In 1925, the Central Market of Rabat was built at the outskirt of the medina (the old city) by French Colonial powers (1912-1956). Despite being the only element displayed in colonial maps of the medina, and one of Rabat’s current landmarks, the history of the market is still unknown. Drawing on the National Moroccan archives and on colonial postcards, the article explores the historical and urban significance of the Central Market for Rabat colonial and postcolonial history. It argues that the market constitutes a unique architectural and urban case for Rabat as it both challenged and reinforced the colonial agenda. Planning principles like the policy of association, the ‘image of the city’ and the ‘dual city’ were not only defied by the market, but also by the demolition of the part of the wall in front of it. This revealed the inconsistencies and lack of homogeneity of the colonial approach. Moreover, without the wall, the medina became penetrable by the ‘Ville Nouvelle‘ (New Town). Engaging with the Central Market is significant for the history of colonial planning, but also for today’s Rabat identity construction, inscribed in 2012 in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and elected cultural capital in 2022.
Document Fever: Encounters with the architecture of the *colonial architecture archive: Organised by the Architectural Association in collaboration with the Architecture Space & Society Centre, Birkbeck School of Arts
Date: Friday 25 February 2022 Time:10:00 – 17:00
Fever: An intense enthusiasm for or interest in a person, pastime, event, etc., typically widespread but short-lived; an obsession, a craze / A state of intense nervous excitement or agitation / to elevate in intensity, temperature, etc., to heighten emotionally. OED
An architectural archive is expected to contain drawings, plans, maps, photographs, models, and sample materials. However, the archives of post-war architects working for the United Nations — Jacky Tyrwhitt, Charles Abrams, or Otto Koenigsberger, to name a few — contain letters, invoices, book drafts, repetitive lecture notes, photographs, press cuttings, and, mostly, reports, piles of them. Reports consist of from two to dozens of typed pages with advice on the development of the environment as a whole, spanning issues such as landscape, ecology, economy, housing, migration, labour, water management, and others. These reports are mostly addressed at regions in Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia that were colonised at the time or had recently gained independence.
It is common to find report-based archives in Western departments of architecture and architectural institutions. Both the architectural category and the Western homes of these archives could be questioned for their interdisciplinary content and their embodiment of neo/post/post-/re/trans/inter/—/*colonial relations. These probably get complicated by other questions: the exiled condition of some of its authors, the aspirations of the UN and of the recipients of these reports, or the political and economic international dynamics behind these reports. Maybe one first question is about what these archives represent: is it their authors, their ideas and practices, their network, the lands and peoples reported, or something other?
This symposium adds to the work on *colonial networks of planning consultants since the 2000s and specifically to the work from critical studies and the social sciences developed in the 2010s on *colonial exchanges between Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, US, UK, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, The Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Ghana, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Belgium. This work has until now scrutinised these archives through theses on climate and race, capitalism and extraction, green infrastructure, socialist worldmaking, and misogynist endurances, amongst others. None of these topics were explicit in the archives which are partial, unclassified, and under rigorous custodianship most of the times. This symposium focusses on the feverish encounter with the architecture of the archive that made possible these forms of research and asks how to make ‘privilegings, elisions, and silencing’ of the ‘work of the archive’ present, accessible, and suggestive, if at all appropriate, in the architectural *colonial archive?
The symposium will explore the following themes:
space, geoposition, and structure of the archive;
property, representation, and audience;
fantasies of the writer of the document;
encounters with the document;
critical approaches to the architectural category of these papers;
intellectual frameworks to approach these archives;
evidence finding and the power of “critical fabulations”;
emotional fever in the archive;
connection to the material and personal qualities of the archive;
and the way one would have liked that the encounter with the archive could be framed for future researchers.
Keynote: Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni (Professor and Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South with Emphasis on Africa at the University of Bayreuth in Germany)
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.
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.
It’s been great fun, and here’s to the next five years of exciting research, difficult questions, dusty roads and even dustier archives, and of course new discoveries that make everything worthwhile.
We’d like to thank all of the blog contributors (please do continue to send us your updates, research findings and short articles). Thanks also to our committed readers and for all of your kind comments and emails.
In between improvisation, compensation and negotiation: a socio-spatial analysis of Kariakoo market (Dar es Salaam) dynamics under British colonial rule (1919–1961), by L Beekmans and J. R. Brennan, published in History of Retailing and Consumption, vol2, issue 1, 2016.
“This article examines the socio-spatial history of the central market of a colonial African city. Colonial policies of racial segregation created obstacles to commerce, which in turn generated a local strategy of improvisational planning to placate various urban actors with a host of often contradictory concessions to ameliorate dislocation. These contradictions of colonial governance played out most visibly in the struggles over Kariakoo market, which became the city’s primary market after its construction in 1923.
Kariakoo Market, March 2016
By focusing on contests over the spatial ordering of commerce and residence in a multi-racial city ruled by Europeans, commercially dominated by Indians but overwhelmingly populated by Africans, this article demonstrates how the production of certain types of urban space creates unforeseen leverage for local actors, which simultaneously entrenches wider patterns of obstinate racialization despite the ubiquity of planning concessions. Using deeply researched archival evidence as well as a rich secondary literature, the authors argue that the city market best illustrates the racially contradictory impact of the colonial state on an urban landscape.”
European Architecture Beyond Europe ; E-Cost Action
The final conference for the ‘Architecture Beyond Europe‘ network has just finished in Palermo, Sicily. We met in the wonderful Scarpa restored Palazzo Chiaramonte Sterri, and as usual it was a very interesting gathering with participants, contributors and audience members hailing from all corners of the world. Six packed sessions covered the Transnational, Development Aid, Tropical Architecture, Identity, Methods and Exile. In addition two keynotes were given by Sibel Zandi-Sayek (William and Mary, Virginia) on the Ottoman-British Networks and Lukasz Stanek (Manchester) on Architects from socialist countries working in Ghana. The full programme is attached here: FC_program_final
The network has opened up many new opportunities and collaborative endeavours, as well as a high quality new journal (eager to receive submissions): for more details see: ABE.