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Call for papers - Political architecture and decolonialisation

A one-day workshop on 11 March 2024 at SOAS University of London.

Jubilee House, Accra

This one-day workshop will explore political architecture in post-colonial countries, using it as a way to think about and beyond decolonisation.


Colonialism often expressed itself through grand architecture, monumental buildings that were meant to convey the might and eternity of imperial power. In the early years of independence new states usually adopted this architecture, for practical and political reasons. Its material legacies created tangible images of the discomforts and challenges of post-colonialism. 


However, a new wave of state architecture has begun to replace the colonial structures. Much of it claims to draw on ‘national/local aesthetics’ in attempts to establish more meaningful state symbolism rooted in contemporary politics and identities. This move also claims to be in line with debates around decolonisation, and therefore it might help us think further about how decolonisation itself is being reframed. How do new architectural forms and ideas reflect (which) local aesthetics? Do they – can they – make a radical break with colonial aesthetics, colonial institutions and colonial logics? What can decision-making about new buildings, including who funds, designs and uses them, tell us about the tensions and ambivalences that surround ideas about decoloniality?


We hope that the workshop will feature contributions on new political buildings that address these and related questions from across the Global South. The buildings we have in mind include state structures such as parliaments, presidential palaces, government departments and courts but we welcome broader interpretations of ‘political architecture’ too. We’re keen to include a range of papers tackling the issue of architecture and decolonisation broadly defined and particularly welcome innovative approaches.


We envisage this being a meeting to discuss early-stage ideas, and therefore do not expect full papers. Applicants need to provide an abstract in the application stage, and then a 2-3 page draft paper for the workshop itself.


Discussion will include plans for a special issue collection of papers.


The deadline for submission of interest (title, abstract, author details) is 15 January 2024. Please send a title, abstract and author details (name, position and affiliation) to Julia Gallagher at


Successful applicants will be notified by 31 January.


The workshop is on 11 March at SOAS University of London.


We have some funds to cover travel costs. Please let us know if you’d like to apply for these.


If you’d like to discuss your ideas before applying, please do get in touch with one of us.


Julia Gallagher (

Shirin Rai (


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