Dismantling imperialist entanglement of archives and the built environment


With the “swissuniversities” doctoral courses « Unearthing Traces » we propose to explore and learn about memory processes, power structures in archival practices in relation to the built environment and material architectural traces. With the participation of a wide array of thinkers and practitioners in archival and artistic practices, historians and researcher in architecture and social sciences, the course explores how imagined records and traces can be composed and grounded in the context of academic research in order to implement them into an historical argumentation. A particular emphasis will be made on architectural and spatial traces and records both through the methodologies of urban critical and postcolonial studies and through questioning the imperialist dimensions of the architecture of archives and built environments. After two days in the form of a conference, the fieldwork in Neuchâtel constitutes both an opportunity to actively apply these methodologies, and to question the colonial entanglements of Switzerland through a collective and embodied research process «in situ». Students across different disciplines -architecture, history, arts, political sciences- will be solicited, in order to decompartmentalize disciplines in this process.

Keywords : Archival practices; Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies; Imagined Records and Missing Documents; Architectural History and the built environment; Politics and Aesthetics of the Colonial and of the Postcolonial; Critical Studies; Civil Rights; Memory culture and historiography


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Date : 27–29 Mai 2021

Place : EPFL Lausanne (2 days conference) + CAN Centre d’Art de Neuchâtel / Ville de Neuchâtel (1 day field work and public lecture)

Institutions : UNIL – EPFL – CAN (Centre d’Art de Neuchâtel)

Collaborators : Stéphanie Ginalski (historian, Maître d’enseignement et de recherche, UniL), Lucía Jalón Oyarzun (EPFL, Post.Doc, SUR, Escuela de bellas artes, Pedagogical Director), Julien Lafontaine Carboni (doctoral researcher and architect, EPFL, Labo ALICE), Denise Bertschi (doctoral reasearcher and artist, EPFL, Labo LAPIS), CAN Centre d’Art de Neuchâtel, Martin Jakob, curator