Tag Archives: Conference

The Call for Papers is now open for ECAS9 “African Futures” in Cologne, and will close on 9 January 2023!

ECAS2023 is intended as a fully face-to-face conference. Please read the instructions on how to propose a paper on the Call for Papers page and then proceed to submit your contribution. All contributions must be submitted via the links on panel pages.

The calls will close on 9 January 2023, at 23:59 GMT

University of Cologne “African Futures” aims to explore the continent’s critical engagements with the past, present, and future of Africa’s global entanglements. Read the full theme and then browse the accepted panels.

Open Access online publication: “African Futures”
The project started as part of the preparations for the ninth European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), jointly organized by the University of Cologne’s Global South Studies Center (GSSC) and the Catholic University of Leuven’s Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA), and due to be held in Cologne in June 2021 but the pandemic development to a postponement to Whitsun week 2023 (31 May . 3 June 2023). See the Brill website.


“Diaspora Remittance Flows: Restitution, Culture and Capital – ASAUK Biennial Conference 2022” 

We are pleased to announce the launch of the 2022 ASAUK biennial conference titled: “Diaspora Remittance Flows: Restitution, Culture and Capital”. This is an innovative conference which seeks to harness the global two-year involvement with online communications with our physical engagement with conferencing which we hope will return in 2022. This conference is conceived to enable our research colleagues in Africa (Ibadan, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya) to be part of the research conversation at the 29th ASAUK biennial conference, via the zoom media platform. We also will be running a smaller traditional in-person conference in Liverpool addressing this and other ASAUK member-determined themes. 

Running from August 31st – September 4th, 2022, the ASAUK Biennial conference will be a unique two-part conference. With British Academy funding, the first part will take place entirely online and involve ASAUK research colleagues based in Ibadan and Nairobi engaging in the conference themes from Africa based platforms shared across Africa and Liverpool in the UK. This will be followed by a smaller, traditional in-person conference, hosted by the ASAUK at the University of Liverpool. 

We invite you to attend the online conference, which is entirely free, and also to come to Liverpool for the ‘in-person’ conference, taking place from Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th September. The Liverpool conference will have a smaller audience, and conference panel requirements planned to pre-empt possible ongoing Covid health advice on conference size and appropriately spaced and ventilated conference facilities. Taking this into account, there will be online access to the physical Liverpool conference for a reduced fee. 

THE ONLINE CONFERENCE  31st August – 2nd September 


Restitution, Culture and Capital

This is an entirely free to attend conference (with registration required).

Hosted by ASAUK colleagues at the IFRA Institute, at the University of Ibadan and the BIEA, Nairobi, the online conference has been directly funded by the British Academy, with generous supplementary funding from the BIEA. It will be delivered entirely online from both Ibadan and Nairobi, using the Zoom platform. Working closely with the Institutes in Ibadan and Nairobi, these interactive conferences will be broadcast on two consecutive days, from Ibadan on Wednesday 31st August and Nairobi on Thursday, 1st September. The final part of the online conference will be broadcast from Liverpool on Friday 2nd September, jointly chaired by the ASAUK and RAS presidents. 

We expect to curate and edit the key papers, from Ibadan, Nairobi and Liverpool that will be discussed at this unique online conference series. These with support from the British Academy will form the basis of the ASAUK publication Restitution Culture and Capital in Africa and the Diaspora, a trans-national conversation which will elaborate on the themes of the conference through the publication of the keynote papers and also the responses as recorded by participants at the three conference platforms.  

The panel session themes and keynotes for the three day online conference are as follows:


Curated by Vincent Hiribarren, Director IFRA Ibadan


Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Zachary Kingdon, Shadreck Chirikure

TBC David Adjaye


Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Saheed Aderinto, Peju Layiwola  

TBC David Olusoga, Akosua Adomako Ampofo


Curated by Ambreena Manji + Freda Nkirote, Director of BIEA Nairobi


Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Parselelo Kantai


Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Prabha Kotiswaran 


Curated by Ola Uduku and Arunma Oteh

African Diasporas, remittances and capital in a post-Covid era and Viewing the European Black Diaspora in the 2020s 

Confirmed Liverpool Keynote Speakers

Onyekachi Wambu Afford UK, Tunde Zack-Williams ASAUK

TBC Miatta Fahnbulleh, New Economics Foundation,

Prior to the online sessions keynote speakers will discuss their papers with Africa-based ECRs in workshop format.


