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Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Place, Taste and the Colonial Context. 27-28 June, Brisbane, Australia, 2013
full name / name of organization:
ATCH Research Centre, School of Architecture, University of Queensland
Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Place, Taste and the Colonial Context.
In his History of Queensland (2007), the historian Raymond Evans described the penal outpost of Moreton Bay (est. 1824 and later to become the colony of Queensland in 1859) as existing at the “ragged edge of Empire.” Initially a site of secondary punishment for reoffending convicts, ensuring it was both geographically and morally remote from the imperial centre, the later colony was also climatically diverse (ranging from the sub-tropical to the tropical), racially conflicted (the Indigenous population at times outnumbering convicts and settlers four to one) and ethnically diverse (having the highest percentage of mainland European migrants within the Australian colonies). Undermining the ideal of a homogenous (British) settlement, such contingencies also effectively threatened, in the words of Evans, to undermine the creation of a new Britannia in the Southern semi-tropics.
The aim of the symposium Architecture at theRagged Edge of Empire: Race, Place, Taste and the Colonial Context is to consider factors or contingencies of the colonial experience that challenged, worked against, or sat alongside the more formal (governmental) representations of colonisation. It will also consider their impact on, or expression through, colonial and/or settler architecture. While colonial architecture is often assumed to approximate that of ‘home’, especially in formal and material terms, a question regarding architecture’s disciplinarity –it’s conceptual framing as an aesthetic or a high art - is often difficult to reconcile with the climatic, geographical, ethnic and racial complexity of the colonial context. By attaching architecture to philosophical and aesthetic concepts of beauty (such as the sublime or picturesque) and artistic agency (imagination, association, genius or judgement), western architecture has also been historically linked to specific climatic, racial and social ideals. Building on Kay Anderson’s thesis (2002) that European contact with Australian Aborigines generated a “crisis” for Enlightenment ideals of humanism, the symposium seeks to consider whether the climatic, geographical, racial and ethnic variations presented by the colonial context also challenged and/or altered western conceptions of architectural practice.
Papers that consider factors or contingencies that challenge the colonial context and its architectural representation are invited. These may explore but are not limited to the following topics:
While racial and ethnic diversity and conflict are acknowledged as attributes of the colonial condition, their impact on the architecture of white settlement is less considered. How did issues of race, ethnic heterogeneity, hybrid populations or racial conflict impact on colonial architectural practice? Did architecture participate in broader agendas of cultural representation, racial division and/or 'reform'? Did ethnic and racial diversity challenge the authority of colonial institutions and/or Enlightenment and humanitarian values of universality and equality? Were “hybrid” communities viewed, in accordance with nineteenth century theories on race—as potentially infertile, unproductive and lacking in character (Young 1995, Beasley 2010)— or did they make explicit and support alternative models, such cosmopolitanism? Was the ‘other,’ external or internal, framed by discourses other than that of colonisation or ‘empire’?
This symposium invites papers that consider the above and related issues, both within Australia and other colonial contexts. We invite abstracts of up to 300 words for 20-minute papers.
Please submit abstracts to Deborah van der Plaat (email@example.com) no later than May 10.