Call for Papers | Constructing Coloniality: British Imperialism

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 18, 2022

Adolphe Duperly, The Destruction of the Roehampton Estate in the Parish of St. James, Jamaica, January 1832, 1833, hand colored lithograph, 29 × 41 cm. This copy of the print was sold at Christie’s on 24 April 2012; Sale 4826, Lot 282.

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From ArtHist.net and The Bartlett School of Architecture:

Constructing Coloniality: British Imperialism and the Built Environment
Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain
The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, 12–14 May 2023

Organized by Eva Branscome and Neal Shasore

Proposals due by 27 January 2023

Demands to ‘decolonise’ have grown louder and louder in recent years, not least in architecture, architectural history, and heritage. In Britain public monuments and spaces have loomed large in discussions about the legacies of slavery and empire and the processes of repair, from Edward Colston in Bristol and Cecil Rhodes in Oxford, to Winston Churchill, and numerous others in London—as has the ‘colonial countryside’ manifest in National Trust and English Heritage properties and their interpretation. Meanwhile, the dynamics and effects of British colonialism play out in buildings, cities, and landscapes across the world: in the reshaping of the Raj’s New Delhi by the Indian government, for example, or in the perpetuation of plantation structures in the Caribbean.

In seeking to forge a decolonial architecture, architectural history, and heritage practice amid a polarised debate, it is necessary to deepen our understanding of the built environment’s complex entanglements with coloniality—not just the act of colonialism, but also the social, economic, and political relations and attitudes that spawned, sustained, and endured beyond it. Moreover, the disciplines involved in the production of knowledge about built environments and how they are formed in different temporalities and geographies must take a broader view, scrutinising not just the subjects of research, but the methods deployed and the modes used to disseminate the results.

This conference focuses on the coloniality of architecture and heritage in relation to the British Empire, from the early years of expansionism and the escalation of the slave trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through the physical and political force wielded in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the development of racial capitalism, to the subsequent and ongoing struggles for independence, freedom, and justice.

Contributions are welcomed that reassess the built environment in Britain and (former) British colonies in terms of its relationship to colonial systems and ideas, including but not limited to

• Domestic environments
• Urban environments, including streets, squares, and gardens
• Factories and other sites of industrial production
• Sites of assembly, leisure, and entertainment
• Places of worship
• Buildings for colonial administration
• Infrastructure such as ports, waterways, and railways
• Intercolonial networks and infrastructures
• Experiences of colonial dispossession, displacement, and exclusion
• Heritage sites and conservation

Alongside or in the process of examining such subjects, typologies, and morphologies, we welcome reflections on the following historiographical and methodological questions:

• How have the professions, disciplines, and discourses of architecture, design, and heritage been shaped by and participated in imperialism, coloniality, and racism?
• What the knowledge systems and epistemologies are that construct ideas of ‘architecture’ and ‘heritage’, and what is excluded and why?
• How teaching and its institutional contexts reinforce these frameworks?
• How financial systems, supply chains, and concepts of tenure and relations to the land shape the production of built environments?
• How does the coloniality of architecture and heritage relate to histories of extractivism and energy use?

The conference organisers are Dr Eva Branscome (Bartlett School of Architecture) and Dr Neal Shasore (London School of Architecture), with advice from an International Academic Committee. We encourage participants to submit their paper to the SAHGB’s journal Architectural History for consideration. Fuller details about the conference and how to book will be publicised in due course.

Abstracts of a minimum of 300 words and maximum of 500 words are invited for this major architectural history conference being held in person at the Bartlett School of Architecture in mid-May 2023. Up to three pages of images can also be supplied. However, all of the text/images in each case must be combined together into one single Acrobat PDF file for submission or else will not be accepted.

We invite conventional paper proposals, but welcome other appropriate formats to our subject matter such as poster presentations, films etc. Prospective contributors should submit titles and abstracts to conference2023@sahgb.org.uk by 27 January 2023 with participation confirmed by 27 February 2023.

To ensure equal treatment for all submissions, the organisers will not respond to any individual queries about the content of papers or about the thematic categories. The selection panel will assess each of the proposed papers on an anonymous basis. Applicants need to ensure that they have their own sources of funding available to take part in the conference as online presentations will not be possible.

This three-day conference is hosted by The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) in collaboration with UCL and the London School of Architecture.

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Note on the image from Christie’s: “The Christmas Rebellion, also known as the Christmas Uprising and the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1831–32, was a 10-day rebellion that mobilised as many as 60,000 of Jamaica’s 300,000 slave population. This lithograph illustrates the destruction of the mill yard and slave village at the Roehamton Estate owned by J.Baillie Esq., in January 1832.”


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