FRIDAY 2ND – SUNDAY 4TH September 2022

The ‘in-person’ Liverpool Conference follows the traditional panel theme format. Whilst the panel theme titled: Diaspora: Restitution, Culture and Capital, follows on directly from the online conference, we invite proposals for other panel themes.

As this is planned to be a smaller conference we call on panel proposers to ensure all panel proposals are sent in to the ASAUK conference team by 31st March, 2022. All proposals need to have the names of the 3 – 4 paper givers, and their abstracts submitted by the 31st March deadline. This will enable us to plan the conference space and facilities required. It will also mean that we can work to ensure that any documentation required for proposed international participants who might need this will get processed on time. We realise that this is different from the traditional conference format but hope you will join us for this unique, innovative conference in 2022. The 30th April is the later deadline for individual paper proposals. Due to the smaller conference format, space for individual papers will be limited and we encourage paper givers to consider working with emerging panel themes which will announce from February onwards.   

The 29th ASAUK biennial conference dinner will be held at Liverpool University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum on Saturday 3rd September. This will also be the venue for announcement and awards ceremony for the Audrey Richards prize, the Fage and Oliver prize and the distinguished Africanist awards ceremony. 

For more information about the 29th ASAUK conferencePlease contact the conference organisation team via the email address: asaukconference22@gmail.comPanel proposals, comprising the 3 – 4 papers with abstracts, can also now be sent to this address.   

We will be providing further information as the conference details develop on our website and via social media.

Thank you 

Ola Uduku ASAUK President

The Coloniality of Infrastructure: Eurafrican Legacies:
Call for Papers – 
Conference at the University of Basel, 24-26 June 2020


When Eurafrica emerged in the 1920s as an intellectual and political project to connect Europe with Africa, its goal was to ensure European colonial dominance in a changing world. Key to the proposed continental merger was infrastructure—not surprising at a time when railways, ports, camps, and other large-scale building projects were facilitating the extraction and movement of things for Europe while curtailing the freedom and mobility of Africans on an unprecedented scale. Recent scholarship has emphasized the centrality of Eurafrica and the type of colonialism it mustered in the history of European integration, from the EU’s founding intellectuals to its Cold-War-era realization. But continental infrastructure also played a role in African struggles for independence. Highways, ports, and dams became tools of state-building and even mobilized hopes of Panafrican integration and international solidarity. In practice, however, large-scale infrastructure required technical and financial aid which further entrenched Africa’s asymmetrical relationship to the Global North.
Today, as Africa enters a new age of development increasingly dominated by China, and the EU is in fundamental crisis, is it still possible to speak of a Eurafrican present? From the physical imprint of cities and the configuration of intercontinental airline routes, infrastructure testifies to the enduring legacies of Eurafrica. Infrastructure shapes territories and governs the mobilities within and across them, but also serves to immobilize and externalize bodies and things. The European infrastructure of the Mediterranean border regime, in which African migrants are systematically being detained or left to die, recalls colonial-era policies that valued life and dictated death along racial lines. At the same time, European aid focused on infrastructural development in Africa is increasingly targeted to counter such unwanted migration—without touching the global extraction economies that have roots in European colonial rule and continue to shape African cities and territories today. Because of these specters of Eurafrica, the EU seems structurally incapable to come to terms with its colonial past.
This conference proposes to explore historical continuities in Africa’s relationship with Europe through the lens of infrastructure. What are the infrastructural histories that bind the unequal destinies of people together across continents, and how do these legacies shape contemporary lifeworlds and international relations? How does infrastructural violence shape international relations between Africa and Europe, and how is the legacy of Eurafrica manifested in the spaces of everyday life? To answer these questions, the conference invites scholars from urban studies, history, political science, postcolonial theory, architecture, border and migration studies, and allied fields. We invite contributions that develop new perspectives of our geopolitical and interconnected urban present through its infrastructural pasts. Such studies of material and aesthetics relationships between Africa and Europe can focus on questions of lifeworlds, urban transformation, migration, territory, citizenship, development, or related themes. We are particularly interested in studies that can reveal the differential entanglements between people and places, and locate alternative forms of infrastructure, imaginaries of belonging, ongoing struggles for decolonization, and practices of world-making that decenter colonial ways of seeing, feeling, and knowing.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Elizabeth Povinelli (Columbia University)
Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui (Cornell University)


