Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

Decolonizing Architecture: displacement, migration and colonial heritage

( 60 ECTS Credits )

Italian Ghosts, Venice Architectural Biennale, 2014, DAAR.

The struggle of decolonization once primarily located outside of Europe, today has moved within its borders.  What the media calls the “refugee crisis” is, in reality, the incapacity of Europe to come to terms to the condition of five hundred years of colonialism. It is not possible to understand today’s displacement of people and migration flows, nor contemporary fascism, without thorough knowledge of the colonial heritage.

The course uses the term decolonization as a starting point to understand the globalized present and the associated contemporary conditions of exile and struggles against oppression and domination. The course proposes an innovative, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of colonial architecture expanding the notion of colonial space to present realities. The course has two main areas of investigation: looking back into the past by investigating the ways in which colonial architecture was re-used in the process of decolonization; and looking forward into the future through a study of spaces of resistance within European cities. By employing video, photography, mapping and modelling, the course aims to generate a web-based interactive platform titled – Atlas of Architectural Decolonization.

Course Content
The focus of this year is the afterlife of Italian fascist colonial architecture. During the period of the two world wars, under the fascist regime, Italy built a vast number of public buildings, housings and monuments. Architectures that has helped influence and shape both Italian cities and future cities such as Asmara, Addis Ababa, Rhodes and Tripoli. In Italy the amnesia of Italian colonization paradoxically corresponds with the well-preserved and continually used fascist architecture. With the re-emergence of today’s fascist ideologies in Europe – and the arrival of populations from north and east Africa – it becomes urgent to ask: What kind of heritage is the fascist heritage? How do the material traces of the Italian empire today acquire different meanings in the context of migration from the ex-colonies? Should this heritage be demolished, simply reused or re-oriented towards other aims including reparations from Italian colonization?

Course structure
Students work collaboratively during the academic year towards a research-based artistic intervention. The course is divided in two semesters: In the fall a series of lectures, seminars, reading groups and self-presentations will lead to a mid-term public conference/exhibition. In the spring, more emphasis would be put on the production of a collective intervention/exhibition. During the fall there will also be a site visit to Asmara and Addis Ababa.

The current course’s mid-term public conference/exhibition Decolonizing North was organised in collaboration with Konstall C and Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism at Uppsala University, and the intervention/exhibition which concludes the course will take place in Palermo in June in occasion of Manifesta. Interested applicants are invited to attend the opening June 22, 2018 at the Casa del Mutilato in Palermo.

The advanced course Decolonizing Architecture is part of a sequence of courses that together form a platform for higher education and research on the topic of decolonizing architecture. The courses are led by Alessandro Petti, professor in Architecture and Social Justice at Kungl. Konsthögskolan-the Royal Institute of Art. Advisers, invited guests include: Sandi Hilal, Iain Chambers, Adelita Husni-Bey, Vittoria Capresi, David Rifkind, Hisham Matar, Maria Lind, Daniel Urey, Suad Amery, Giorgio Agamben, Galit Eliat, Ilana Feldman, Sari Hanafi, Thomas Keenan, Vasif Kortun, Salwa Makdadi, Achille Mbembe, Rasha Salti, Rahel Shawl, Pelin Tan, Eyal Weizman.

Course syllabus Decolonizing Architecture 2018 2019