Colonial and Post-colonial Urban Cultures: Discourses of Empires and Democracy

Colonial and Post-colonial Urban Cultures: Discourse of Empires and Democracy (French, Architecture,History)


Maya Boutaghou

Sheila Crane

Janet Horne


The questions that are central to this project are related to the birth of nationalism and democracy in the nineteenth century Europe and its effect on emergent nations in urban spaces of Empires. This project takes as its point of departure the premise that democracies, empires and cultural identity construction in the earlymodern and contemporary Mediterranean regions are the products of complex and intertwined transcultural and transhistorical processes. The team will analyze the entanglements of democracy, cultural representation and nationalism —as the first globalized ideology—showing how it shapes political and religious responses. We ask how discourses, broadly conceived—cultural production, art, architecture, land use, poetics, politics, religion— inform the construction of democracy but also trigger affective answers. The project is organized into two broad segments. The first is to reflect on the concept of the ‘sedimentary body’ —taken both in a collective and an individual sense— as a site of a multitude of experiences or transmitted cultural memories, and as a site of responses to those experiences/memories, involving emotion and affects (emotions are responses to a stimulation mediated by signs, understood in a semiotic sense). The second is to investigate how certain signs can at times lead to violent and destructive responses or, by contrast, to constructive collective projects such as experiments in democracy.