Scientific Committee:
Peo Hansen (Linköping University, Sweden)
Edgar Pieterse (University of Cape Town)
Muriam Haleh Davis (University of California Santa Cruz)
Samia Henni (Cornell University)
Charles Heller (Forensic Oceanography, Geneva)
Anne-Isabelle Richard (University of Leiden)
Bilgin Ayata (University of Basel, Sociology)
Julia Tischler (University of Basel, Centre for African Studies)
Lorena Rizzo (University of Basel, Centre for African Studies)
Madeleine Herren-Oesch (University of Basel, European Global Studies)
Selection of Speakers:
Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short C.V. by 10 December 2019 to Michelle Killenberger ( Applicants will be notified of acceptance in February 2020. We will cover travel and accommodation expenses for speakers in need of financial assistance.
Conference Organization:
The conference is organized by Kenny Cupers, Urban Studies, Department of Social Science at the University of Basel, in collaboration with Sociology, the Centre for African Studies, and the Institute for European Global Studies, as well as the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.
Follow-up Conference:
A follow-up conference will take place in collaboration with Prof. Edgar Pieterse at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town in June 2021. Entitled “Emerging Infrastructural Worlds: Mapping Urban Research in Africa,” this conference will map research approaches to transnational infrastructure projects across Africa and their consequences on the ground.


More information:

This conference is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. For more information about the conference and associated research projects, please visit: 

Call for Papers: Architectures of Power: buildings of politics and governance, 1750-2000. Girton College, University of Cambridge 27-28 June 2020

This conference looks very interesting….

When: 27-28 June 2020
Where: Girton College, University of Cambridge
Submit abstracts of 250 words to by 21 October 2019.

Historians have long recognised the importance of architecture within the exercising of political power. Yet the interaction between power and place, between human actor and physical location, is a difficult one to quantify. This conference brings together political, social, cultural, and architectural historians to explore this relationship. Architecture could be mobilised to exhibit and to legitimise political power, but it could also have a profound influence on decision-makers at crucial moments of governance. Architecture has played a fundamental role in performances of statecraft. Accounting for this architectural agency, without resulting to crude spatial determinism, is one of the great methodological challenges that this conference will discuss. As architectural historians have established, the meaning of buildings vary from user to user. Often these reflected hierarchies operating within the building: experiences of the Foreign Office, for instance, differed from a Permanent Under-Secretary to a newly arrived clerk. It is this question of the subjective nature of architectural experience that we are particularly interested in exploring.

Taking broad definitions of political power and the state, we will not only consider the architecture of palaces, parliaments, and administration, but also of commercial, financial, legal, and religious sources of political authority. This conference is interested in the physical seats of power from the private residences of statesmen and women, to legislatures, embassies, and banking houses. Importantly, this conference considers how the architecture of political power evolved over time, reflecting changes in structures of government. In the late eighteenth-century, the majority of states were absolute monarchies or governed by elite oligarchs, but by the mid twentieth-century the rise of popular representation entailed very different types of architecture. Where once palaces like Versailles and Blenheim embodied the authority of ruling elites, parliaments and administrative offices soon reflected accountable styles of government.

We welcome papers on any geographical case study from the mid eighteenth-century until the twentieth. We are particularly interested in proposals that consider the role of gender, race, and class as well as questions of architectural science and technology. We are also interested in the role of architecture in the operation of imperial, economic, and religious political power. Please submit abstracts of 250 words to by 21 October 2019.

