What does it mean "to decolonize"?

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Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course End of the year discursive exhibition 23-29 May 2019


Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course End of the year discursive exhibition 23-29 May 2019


Fourteen steps fascist monument built in 1936 for the commemoration of the fourteen years since the foundation of the italian fascist party. The monument was not destroyed after the Ethiopian liberation from the fascist regime, a Lion of Judah instead was added on top of fourteen steps reorienting its meanings.

Addis Ababa. Photo by Luca Capuano






Seminar, public lecture, book discussion May 28th, House 28 and Muralen, Royal Institute of Art and ArkDes Library

CRITICAL NARRATIVES OF COLONIAL HERITAGE AND LEGACIES Individual and collective presentations, 24

conversations and performances May 27th, House 28, Royal Institute of Art



Workshop May 25th, House 28, Royal Institute of Art




Individual and collective presentations, conversations and performances May 24th, House 28, Royal Institute of Art


Individual and collective presentations, conversations and performances May 23rd, House 28, Royal Institute of Art



Asmara. Photo by Luca Capuano

What does it mean “to decolonize”?

Alessandro Petti

In trying to respond to this loaded question it’s necessary to clarify the perspective and position from which one is seeing and speaking, as well as the experiences which have shaped ones understanding and practice of the term “decolonization.” In my experience decolonization has essentially been understood and practiced as a double movement: on one side it’s a critical approach to the status quo and an antidote to normalization, while on the other side it’s a movement towards the creation of meaningful and emancipatory forms of life. These movements have emerged and developed concrete meanings in the context of Palestine, where decolonization is essentially understood above all as liberation against the Israeli regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid. In 2007, together with Sandi Hilal and Eyal Weizman, we established DAAR - Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency; an architectural and artistic collective practice which aims to imagine the reuse of colonial structures for different intentions than they were originally designed for, from evacuated military bases to the transformation of refugee camps, uncompleted governmental structures and the remains of destroyed villages. Architecture in the process of colonization and decolonization plays a crucial role in organizing spatial relations and expressing ideologies, even when it’s abandoned and left in ruins, it is mobilized as evidence of political and cultural claims. The analysis of the ways in which colonial architecture has been re-utilized is a new arena for understanding broader political and cultural issues around national identity and exile, senses of belonging or alienation, and social control or urban subversion. In Decolonizing Architecture, it is not enough to simply invert the structures of power. In postcolonial India, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi had different positions on how to re-use evacuated British colonial buildings: Nehru wanted to reuse them for the new independent government, prisons as prisons, school to be continued to be used as schools, etc, while Ghandi believed that a liberated India should radically change the functions of these colonial structures in order to serve the interests of the people and liberate themselves from the inherent structure of power relations. The difficult task of Decolonizing Architecture, therefore, is to reimagine new uses that will not be trapped by structures of power. In this sense Decolonization is closer to an act of profanation to present structures of domination rather than a messianic promise of a more just future that never arrives. Giorgio Agamben points out that “to profane does not simply mean to abolish or cancel separations, but to learn to make new uses of them.” To profane is to transgress lines of separation, to use them in a particular way. If to sacralize is to separate and bring common things into a separate, 9

sacred sphere, then its inverse, to profane, is to restore the common use of these things. Reutilizing colonial architecture, therefore, does not only mean to dislocate power but to use its destructive potential to reverse its operation by subverting its uses. It is, accordingly, important to distinguish between secularization and profanation. Secularization leaves the power structure intact; it simply moves it from one sphere to another. Profanation, however, manages to deactivate the power devices and restore the common use of the space that power had confiscated. Historical processess of colonization and decolonization and today´s conditions of coloniality and decoloniality, to borrow Walter Mignolo conceptualizations, have shaped the world order and continue to sustain systems of privilege. The European colonial/modern project of exploitation, segregation and dispossession which begun 500 years ago when the world was divided into different races and nations considered to be inferior to Europe, which remained the center of reference of culture and civilization. Perhaps the most striking example of this inherited privilege is the right of free movement granted to Europeans and negated to the rest of the world. It has to be said that the European colonial/modern project was not only imposed outside of Europe, but also within Europe itself. Southern Italy where I was born, for example, is still today considered as under developed with endemic problems and the object of a failed project of modernization. The new towns built in southern Italy during the fascist era to modernize (or we can also use the term to colonize) the south were built with the same intentions and design and by the same architects that designed the colonial towns in Libya, Eritrea and Ethiopia, however the southern Italians were not dehumanized as was the case for Libyan, Eritreans and Ethiopians. In the last two years, within the frame of the Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course at the Royal Institute of Art, course participants have collectively studied the ways in which colonial architecture has been reused in Asmara and Addis Ababa, and speculated on the possible reuse of a fascist era building in Palermo. During the period between the two world wars, under the fascist regime, Italy built a vast number of public buildings, housing and monuments. Architectures 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?


“Who has the right to reuse fascist-colonial architecture?” Courtesy Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course - Royal Insitute of Art (KKH) Stockholm.

Last year a discursive exhibition took place on the occasion of Manifesta 12 in Palermo as a “prosthesis to Casa del Mutilato” - a fascist architecture, which acted as a tool to re-orient the future uses of the building. The course presented a project for the critical re-use of the Casa del Mutilato - a fascist building designed by Giuseppe Spatrisano and inaugurated by Benito Mussolini in 1936. The project took the form of an architectural prosthesis which acted as a tool to re-orient the future uses of the building and pragmatically start a much needed restoration process. Invited guests, including Mia Fuller, Adelita Husni-Bey, Nicola Labanca, Shourideh C. Molavi, Peter Lang, Vittoria Capresi, Sandi Hilal, Andrea Bagnato, Anna Positano, Emilio Distretti, debated the legacies and ruins of Italian fascist architecture and their mutilated histories at a public seminar held in June. This year the course participants traveled to Addis Ababa and Asmara to study the ways in which the local population reused colonial fascist building. In Addis Ababa the course collaborated with Rahel Shawl and the team RAAS architecture that has mapped out architecture built during the Italian occupation. In a series of workshops, course participants joined local students, experts, architects and local associations to rethink the possibility of reusing one of these building as a center of knowledge production; a space that the RAAS team and Rahel envisioned especially for newly graduated architects. The exhibition organized by the RAAS team at Urban Center, which featured a series of architecture built during the Italian occupation, sparked an interesting debate around the use of the term decolonization, since Ethiopia was never colonized. In contrast, architectures built during the same period in Asmara were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017 under the title of “Asmara: A Modernist African City.” The course participants had the possibility to meet and discuss with the team of Architects and conservationists of the Asmara Heritage project 11

who prepared the nomination dossier. Participants reflections, initiatives and projects will be presented during the discursive exhibition from May 22 to May 29, which will include a seminar, presentations and performances. Parallel to the collective research in Addis Ababa and Asmara, course participants have been working on individual research projects. A central ambition of the course was to give the necessary space, time and support to every student to engage with honesty and urgency in consolidating a personal intellectual trajectory. During the course individual tutorials and collective readings provided the context in which every student tried to make sense of her/his personal learning trajectory. Abstracts contained in this publication are summaries of their individual positioning towards the course framework. During the seven days of the discursive exhibition every student has the time to present in various formats, their research project and discuss it with invited guests. Based on this individual research project, each participant was asked to define one concept/definition that is particularly relevant for her/ his research and share it with the rest of the group in order to create a common vocabulary. What is at stake in reclaiming a definition of different concepts is the possibility to connect different urgencies, without falling into the trap of universalizing or identitarian models.

Images from the trip (above and right).


I would like to thank the course participants for their generosity and courage to embark on such an ambitious educational and research program. I feel particularly grateful to encounter the life and the struggles of 15 new participants every year. It is a privilege and a great responsibility. My appreciation and gratitude goes to Mauro Sirotnjak, Mouna Abdelkadous, Makda Embaie, Enrico Floriddia, Eva Strocholcova, Senait Tesfai, Florence van Sandick, Mo Sirra, Soroor Notash, Husam Abusalem, Roberta Kanan Burchardt, Marie Therese Luger, Hala Alnaji, Patricia Aramburu, Matthew Ashton, Nadia El Hakim, Anna Maria Furuland, Benas Gerdzuinas, Radoslav Istok, Carlota Jerez, Tatiana Letier Pinto, Ilaria Lombardo, Yasmeen Mamoud, Ambra Migliorisi, Fernanda Ruiz, Bert Stoffels, Mauro Tosarelli, Nina Turull Puig, Victoria Van Kan. I´m extremely thankful to Marie-Louise Richards, who has created a safe space for debate and intellectual growth for every student and Elof Helstrom for his fundamental contribution to the first year course. I would like to express my gratitude for guidance and assistance to Susann Löfberg, Anneli Hovberger, Lina Lehn, Veronika Wallinder and all the staff at the Royal Institute of Art that has made the course possible. A special thanks to Sara Arrhenius for her continuous support and trust in our endeavors. I was blessed by the encounter with Madina Tlostanova, Shahram Khosravi with whom we have discussed content and format of Walter Mignolo´s participation to the discursive exhibition. A special thanks to Luca Capuano for having made his photographic work available for the collective research, to Ana Naomi de Sousa for the short documentation of our visit to Addis and Asmara, to Emilio Distretti for his contribution during the trip and to Diego Segatto, for the graphic design of this program.


Addis Ababa. Photo by Luca Capuano

What does it mean to re-imagine?

Marie-Louise Richards

“To decolonize” suggests a massive undertaking. In many ways it is, but it does not need to be overwhelming. In my mind to make sense of it, the point of departure must be from one’s own position, that is: from one’s own perceptions, and how one has come to know the world and in turn, what knowledge one has gained from one’s own experience of passing through the world. It becomes a question of what assumptions and beliefs one holds, and to ask where these come from, and why? But also, to reflect on of how this may manifest in how one come to understand objects and others in pursuit of meaning and ask if it is possible to imagine otherwise. Whereas this endeavour seem to be a lot to take on, when I ask myself “what does it mean to decolonize”, it becomes a way for me to imagine the world differently, to re-imagine ways of thinking, speaking and doing, in a world where bodies, spaces, building and landscapes are shaped by histories of colonialism. This is our inheritance, passed down over time, which affects all of us in different ways depending on how these narratives press upon our bodies and give them shape. (Ahmed 2006:111) Architecture materialize ideologies, that in turn orders how the world is structured by such histories, of which narratives are made visible and contributes in how it positively or negatively affects people’s life chances; of who can move freely, of and who cannot. Even if we today in most cases, may not refer to the world as colonial, I would suggest narratives with colonial roots are more active than ever. Whereas, the colonial suggests distance, both in time and space; of distant territories dominated, exploited by a metropolis centre. I believe that to decolonize is to argue for that colonial structures affects both internally as externally, on the scale of the mind and body of the individual, to the scale of global structures both material and immaterial. That are both active here, in a place like Sweden, which does not associate itself with colonialism, neither in the past nor the present, as in any locations that explicitly associate themselves with colonial histories and its heritage. Reading colonialism as narrative, “to decolonize” is to begin locating new ones. The colonial imagination is a powerful one, and one possible way of challenging it is to locate other narratives and other imaginations. In Decolonizing Architecture, we set out to locate new narratives as a way to unlearn what previous ones may have taught us. If colonial histories manifest in our built environment, new narratives can re-imagine the re-use of buildings, spaces and landscapes. As examples of the research projects of the participants of Decoloniz15

ing Architecture shows, what site and re-use might mean could take on a wide set of approaches and, I believe this is crucial in order to have meaningful ask relevant questions, and to have conversations and reflections that remain open ended with curiosity of new ways to interpret active colonial manifestations or legacies. When referring to how the colonial is present today, scholar and feminist bell hooks refers to the phrase ‘imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy’(hooks 2004:17). Needless to say, these are loaded terms, and perhaps part of this is meant as provocation, but it would be a mistake to think that was all it was. I believe what she does here is something very important: she puts forward a language of an interlocking hierarchal system, where the terms: ‘imperial’, ‘white-supremacist’, ‘capitalist and ‘patriarchy,’ overlaps and intersect. Furthermore, and equally importantly she identifies these terms as systems or discourses, not individual people or groups. In my view, the meaning of ‘imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ becomes a question of a set of values inherited from colonial histories, that in turn becomes a question of one’s conscious and unconscious sense of self, emotions and desires in relation of what we identify, and how this defines the way we think about and view our place and meaning in world. Of course, any(body) can be a supporter of “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”, which means that any(body) also could be a critic and resister of it too. That being said, what becomes implicit is a relation of power. Whether we maintain and support or is a critic and resister of set of intersecting forces of domination, what needs to be acknowledged is our own position within this matrix and what it means at any given time, in relation to the arguments and inquires we put forward. What bell hooks phrase makes visible are positions that has the tendency to remain hidden, forcing them to the foreground, and by doing so she allows us to challenge what we deem relevant modes of inquiry and how we begin to formulate them, with greater accuracy and nuance. In Decolonizing Architecture, as a group, in our seminars, collective readings, site visits and field trips in, we engage in this work dialogue with guests, texts and most importantly, each other. It here, becomes necessary to underline, despite the potential of new imaginations may bring, to engage with these questions are in many cases, a complex and difficult process. Therefore, to decolonize is difficult and complex too. One needs to come up with new tools, new vocabularies, and one may fail in one’s attempts to do so. This may be frustrating. Still, I believe this is where the greatest potential also is located: to focus on questions rather than answerers. But it also allows us to consider the emotional labor in our endeavor “to decolonize”. To imagine otherwise, such actions affects you, to challenge the status quo, such actions affects you, and to Decolonize Architecture, such actions affect you. I believe when one embarks on the task “to decolonize” there is no way escaping this fact. Affect is in many ways synonymous with ‘force’ or ‘forces of encounter´, the 16

