Niloufar Tajeri: Whose heritage, whose identity, whose architecture? Or the necessary complication of history, culture and form
Stuart Hall discusses cultural heritage as hegemonic, national narratives that map a cognitive knowledge system in museums, cities and books of the Global North via assignments of meaning such as collective “values”, “national identity” and social group affiliations. Hereby he continually refers to a simple question: “Whose heritage?” In the lecture, the question “Whose heritage?” is expanded to include the questions “Whose identity?”, “Whose knowledge?” and ultimately also “Whose spaces?” and “Whose architecture?” in order to further complicate the question of belonging, meaning and power.
Starting from colonialism as the flip side of modernism (Walter Mignolo) and an “ecology of forms of knowledge” (Boaventura de Sousa Santos), the lecture will use a concrete case in Berlin to discuss how the hegemonic canon of modern architectural history is intertwined with colonial violence and racism right up to the present, but at the same time carries the potential to “make the impossible speak […] and to ‘decenter’ perspectives on Eurocentric history.” (Noa K. Ha). What then is the basis of the “knowledge” that feeds our conception of architecture and the city, our ideas of aesthetics and functionality? How do we use it and architecture to (re)construct (non-) belonging, structural racism and coloniality?
Niloufar Tajeri is an architectural theorist and activist living in Berlin. She studied architecture in Karlsruhe and has worked in Kabul and Herat, Rotterdam and Amsterdam as well as in Dubai. She teaches and researches as a research associate at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture and the City (GTAS) at TU Braunschweig. During her fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, she explored urban uprisings in the context of neoliberal urban development. The anthology resulting from this work, “Nights of the Dispossessed: Riots Unbound” (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2021) was funded by the Graham Foundation. In the publication “Kleine Eingriffe. Neues Wohnen im Bestand der Nachkriegsmoderne” (Birkhäuser, 2016), she collects reflections by architects, theorists and historians on socio-ecological approaches to redevelopment and careful interventions in post-war housing layouts. The booklet “Kabul – Public City Secure City” (Archis Foundation, 2008) published as a supplement in Volume Magazine deals with the militarisation and colonisation of public space by international actors.
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