 (sub) URBAN TROPICALITY: Urban challenges in the tropical zone

International Network of Tropical Architecture (iNTA) Conference at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia,  5 – 8 December 2019

The cities and urban centres of the (sub) tropics are where the greatest challenges facing our collective future can be found. They are where the challenges of global warming, inequality and the migration of people fleeing political unrest or climate change are at their most extreme. The 2019 International Network of Tropical Architecture (iNTA) conference provides a forum to discuss architectural and design solutions for a resilient, smart and just future for urban centres in the tropics.

Founded in Singapore in 2004, the International Network for Tropical Architecture (iNTA) is a networking platform for international researchers and practitioners to collaborate and learn from each other about problems and solutions pertaining to architecture and urban design in the tropical (and sub-tropical) regions and brought together by the shared climatic imperatives and opportunities of these regions. The iNTA permanent secretariat is located at the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment at the National University Singapore.

The 2019 iNTA conference is hosted by the School of Architecture at The University of Queensland, located in Brisbane, capital city of the state of Queensland, Australia. Brisbane is proximate to both the fastest growing urban centres in Asia and many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) most at risk from climate change, including Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federal States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Niue and Tuvalu amongst others. Queensland’s most northern extremity, Cape York, sits at the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, those very same oceans that generate the weather systems that circle the globe and affect the destiny of millions of people.

For those who live in the so-called “global south,” there is a sense of urgency about the challenges arising from rapidly changing climate conditions. Matters are not merely academic, but dynamic and concrete. Before the launch of iNTA, discourse around architecture and urbanism in the tropics was framed by centres of scholarship in Europe and North America. The malingering aftermath of devastating tropical storms such as Maria and Irma (2017) in the Caribbean and Typhoon Haima (2016) in the Philippines challenges such ascendancy. The 2019 iNTA conference in Brisbane brings discourse to a subtropical city at the crossroads of cultures, regions and climate zones. At a time when Australia’s role in the region continues to be questioned, it provides an opportunity to enhance north-south dialogue. 

Submission Information & Instructions

Submit abstracts of no more than 300 words in length by email as Word documents to:  Please name the email subject ABSTRACT-SURNAME and use this name for your submission file as well.

  • Abstract deadline: 26 April 2019
  • Submission of full papers for review: 26 July 2019
  • Submission of final papers for publication: 18 October 2019

 All abstracts will be considered by the conference academic committee; authors will be invited to prepare a full paper (no longer than 4,500 words); authors wishing their papers to be published in conference proceedings should submit their final papers for peer review on or before 26 July 2019. The date for submission of final papers is 18 October 2019. Authors may opt out of publication.

Conference Streams 

Tropical Architecture refers to constructed architectural and urban environments relating the climatic and natural conditions of the tropical (and sub- tropical) regions, and interacting with various local specifics of culture, urban fabric and technology. Contributions to the following conference streams are sought. 

1.            Tropical Urbanism  

Stream focussing on challenges to and solutions for enhanced liveability in urban centres of the tropics. Papers might address:

  • projects or propositions for reversing or healing the degradation and collapse of urban centres under rapid growth; 
  • urban infrastructures at risk: rising sea-levels, increasing storm intensity, expanding torridity and aridity.
  • urban adaptation responses : design planning policy, governance and codes
  • urban forms shaped by determinants other than climate alone, such as topography, nature, cultural life. 
  • vegetation in (sub) tropical cities: cultivation in gardens and the peri-urban or neglect in terrain vague

2.             Tropical Architecture :: Contemporary Tropical-isms

Stream focussing on individual designs/ architectural, infrastructure, adaptation projects.  What is it that makes the contemporary architectural project tropical? Or the tropical project contemporary? Papers might illuminate projects that demonstrate instances of : 

  • building technologies: tropical and subtropical applications including 
  • passive low energy and carbon neutral architecture
  • climate mitigation strategies
  • equity in the tropical city
  • the (sub)tropical tower
  • contemporary architecture (still) learning from vernacular traditions
  • reciprocities/dialogue between architecture and tropical environments: between the zeitgeist of a globalized culture and a project’s specific circumstance. 