term ‘force’ however can be a bit misleading since affects need not to be especially forceful (although sometimes it very well can be) In fact, it is quite likely that affect more often transpires within and across the subtlest of intensities: the small ordinary events in the every day that goes unnoticed as well as the more obvious ones. This is where emotional labor takes place as affect arises in in-between; in the capacities to act and be acted upon. Affect has been most extensively advanced in feminist theory, and explorations of emotions predominantly in queer theory. For me it becomes important to return to these theoretical bases as affects illuminates both one’s power to affect the world around us as well as the power to be affected by it, along with the relationship in-between. This is also where I for the past years have located my practice as an architect; analyzing, exploring and creating spaces that takes the vulnerable as point of departure in sharing knowledges and learning. With special attention the devalued or to that which have been forgotten, ignored, unnoticed or unseen. Re-imagining these as critical positions of subversion and empowerment. This invites a transdisciplinary approach to both theory and method that invites experimentation in capturing the changing functions of the political, economic and the cultural. In Decolonizing Architecture course participants come from different disciplines and backgrounds and research interest which allows us as a group to enter into these questions from a variety of perspectives. I have such appreciation for the engagement each group participant interacted with each other and the guest and collaborators of the course. Together we created a learning environment, and by travelling to Addis Ababa and Asmara we also continued to expand it, that would have been impossible without the curiosity and generosity of everyone whom entered into this with us. I wish to extend my deepest and sincerest thank you to all the participants of Decolonizing architecture and to my colleagues at RIA all mentioned by name by Alessandro previously, and special thanks to Rahel Shawl and Selam Lemme and the team of RAAS architects and the local collaborators and actors we were introduced to by them and the team in Addis Ababa, as well to Medhanie Teklemariam and the team of the Asmara Heritage Project. And each and every one we came to encounter and work with throughout this year trough the course as guests or as collaborators, also previously mentioned by name by Alessandro. The way in which each and you engaged openly and honestly and contributed in our endeavour “to decolonize architecture” is a rare thing, I will forever be grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience this year with you all and to work and learn together with you. I believe we will continue to re-imagine other ways of doing, knowing and sharing during the program in May, and continue doing so for many years to come, in the course and elsewhere.


Addis Ababa. Photo by Luca Capuano




WHAT DOES IT MEAN “TO DECOLONIZE”? { part I: seminar } 9:00 – 12:00 at House 28, Royal Institute of Art Introductory notes to decolonial thinking and the decolonial option Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo

{ part II: public lecture } 14:00 – 16:00 at Muralen, Royal Institute of Art Decoloniality, Epistemology and the “Idea” of Europe Walter Mignolo

{ part III: book launch and discussion } 18.00-20.00 at ArkDes Library Permanent Temporariness Sara Arrhenius, Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, Sandi Hilal, Kieran Long, Alessandro Petti, Walter Mignolo, Marie-Louise Richards, Rahel Shawl, Madina Tlostanova

The struggle of decolonization once primarily located outside of Europe, today has moved within its borders. What the media continue to call “refugee crisis”, “environmental crisis” or “economic crisis” are, in reality, the incapacity of Europe to come to terms to the condition of five hundred years of colonialism. This public event is divided in three parts: a public seminar that introduces decolonial options and their relevance in the European context, followed by a public lecture by the renown philosopher Walter D. Mignolo who has been in last 40 years researching and teaching the historical foundation of the modern/colonial world system and imaginary and to conclude with an open discussion on decolonial artistic practices by using as a starting point, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti´s latest book Permanent Temporariness, a collection of research projects developed in over a decade of work within the artistic collective DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency).

{ part I: seminar } 9:00 – 12:00 at House 28, Royal Institute of Art Introductory notes to decolonial thinking and the decolonial option Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo

Decolonization and decolonizing have now become a hip of the academic, artistic and activist agendas. The overuse, in a way, has its merits in the sense that it has placed in the center a marginal concept only a couple of decades ago (overrun by all the imaginable “post”-s it was ignored by the mainstream “experts” in art, politics or economy and dismissed by the various corners of the Left). In this intervention we do not intend to judge who is right or wrong in the use of the concept, nor to address the critics of the concept and their agenda. Our intent is very simple: a pedagogical introduction to decolonial thinking. By introducing decolonial thinking we would be able to respond to our own question from our own experience and from the conversations and collaborative work.


{ part II: public lecture } 14:00 – 16:00 at Muralen, Royal Institute of Art Decoloniality, Epistemology and the "Idea" of Europe Walter Mignolo

Martin Heidegger once came up with the idea of the end of philosophy and the beginning of thinking. The concept of “thinking” as well as every single key-word of the Western vocabulary (like “philosophy”, “art”, “history,” “epistemology,” “democracy”, etc.), can no longer go without an adjective. None of them are universal. Rephrasing Heidegger decolonially his dictum becomes: “The end of Western philosophy and the beginning of Western thinking”. Decolonial thinking is in neither of them but some place else. What is called “thinking” in Western vocabulary is embedded in all living organisms, and as such is much larger than Western philosophy: thinking is living. But Western philosophy separated “thinking” from “nature.” Decolonizing epistemology then means to start by reducing it to size and liberate decolonial thinking. Considered decolonially, Europe is not ontically a continent but an ontological “idea;” and an “idea” that established the epistemic foundations to name the other four continents. Since Europe is not an existing entity that the name “Europe” refers to, but a consequence of coloniality of knowledge, Europe cannot be decolonized, but the “idea” of Europe can. Decolonizing the “idea” of Europe would steer us (Europeans and non-Europeans) to disclose the presuppositions and consequences of building the EU and trying to save it.


{ part III: book launch and discussion } 18.00-20.00 at ArkDes Library Permanent Temporariness Welcome by Kieran Long. Introduction by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti. Responses by Sara Arrhenius, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl, Marie-Lousie Richards, Madina Tlostanova. Moderated by Carlos MĂ­nguez Carrasco

Permanent Temporariness is a book, a catalogue, and an archive that accounts for 15 years of research and experimentation by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti. The publication presents and reflects on issues related to the condition of permanent temporariness that permeates contemporary forms of life. Some of the concepts addressed by Hilal and Petti’s work span from the role of architecture in refugee camps, the critical understanding of the idea of heritage, or the potential of hospitality to subvert the separation of private and public life. The event brings together the authors along with collaborators and friends for an informal conversation around some of the projects and ideas included in the book.

In collaboration with: ArkDes - The Swedish National Museum of Architecture and Design


Addis Ababa. Photo by Luca Capuano

May 27th

10.00 - 20.30 > House 28 / The Royal Institute of Art

CRITICAL NARRATIVES OF COLONIAL HERITAGE AND LEGACIES > 10.00-11.00 Sobrado house, Brazil How to inherit colonial heritage: Forms of sharing and learning in contemporaneity Roberta Kanan Burchardt. Respondents: Márcia de Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl

> 11.15-12.00 Tensta, Stockholm, Sweden Finding a missing heritage Husam Abusalem. Respondents: Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl

> 13.00-13.45 Biologiska museet, Stockholm Sweden “Appropriation as appropriate practice” Marie Therese Luger. Respondents: Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl

> 14.00-14.45 Qasr-prison, Tehran, Iran Palace.Prison: An inquiry on the question of Modernity Soroor Notash. Respondents: Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl

> 15.00-15.45 The Casbah, Algiers, Algeria The Casbah Mouna Abdelkadous. Respondents: Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl, Léopold Lambert

> 16.00-16.45 Catholic heritage in the Vatican, Palestine, Ethiopia, Slovakia The Eye of The Storm Rado Ištok. Respondents: Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl, Léopold Lambert

> 17.00-17.45 Sylvia Pankhurst, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Trialogue Act 2: A speech conversation between Benito Mussolini, Sylvia Pankhurst and Haile Selassie Tatiana Letier Pinto. Respondents: Madina Tlostanova, Walter Mignolo, Rahel Shawl, Léopold Lambert

> 19.00-20.30 { talk } On the notion of colonial continuum Léopold Lambert in conversation with Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn Part of Spaces of Care, Disobedience and Desire a collaborative research project initiated by Rado Ištok, Natália Rebelo and Marie-Louise Richards supported by the artistic research and development funding of the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm

{ conversing heritage }

I am looking for an ideal between private and public, where feelings and affections maintain the same trust and care, in our private conduct as in our public actions. Perhaps the most pertinent question to ask, when dealing with heritage is “why do we still care?�. In my case, a very important question is how the act of inheriting a historical house unravels a double-meaning. In its historical perspective, private ownership and the right to inheritance indicate privilege over others. Private ownership of heritage implicates yet a coarser privilege, which is the appropriation and consumption of an historical object, as a confiscation of something whose belonging must be constantly negotiated, since heritage is, or should be, by definition, a collective right. In the reality of colonial heritage the discourse is the very challenge of, on the one hand (architectural conservation as) the material responsibility, care and knowledge of the built heritage as evidence of colonial concurrence, and on the other hand, the needs for acts of sharing and learning as ways of emancipation, re-positioning or restitution. In my particular case, the survival of an (original) atmosphere present in the built heritage is the actual (original) matter available to engage and converse with. Can we work at the threshold between (original, historical) atmosphere and contemporaneity? Not stagnant, retrograde, but in motion. Not fixed, shut, but permeable, rechargeable with and susceptible to new meanings in dialogue. Can this threshold then be the actual shared space between historical concurrence and the practice of engaging with its aftermath and afterlife? In conversation, I am trying to make sense of these questions, which move between private and public, individual and collective rights and our positions in history, as our positions in contemporaneity. Housing dialogues, gathering thoughts, bridging experiences happening in the interim between private and public, are acts towards a discursive space that has its starting point in the present, looking at the past, inhabiting the heritage site, (re)binding it in society. All its details matter, all aspects participate, and through it we gather for conversation, not detached nor immersed but active, creative, and responsible.

– Roberta Kanan Burchardt

Sobrado house Brasil How to inherit colonial heritage: Forms of sharing and learning

in contemporaneity

Roberta Kanan Burchardt

In a time of collaborative methods and decolonizing discourses, sociopolitical and cultural patterns unfold unequal resource and power structures. Within this reality this research practice is anchored in an inherited colonial house in the south of Brazil, exploring its contemporary performance and legacy through forms of sharing and learning. By interposing the personal and the collective, the practice confronts the responsibility of inheriting colonial heritage as a process of acknowledging privilege and ownership, while also tackling the fundamentals of heritage preservation as paradigms of usage and meaningfulness. What is this heritage, whose heritage is it and what to do with it? Coinciding with the denomination of the house as National Heritage in 2017, urgen29

cy shed light on the degradation of the surrounding community and landscape, the speeded process of erratic urbanization, and the jeopardization of its cultural identity, knowledge and symbolism, which are considered as integral elements of the spirit of a place. The heritage that represented the daily patterns exercised by the specific community of this place, with their rapports of assimilation and signification between the built and non-built, the creation of the spirit that defined it, face an erasure that enforces its praxis: a history not told, a heritage not acknowledged and a systematic perpetuation of disparities. Acting on the belief that the contemporary performance of the colonial legacy today offers a site for renegotiation and dialogue pertinent to local and global communities, the confrontation of seemingly contradictory aspects within heritage - on one side heritage that should be a collective right and on the other side its private management - is a tool for work. This dual aspect of the work means articulation of public and personal interests, as interwoven responsibilities. The simplicity of the architectural program offered by the house in the past, is a way towards the legitimization of its spaces today: a vernacular, constructive culture connected to the concurrence of migration, its artisanal colonial tradition and its confrontation with the natural and original world of the colony. Grounded on the premise that the colonial house can enact a form of insurgence through experiences and forms of daily living in and with heritage, the exploration of different forms of sharing and learning instate new forms of relationships with the house, surroundings and the world. The colonial house recharges possibilities, together with others, to penetrate, learn and share, live, experience, validate and legitimize its historical space in contemporaneity. The process of sharing and learning, as a process of interaction with the collective, comes through an artist/artisan-in-residence program, applied restoration rounds, public acts and gatherings, conversations and study sessions, archival actions, or walks. The prospect is to further this work as a means to deepen research and the development of sharing and learning practices in the house. These actions promote liberation and activation of the colonial built structure, provoking a dynamic of acknowledgement, knowledge and responsibilities. These actions foment permeability zones of mutual affinities, through the shaping of an affective contemporary community that draws bridges between the times of the house and the world today. The process of sharing and learning of (our) heritage is a way towards possibilities to challenge, renegotiate and be engaged in shaping it.


