This project brings together politics and architecture in Africa. It draws on fieldwork in countries across the continent to explore the shape of statehood, through a mapping of its fascinating buildings.
The project asks: how does African architecture manifest statehood, and how is statehood understood in the ways citizens use, view and engage with the buildings of the state?
Public buildings help define and articulate politics. They are commissioned by political elites to represent the state; but they are often viewed and used by the public in very different ways – sometimes as old and familiar family members, and sometimes as overbearing and oppressive objects of distrust and fear. A study of buildings can tell us a lot about how politics works and a lot about the nature of state-society relations.
The project will look at state architecture across a number of different countries including Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa. It will explore archival records and newspaper accounts of key buildings, and include interviews and focus group discussions with citizens who use and live with them.
Photography is a key element of the project, used to gather more information about the buildings and the people who engage with them.
The photographs collected will help showcase the research findings, on this website, in published materials, and in exhibitions to be staged in venues in Africa and the UK.