3.            Narratives of Disease, Discomfort, Development and Disaster ::  Reconsidering Tropical Architecture and Urbanism  

The idea of tropical architecture and urbanism initially developed through a particular connection between discourses on disease, spatial practices and optimum architectural typologies, which were believed to circumvent the spread of tropical diseases and to maintain the comfort of the white settler. After the Second World War, the focus shifted from the European settlement of the colonial tropics to the self-development and governance of the world’s tropical regions; a phenomenon necessitated and propelled by post-war decolonization and global regimes of development aid. Accompanying this change was a shift away from the physiological comfort of the colonial settler to a new focus on indigenous cultures, vernacular building traditions, use of local materials, and increasing appreciation for the psychological value of cultural conventions, including superstition and taboo. The aim of this stream is to examine how “triumph” in the tropics was imagined across multiple geographies, by various subjects, through diverse discourses, and at different times and to critically investigate the roles architecture and urban planning played in this process. We particularly welcome papers that offer historical case studies of tropical and subtropical architecture and urbanism examined through one of four lenses: 

  • disease 
  • discomfort
  • development or disaster.

This stream will be convened by Dr Deborah van der Plaat (The Univerity of Queensland), Dr Vandana Baweja (University of Florida) and Professor Tom Avermaete (ETH Zurich).

4.             Historic Urban Landscapes and Tropicality 

The Historic Urban Landscape is a new approach recommended by UNESCO that recognises and positions the historic city and its core as a resource for the future and the centre for the urban development process. Papers might address:

  • operational principles for urban conservation models: respecting values, traditions and environments of different cultural contexts.
  • historic urban centres and tropical vulnerability 
  • mapping urban heritage values and attributes
  • planning, design and implementation of development projects in historic urban centres
  • adaptive use and re-use impacting authenticity and integrity of physical and social fabric in historic urban centres
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific and Caribbean: their vulnerability and resilience


A World of Architectural History is the 4th annual conference of the Architectural Research in Europe Network Association (ARENA).


The conference aims to critique and celebrate the latest global advances within architectural history over the last few decades, by focusing upon the word ‘global’ in two senses: 

  • Geographically – referring to the increasing inclusion of all parts of the world in more complex and multiple discourses of architectural history
  • Intellectually – the ongoing expansion of architectural history into other academic subjects, plus the reception of ideas/themes from those subjects

Recognition will be given to a more inclusive approach to architectural history that seeks to incorporate the histories of all countries/regions, and to the significant contributions now being made through interdisciplinary links with other subjects. As such, the conference will represent the forefront of the field internationally and discuss where architectural history ought to head in the future.

Conference presenters will include those from a wide range of subject areas within The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and leading figures in architectural history across the world. Both invited speakers and those selected via an open call will contribute their papers.

Conference themes

Eight thematic areas will be presented over the two days of the conference, with these themes also framing the call for papers:

  • Culture and Architectural History
  • Architectural History and Design Research
  • The Expanded Field
  • Colonialism, Post-Colonialism and Beyond
  • History, Environment and Technology
  • Architectural History as Pedagogy
  • Global Domesticity
  • Informalities, Identities and Subjectivities




Call for Sessions: 6th International Congress on Construction History

The 6th International Congress on Construction History (6ICCH) will be organised in Brussels, from July 9 to July 13, 2018. For the first time, thematic sessions as well as the usual open sessions will be organised. Therefore, a two-step procedure is adopted: the call for thematic sessions is launched first, followed by the general call for abstracts. The general call for abstracts will invite contributions for the special thematic sessions as well
as contributions dealing with a broad range of construction history topics (typology, the action of building, knowledge transfer, process and actors, materials, services, etc.). With this combination, the organisers aim at both a broad and an in-depth assessment of new research in construction history. The present call invites prospective session chairs to suggest topics for the thematic sessions. Their aim is to highlight explicitly the latest themes, approaches and directions in construction history research, and to foster
transnational and interdisciplinary collaboration and discussion on burning issues. Proposals should include a description of the theme (max. 400 words), a motivation of the relevance of the theme (max. 400 words) and a CV of the applicant chair demonstrating his/her relevant expertise. The organising committee will select up to 12 thematic sessions, limited to one per applicant.
Chairs of the thematic sessions are expected to be present at the 6ICCH and give a short introduction to their session. They are, in collaboration with the scientific committee, responsible for the selection process of the submitted abstracts and for the editing process of the submitted papers. For each session 4 to 5 papers will be selected. No more than one paper of the chair’s research team can be selected. The scientific committee reserves for itself the right to redirect papers towards other thematic or open sessions.