{ heritagise }

Have you ever asked yourself what your heritage is? Or what is your legacy? If you are lucky enough, you will find these questions easy going and straightforward to answer; you might even see their answers clearly in your surroundings. It might be a spectacular building, a cuisine or a tradition. However, what if you are not part of the norm or the hegemonic culture? Then, a pragmatic paradigm for answering these questions might be less helpful. What if, in an obscure way, you find the mainstream definition of your heritage is specific and heritage at large very far from your own perception of it, yet whenever you try to define it within the definition or norm you end up feeling not the subject of your own sentences? You feel a stranger in your writings! That is, when all definitions and words around you fail to recognise your heritage, you feel the urge to make your own, you heritagise1, and find home in your own suitcase. 1. A notion that aims to adopt a linguistically dynamic verb to describe heritage as a process rather than a static noun. Accordingly, heritagisation entails the ongoing operation of verbalising heritage and represent it as a heritage making tool rather than an imposed system.

– Husam Abusalem

Tensta Stockholm, Sweden

Finding a missing heritage

Husam Abusalem

My journey in this course started with the curiosity of finding a missing heritage. A heritage that is not recognised or acknowledged within the new surroundings that I temporarily reside in. Through casual conversations and meeting new people I ended up in Tensta, which is known – surely not as a heritage site- but as an “utsatta områden” or a place I should keep a distance from. Well, could it be the missing heritage? Let’s find out. The term “utsatta områden” conjures up an image of segregation, violence and low socio-economic class, and it triggers Islamophobia. However, the research started by raising the question ‘does tensta have cultural heritage value?’ as it shed light on the dilemma of understanding the complexity in the discourse of Heritagisation. Moreover, the idea of the heritagisation of Tensta was discussed in Art and the F-word: Reflections on the browning of Europe, which shed light on Tensta Konsthall’s (2014) 32

project “Tensta Museum: Reports from New Sweden” which reported the condition of Tensta today, as well as describing Tensta as a reflection of the “New Sweden” that hosts a multicultural population with composite identities, both at the same time. Lind describes Tensta as “an unusually multifaceted and complex place…around nineteen thousand people live in Tensta today, and roughly 90 per cent have a trans-local background… this means that the collective memory of Tensta splits into numerous pieces; it also means that tensions and conflicts erupt around questions of history and heritage” (p.187). In that sense, it is highly important to study and analyse Tensta and other so-called “utsatta områden” beyond their materiality and physical complexity. In an attempt to de-marginalise Tensta and open it up to the public realm of Stockholm and Sweden. This research will examine Tensta not only as a manifestation of the political narrative, but also as living proof of refugeehood, cross/multiculturalism, and composite heritage which are flourishing in the so-called “utsatta områden”. Though conflict and tension may occur while questioning heritage, challenging such a unique multicultural space could break the memory limbo, reflect the heritage of the new generation of Sweden and liberate them from the preconceptions of the worth of being heritage and what constitutes the national heritage of Sweden. Identifying Tensta as a ‘missed’ valuable cross-cultural heritage is one of the motives behind this research. Yet, does the neighbourhood stand as a world heritage site? Does its architecture reflect an outstanding work of humanity? Or, alternatively, it is an outstanding example of architectural standardisation? Are there any other projects that better reflect the standardisation of production in Sweden? Finally, Would this shed lights on the marginalisation of Tensta and promote a better media perception of the neighbourhood, or would it sanitise, exile and objectify the inhabitants of the neighbourhood?


{ appropriation }

“Appropriation as appropriate practice” is a concept I have been working on both theoretically as well as within the framework of my artistic/curatorial practice since 2015. It is a concept and a methodology that seeks to contribute both on a micro as well as a macro scale of things, taking into account the bigger picture of society and politics as well as remaining personal and focused on my specific practice. My understanding of appropriation derives from the field of Art-history and includes the assumption of intertextuality as well as artistic appropriation as a method; Sherry Levines “After Walker Evans” being one of my favorite expressions of this genre. What these two examples have in common is their quality of copying something with slight changes or critical, even humanistic references to that which was “appropriated”. Further, appropriation can also be understood in its simplest form as taking hold of something or “taking something on” which for example, is not uncommon in economics and politics, where it’s often a brutal and unjust act. From in-between these positions I interpret appropriation as a strategy with great potential for subversion and the instigation of change, if it could be separated from its imminent potential of (re)creating a power structure. The idea of power, of agency, of the right and the possibility of “doing” something is key to my understanding of appropriation as an appropriate practice. If we think of appropriation as a method - for the ones who have none - to gain power and a voice. Simplified this would mean: Gaining power, but then using this power for doing “the right thing.” This seems futile, especially if we assume that the process of gaining power is automatically accompanied by a certain amount of corruption of the self, along with ones ethics and ideals.

– Marie Therese Luger

Biologiska Museet Stockholm, Sweden

“Appropriation as appropriate practice”

Marie Therese Luger

Based on my conceptualization and interpretation of “appropriation as an appropriate practice” I have over the last years focused on researching art institutions, galleries, cultural platforms and - last but not least – museums. What power structures they entail or (re)produce and artists, curators and academics might appropriate them with the aim of generating a different outcome. A key aspect in this body of work is my own position and relation to these institutions, both as places I somehow need to enter to get “work” or to reach proof of valuation for my work within society (as an artist or curator). Further, this applies to places that decide what knowledge is important and what knowledge is not (as a researcher and academic). In this context, museums especially are places that create power structures in terms of who has the power, who gets to be visible, and what knowledge is accepted as “truth” or worth communicating in a privileged setting of knowledge distribution. The common denominator in my research is always the issue of how we value art and cultural practices in our neo-liberal and capitalist society. This has always led me to inquire about art versus science, which culminates in the “offer” of artistic research 35

as a new and discussed field of practice within the power structures of academia. This is culminating in my current research and appropriate practice with Biologiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Due to its history, its special position as an institution combining art and science, as well as its current position of being closed/on hold and the inevitably following power struggles that are motivated by the value of art as applied to this museum, Biologiska Museum is the perfect place to appropriate and try to install an appropriate practice. Biologiska Museet is marked by a couple of special and specific circumstances: First and foremost, it is called “Biological Museum” but is not per se a museum of natural history. Instead it is a 360° degree diorama (also called cyklorama) that was initiated by hunter and zoologist Gustaf Kolthoff in the late 1800s with the aim of getting more and more urbanized inhabitants of Stockholm excited about nature again. For this, Kolthoff created a diorama, that historically is - as a middle stage from theater via photography to film - a piece of media. From this position, Biologiska Museet can not only be approached as an institution and a museum, but especially as an institution that opens up questions about the use of artistic practices in illustrating science and/ or knowledge. A position which I am critical towards. In order to revive Biologiska Museet with an “appropriate program” I have tried to appropriate it from the position of a curator. This research process has brought to light an interesting assortment of power structures that accompany and are constantly reproduced at the backdrop of this museum - both by others as well as by myself. In presenting this research and my findings I am hoping to produce and contribute with knowledge about my own practice, the concept of appropriation as appropriate practice and a sustainable way of curating Biologiska Museet.


{ utopia/dystopia }

The 19th century was understood as a dystopian state in the eyes of the Iranian elite. This was mainly a consequences of being exposed to new world powers and regarding the “West” with an admiring gaze, and understanding it as the “Utopia” or the “Farang”. The only way to avoid shrinking even more after losses to Russia and Britain was to reform and to catch up with rivals. The alternative was to capitulate and become openly subaltern. But reform was actually a way of coming closer to “Utopia”. Only a real effort and there we are. Utopia was not out of reach this time; just look towards the West and copy and adjust it with the local conditions and there we are, in a utopian state. “Men” were sent to the “west/utopia” to bring home knowledge and craft that would empower the kingdom. Several tries were made to reorganise/modernise the administrative set-ups and mainly build a reliable/modern army. Inspired by the French revolution; “liberty, equality, fraternity” the utopia did not end with technical development. Constitutional revolution was a very utopian/ modernizing act deep in itself, but it ended with the dystopian comeback of a new military-based Shah/monarch, Reza Pahlavi. The new Shah was however faithful to some parts of modernization. It was still the West who held the keys, but this time enemies of old enemies were new allies. Then the “West” did not need to be that far away either. Ataturk who was also trying to make a new Turkey out of the Ottoman empire was western enough. So why not make the new young Iran out of old Persia and revive the glory of old days in the country of the lion and sword? This utopian revival effort was brought by dystopian force. By imprisoning voices of the utopian ideals, modernisation on the surface was the new agenda. The new Iran should “Look modern”. So back to basics, infrastructure; mainly railroads, were high up on priorities. Building the new prison of the capital on the former site of a summer palace, Qasr, and calling it as Qasr-prison, Palace-prison illustrates the paradoxes that pave the path towards modernity, or if you wish to read it as utopia.

– Soroor Notash

{ jahan-dide/jahāndide }

Persian word, literally meaning a person who has seen the world, connects the idea of wisdom to movement. A Jahāndidé is a person who has through many trips/journeys or a long life, gathered a lot of experiences. In English it can be translated as worldly wise and experienced. The term is combined from two separate words, “Jahān” and “didé”. Jahan, meaning the world, refers to the worlds both inside and outside and touches the space and time that you are included in. It includes also the concepts of life and being. Didé is derived from the verb “didan” meaning to see, observe, experience and understand. “Jahān-didé” is the person who has seen and tasted the warmth and cold of the world and experienced the ups and downs. How one can become wise without getting to see/experience the world? Does imprisoning a human being capture him/her from getting to know the world and becoming wise? Where does the wall finish? Is crossing the wall crossing the border and walking into freedom? Is freedom the same experience as emancipation? What happens when the wall is broken? Is the notion of wall/border there after all? How do invisible walls replace those demolished visible ones? Can they ever disappear?

– Soroor Notash

Qasr-prison Tehran, Iran

Palace.Prison: An inquiry on the question of Modernity

Soroor Notash

I step in through the portico that faces the main street. It leads me to the main building of the museum. Step by step I am headed toward the past. Two centuries have gone by since the palace was ready to move into, and soon a whole century since the prison was built. I look for the traces of colonialism and modernity and the people who has fought for their ideals and payed with their lives in this building. I search through memories and tales in hope of finding a new image, to reach those forgotten stories. The prison was called “House of forgetfulness” and with its high and impenetrable walls soon became notorious for its political prisoners. Today the walls are demolished, the park is inviting and the prison has become a museum, “A place to remember”. But what do we remember? 39

It’s about the notion of modernity, prosperity and development. It is also about new economical resources; It’s about a child born in prison; It’s about a country that wants to reclaim its place on the new World map of the twentieth century; It’s about the feeling of living in a prison as big as a country; It’s about trying to find the real meaning of emancipation; It’s also about the dialogue between the past and now; It’s about the name, Palace, which is carried by the prison; It’s about the long-lasting life of names; It’s about the dialogue between the developed and developing, superiority and inferiority, change and preservation, past and now and the future; It’s about exploring the meaning of freedom through a prison, wishing to come to liberation and emancipation; It’s about seeking consolation in a place of aggression; It’s about making sense of many seemingly unrelated knowledges and experiences, It’s about bringing a meaningful togetherness of contradictions. The year is 1926. A prison is built on the site of a former Qajar summer palace; Qasr-prison, Palace-Prison is there in Tehran, ready to host the captives. Behind this building lies nineteenth century history. The palace was ready in the beginning of that century. A century that starts with a country that is a patchwork of several ethnical groups, living quite disconnected and independently. Iran didn’t become a colony in the whole administrative sense but it didn’t skip coloniality either. Shrinking as an aftermath of several losses to Russia and Britain and having two unsuccessful reforms along with influences from the West resulted in the constitutional revolution in 1905. A short-lived revolution followed by a civil war and a period of uncertainties ended with the new monarch, Reza Shah, coming into power in 1921. As a project of modernizing the country and inspired and influenced by powers that had exploited the country during the previous century, Reza Shah started establishing a new administrational power and built new buildings that responded to the new, modern Iran. Qasr-prison was one of the first buildings to be completed in this sense, designed by the Russian architect, Markov, who is going to be a prominent figure in Iranian modern architecture. The prison that paradoxically carries the name of the former building on the site, Qasr meaning Palace, is the place that soon becomes well-known for its prisoners; mostly politicians, writers and the “other voices”. Prisoners whose lives are a window to the wishes and utopian images that shaped 1900s.


The year is 1979. A new revolution is happening and political prisoners are getting released. The Waiting mass of people outside the wall are welcoming heroes and heroines. The year is 1983. A family is imprisoned. Father, mother and an unborn baby. The baby is going to live in prison as its first home. Prison is now a home, a play yard, a place to be safe in for the child. The year is 2012. Qasr-prison is the Qasr museum-park. But the lives and stories are still there to be told. The year is 2019. Understanding this transformation, modernisation to catch up with the West, to be able to be sovereign, through building the institution for punishment is my inquiry. The stories of prisoners embedded in the prisons’ bricks are what needs to be explored. What is the legacy and which legacy is the untold one? What are those hidden stories and Narratives that are concealed in the bricks of the prison? “House of forgetfulness” is now a “A place to remember”. But what do we remember? Who do we recall? What are we not supposed to remember? Speak memory!


