two hours every two months, with participants alternating between workshopping their own draft chapters and that of another in the writing group. Participants must commit to reviewing and presenting once every four months. To mitigate time zones and geographies, all events will be held over Zoom.
HOW TO JOIN
To join, please send a one-page cover letter and a brief project abstract to email@example.com with the subject line ‘Application: Writing Group on Architecture and Empire’ by 15 January 2021. The cover letter should state why you would like to be a part of the group and your general meeting availability, and the abstract should address the dissertation or book project you hope to work on as part of the writing group. All interested participants will be notified by 31 January 2021. The group will meet every other month beginning in February 2021. The meeting times, format and specific group expectations will be refined amongst participants during the first meeting and reviewed on a regular basis.
Call for Papers: British Architecture in the World
As part of its long-running series Twentieth Century Architecture, the Twentieth Century Society is planning a journal for publication on the relationship between British architecture and other countries of the world, particularly those beyond Europe.
The nature of the relationship may take a number of forms, such as British-based practices working overseas, British architects establishing offices in other countries, architects coming to Britain for training before returning home, or more general issues of how the profession in Britain set standards for education and validation elsewhere, in particular through the RIBA. We tend to favour actual buildings as subject matter in Twentieth Century Architecture, but on this occasion the field may be wider, including town planning, cultural responses, climatic adaptation, administrative histories, professional formations, and relationships to the later period of colonialism and its ending. Accounts of the scope of archival resources could be of interest, and we might also include reports on the current state of buildings, including threats and conservation projects.
The scope outlined above is larger than usual for what is a relatively small collection of published pieces – the journal usually contains about ten articles – but it seems preferable not to place limitations until we are aware of what might be available. Recently, research and publication in this area have grown rapidly, and our aim is to bring together articles that complement each other, but with a spread of periods (anything from 1914 to around 2000), styles and locations. The journal will be the sixteenth in the series, and will probably be published in 2023.
In the first instance, please send your ideas by 01 July 2020 in the form of an abstract of up to 300 words, along with a brief CV and list of publications to date, to elain.harwood@HistoricEngland.org.uk, who will also answer any queries. Abstracts will be reviewed by the editorial committee of the journal, drawn from members of the Twentieth Century Society Publications Committee, and selected for full submission. Completed texts will be peer-reviewed.
Following commissioning, delivery would be 1 March 2022, the length of articles should be between 2,000 and 5,000 words, with up to ten images per article. Contributors are expected to provide and pay for images of publishable quality.
Tania Sengupta, “Papered spaces: clerical practices, materialities, and spatial cultures of provincial governance in Bengal, Colonial India, 1820s–1860s”, Journal of Architecture, vol 25, issue 2, 2020
British colonial governance in India was built upon global technologies of writing produced through European mercantile colonialism; the extraction of the embodied Mughal administrative knowledge from a Persianette (or Tamil-proficient, as in Southern India) Indian clerical class, and its materialisation into official paper-based forms, as shown by Christopher Bayly; and a scribal-clerical ‘habitus’ as described by Bhavani Raman. This research focuses on the architecture, spaces and material culture associated with the paper-bureaucracy of the colonial government of Bengal that Jon Wilson calls one of the world’s earliest modern states.
It argues that this paper-/ writing-oriented habitus also mandated a chain of materialities and spatialities (paper-records, furniture, spaces, and architectures of colonial governance). Focusing on the colonial cutcherry(office), the nerve-centre of Bengal’s zilla sadar (provincial administrative) towns, I analyse such ‘papered spaces’ as record rooms and clerical offices. The work is conceptualised around paper as a key agent of colonial governance, including the expanding spheres of its logic, which profoundly permeated the cutcherry’s material-spatial culture and experiential ‘lifeworld’. I also reflect on how colonial paper-practices intersected with other more immaterial and mobile circuits of knowledge and information spread over the town and country, and how such paper-governance was fed, for example, by spatial geographies of paper supply and printing. For the research, I combined extensive on-ground documentations of the material fabric of the buildings with archival research (governmental papers, period literature and art) in India, Bangladesh and Britain.
This chapter assesses the work of the British architect Sir Herbert Baker (1862–1946) for the imperial capital of New Delhi, a role he shared with Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944) very much as an equal partner over more than a decade. This assessment is undertaken in the context of the reception and rereading of the classical project and the wider classical tradition among not only the imperialists, but also the colonised in India.
corbelled arch in New Delhi
The reception of the classical tradition in India assumed a character distinct from other British colonies as a result of a long-standing history of interaction with the classical world, as well as the sheer immensity of its diverse historical, literary and material culture traditions. With the consolidation of the British Empire in India, European classical traditions assumed attributes and resonances they did not possess in Europe.