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Pauline Bezemer MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: African History, Modern & Contemporary History, Urban History

Cohort/Start PhD: 2017-2018

Hybrid artefacts: the actors identified. Public native dwelling estates in Sub Sahara Africa, a forgotten aspect of 20th century urban architecture

University of Groningen
Promoto(es)Prof. dr. Cor Wagenaar, Dr Marijke Martin
Aanstelling: vanaf september 2017

This PhD study intends to test the hypothesis that public indigenous housing estates in Sub Sahara cities represent an unmissable, though largely unknown aspect of 20th century Architecture History.
Public housing for native citizens became a serious planning and design issue in large Sub-Sahara African cities from the 1920s. The material results mirror a unique hybrid of international dispersed concepts and locally-bound house building and dwelling practices; determined by the degree of resistance faced or not faced by foreign – colonial – models. It starts from the assumption that human and non-human actors equally determined the meant hybridization by meeting in a confrontation of power and – hidden – agendas. This fits within the supposed transfer-processes as part of a more global Architecture History.
I will critically analyze and compare a selection of estates, planned and/or built between the 1920s and 1980s, in six different cities and countries. In order to identify, categorize and compare actors and agencies, I intend to apply external theoretical tools, within an architectural historical framework. The resulting, innovative method stimulates to organize the research as a methodological laboratory (1) and present its outcomes in a non-conventional way for architectural historians, as written texts but also as maps (GIS, reconstruction) and as actor-diagrams (2). The latter can serve as mediator between factual/mental history and future, sustainable interventions.