Proposals should be sent to by April 1 2017. Session chairs will be informed about the selection of their proposal by the organising committee by May 1 2017.

important deadlines
Call for sessions: March 1, 2017
Submit sessions: April 1, 2017
Call for abstracts: May 1, 2017
Submit abstracts: June 15, 2017
Submit papers: December 1, 2017

organising committee
KU Leuven (Krista De Jonge)
Universiteit Antwerpen (Michael de Bouw)
Université Catholique de Louvain (Patricia Radelet-de Grave, Denis Zastavni)
Université Libre de Bruxelles (Rika Devos, Bernard Espion)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Inge Bertels, Stephanie Van de Voorde, Ine Wouters)

See the PDF here for more info: 6icch-2018-call-for-sessions

West African Modernism & Urbanism Research Conference and Workshop, 13-14 July 2015, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

You are invited to a workshop and conference which will focus on developing the conservation of modernist buildings and urban landscapes in West Africa.

This development strategy will be tackled at two levels. Firstly, at urban and edifice level, through the development of the KNUST Architecture Department as a Centre for public engagement with, and professional expertise in, contemporary urban conservation training and research; in West Africa, this discipline is currently not taught at institutional level, despite the existence of a network of architecture and planning schools, and architectural institutes for whom this would be beneficial.

Secondly, with support from DOCOMOMO International’s African group and Urbanism-landscape specialist committee, the workshop will develop a physical archive of modernist buildings in West Africa, using digital technology to scan and record building photographs and plans of the postwar modernist era. The data will be made available both to researchers linked to the proposed urban conservation training project, and, equally importantly, to the local public, as a visual resource of contemporary West African Modernist history.

The workshop will feature outreach presentations from junior secondary school pupils and talks from the eminent keynote speakers and research associates involved in the workshop and archive programme.

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Miles Glendinning [University of Edinburgh] and Prof. H. N. A. Wellington [Emeritus and Former Head of KNUST].


We acknowledge the support of this event by the Universities of Edinburgh, and of Liverpool, and by the Royal Africa Society.

For more details on the event please contact Dr. Rexford Assasie Oppong [] / Dr. Ola Uduku [] for more details.

1st SEAARC (Southeast Asia Architecture Research Collaborative) Symposium

Questions in Southeast Asia’s Architecture / Southeast Asia’s

Architecture in Question

Dr. Chang Jiat Hwee and Dr. Imran bin Tajudeen

Dates: 8-10 January 2015 (Thursday to Saturday)

Venue: Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment

National University of Singapore

Convenors: Dr. Chang Jiat Hwee, Dr. Imran bin Tajudeen and Dr. Lee Kah Wee

Keynote speakers

 Prof. Hilde Heynen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

 Prof. William Logan, Deakin University

 Assoc. Prof. Abidin Kusno, University of British Columbia.

Confirmed speakers (in alphabetical order and to be updated)

 Dr. Cecilia Chu, The University of Hong Kong

 Assoc. Prof. Hazel Hahn, Seattle University

 Dr. Kemas Ridwan Kurniawan, Universitas Indonesia

 Prof. Gerard Lico, University of the Philippines

 Assoc. Prof. Koompong Noobanjong, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology

