To unpack the key question of how building is to be categorised in its cultural and technical significance within different historical and cultural contexts, an interdisciplinary colloquium on these central themes is organised every one to two years. These represent fundamental aspects of the ‘Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings’ cross-cutting theme and are particularly suited for interdisciplinary discussions. The two- to three-day interdisciplinary colloquia are intended to produce a complex, innovative overall view of the phenomenon of construction, as well as the historical epistemology of specialised research, and particularly resonate for the dissertations of the Research Training Group.
“Architecture”, as the architect Léopold Lambert recently stated, “is, above all else, a materialisation of power relations and the enforcement of their potential violence.” This applies all the more to the architectures of colonialism, which were used to dominate and segregate people, exploit labour, and restructure land. As architectural history was for a long time written by the “colonisers”—that is the Global North—, these acts of domination have been marred by focusing on canonised buildings, architects, and specific archives, ignoring the experiences and agency of the “colonised”. But monuments provoke, and their values for society can be called into question, as the emotionally charged debates in the Black Lives Matter movement have recently demonstrated so vividly. Dealing with cultural heritage and its cultural significance necessitates a continuous process of negotiation and re-evaluation. Hence, those writing the architectural history of colonialism and colonisation should be concerned with decolonising perspectives, working on methodologies and narratives, and acknowledging actors, memories, and places that have been overlooked so far. The conference of the DFG Research Training Group 1913 “Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings”, which took place from 16 to 19 June 2021 as an online event, targeted the current debates on decolonising practices and the contested built heritage of colonialism.
Invited keynote speakers are Antoinette Jackson (University of South Florida), Itohan Osayimwese (Brown University), and Reinhard Bernbeck (Freie Universität Berlin).
Concept and organisation: Vera Egbers, Christa Kamleithner, Özge Sezer, Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir, Albrecht Wiesener
The conference report written by Katelyn Williams in collaboration with Dr. Solmaz Yadollahi, Dr. Özge Sezer, Dr. Nura Ibold, Katrine Jensen and Elise Kleitz is available online at H-Soz-Kult and can be also found as a pdf file under this link.