{ casbah }

The Casbah is by definition a citadel or fortress. Historically it was a place of retreat for the Mujahideen during the resistance of the fifties, as it was a space where people can be invisible. It’s also the historical centre of the city, where you can feel the revolutionary heart beating. During the colonization of Algiers, 2000 houses were amputated from the Casbah to allow the extension of the colonial city around the harbour, however, in spite of the partial destruction of the Arabic medina, this place stayed impenetrable; only the natives could live there because of its complex urban and architectural composition. The urbanism of this district was transmitted orally for many years. There were no street names and wayfinding was not determined by a succession of signs and indications. During the Ottoman era, every sector and alleyway bore the name of notable Algerian families. Indeed, urban design as an academic discipline is a Western invention, which gives visibility and control to the colonial city. The Casbah is the opposite; it gives no transparency, it protects itself and protects the inhabitants who are living there. Its secrets are only transmittedto outsiders through local hosts and the respect of inside codes are a necessity to survive inside. To be guided by an inhabitant of the Casbah is a privilege and at the same time a protection during the walk within it. In addition, what the Casbah teaches us is the right measurement of the individuals towards an architecture of the context, taking into account the climate, the topography and the habits of its inhabitants. All these elements are its strength and that’s what allows it to emancipate itself today from the colonial and modern architecture that is surrounds it. It is in itself the «manifesto» of the vernacular architecture of resistance.

– Mouna Abdelkadous

The Casbah Algiers, Algeria

The Casbah

Mouna Abdelkadous

This research focuses on the Casbah of Algiers and its Orientalism. Located on the edge of the Mediterranean sea, Algiers has two vast architectural heritages; the first conducted by the French and the second is Arab-Berber. During its contemporary history, Algiers has carried the burden of its colonization. An authoritarian time during which the French leaders carried out a repressive urban policy. Colonial domination has been exercised for nearly 150 years. The Algerian people have experienced the cruelty of colonial dictates. This colonization was also exercised within culture and architecture. It was characterized by spatial orientalism that has operated with Modernism led by the CIAM team. With the Athens’ Charter, Le Corbusier proposed a sanitized vision of Paris. At that time he brought with him a hygienist and orientalist perception of a globalized architecture to Algiers with some students such as Roland Simounet. It is within several 43

archives, sketches, and writings that modernist philosophy stands authoritatively, considering Algerian cities as laboratories for large scale experimentations. Fifty seven years after its independence, the traces of this colonial mutilation still exists, materialized by large avenues along the coast or with modernist standards such as the building bars of “Bab el Oued� in which several families are still packed nowadays. This critique of modernism in Algiers intends to deconstruct the orientalist contrast that came with the French colonialism during the first part of the 20th century. It is through photographic architectural archives and artistic productions that I will deconstruct the colonial modernist theory in order to clarify the context. Today the Casbah is a museum in ruins, mutilated self talk. This district of Algiers resides unknown to the architectural historians, despite its great contribution to contemporary Western architecture. My goal is simple; it aims to connect a city with its various heritages (Roman, Ottoman, and French), to rebuild a collective and resilient history that resonates the native’s voices: A collective and emancipated heritage.


{ vortex }

Vortex is a region in a fluid or clouds in which the flow revolves around an axis line, such as in a tornado. In my research it is used as a concept providing an analogy for the position of the Vatican in the years leading to the Second World War, particularly after 1929 when the signing of the Lateran Pacts between the Vatican and fascist Italy established diplomatic relationships between the two countries. The pacts included a generous compensation to the Vatican for the territories and properties lost during the unification of Italy some sixty years prior, leading to a building boom in the theocratic state. What do the building projects initiated in the Vatican just after the signing of the Lateran Pacts tell us about the relationship between the Vatican and fascist Italy? And what do buildings in other parts of the world, such as Ethiopia, Palestine or Slovakia, tell us about the ways in which the Catholic Church benefited from the rise of fascism in Europe and from the temporary realisation of its imperial dream overseas? Departing from the entrance to the Vatican Museums, designed by architect Giuseppe Momo as a rotunda in shape of an inverted truncated cone, reminiscent of a tornado, with a double helicoidal ramp as if expressing the parallel rise of fascism in Italy and the renewed prestige of the Catholic Church freed from the constrains of secularism, this research aims to investigate the dynamics of a superstorm whose destructive vortex was aimed at liberal democracy and socialism—the common enemies of fascism and the church.

– Rado Ištok

Catholic heritage Vatican, Palestine, Ethiopia, Slovakia

The Eye of The Storm

Rado IĹĄtok


At the end of WWII, while the Italian dream of an empire, as well as the monarchy, were swept away together with the remaining rubble of the war, another empire survived nearly intact at the very centre of the former fascist Italy. This other empire was fascist Italy’s competitor for the role of the bearer of the legacy of the Roman Empire, yet it was also its accomplice which greatly benefited from the rise of fascism in Italy. This was the empire of the Roman Catholic Church, ruled in a centralised manner from the Vatican yet with its units operating semi-autonomously in various parts of Europe and the world. A relatively calm region at the centre of a forceful storm, as was the position of the Vatican in the middle of fascist Italy and WWII, is in meteorology known as the eye of the storm. The eye is in particular, characteristic of whirling storms such as cyclones or tornados, which arise when two bodies of air, warm and cold, meet, with warm air spiraling upward and cold air falling to the ground. It is thus a particular situation resembling a meeting of two ideologies which can be abstract, like bodies of air hovering far above the ground and whose destructive forces materialise on the ground. In the case of a tornado, the storm only becomes destructive when a cone of whirling air descending from the storm cloud touches the ground. Could this contact between heaven and earth stand for clericalism; one of the spectres haunting secular modernity? Examining the architectural legacy of the Vatican in the fascist period, the eye of the storm with its spiraling connection between heaven and earth is nowhere more clearly visible than in the entrance rotunda to the Vatican Museums, known as the New Bramante Staircase, designed by architect Giuseppe Momo for the Pope Pius XI in 1929, just a few months after the Vatican and fascist Italy signed the Lateran Pacts which settled the nearly sixty year long dispute between the two parties over the ‘Roman Question’. The entrance to the Vatican Museums thus became an interface, or a contact zone, similarly to the Bernini’s colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, between two spheres of power which not only newly recognised each other officially, but also stroke a mutually beneficial pact reflected in the double helix of the ramps in the rotunda. This pact had ramifications well beyond the borders of the newly established Vatican State and Italy, and its ripple effect reached places such as Ethiopia, Palestine or Slovakia in a variety of forms creating a growing centripetal vortex of destruction while the eye of the storm remained largely untouched or even provided a safe haven after the war for those responsible for war crimes. 47

{ responsibility }

“what would happen to any of these forms of government if enough people would act “irresponsibly” and refuse support?” Hannah Arendt referring to totalitarian regimes in her writings in 1964. Hannah Arendt has written a series of articles reflecting on the trial of the Nazi War criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. She coined the term “Banality of Evil” while unfolding Eichmann behaviour organizing the transportation of Jews to extermination camps. She pointed out the fundamental question on personal judgment that Eichmann missed to answer: “Could I live with myself if I did this deed?” The answer is individual, but how can we assure personal responsibility based on a common ground of morality? What is it to be responsible? Responsibility is not to act according to a pre-determined set of rules, but to position oneself as to follow only the rules that will allow you to live with yourself. In that sense, to act ‘irresponsibly’ in certain cases is necessary. Personal judgment is a silent dialogue between the being and itself that opens reflections and critical thinking. It is inherited in human beings as the capacity to think and make reflective judgments. Those who lose the capacity to discern between right or wrong, bad and good, are reduced to a machine. Totalitarian regimes operate in dehumanizing a mass in order to pursue and perpetuate power. Collective guilt was a term attributed to Germany for perpetrating the Holocaust and it worked as a wash on personal responsibility. If everyone was culpable, then no one was. Collective guilt operates in a false innocence concept similar to neutrality. The opportunism of neutrality opposes the idea that you should act according to your morals. As exposed by Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” It is through a political practice and collective encounters that allow individuals to build a common ground of morality. Personal responsibility is a constant act of questioning, reflection and critical thinking in order to continue to live with yourself in the everyday.

– Tatiana Letier Pinto

Sylvia Pankhurst Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Trialogue Act 2: A speech conversation between Benito Mussolini, Sylvia Pankhurst and Haile Selassie

Tatiana Letier Pinto

A conversation between Benito Mussolini, Sylvia Pankhurst and Haile Selassie

At the same period that Italian architects had their hands full of new projects to build the new national identity, Ethiopia had their land full of Italian soldiers trying to expand the Italian colonial territories, leaving traces of blood behind. The project of the Casa del Mutilato, the setting of Trialogue, began in 1936, the exact same year that Mussolini declared the Italian Empire after entering Addis Ababa with mustard gas. The same year Haile Selassie, Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia gave a speech at the League of Nations to appeal for justice towards his people against Italian atrocities in his home country. Lastly, in 1936, the British artist Sylvia Pankhurst launched the first number of the self-published weekly newspaper “New Times and Ethiopian News. For Liberty, International Justice and Democracy�, a pro-Ethiopian and anti-fascist newspaper. Sylvia Pankhurst was an activist that has fought against Italian fascist occupation in Ethiopia. Beside her anti-fascist fight, she was a trained artist and had earlier, together with her mother and sisters, taken part in the suffragist movement to ensure the right to vote for women. She published newspapers, organized protests and sent numerous letters to British Parliament and people of influence to advocate for the rights of Ethiopian people. In 1956 she moved to Addis where she lived until the end of her days, when she received a state funeral in 1960. 49

Sylvia Pankhurst, a woman, as she described in a letter to President Roosevelt, “a humble and unofficial person with only one title: I have been fighting for justice all my life”, has positioned herself between two powerful male figures: Benito Mussolini and Haile Selassie - The attacker and his opponent - and she squawked from her place using her tools. She didn’t bow to the cynicism and opportunism of neutrality; moreover, she brought to the dialogue the perspective of other important allies. What can we learn from Sylvia Pankhurst position as an artist in practice? A white European woman that assumes the responsibility of a third nation. How can we legitimize her responsibilities in the position she comes from? Angela Davis has a plea that in a racist society it is not enough to be non–racist, we must be anti-racist and Sylvia was an anti-fascist, and feminist. Trialogue is a manifesto piece that pleads architects and artist for reflections on their personal responsibility towards society. Sylvia Pankhurst, more than an artist and activist is a role model when one needs to look for courage and emotional capacities to act for justice. An urgent task. Trialogue is a theatre performance initially presented in the atrium of Casa del Mutilato, the fascist building in Palermo, in June 2018. The first Act is a fictional dialogue between three existing characters: Lina Bo Bardi, Pietro Maria Bardi and Giuseppe Spatrisano, the architect of the setting. They articulate their positions in a trial atmosphere, where there is not one accuser and one defendant, but rather a judgement on morality in the practice of architecture. The imaginary conversation between the characters raises questions about the social responsibility of architects, culture as a colonial tool, sexism in architectural practice and the future of colonial and fascist buildings in our current society. It continues with Trialogue - Act 2 as a collage of the speech of Benito Mussolini’s declaration of the Italian Empire in 09 May 1936, plus the editorial text from the first edition of “New Times and Ethiopian News launched by Sylvia Pankhurst in 15 May 1936 and the speech by Haile Selassie at the League of Nation in 20 June 1936, composing a shrill conversation between the three characters.



Asmara. Photo by Luca Capuano

May 25th

10.00 - 16.00 > House 28 / The Royal Institute of Art


{ workshop } Do you speak Tigringa, or are familiar with it? Makda Embaie and Senait Tesfai invite you to a full day workshop to participate in translation using a method that does not require perfect knowledge in the language Tigringa. vimeo.com/329438423

Asmara. Photo by Luca Capuano

May 24th

11.00 - 20.30 > House 28 / The Royal Institute of Art

THE AFTERLIFE OF COLONIAL HERITAGE IN ASMARA AND ADDIS ABABA > 11.00-12-00 Asmara and Massawa, Eritrea and Addis Ababa Ethiopia (Post/Neo)Colonial Infrastructure: The case of the road from Massawa to Asmara and Addis Ababa Mauro Sirotnjak, Soroor Notash, Mouna Abdelkadous. Respondents: Rahel Shawl, LouLou Cherinet, Mekonnen Tesfahuney

> 13.00-13-45 Asmara and Adulis, Eritrea Methods of dealing with Diaspora language: The nation state's narratives and our own Makda Embaie

> 14.00-14-45 Odéon Cinema, Asmara, Eritrea Artist-in-residence Senait Tesfai, Makda Embaie.

