Virtual Research Fellows 2022

Residency, April 2022 to August 2022

Papers that Remain: Post-Custodial Archives on the Continent

The 2022 edition of the Virtual Fellowship Program foregrounded 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 built on Find and Tell Elsewhere (2021 to 2024), through which the CCA facilitated access to archival materials that are not held in our vaults and that will not become part of our Collection. The project allowed the CCA to explore connections, subjects, and networks beyond our Collection and allowed 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 collaborated 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 could 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 , part of the CCA’s ongoing Mellon-funded Multidisciplinary Research Program. In line with this project, fellows 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 could 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

Wafa Mohammed Ali
University of Khartoum

“The Whereabouts of Sudan’s Public Works Archive”

Nokubekezela Mchunu
University of the Witwatersrand

“Cultural hermeneutics as a framework for the reform of former exclusionary spatial and institutional enclaves in a postdemocratic South Africa”


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