 Assoc. Prof. Anoma Pieris, University of Melbourne

 Dr. Pirasri Povatong, Chulalongkorn University

 Assoc. Prof. Iwan Sudradjat, Institut Teknologi Bandung

 Prof. Gunawan Tjahjono, Universitas Pembangunan Jaya

 Prof Tim Winter, Deakin University

What is Southeast Asia architecture? Does the construction of Southeast Asia architecture depend on the validity of Southeast Asia as a geographic unit of analysis? In Southeast Asia studies, the cogency and usefulness of Southeast Asia as a geographic unit of analysis has been much discussed and debated. Scholars have wondered if a diverse region divided by different cultures, languages, ethnicities and religions has sufficient commonality to be productively considered as a single region. With the end of the Cold War and the crisis of Area Studies, the relevance and validity of Southeast Asia as a geographic unit has been subjected to further interrogation in the past two decades or so. While there are scholars who question the relevance of a geographic unit of analysis that was only invented recently and by external observers for a post-Cold-War era, there are others who are keeping faith with Southeast Asia as a unit of analysis. Some argue that, as a geographic unit, Southeast Asia serves as a useful conceptual tool for framing meaningful analysis. Others contend that the polyvalence and fluidity of Southeast Asia as a geographic unit can be an analytical strength, allowing them to explore networks, flows and connections – the new emphases of globalisation studies. We share the optimism of these scholars who have kept faith with Southeast Asia. We further believe that the scholarship on Southeast Asia’s architecture need not just draw on but can also contribute to the understanding of Southeast Asia as a geo-historical unit. Architecture is after all a spatial art and it should productively shape our conception of Southeast Asia as a region.

How have or can scholars of architecture and urbanism in Southeast Asia contribute to this broader discourse of space and history in this region? This symposium invites scholars to submit papers that explore the multifarious relationships between architecture in Southeast Asia and issues surrounding its use as a geographic unit of analysis. We are especially interested in papers that address the following themes –

A. Surveying Architectural Histories in Southeast Asia

The scholars working in and on Southeast Asia are divided by the different languages and academic cultures of the region. The diverse academic cultures and, in the words of Thongchai Winichakul, “political economy of scholarship” mean that much of the scholarship on Southeast Asia architecture is written in vernacular languages and inaccessible to scholars working in other languages. While English is arguably the main lingua franca of contemporary academic scholarship, the mainstream English language architectural history is largely silent on Southeast Asia’s architecture. This symposium seeks to address and, hopefully, rectify the lack of communication between the scholarships in different languages and the silence on architecture in Southeast Asia in English language scholarship. We see this symposium as an opportune moment for a stocktaking of the research in architecture and urbanism in Southeast Asia. We invite scholars working on the different aspects of Southeast Asia’s architecture to submit papers in English that explore, survey and review the state of research in their respective fields or sub-fields of Southeast Asia architecture. Through this gathering of scholars from otherwise linguistically disconnected research circles, we hope to promote dialogues and exchanges on some of the common historiographical, theoretical and methodological issues in researching Southeast Asian architecture. We also hope the presence of scholars working on diverse locations and different time periods will stimulate comparative and connective discussion, linking the historiographical and methodological issues of one field or subfield to the broader – extra-local, transnational and interdisciplinary – issues.

B. The Epistemology of Architectural Classifications

In the writing of architectural histories, particularly the general survey genre, scholars typically employ a classification rubric that assumes certain epistemological bases and methods of analysis. These fall into two types. The first type of classification originates in Western scholarship and architectural historiography and is encapsulated by a triad of categories at the very heart of how “architecture” is defined as a discipline: “modern”, the pre-modern “classical” whether of Europe or of other “Great Traditions” and various forms of “revivalist” styles, and finally the “vernacular”. The latter two categories in Southeast Asia translate into the “(European) colonial” and “(native) traditional”. A second type of architectural classification employs cultural geographic categories that are extraneous to architecture but are employed to name specific building traditions, including but not restricted to such generic religious and ethnic labels as “Hindu”, Buddhist”, Islamic”, “Chinese”, “Thai” and other cultural labels. In most cases, there is an assumption of timelessness to these traditions. These classifications have their limitations, whereby certain kinds of artefacts that do not fit neatly are omitted, or connections between artefacts that straddle these artificial classificatory boundaries and are ill-defined by their limiting assumptions on forms, agency and processes are glossed over, simply ignored, or are distorted in the analysis to make them fit the existing assumptions. These classifications therefore inflict interpretive violence upon the artefacts that are subjected to their rubric. In many cases they are inextricably bound to legacies of European colonial scholarship or ethno-nationalisms and inherit approaches and biases in the study of architecture of (post-)colonial territories, especially if they are reliant on colonial records and scholarly precedence. We seek papers that trace the origins of the classificatory frameworks mentioned above and provide a critique through a survey of architecture that underscore their inadequacy. Papers should also consider how examples from Southeast Asia contribute to larger discussions about more recent scholarship that have revised the assumptions and challenged the limits of these classifications.