> 15.00-17-30 { workshop } Knowledge production of design practices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia A collaboration between Addis Ababa and Stockholm: The “Abren�, an experimental centre and a platform for knowledge of architecture and design practice DA group, Rahels Shawl and collaborators

> 17.30-18-30 { introduction } Kvinnorsbyggforum from Past to Present > 19.00-20-30 { public lecture } The architecture practice of Rahel Shawl, founder of RAAS Architects, Addis Ababa

Asmara and Massawa, Eritrea, and Addis Ababa Ethiopia

(Post/Neo)Colonial Infrastructure: The case of the road from Massawa to Asmara and Addis Ababa

Mauro Sirotnjak, Soroor Notash, Mouna Abdelkadous

{ If we accept the traditional saying that all roads lead to Rome, do we need to question who built them and why? To deal with infrastructure is to question the very neutrality of the medium. How do infrastructural projects relate to coloniality and imperialism, and how are they commonly perceived? If we acknowledge infrastructure is the premise upon which the myth of ‘Western civilisation’ is built, we should take a closer look at the symbolic and mythological meanings assigned to infrastructure in order to explore politics, industry and economy hiding behind the myth. We call upon the profanation of infrastructure and the civilization it generates. It is needed to question the heritage of so called western civilization – a series of logistical and infrastructural objects built for extraction of goods, transportation of cargo and people and a series of institutions that enabled the colonial apparatus to install its power and supremacy in the distant territories far away from the colonial centres. The very same objects and networks that are used to justify the modernization process and the culture that brought it, and finally, to establish a silent superiority through the medium of infrastructure. The heritage we are dealing with here is rather a set of relations hidden behind the less visible, but permanent infrastructure which is consistently neglected and which asks the question - does dealing within the frames of the strictly defined ‘cultural heritage’ very efficiently hides the heritage of colonial relationships that persist today? How do we interpret new investments in the name of aid to development and how do we read them with critical eyes? To deconstruct the frames that limit the visibility of actual politics, we want to question the way that definitions of heritage are commonly used to create new power relations with the European centres of capital. The very centers where the culture and civilization is conceptualized and molded at universities and other educational institutions and being actively used to justify the new order of power relations. }


To answer the question of the heritage of colonial relationship persisting today we are studying a network of locations and histories that are being built. We start with the unfolding of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea in summer 2018 and look back to the period of colonial investments in infrastructure and extensive building in this area of the world by the foreign investors (mainly Italian) from 1850s until 1940s. The course of events this parallel shows is both telling and risky at the same time. Telling in terms of remembering how investments of the built infrastructure were used for subordination of the communities and how this might be done again. The risk, however, lies in our external gaze that is not fully aware of the processes that unfolded from mid 1940s and onwards in terms of how the relationship with the colonial past and the concept of heritage related to it has developed. To visualise an active heritage of colonial relations we have taken into consideration the politics behind infrastructural projects, industry and architectural history connecting Massawa port with Asmara and further Addis Ababa, in order to show how relations established in the colonial period persist. After visiting Addis and Asmara in 2019, we started exploring the existing roads and transportation system in these territories. This study was simultaneous with the news about the EUs investment on the very specific road connecting Massawa to the Ethiopian border. 61

The railway infrastructure of Eritrea was designed and built by Italian engineers in 1936 to allow faster and more efficient transportation of goods and military equipment to easily dominate the territory and the local communities. Building the Massawa line to Asmara was a difficult project. The construction of the railway required the construction of 65 bridges and viaducts and they were basically designed to carry Italian military equipment to the Ethiopian front. However, due to the steep territory the railway was deemed too slow for the colonial needs of transportation and mobilization, so the intensive construction of roads in 1930s have resulted in an extensive network of standardized roads which enabled the quick distribution of the military throughout the territory of the colonies. The road from Massawa to Asmara and the modern trucks and buses available to local people have diverted rail traffic to road traffic. In 1975, the railway was destroyed by the Derg regime in Ethiopia and the infrastructure was subsequently demolished during the war with Eritrea. However, after eight years of rehabilitation most of the railway line was rebuilt and reopened around 2006 between the capital and the coast. Today, in the making of new political constellations, it is interesting to look at the stance of European diplomacy, manifested by the visit of an Italian delegation being the first ‘western’ one after the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In February 2019 a press release by the European Commission bearing the name ‘Roads to peace’ can be read as a new attempt at establishing the foremost extensive trade relationship between the countries, but the fact that the EU will finance a new road from Massawa to the Ethiopian border is telling. Reading statements such as “This will boost trade, consolidate stability, and have clear benefits for the citizens of both countries” and “... improvement of human rights… pursuing development cooperation to tackle root causes of poverty” with decolonizing gaze is easily interpreted as an imperial manifestation of victory. The visit of the Italian prime minister to Addis and Asmara but also to the AMCE-IVECO car factory (70% in Fiat ownership) in Bole district of Addis Ababa is showing the contemporary routes of industry and capital which is needed to lay upon the symbolic images of architectural heritage, specifically the Fiat Tagliero building in Asmara, the Bank of Italy in ruins in Masawa and the contemporary infrastructure connecting them in order to understand their relationship.


{ revisiting }

To revisit is to enter something or somewhere you have been or known before. There are narratives that demand to be revisited to cancel out the idea of a truth. One of those are the colonial aftermaths in language, architecture and history. The concept is activated through memories of places and conversations. It works as a navigator through different narratives and identifies them as such. It is disorganizing the archives and breaking the chronology. Language is one of the ways a nation state identifies itself. Architecture is the tangible and visible narrative of history within the nation state. Monuments tell us what to be proud of. With violent consequences, we confirm. But what if, we approached things with a humble uncertainty, tried to look as closely as possible? What if we revisited the narratives and started to look closer at our own? Trying to understand language without state Trying to understand history without linearity Trying to understand linearity by leaving language Trying to understand state without leaving Trying to understand language by returning to it.

Returning to the personal understanding of language. Returning to the personal understanding in relation to state Removing the personal understanding from state Never really staying Revisiting Returning

– Makda Embaie

Never really leaving Trying to understand the experience as a specific consequence of time and place, not state not language not history. But also state also language and also history

Asmara and Adulis Eritrea

Methods of dealing with Diaspora language: the nation state's narratives and our own

Makda Embaie

My own work with translations led me to search for more traces of cultural heritage. It led me to Asmara, a city I had at different points of my childhood known as my father’s, my grandmother’s and as my own. I knew the doors as early morning excitement, of spending yet another day with a new found friend. I knew the city as a gateway for family members to tell me a story, a gateway to connect them to a site by a language that was carried by my family and in extension, this place where part of this year’s research took place. The idea of belonging to a nation state is violent, because it forces you to relate to the narratives of a collective idea of what the common history is. This violence was present on a local and global level in my life, and this is what led me to try to find alternative ways of understanding what my identity is constructed of. The state of Sweden allowed elementary students to take classes in their mother tongue for the first time in 1968. In 1991, during the nationalist party New Democ64

racy’s rise in the Swedish parliament, a new law made the state only responsible to provide classes if there were more than five students eligible. My parents were the only ones with a child requesting these classes. We did not reach the requirements, being the only student with such a request. When confronted by other Tigrinya speakers other than my parents, the layers of my language unfolded. My word for lentils that I had known as misir my whole life, revealed itself as birsin. This is only one small example of what happens when a language is only inherited from a family. My father migrated from Asmara in 1987, my mother from Addis Ababa in 1989. He lived during the occupation of Ethiopia, preventing him from speaking Tigrinya the majority of his life. Italian was encouraged. The national anthem of Ethiopia forced. My mother was born to a businessman and a multi-occupied woman that moved to Addis Ababa in their early twenties to expand on their laundry business. My mother’s first language is hence, Amharic. My relationship and first hand source of Tigrinya, came from these two people, with very specific experiences of language and state. The fusion of Tigrinya, Amharic, Arabic, Italian, and English confronted me with the idea of having an identity that was not only connected to where I was born; Sweden, and where my parents has their roots; Eritrea. This disrupted my idea of being an “immigrant child” or a “fusion of two cultures” or being in the middle of “two worlds” and the simplistic binarity was disrupted. It visualized and concretized something urgent in me. This research does not attempt to find an absolute truth, it is rather trying to extend the narrative in which cultural heritage is not only understood through the ideas of the nation-state for many more violent consequences than those mentioned above. I enter into a city inhabited by Italian colonial nostalgia, unlike the city I knew as a child. A city with fascist traces and an urban plan which divides the city into “Italian” and “indigenous” areas, as if it was a division that had to do with ethnicity and not race. There are more than nine indigenous groups in the territory. I had read about the ancient port city Adulis, that presumably belonged to the Axum Kingdom and after several excavations since the beginning of 1900’s, the dates have become uncertain and not in line with what has earlier been thought of the existence of the Axum Kingdom. An alternative to the narrative in Asmera surfaced to what the 400 years of oppression from different imperialistic waves had left behind so me and Senait Tesfai went to see and speak to the archeologists on the site. One of the archeologists, Abraham Zerai Gebremariam, seen from a distance in the image above, could confirm, that the only certain confirmation is that we can never fully know what happened, but we can write and document what we see now so one sole line of narrative does not become 65

dominant. In that moment, my role, as an artist became clear. There needs to exist spaces for artistic expressions in the midst of the fascist and colonial narratives. We started to map out and negotiate with the decision makers in Asmara to see what spaces could be possible to intervene in. Within this potential space, I finally saw my own artistic practice finding a residence in cultural heritage that is being documented and cared for now, and that space could only be meaningful if it is shared. To all of those children that ever felt shame for not knowing enough, there are archives waiting to be looked into, there are spaces that are waiting to be filled with something other than the idea that the only thing that gives meaning to an African city, is its resemblance to a European one.


Odéon Cinema Asmara, Eritrea


Senait Tesfai, Makda Embaie

{ Artist-in-residence is referring to when someone is working in a creative area through a residency program usually in another city or country for a limited period of time. Residential programs are initiated to increase the exchange of knowledge, create collaborations and develop new ideas and products, but also to provide scope for reflection, new influences, broaden contact areas, and explore their own creation in a new context. This initiative has the ambition to shed light on artistic practices that already exists. To get in contact with them creates a line of narratives that can be referred to. It gives the opportunity to build onto narratives in a creative, experimental and challenging way. To decrease the gap between “there” and “here” by creating a space that is common, creates a knowledge production that is based on a common situated knowledge. For us it is also important to have local artists in the program for longevity and for it to be an exchange. A residency can reaffirm artist and creators, it can give them an opportunity to focus on a project and/or develop them. } Our goal has always been to complicate the idea of the nation state through artistic expressions and practices. A city with architecture that has not been inhabited for some time leaves a lot of room to imagine. So, returning from Asmara we imagined quite vividly. Knowing that we missed a contemporary art scene and getting it further confirmed by young artists in Asmara our plans became more concrete. We wanted to create a context where our own practices and knowledge could be of use. Through several meetings with governmental institutions, the opportunity to inhabit these empty colonial buildings became a real possibility. We wanted to use them as a space for young people to broaden the idea of what artistic expression can be. We ourselves definitely do not have all the answers, but we want to invoke a space where different art forms and their intersections can be explored. This demands deeply integrated and thorough research, so that we can create long lasting relationships. The format of this space would be establishing a residency for art, design, architecture and other creative fields. The residency would host creatives from around the country, the diaspora, as well as international guests. This broad spectra of knowledge holders is what the space would be about, to create a platform where exchanging, practicing and learning is what re-inhabits these spaces.


As mentioned, the existing cultural sector is something we need to be more familiar with. This would include learning about the nature of contemporary forms, cultural expressions and traditional forms practiced by young people in Asmara and understanding how our experiences can be of use in this context. To start building something we need to understand the mutual and individual challenges within the creative field; policy gaps, development needs, networking support required and supportive policy initiatives, and to identify opportunities that hold real potential for long-term impact and sustainability. This is where we stand now. Why do we want to do that? Eritrea’s history consists of oppression dating back 400 years. The latest legacy is the war for independence and prior to that it was the Italian/English/Egyptian/Ottoman colonialism. Although we are not interested in finding a proof of what the Eritrean heritage consists of, it cannot be avoided that the various historical depictions are used for the nation state’s narratives. Therefore, stories are needed that can continue to formulate an identity that is fluid and carried by multiple stories. A residency program does not control the narratives or what is being produced by its guests, but rather facilitates the formulations of narratives. How are we going to do that? In the short term, we will try to learn if there is an interest in artistic expression. While we were in Asmara we looked at different spaces that can work to make temporary exhibitions, workshops and platforms for exchanges. In the long term, a residency 68

program would be established where residents, space for studio and access to archives would be available. It must be financed through cultural support. Who do we want to work with? We want to work with artists with local relationships to the place, including the diaspora. It would involve both established artists and exploring young creators. In order to gain access to premises, we need to work close to the various authorities such as Commission for Sports and Culture, Research and Documentation, and Asmara Heritage Project whom we already are in contact with.


Knowledge production of design practices Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A collaboration between Addis Ababa and Stockholm: The “Abren”, an experimental centre and a platform for knowledge of architecture and design practice

DA group, Rahels Shawl and collaborators

{ “Abren” means together or a collective in Amharic.

