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‘Conflicted Narratives, Future Trajectories’: UCR symposium 2019, University of Cambridge

When Sep 28, 2019
from 09:00 AM to 06:30 PM
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28 September 2019


Yasmina El Chami (Cambridge)

Nadi Abusaada (Cambridge)

£20 regular registration / £10 students

The ‘Conflicted Narratives, Future Trajectories’ symposium brings together doctoral students and emerging scholars to discuss established and future directions in research on cities, and to reconsider the notions of nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, and modernity towards new trajectories of research in architectural and urban history.

Following the research framework of the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research (UCR), based in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge, the symposium will act as a platform for elaborating future directions for architectural research as a critical field of enquiry that can both bridge the contemporary crises facing architectural history & theory and redefine the role of architecture within urban studies.

In light of recent global migration crises, rising populism, and the ensuing realisation of the precariousness of the nation-state, rethinking the legacies of imperialism and colonialism on the shaping of both spaces and identities has become ever more critical. Within this reality, nationalism and modernity emerge as historical and homogenising concepts that can no longer adequately describe the contemporary conditions of postcolonial contexts; their limits reveal the legacies of imperialism and colonialism as present, enduring, and central to on-going conflicts.

The symposium aims to consider the following questions: 

  • Can an expanded definition of actors and power structures, beyond the ‘nation’ and the ‘state,’ begin to describe more accurately the shaping of cities, buildings, and territories?
  • How does rewriting the legacies of colonial architecture and urbanism in the present challenge accepted definitions of colonial, regional, or modern urbanism?
  • What can architectural history and historiography tell us not only about past processes and hierarchies of power, but also their present forms and consequences for the future?
  • How does architecture’s disciplinary knowledge, including drawing, mapping, and other visual methods of research, clarify hidden histories of colonialism and imperialism?
  • How can historical methods from outside the architectural discipline, including archival and textual analysis, add to the study of architecture and urbanism in such contexts?

The aim is to foster a collective discussion on these themes and to elaborate new approaches to the writing of critical architectural histories that can trace new paths to the present and the future.

Registrations are open here until 15 September, and include all breaks and catering

UCR Conflicted Narratives poster