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[Video] Architecture and politics in Africa: making, living & imagining identities through buildings

Researchers, architects and students from Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Germany, Switzerland the UK and US attended ASA’s webinar, ‘Architecture and Politics in Africa: making, living and imagining identities through buildings’ on 16 September. 

There were ten papers presented, all of them exploring the relationship between architecture and politics across sub-Saharan Africa, loosely organised around the themes of making (the politics of building and the kinds of politics produced by buildings); living (how people live with inherited buildings, particularly in post-colonial contexts); and imagining (how some buildings carry new political imaginaries). 

This work is part of a book project being edited by the ASA team, due to be published next year.

The online format was surprisingly successful, allowing really rich discussion between people who might not have been able to meet physically, even in normal circumstances. We were lucky to have very few technical glitches.

The webinar was jointly organised and hosted by the African State Architecture project in the Politics Department at SOAS and BISA’s Africa research group.

Panel One

  • 1. Grounding Africa’s international relations: global ambitions and airport expansion in Ethiopia, Joanne Tomkinson, SOAS, UK & Dawit Yekoyesew, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

  • 2. Building heaven on earth: rhetoric and ritual in the politics of Ghana’s national cathedral, Emmanuel Kusi Ofori-Sarpong, Central University, Ghana

  • 3. ‘Made by China’: the strains of sovereignty in Malawi’s Chinese funded Parliament,Innocent Batsani Ncube, SOAS, UK

Panel Two

  • 4. New homes for a new state: foreign ideas in Ghana’s public housing programmes, Irene Appeaning Addo, University of Ghana

  • 5. What society makes of the state: reading Cote d’Ivoire’s public architecture, Julia Gallagher, SOAS, UK & Ariane Ndjore, Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Cote d’Ivoire

  • 6. Colonial legacies, race and shopping: aspiration and division in a Zimbabwean mall, Tonderai Koschke, University of Munich

  • 7. Public spaces, public goods?: reinventing Nairobi’s public libraries, Marie Gibert, independent scholar, Kenya

Panel Three

  • 8. Pan-African imaginations: popular imagery and the African Union building in Ethiopia, Daniel Mulugeta, SOAS, UK

  • 9. Reimagining pre-colonial tradition: the reconstruction of an Asante palace, Tony Yeboah, Yale University, US

  • 10. From prison to freedom: overwriting Nigeria’s colonial past, Laura Routley, Newcastle University, UK


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