Abren is conceived as a centre and a platform where the knowledge of architecture and design practice can be elevated, and new narratives explored by bringing together different voices in a learning environment. ”Abren” is a space for a collective architecture and design professionals connection to its roots in Africa. The space will work as a “green house” for the creation and pursuit of knowledge; a “takeover”of new shifts in learning; a moving space that will reach all, while being a “restful” café of playfulness and a sharing environment. }

The “Abren”, an experimental centre and a platform for knowledge of architecture and design practice. The Abren is the beginning of a long-term project conceived through the collaboration between Decolonizing Architecture course in collaboration with Ethiopian architect Rahel Shawl, founder of Raas Architects in Addis Ababa. The collaboration and dialogues of the center continues during an afternoon with a workshop and lecture May 2019 when Rahel Shawl will visit Stockholm. The project started during 2018/2019 within the Decolonizing Architecture course and a field trip to Addis Ababa to engage in a week long intensive workshop with Rahel Shawl and the team of RAAS architects. For many years her work has engaged with communities and the experience has resulted in collaborative design work with both local and international colleagues, partners and clients. She works through design practices where aspects of heritage, place, and identity are important, and in conversation with young people promoting and sharing architectural knowledge, and through passionate advocacy for equity in design practices. Decolonizing Architecture course, the team of RAAS architects, together with local collaborators worked together based on the brief developed by Rahel Shawl for 70

‘Women in Design’ Center of Excellence Ethiopia’. The purpose was to explore spatial interventions in combination with experimental pedagogy with the exchange of ideas from the group from Stockholm with the team of RAAS together with local students, architects, instructors, institutions and others in Addis Ababa. Under the fascist occupation period between the two world wars, Italy built a vast number of public buildings, housing, and monuments - architecture that has helped influence and shape Italian cities as well as those of its former colonies: Asmara, Addis Ababa, Rhodes, and Tripoli. Very little is known about how people and governments in Eritrea and Ethiopia have reused these Architectures. The aim of the collaboration was therefore to fill this gap in academic artistic and academic research with a close engagement. Rahel Shawl, her team and collaborators learn from the Ethiopian context as well working on a collaborative project that actively reflects on what a design center can be, based on Shawls extensive knowledge and experience and to develop sustainable re-use of Architectural heritage. In preparation for the trip to Addis Ababa, Decolonizing Architecture shared and discussed different approaches of learning and sharing knowledges as a way to think together about how to respond to the brief from Rahel. The conversation came to center on what kinds of knowledges are valued and why? How can we think a space where one can find one’s voice: to speak and be heard? How can we make space where we learn to listen? And how to think a space that is in-between the private and the public, a “home away from home”, a waiting room?  The workshop in Addis Ababa resulted in the idea of The “Abren”; a centre that will be founded on practices of building a routine gathering, which primarily builds trust and resources while delving into issues of our built environment. The collective allows for the opening up of things, issues, topics, knowledge’s, experiences, and brings studies for visibility. “The collective is a space to gather with an intimate power all of its own, a place to talk about an array of things around the built environment. This will be done through exploration of ideas we value in the present, the possibilities in the future but most certainly through re-learning the past; our, identities, heritages and history. This open ended crossing between past and present, and its practice in the collective, paves the way for futures we might envision as more just. This will be a dynamic space where norms and cultures are challenged and redefined through dialogue and research. Through this collective of minds, history can be in the making and history may be ‘defined’, or made visible. Through discussions, workshops, sharing, researching, practicing and documentation, this living space will represent the culture of ‘community’ that is inherent to the ways of life valued in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.” 71

Addis Ababa. Photo by Luca Capuano

May 23rd

10.00 - 20.00 > House 28 / The Royal Institute of Art

ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF KNOWLEDGE SHARING > 10.00 Laufmappe An alternative way of knowledge sharing Enrico Floriddia, Floortje van Sandick, Eva Strocholcova, Mouna Abdelkadous Carlota Jerez. Respondents: Mouna Mussie and Charlotte Ros

Museo Coloniale, Museo Africano, Rome, Italy museo coloniale (1904-1943) museo africano (1958-2011) - (2011- ) Enrico Floriddia. Respondents: Mouna Mussie and Charlotte Ros

Oost-Indisch Huis, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Uncovering Hidden Realities: The case of “Vergaderzaal van de Heeren XVII� Floortje van Sandick. Respondents: Mouna Mussie and Charlotte Ros

> 14.00 Grandmother's House, Slovakia Dispersed settlements Eva Strocholcova. Respondents: Mouna Mussie and Charlotte Ros

> 18.00-19.00 Oasi Muna Mussie talk and performance

> 19.00-20.00 Virtual room Decolonising Architecture from self-definition: There is no blueprint for what decolonization looks like Mo Sirra. With The expert: (Architect), The ordinary: Maytham Hussein, activist and contractor, The alien: Mo Sirra


An alternative way of knowledge sharing

Enrico Floriddia, Floortje van Sandick, Mouna Abdelkadous Eva Strocholcova, Carlota Jerez

{ “A laufmappe is the name given to a working folder which usually circulates through an office or system – is added to, edited, and reorganised as a process develops. The word, literally meaning “walking file”, proved to be an enticing term for the education program of Documenta 14. Adopting the term, we invite you to walk together through an educational folder – a resource for those with an active pedagogic interest.”

– Sepake Angiama, Clare Butcher

We imagine laufmappe as a tool to discuss the idea of knowledge sharing, to propose alternative pedagogies, as an attempt to decolonise institutions and academia. The way of building knowledge that we would encourage is based on relation. No one will pour into someone else their own wisdom, everyone is invited to collaborate at its constitution through exchange and relation. } The idea came first by experiencing how Pietros Sebhat – one of our interlocutors from the Asmara Heritage Project – was sharing his knowledge during our walks. The photographs, the documents, the brochures were fluidly coming out from his folder. The discussion and knowledge unfolded organically. This first inspiration consolidated when we discovered that Sepake Angiama (whose talk on organizing new forms of educational environments in art and architecture, during this spring at Iaspis, gave us a strong positive input) attempted a similar approach in alternative pedagogy in different contexts using the term laufmappe which comes from the factory working environment in Germany. The proposal tends towards more informal and less frontal presentations. We wish to borrow, appropriate, transform and re-purpose such experience and by this way shift, recycle, bend and regenerate the topics we are interested to share. We hope that it would become a fruitful way not just to share what each of us found out but to bring it further by the way of exchange with invited guests and within our collective. The material gathered for a research or a topic is assembled into a folder. Everyone is asked to shortly present a research or a topic, just to spark a conversation. Then, starting from each individual position, during one week we will attempt to go outside the boundaries of knowledge while we speak. Each participant or group can prepare a folder that relates to their research. For ex76

ample: a cardboard folder containing A4 papers: images, texts, documents; video and audio recordings on a phone etc… We give importance to the fact that these elements have a physical presence and more importantly that they are connected to the body of the person that carries them. Every element is moving, nomadic, and detachable, it can be replaced, reproduced, displaced, negotiated, altered. Bartering is a possibility. This non-linear collection of elements allows us to present the research following the input given in a conversation, thus in a more dialogical way. There’s a spine but the direction of the train of thoughts depends very much on the collective inputs. Individual research and collective research could be gathered in a laufmappe. The form of the folder can be interpreted in many singular ways and everyone has the responsibility to constitute their own as they want. To produce new laufmappen during the exhibition, we would need a printer and a scanner. We could have a camera, a beamer and a laptop to project some activity on a screen and let merge digitally diverse content – Processing software could be used. It is also possible to have a common final document that just gathers in a reversible way the elements that each of us wanted to put in common – the 1972 documenta 5 catalogue could serve as inspiration for this re-shufflable documentation. 77

{ definition }

« Si nous renonçons aux pensées de système, c’est parce que nous avons connu qu’elles ont imposé, ici et là, un absolu de l’Être, qui fut profondeur, magnificence, et limitation. » – Édouard Glissant A mark on the soil to assess who must stay on one side and who on the other? A tag to decide who belongs to a certain group? A category to explain something that puzzles you? A label to control who has a right and who has not? A definition. To exclude who does not fit in? Who does need a definition? Who does formulate definitions? When do we need a definition? How much a definition empowers a logic of exclusion? How much a definition is a tool of exclu-sion by logic? To name is an act of power. Because comprehension means to take within yourself, to take over. Imagine to have in front of you a grid. In each cell you will be able to see a subject separated from the others. You will be able to discern, assess and value. To pick. According on how you have been raised you could browse the grid from the upper left corner horizontally or vertical-ly. You could also start from the right and go towards your left. The grid is a taxonomy, it is pi-geon-holing places, people, processes. You’ll be able to learn, information will be shared to you. Centralised and filtered information. The good thing is: there are many voices providing these information, you will feel that by each intonation of the text. Imagine the grid as a virtual museum. You will find here different sections (of figures, of adver-tising, of cinema, of XIX century, of finance, etc…) aimed at educating you on different matters. It is also the demonstration that who puts in place the museum has knowledge on the treated matters. In a way, they master the subject. As much as other educational devices, a museum is tricky: fascinating and impressive. Hence, it is undeniable that the museum is the

– Enrico Floriddia

museo coloniale, museo africano Rome, Italy

museo coloniale (1904-1943) museo africano (1958-2011) - (2011- )

Enrico Floriddia

There is a building in the city centre of Rome that once hosted a museum imagined as a showcase of Italian colonial success. In an ironic twist of fate, today it hosts a grouping of regional folkloric associations; from looking outwards with a defying gaze to an inward withdrawal. There is a building in the most bourgeois part of Rome that once hosted a museum imagined as the crown jewel of Italian colonial success. In an ironic twist of fate, today its collections have been displaced to the EUR zone. It is now a skeleton from which each precious stone has been carved out. There is a shyly modernist building in the city centre of Rome that once hosted a museum where the fruits of Italian colonial looting were displayed. In an ironic twist of fate, today it hosts a grouping of regional folkloric associations. From the arrogance of trying to collect the world to the fear of losing fading traditions. We don’t know who designed the building that once hosted the museum intended to prove Italian domination over Libya, Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. In an ironic twist of fate, today it hosts a grouping of regional folkloric associations. The ethnographic look has shifted its interest, but it keeps its sense of traveling back to a lost world. 79

There is a building in the city centre of Rome that once hosted a museum imagined as the showcase of Italian colonial success. Its main room shows an impressive array of cannons. This room demonstrates how preposterous the scientific cover was for such museum. In the Pinciano neighbourhood no one remembers the building that once hosted a museum where human remains received the same treatment as objects. In an ironic twist of fate, today it hosts a grouping of regional folkloric associations. Today chants and ceremonies are alive but a whiff of death roams around. The imperial dream of fascist Italy realised a building in Rome that once hosted a museum imagined as proof of the achievement of such a fantasy. In an ironic twist of fate, its objects are currently not on display. Today, its hidden collection is trying to find a balanced position. There is a not particularly beautiful building in Rome that once hosted a museum meant to pair Italy with other European colonial and imperial powers. The giant ministry of the colonies that was supposed to host it has since been ceded to a UN agency. The loss of this administrative grasp by Italy just after the Second World War happened a tad before other colonial empires. There is a building in the city centre of Rome that few people go to visit. It hosts a grouping of regional folkloric associations. It forbids itself to speak about its own past. Once it was about expansion and conquest, now it is about isolation and the avoidance of exchange. It still is about erasure and expulsion of what is defined different or external. It follows the path of far-right movements: from looking outwards with a defying gaze to a fearful inward withdrawal.


{ (un)making }

What you learn in architecture school is the act of making. Rarely is it fully acknowledged that the making of something new is accompanied by the act of unmaking of what was there before. It is simply seen as a given, an inevitability, a point of origin; not so much as an active (often violent) act of removal, erasure even. Traces are always left in the form of physical remnants, archive materials and memories of people. However, over time, if deemed invaluable to the structures of power, these traces will continue the process of disappearing, becoming erased. The space is being unmade. The making process isn’t innocent either. With every room that is created, access is given to certain persons while others are excluded. Who is made room for? Who is the owner of the room? Which bodies are allowed in? Which bodies are deemed ‘good’ bodies worth designing for? What are the histories narrated by the room? Which stories get told? (un)making room can go beyond the physicality of space. You can look at processes of exclusion from institutions, knowledge production, histories, practice. Which positions are being valued and heard and which aren’t? To make room for other ways of doing and thinking sometimes requires, as Sepake Angiama calls it, the disruption of fixed modes of practice. Depending on your position of power and privilege it’s often not possible to unmake violent structures or make something new. But maybe a temporary unmaking, in the form of destabilization or disruption is possible, through acting space in a different, albeit temporary ways, through performance / alternative pedagogies / care / ruptures / collectivity / ….. As a glimpse of something different, yet to be made.