C. On Architectural Networks and Circulation – within and beyond nation and region

Architectural histories in Southeast Asia have tended to focus on architecture within the modern nation-state, as they have mostly been written after the independence of these political entities. . A corollary to the attention to connections across cultural and geographic categories emphasised in Theme B, is the need to acknowledge the ambiguity and fluidity of the territorial boundaries that demarcate the local from the foreign, the internal from the external prior to the emergence of nationalism, the formation of modern nation-states and the attendant construction of their “geocodes”. While national histories of architecture might acknowledge and address “foreign”, i.e. extra-national, influences that range from the colonial metropole to the post-colonial global “West”, their focus is primarily on the local and internal conditions of these nations. Nation-states are of course fairly recent construction and have been anachronistically applied to periods before the 20th century. Furthermore, Southeast Asia is historically situated at crossroad of major maritime networks and the different parts of coastal Southeast Asia have been connected to each other and other regions via these extensive maritime linkages for centuries if not millenia. Connections beyond Southeast Asia – whether across maritime Asia from the Indian Ocean region to the South China Sea littoral, or via overland routes – are thus of relevance to architectural histories of Southeast Asia. How have these historical “transnational” and transregional connections and exchanges shaped the production of the built environment in Southeast Asia and between Southeast Asia and neighbouring regions of Asia? Would these help to expand the architectural historical accounts that are based on modern nation-states? Given that these exchanges were frequently unequal and uneven, how should we understand and theorise the nature of these exchanges?

Are the concepts that have been developed by various scholars of transnationalism and postcolonialism to describe these exchanges – such as transfer, translation, transculturation and hybridization – adequate? We invite scholars to explore the above questions and we especially welcome papers that conceptualise these multivalent connections beyond the bipolarity of centre and periphery, east and west, and local and global.

D. Space, Society and Power

It is well-established that architecture and the built environment are not just isolated material artifacts and autonomous aesthetic objects; they are shaped by and they also shape the sociocultural and political economic conditions of their production, consumption and circulation. In the recent scholarship of architectural history, power has emerged as a key analytical theme in the discussion of architecture’s entanglements with society, culture, politics and economy. However, some of this scholarship is rooted in traditional art historical approaches and relies mainly on formal analysis — the effect of power is at times too easily correlated with formal qualities. The consequent focus on buildings as “visible politics” or on the “aestheticization of politics” might not be adequate in understanding the nuances of space and power-relations. What are the conceptual frameworks that have been deployed for the exploration of architecture and power in Southeast Asia? To what extent is the above criticism applicable to the scholarship on Southeast Asia architecture history? What can we learn from the seminal texts in Southeast Asia studies by scholars such as Clifford Geertz, James Scott and Benedict Anderson that have  shed important insights on power in traditional societies? What other theories could be productively used to shed new insights on the analytical theme of power? Would the Foucauldian conception of disciplinary and biopolitical power in relation to modern governmental rationality be usefully deployed in the understanding of architecture and power in Southeast Asia? What about theories from the studies of postcolonialism, nationalism and globalisation? We invite scholars to submit papers that discuss aspects of the above questions and we especially welcome papers that employ innovative approaches to explore the multifarious connections between power and the built environment.

Submission of abstract

Please send a 500-word abstract with a short 2-page curriculum vitae to

by 01 July 2014.

Key Dates

01 Jul 14 Submission of abstract

01 Aug 14 Notification of acceptance

15 Sep 14 Early bird registration deadline for presenters

01 Nov 14 Submission of full paper and registration deadline for presenters

24 Dec 14 Registration deadline for all