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Distributed for Intellect Ltd

African Modernism and Its Afterlives

The legacy of colonial and postcolonial African architecture.

This edited collection of essays and image-driven pieces by anthropologists, archaeologists, architects, and historians examines the legacies of African architecture from around the time of independence through examples from different countries. Drawing on ethnography, archival research, and careful observation of buildings, remains, and people, the case studies seek to connect the colonial and postcolonial origins of modernist architecture, the historical processes they underwent, and their present use and habitation, adaptation, and decay. 

Deriving from a workshop in connection with the 2015 exhibition “Forms of Freedom” at the National Museum in Oslo and the Venice Biennale, the volume combines recent developments in architectural history, the anthropology of modernism and of material culture, and contemporary archaeology to move beyond the admiration or preservation of prized architectural “heritage” and to complicate the contemplation—or critique—of “ruins” and “ruination.”

356 pages | 167 color plates | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2

African Studies

Culture Studies

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction    Recognizing African Modernisms

Paul Wenzel Geissler, Johan Lagae and Nina Berre


Karl Henrik Nøstvik: Remnants of Nordic Aid

Nina Berre

Africa’s ‘Lone Star’: Building ‘New Liberia’ in the Context of Post-war Africa

Iga Perzyna

Countryside Reconstruction in Postcolonial Africa: The Ujamaa Experience

Karl Otto Ellefsen

Technocratic Colonial Housing Policies and Reductive Modernism in Eastlands, Nairobi

Peter Makachia

Transnational Exchanges in Postcolonial Zambia: School Buildings at the Intersection of Architectural, Political and Economic Globalization

Kim De Raedt

Forms of Freedom: Soviet Gifts in Postcolonial Kenya

Ruth Prince

Georg Lippsmeier and His Tropenbau: Salesmanship and Pragmatic Modernism

Antoni Folkers

Israel/Africa: The Laboratories of (Post)colonial Modernity

Haim Yacobi

‘Tout le Congo est un Chantier’: Notes on the Archive of a (Post)colonial Construction Firm

Johan Lagae and Robby Fivez


            Remnants of Nordic Aid in Africa: The Zambia World Bank Educational Projects

Mette Tronvoll

            Remnants of Nordic Aid in Africa: The KICC & Fishery Station by Architect Karl Henrik Nøstvik in Africa

Iwan Baan


‘Kenya Grew from Here’: Property and History in a Nairobi Housing Estate

Constance Smith

Grave Reservations: Nigerian Literature and ‘European Reservations’ during Decolonization

Tim Livsey

The Legacy of Nordic Expertise in Postcolonial Housing Schemes in Nairobi

Tom J. C. Anyamba

Privatization and the Reshaping of the Recreational Landscape of the Industrial Zambian Copperbelt

Patience Mususa

The Ruins of Turkana: An Archaeology of Failed Development in Northern Kenya

Samuel F. Derbyshire and Lucas Lowasa

The Brand New Ruins of Public Health: A Tale of Two Buildings, Kinshasa, DRC

Guillaume Lachenal

‘Is This Anthropology Really a Modern Subject?’: Kenyan Students’ Experience of Nairobi’s (Changing) University Architectures

Ida Skjong Grøvik

Laboratory Unbuilt: An Architectural Biography of Postcolonial Science in East Africa

Paul Wenzel Geissler

Epilogue          Buildings and People: Interdisciplinarity, Juxtaposition and Experimentation

Paul Wenzel Geissler and Johan Lagae

Notes on Contributors


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