– Floortje van Sandick

Oost-Indisch Huis Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Uncovering Hidden Realities: The case of “Vergaderzaal van de Heeren XVII”

Floortje van Sandick

Active learning, in my experience, often starts from your own position. For me, as a white female student at TU Delft in the Netherlands, certain things became apparent that were problematic and invisible (such as gender, the creation of the genius, individualism, competition, neoliberalism, displacement of people, trivialization of climate change, technocratic solutions). There was no room to explore or learn about these topics and it felt quite isolating not to be heard. This changed when the collective TU Delft Feminists was created by Brigitte O’Regan and Charlotte Ros and the process of (un)learning began. (Un)Learning wasn’t just based on reflection and conversation but acquired through action. As Paulo Freire mentions, action is fundamental, because it is the process of changing reality. And we were trying to change the reality of our faculty and its knowledge production, through performance, activism, protest, publications, dinners, parties, zines, whatever means available. Through action and reflection and practicing different forms of alternative collective pedagogies, more and more positioned knowledge (as we stepped away from universality) was unfolded within the 82

group, intersecting different forms of oppression, positions, lived realities, with the consequences of colonialism at its center. This research connects these three interests: to act with a collective, the possibilities of alternative knowledge production, and the continuing history of material space and colonialism (specifically in the Netherlands). It looks at a room in one of the faculty buildings of the University of Amsterdam: ‘The Room of the Lords XVII’ at the East India House in Amsterdam. This house was built to host the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which expanded the Netherlands into an empire, enslaving millions of people and looting large parts of the world, including Indonesia, Surinam, South-Africa and many other places. The room of the lords XVII was the heart of the building where all the decisions were made. Furthermore, after its creation in 1606, it served as a visual identity of the wealth and domination of the Lords and the VOC over overseas territories, the room filled with looted treasures and paintings depicting the overseas fortresses. After the bankruptcy of the VOC in 1799, the room was dismantled and reused as part of the ministry of colonies and later the tax office, when also ceilings and walls were reshuffled, and the complete room disappeared or was unmade. In the seventies the building was transferred to the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and they decided, together with the municipality, that the identity of the golden age needed to be preserved and the room was to be rebuilt. No information on its original location or materiality was left except for a single image, depicting one side of the room and its interior, dated from 1768. In the seventies the ceiling was reconstructed and then in 1996 the whole interior, including copies of the original paintings (which now hang in the Rijksmuseum) and a fake chimney, were recreated. The joke is of course, that only one image was preserved so only one side could be rebuilt, leaving the rest of the room with a modern interior. This creates a wicked room; partly a fake historical artefact and partly a meeting room and lecture hall for students and staff. The research has collected material documents on how and why this reconstruction happened, how the decisions were made, and what identity was trying to be created. Simultaneously it poses the question of the role of space as a pedagogical environment. How can different positions be explored within an institute that leans on its colonial identity? Should this room be unmade again? Or what would decolonization of a space like this mean? At the intersection of these questions I collaborated with Charlotte Ros to act in this space as TU Delft Feminists, by organizing a (De)Colonial Contemplations Breakfast in the room, to try and perform the space differently, even temporarily, to explore questions of (un)making and (un)learning.


{ solitude }

I tried to remember my great-grandmother. We used to visit her from time to time during the weekends with my parents. As kids, me, my sister and my two cousins used to run ahead uphill through narrow lanes and field paths covered by morning dew to get there first. But we never found my grandmother at home. At that time of the day she was usually sitting up in the meadow behind the homestead, grazing the goats and cutting hay by hand with a sickle. She always wore a headscarf on her hair, like all women did there after they got married. When she was returning from the pastures, she carried a huge linen bag on her back filled with grass or hay for the rest of the animals. I’ve never seen her wearing trousers. Even when she was working in the fields, she always wore skirts that she sewed herself. She looked pretty to me, like grandmothers from fairy-tales. But besides the warm greetings, we’ve never really talked... She was always a stranger to me, living in another world than the one I was raised in. It was only years later, after she passed away, that my thoughts brought me back to her. I became an adult, a stranger in my own world. It was the loneliness and my solitude within society that led me to discover how much we have in common. How much I am being her and how much she reminds me of myself. solitude /solitary/ Unlike loneliness, solitude is something we choose. It is something that restores and builds us up. In solitude, in other words, I am ‘by myself’, together with myself, and therefore two-in-one, whereas in loneliness I am actually one, deserted by all others. Solitude might be a positive state, maybe a state of freedom. Solitude can help us get in touch with or engage with our true self. It allows us to reflect on ourselves, others, our life, and our future. While loneliness is something that depletes us and is imposed on us. Solitude is often a springboard to greater self-awareness and new growth. Solitude grounds us in who we are – and that enables us to reach out and give to others. In solitude, all thinking is a dialogue of thoughts. Solitude might turn into loneliness. Solitude is personal. Solitude is also political. Solitude is collective.

– Eva Strocholcova

Grandmother’s House Slovakia

Dispersed settlements

Eva Strocholcova

Dispersed settlements are historical forms of rural development that originated in Slovakia between the 16th – 18th century in remote and difficult-to-access parts of existing counties. They have never been independent and have always represented some sort of extreme marginal colonies, situated on the edge of being and not-being. They are the product of German, Wallachian and later mainly internal agricultural colonization. Colonizers were invited to cultivate the land in more effective way, to provide defence or were simply seeking refuge. The dominant form of economic activity in the settlements was agriculture, mixed with cattle breeding as well as some forestry and charcoal operations. Over time these traditional land-use forms passed over changes connected with social economy, ownership, collectivization, emigration and agriculture policy processing that significantly affected their existence. At present, they are incompatible with the long-standing centralizing tendencies of country’s socio-economic development. In terms of the conception of sustainable ways of living, we are witnessing a kind of development paradox. While at the time of their formation, dispersed settlements represented a devastating intervention to the natural landscape (deforestation, soil exploitation, overgrazing), today this phenomenon belongs to the category of least 85

disturbing to the environment, yet it is threatened with the negative side effects of abandonment which could lead to their dissapearence. Despite this radical intervention, dispersed settlements represent landscape-forming phenomenon with significant cultural-historical, aesthetic and environmental value. Their specificity is in being a land transformed by man that is not armed with modern technology and theoretical thinking. Abandoned houses of dispersed settlements are the remains of a people who had skill and knowledge to survive in difficult conditions in remote locations. After centuries of being a feudal country, the Slovak rural environment was stigmatized by a fragmentation, backwardness, conservativeness and low level of mechanization. These labels caused those skills to be forgotten, overlooked, underestimated and oppressed by an urge to catch up with others and a constant aspiration for a better life. In the past we used to be closely tied to the roots of an agricultural society. Over the last couple of decades the world has seen an unprecedented spike in technology and access to learning. Unfortunately, besides great access to information we’ve also witnessed the loss of our ability to be self-reliant. The image of life in the field has suddenly changed. Skills that were once part of our culture, which once helped us survive, have been largely forgotten and exchanged for a dependency on the central government. We are alienated from our past as well as from each other. These settlements could become a very inspirational source when it comes to our relationship to the environment, a balanced structure of land use, preservation of species diversity, pollution-less living, balanced production and consumption, protection against natural forces, traditional values, using common sense, resourcefulness, self-reliance and independence. Instead of understanding these features as a symbol of poverty and backwardness, they could become strength, wealth and uniqueness of our past and presence and maybe also help us to understand our existence and alienation. Many of these clusters of dwellings that represent national cultural and landscape heritage have already disappeared or have been transformed into new forms or functional units, but the ones remaining are still rich in values which should be kept alive for the benefit and protection of present and future generations. Maintenance is entirely dependent on human activity.


{ build on built / Plug-Inn }

Seismic shifts in society, technology and the economy mean that today’s art and architecture operate within a fundamentally different context and extremely little has been done to investigate the causes of this situation. Build on Built: Symbiosis Architecture investigates the challenges brought about by rapid urbanisation, political, economic, social, cultural, urban, technological and climate changes in the 21st century. Developing architecture prototype; innovative design, building techniques, material experimentation, combining the advantages of prefabricated technology and the unique qualities of tailor-made design in correspondence to locality; local resources, knowledges and communities. It intends to evaluate and identify the most appropriate approaches for low-cost building, utilize space more efficiently, environmentally friendly, sustainable and use the infrastructure more economically. Plug-Inn is a prototypical live-in-workspace with guest room and small garden that operates at the boundaries of art, architecture, design and curating. It approaches cultural practice as a living process rather than a profession. This living process will be performed through the progress of the concept, the design, work strategy and the construction of Plug-Inn and the operation of a Culture Work Programme, which will be carried out in collaboration with experts, local residents, municipality, local, national and international institutions and private sectors. The intention is to create a site-specific architectural intervention that foster the encounters between site and the inhabitants – profound analyse of the host site (existing building, unused space or vacant lot), its environmental performance, immediate surroundings and the city at large, through which the spine, ribs, veins and lungs of the Plug-Inn will be created. It could be constructed as detach/attached to a public building; town hall, historic building, fort, library, museum, water tower, lighthouse, mill, harbour, park, bunker, hangar, warehouse, factory building, church, nunnery vacant building or on an empty lot. It could be an extension to a rooftop, in-between spaces, around a chimney, in a patio or stripe on a building façade – in a symbiosis-like interaction.

– Mo Sirra

Virtual room

Decolonising Architecture from self-definition: there is no blueprint for what decolonization looks like

Mo Sirra


Plug-Inn presents the urgency to be an active agent with objective to create vital settings for living symbiotically. What the project poses as subject is reworking the agendas of urban planners, neighbourhood organizations, politicians, and real estate investors, and encouraging the citizens who want to participate in the making of the city and the creation of active public spaces. It is also a response to the challenges of various disciplines, including art and architecture history, cultural and political studies and sociology. The concept of transformation of an archetypical space would be developed out of the necessity for both; the host site and the Plug-Inn, optimisation of the host building physics, spatial performance and aesthetic. It focuses on how to turn a space into a place as a free construction or as an extension to an existing structure, which through superimposition, shifting and penetration - are expanded, connected and redefined. There will be a symbiosis between the existing and the extension - a coexistence of dissimilar creatures for mutual benefit. Repurposing the many unusable voids around a city, not intrusive to the existing architecture and creates new dynamic adaptable buildings. Architecture and design can 88

actively influence and change the way people act and experience the built urban. It can even contribute to significant urban and societal transformations.


How do we operate? Plug-Inn is a public property that would be constructed by public contributions. A municipality’s approval for a site to build the Inn on, or a private donated land/space will embark the design and the construction process. Approaching individuals, public institutions and private sectors to be engaged; contribute/donate in terms of consultation, construction materials and labour. The construction materials will be collected as the leftovers in the construction sites, manufactories, warehouses and stores in addition to individuals’ donations. The collecting materials will play pivotal role in the construction layout of the Plug-Inn, but the very configuration and situation of the host site will set the parameters. Plug-Inn will involve unemployed workers who will get minimum wages form the Fund, so to keep them on track, on the other hand to get the attention of media, politicians and private sector to the unemployment issue. This initiative could thrust a vital working strategy toward build/refurbish public premises through engaging community groups, cultural organisations, NGOs and the private sector in the process.


The economical, governmental and democratic systems are in crisis. Powers are shifting, the inherited ‘knowledge’ is contaminated, the ‘architecture’ theory and practice are outmoded, the institutional policy supresses every dissent to its regulations, society operates on indifference stance. In this environment, the initial intention to elevating the concept of Plug-Inn into architecture prototype throughout the course was forced to convey its trajectory into perform why the work strategy of the student in question has failed to perform Plug-Inn within in the KKH’s premises and facilities.


The Decolonizing Architecture course has been a context to analyse the student’s performance and attitude as an individual–researcher. he has realised that his life is a sequence of phases of decolonising and colonising; continuous exercises on liberate the self from the inherited and gained contaminated knowledge. The intervals that occur between colonisation and decolonisation processes provide room for ‘distillation’ the contaminated knowledge. Colonising and decolonise are overlapping process.


Asmara. Photo by Luca Capuano

BIOS DECOLONIZING ARCHITECTURE COURSE PARTICIPANTS Mouna Abdelkadous is a French architect, currently based in Stockholm. She is doing her research on “the Hybrid city”, using Algiers as a case study, investigating colonial power infrastructures and the informal and invisible form of culture in African cities. Husam Abusalem (Palestine) is technically an architect, temporarily based in Stockholm. He has a Bachelor in Architectural Engineering from Birzeit University in Palestine, specialising in urban design. In Malta, he received an MA in Cultural Heritage Management and is currently attending the postgraduate course in Decolonising Architecture at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art, which made this print. His primary research is about the concept of heritage, heritagisation, weaponising heritage, abolitionist heritage, refugee heritage ... anything ending with heritage. Roberta Kanan Burchardt (Brazil) is a practitioner, mediator and writer based in Stockholm. With a background in architecture, visual arts and crafts, her research engages colonial heritage via notions of atmosphere, ownership, private/public, emancipation and meaningfulness, where a theory and practice of uses is central. Roberta currently works as project coordinator at the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Previous and ongoing works include articles, workshops, lectures and exhibitions both in Europe and Brazil. Makda Embaie (b. 1994) is an artist and a poet currently enrolled in Decolonizing Architecture at the Royal institute of Art in Stockholm, as well as a second year student in the Fine Arts program at Konstfack. She is interested in decoloniality and how the methods of architecture can be transferred, understood and practiced in a linguistic and artistic practice. Most recently, she exhibited a sound- and photo installation at the Stockholm Museum of Women’s History. Enrico Floriddia (Sicily) lives in Fontenay-aux-Roses but his work sits in displacement. He slowly works on a bastard novel based on the journeys of Eduard Glaser; a XIXth century epigraphist and sun worshipper. With others he organises bi-, a tentative residency about care and loitering. Things he did include: Immigrated pieces (2016), Mémento (2016), Archaeological horizon. Chapter I: an army of expert diggers (2017), Your good and my good, perhaps they are different, and either forced good or forced evil will make people cry with pain (selfie prop) (2018), In nome della scandalosa forza rivoluzionaria del passato (2019). 92

