CCA Virtual Fellowship Program

The Canadian Centre for Architecture welcomes applications for two virtual fellowships, each held for a six-week period. Fellowships can take place either between March and May 2022 or September and December 2022. The format of the fellowship supports our long-term investment in thinking through how digitized CCA Collection material can generate new historical configurations and timely interpretations, and how it can have a broader reach within architecture research. The Virtual Fellowship Program runs alongside our Research Fellowship Program to increase the accessibility of the CCA Collection.

Papers that Remain: Post-Custodial Archives on the Continent

The 2022 edition of the Virtual Fellowship Program, Papers that Remain: Post-Custodial Archives on the Continent, foregrounds the need to support the collection and preservation of, as well as access to, architecture archives held in perpetuity across distinct African national, regional and urban contexts.

The fellowship builds on a current project, Find and Tell Elsewhere (running from 2021 to 2024), through which the CCA will facilitate access to archival materials that are not held in our vaults and that will not become part of our Collection. The project will both allow the CCA to explore connections, subjects, and networks beyond our Collection and allow the owners or custodians of the archival material to benefit from our capacity to create meaningful forms of digital access and engagement. As a first step, the CCA is collaborating with the custodians of the papers of Sudanese architect Abdel Moneim Mustafa. By examining his significant interventions in Khartoum, including the headquarters of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (1980) and the Nifidi and Malik Mixed Use Developments (n.d.), the CCA hopes to further research into architecture’s role in making manifest notions of national independence and post-colonial rule.

The digital archive of Mustafa can serve as a point of departure for Virtual Fellows if relevant. For example, it could be of interest for those invested in expanding best-practices for what materials are included in documentation and preservation processes, but also for those questioning more broadly what constitute African-led architecture archives and what they could be in the future. Notions of the decolonial archive could also be explored by putting Mustafa’s archive in conversation with collections held at the CCA, such as the archives of planner Coen Beeker and architects Georg Lippsmeier and Kiran Mukerji—these were the starting point for Centring Africa: Postcolonial Perspectives on Architecture, part of the CCA’s ongoing Mellon-funded Multidisciplinary Research Program.

In line with this project, applicants can also surface how such architectural archives become the basis for new spaces of interpretation, scholarship, and exhibition practices. Through these lines of inquiry, Virtual Fellows could address a range of topics that probe what archival and architectural interventions are needed to make research materials more accessible, both on and off the continent.

These topics might include:
• The collection and preservation of African architecture archives from any period
• Decolonial archival practices on the continent, particularly those tied to documenting the built environment
• New architectural histories premised on “marginal” archives and archival practices
• Histories that address the constitution of architectural archives and their place in the built environment
• Diasporic archives and their relationships to transnational architectural practice, with a particular focus on distinct African nations and locations off the continent
• Notions of architectural ”risk” and ”damage” in relation to the legacies of post-independence modernisms across different national African contexts
• The design of purpose-built institutions for the preservation, collection, and dissemination of African archives on the continent
• Analyses of established networks, institutions, and practices of architectural preservation on the continent

Fellows are encouraged to put CCA Collection material into conversation with a wide array of research materials held elsewhere, particularly with established or nascent archives related to the built environment on the continent. The broader aim is to draw connections across these bodies of material with a view to creating more accessible research materials. Within archival sciences, these protocols prioritizing ownership, access, and use are known as a post-custodial model for archives. In this model, the management or use of these records is separated from their physical ownership, such that creators retain custody of their records and archivists provide some oversight. The post-custodial model of archival practice often uses digital technology in the pursuit of a more collaborative approach to transnational archival work. It in fact originated as a response to the rapid increase of born-digital materials produced by institutions, but it was quickly taken up by archivists interested in human rights and social justice to shift the balance of power in archival preservation.

Guidelines and Terms

To activate both the CCA Collection and these post-custodial archives from a distance, Virtual Fellows will collaborate with CCA staff to curate a selection of objects related to African-led archival practice that can serve as an open-access resource for future research and instruction. Fellows will commit to working twenty-five hours per week on their project over the six-week period, for which they will each receive a CAD 5,000 honorarium, with the additional benefit of tailored research assistance provided by the CCA Collection team.

We welcome applicants working on topics that examine how design maintains ties to racialized sites and bodies, mobilizes notions of futurity premised on the resurgence of historically marginalized groups, and, more generally, demonstrates how the CCA Collection and these post-custodial archives should be read intersectionally and transversally through the lens of critical historiography. We particularly encourage projects from early career researchers who hold a PhD and/or equivalent professional experience.

Application Requirements

Applicants to the Virtual Fellowship Program should undertake an initial survey of our Collection—processed archival material, Prints and Drawings, library materials, and our Photography collection—and briefly describe the specific objects they will mobilize in order to critically examine the theme of the sited archive. Fellows are encouraged to put CCA Collection material into conversation with material held elsewhere, however, they should then draw connections across both sets of materials with a view to creating a coherent body of digitized material. Fellows will ultimately work in close cooperation with our reference librarians, cataloguers, and archivists to build upon their proposed project.

Applications must include:

• a written summary (500 words) addressing how the applicant will mobilize particular objects both within and outside the CCA Collection to address the theme
• a schedule of work that extends over the six-week period
• the names and contact information for two references (for shortlisted candidates)
• and a curriculum vitae

Deadline: 21 February 2022 at 11:59pm (EST)

All applications must be submitted online through the CCA application portal.

For updates on the Virtual Fellowship Program, please subscribe to the CCA newsletter.


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