Marie-Therese Luger is a curator and researcher based in Stockholm, Sweden. Her work uses “curating” as a methodology to detect, analyze and challenge power structures and aims to critically examine the value, potential as well as the dangers of artistic and aesthetic practices in relation to them. Currently she is working on a critical analysis of the institution “Biologiska Museet“ and its historical and contemporary use of “art“ as propaganda for a patriarchal context of science and nature - in the form of a Stand Up Comedy Act. Previous works include “Nelly Sachs Rummen“ an extensive, interdisciplinary research project about German poet Nelly Sachs as well as a variety of curatorial interventions for galleries and institutions. Mo Sirra was probably born on the bank of the Tigris – on a hot summer day in May, around siesta time…and he was born standing. The midwife said that this brought a lot of luck, and he can’t complain, really. It is thought that he had studied art and design in the Netherlands, England, Spain, Norway, and he probably travelled to Italy, Turkey, Senegal, Canada, Egypt and other countries; however, Louis XXI did not recruit him either as a painter nor as a poet? Soroor Notash (Iran-Sweden) is an architect, urban planner and musician based in Stockholm. Her main interest is the notion of modernity in Iran in the built environment and the literature. Currently she is working on “Qasr-prison” in Tehran, a former prison transformed into a museum and studying the question of modernity seen through this place as the main site. She is collecting microhistories regarding the former political prisoners who formed ideas about modernity in contemporary Iran and working on a patchwork of narratives. Mauro Sirotnjak (Rijeka, Croatia) is an architect based in Zagreb. He is Interested in the politics of space and commoning spatial practices, and is currently developing research on the relation between contemporary housing policies, urban memory and infrastructure. Previous research regards Rijeka - Distorsions and confrontations of a border city, (2018) on the transformations of the concept of border and urban memory. Eva Štrocholcová is an architect. She comes from Slovakia and currently works at the architecture studio Spridd in Stockholm. She likes to work on projects that are not indifferent to the city, environment or to the people who use them. Previously she collaborated with studio PLURAL in Slovakia where she was, among other things, involved in the renovation of Peter Behrens’ synagogue and its transformation into kunsthalle (Nová Synagóga, 2011-2018). Her research is devoted to abandoned dispersed settlements and their relationship to the present. 93

Senait Tesfai (b.1987) is a project manager with a background in communication, primarily within the cultural sector. As a part of a collective she started the cultural organization Podium and is now working as a coordinator for cultural-driven development for young people in Stockholm. She is also engaged in making a more equal and diverse music industry and club scene through her work with Upfront Producer Network and Cherish Label while being apart of the CinemAfrica Film Festival program group. Floortje van Sandick (Dutch) is a collaborative architectural practitioner based in Rotterdam. She recently graduated from TU Delft, researching the effects of sea level rise on the lived realities of coastal communities in Louisiana and how to create landscapes of resistance. She is an active part of the TU Delft Feminists, a collective trying to create change in the institution trough unity, meaningful engagement, and action. Her interests are alternative pedagogies, and architecture from an intersectional feminist perspective. Rado IĹĄtok is a curator, editor and researcher based in Stockholm. His research, materialised in form of exhibitions, programs and writing, interrogates space and history as contested sites of struggle as well as emancipation, desire and belonging. By repositioning the marginal(ised) to the centre of attention, his work aims to provide a reparative gesture and resistance to the dominant narratives. Carlota Mir is a feminist curator, researcher and translator currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. Her work interrogates the relationship between gender, activisms, sexuality, history, contemporary art and architecture. She is currently project leader of the programme ‘My Friend is Here: On Feminist Curating, Pedagogies and Other Forms of Living in the Feminine Plural’, which is possible thanks to a Research and Development Fund from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Tatiana Letier Pinto is a Brazilian architect currently based in Stockholm as an independent researcher at the Royal Institute of Art. After practising architecture in her office TAMABI, Rio de Janeiro, she engaged in research during the Master Building and Urban Design in Development at University College London. Her main research interests revolve around social inequalities, the political aspect of space and the responsibilities of architects in current societal struggles. Her trans-disciplinary work combines architecture, art, activism, writing and public interaction.


GUESTS Muna Mussie (Italy) is a performance artist who challenges big ideologies with simple gestures. “Intimacy and exposition. Precarious identity and the subtle ambiguity of everyday life are the base of my artistic research. The space of the action, vision and experience collide in short-circuits of acts and declarations that do not always coincide. Diaphragm eyes training to contemplate, to contain something more, or something less, that emit visions through psychophysical tensions between bodies; staged body, hostage body, body to dedicate our life to, a means to commemorate a past which is constantly evoked and a present which is about to be. The intent is that of keeping in mind something I cannot remember, creating tiny rules every time, to get closer to you.” I would like to invite her to produce an English subtitled version of her video performance Milite ignoto in which – by the means of a recorded interview to her Eritrean grandmother Milite – she evokes the post-colonial question from her personal position of an Italian citizen. Léopold Lambert (France), architect, editor-in-chief of The Funambulist (a magazine dedicated to the politics of bodies), and the author of three books: Weaponized Architecture: The Impossibility of Innocence (dpr-barcelona, 2012), Topie Impitoyable: The Corporeal Politics of the Cloth, the Wall, and the Street (punctum books, 2015) and La politique du bulldozer: La ruine palestinienne comme projet israélien (B2, 2016). His next book will focus on a spatial history of the French state of emergency and the colonial continuum. Rahel Shawl (Addis) Founder and director of one of the leading architecture firms in Ethiopia, Rahel Shawl prides herself on designing quality building projects and being a leader, mentor, and role model for young architects in her country. Rahel cofounded ABBA Architects in 1992 and founded RAAS Architects in 2004. Her collaborative international as well as local projects employ traditional and contemporary approaches that are true to the environment and its users. She received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007 for her work as the architect of record on the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa and has been honoured numerous times for her contribution to the field of architecture by the Association of Ethiopian Architects. Her passion to inspire and share knowledge with architecture students and young professionals led to her inclusion in “Temsalet: A Book around 64 Phenomenal Ethiopian Women,” and also appointed Honorary Good Will Ambassador for Zer Ethiopia, an NGO promoting education for girls. Rahel is currently attending the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where she is exploring new venues of collaboration as well as expanding her knowledge base to be inclusive of regional and international contexts.


Loulou Cherinet (b. 1970, Stockholm) studied at Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art & Design and the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. She lives and works in Stockholm, where she is a professor at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Her artistic practice is largely outside Sweden, primarily in Ethiopia, in the form of ongoing interdisciplinary collaborations. Cherinet has had solo exhibitions in Gothenburg, Addis Ababa, Prague, Krakow, Lüneburg and Jakarta. Her works have been shown at biennials in Gothenburg, São Paulo, Venice, Bamako and Sydney, at Manifesta 8, Momentum 7, and in many major group exhibitions, including Africa Remix (2006) and Divine Comedy (2014), both curated by Simon Njami, the Moderna Exhibition (2006) and The New Human (2015) at Moderna Museet Malmö. The Expert: An architect or architecture theorist who works or interested in reflects about the relationship between architecture and environment forces historically and today, how they affect each other, in terms of climate, available sources, political, cultural, social and economic factors. The Ordinary: Maytham Hussein, activist and contractor in the talk, who lives and works in Iraq (Mo have additional funding’s available for invitation) The Alien: Mo Sirra. Charlotte Ros (The Netherlands) is a TU Delft Feminist. Charlotte Ros is a key organizer in the Dutch Climate Movement, trying to make it more decolonial and inclusive. She’s an artist, working on the concept of “White Innocence” in Dutch society as researched by Gloria Wekker. She has experience with organizing different workshops, for example on call-out culture. Márcia de Sá Cavalcante Schuback (Stockholm) is Professor in Philosophy at Södertörn University. The main subject of her research project in the realm of the Research program Time, Memory and Representation is the role of imagination in hermeneutical thought. Her participation in the program has two levels. She has contributed to the formulation of the program and I am part of the administrative staff of the Program. As a researcher, she began her work first in the second year of the Program. Her inquiry about the role of imagination in hermeneutical thought as the articulation of time, history and memory, arose from my former research. She used the term “imaginative hermeneutics” for the first time in my readings of medieval philosophy, published 1998 in Portuguese under the title Para ler os medievais. Ensaio de hermeneutica imaginativa (Petropolis: Vozes, 1998). She has published extensively. And is also Co-editor of Södertörn Philosophical Studies, member of the editorial board of Journal for Comparative and Continental Philosophy and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy today.


Madina Tlostanova (Sweden) is a decolonial thinker and writer. She is a chaired professor of postcolonial feminisms at the Gender Studies Unit of the Department of Thematic Studies (TEMA), Linköping University. Madina’s interests focus on decolonial option, non-Western feminisms, postsocialist subjectivity and art. Her latest book What Does It Mean to Be Postsoviet? will be published by Duke University Press in the Summer of 2018. Mekonnen Tesfahuney is a Professor of Human Geography at Karlstad University. In his dissertation, ‘Imag(ing) the other(s): Migration, racism and the discursive construction of migrants’, he took a critical geopolitical approach to migration, making his dissertation the first of its kind in this respect. “My research concerns space, mobility, migration, racism and human geography theory. My interest in issues such as migration and asylum, power over mobility, as well as inclusion and exclusion, all stem from my own experiences as a refugee. My research is always current in the political and academic debate. It has only become more urgent to study issues concerning identity, belonging, origin and not least the right to move in our time.” Shahram Khosravi (Stockholm) is Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. In 2017 he initiated the initiative Critical Borders studies with support from (CEMFOR) Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism at Uppsala University. He is the author of the books: Young and Defiant in Tehran, University of Pennsylvania Press (2008); The Illegal Traveler: an auto-ethnography of borders, Palgrave (2010); Precarious Lives: Waiting and Hope in Iran, University of Pennsylvania Press (2017) and After Deportation: Ethnographic Perspectives, Palgrave (2017, edited volume). He has been an active writer in the Swedish press and has also written fiction. Walter Mignolo (US) Professor in Romance studies at Duke University, USA. Mignolo’s research and teaching have been devoted, in the past 30 years, to understanding and unraveling the historical foundation of the modern/colonial world system and imaginary since 1500. His research has been and continues to be devoted to exposing modernity/coloniality as a machine that generates and maintains un-justices and to exploring decolonial ways of delinking from the modernity/coloniality. Because the political dimension of his work, in the past fifteenth years Mignolo’s energy has been increasingly devoted to the public sphere working with artists, curators, and with journalists, writing op-eds and giving frequent interviews in English and Spanish, co-organizing and co-teaching Summer Schools in Middelburg, Bremen, and at UNCDuke. He is also frequently delivering workshops for faculty and graduate students in South and Central America, Asia, and Europe.


Stefan Jonsson is Professor of Ethnic Studies at REMESO. He received his Ph.D. from the Program in Literature at Duke University, USA, in 1997. Together with professor Peo Hansen, Jonsson is working on a project about the colonial prehistory and legacy of the European Union,; their widely acclaimed Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism was published in 2014 He also conducts research on ‘the category and fantasy of ‘the masses’ and ‘the people’ in European culture, which has resulted in A Brief History of the Masses: Three Revolutions (2008) and Crowds and Democracy: The Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism (2013) both from Columbia University Press. Stefan has also written extensively on racism, multiculturalism, identity politics, postcolonial culture, and globalization. He frequently appears in Dagens Nyheter and other major Swedish media as cultural critic and commentator.


The Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course is part of a five-year (2017-2022) sequence of courses that together form a platform for higher education and research on the topic of Decolonizing Architecture at the Royal Institute of Art. The course uses the term decolonization as a critical position and conceptual frame for an architectural practice engaged in social and political struggles. The courses are led by Alessandro Petti, professor in Architecture and Social Justice in collaboration with Marie-Louise Richards, lecturer in Architecture and enriched by the contribution of invited guests. kkh.se/en/education/n-decolonizing-architecture-experimental-sites-of-knowledge-production/

The Royal Institute of Art (RIA) in Stockholm is a leading art institution of higher education located in Stockholm with a long artistic tradition dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. The education offers both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Fine Arts and postgraduate studies in Architecture. RIA also run an active international program with lectures, exhibitions and publications. https://www.kkh.se/en/


Addis Ababa. Photo by Luca Capuano

WHAT DOES IT MEAN “TO DECOLONIZE?” KKH (Royal Institute of Art) Stockholm Alessandro Petti Marie-Louise Richards Veronika Wallinder Susann Löfberg Annelie Hovberger Students 2018/2019 Mouna Abdelkadous Husam Abusalem Roberta Kanan Burchardt Makda Embaie Enrico Floriddia Marie Therese Luger Soroor Notash Mauro Sirotnjak Mo Sirra Eva Strocholcova Senait Tesfai Floortje van Sandick Hala Alnaji Rado Istok Carlota Jerez Tatiana Letier Pinto Yasmeen Mahmoud Fernanda Ruiz Matthew Ashton Special thanks Luca Capuano Ana Naomi de Sousa Emilio Distretti Shahram Khosravi Madina Tlostanova Walter Mignolo RAAS Architects Asmara Heritage Project photo Luca Capuano graphic design Diego Segatto Editing Matthew Ashton printed in May 2019



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