Itohan I. OsayimweseAssistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture
Itohan Osayimwese is an architectural and urban historian. She is Assistant Professor of History of Art & Architecture. She engages with theories of modernity, postcoloniality, and globalization to analyze German colonial architecture, urban design, and visual culture; modern architecture in Germany; African and African diaspora material cultural histories; and the architecture of development in Africa. Another research interest is the architectural and urban lives of religious cults.
Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017).
“Armchair Safaris: Representations of African Cultures in Zoos,” Architectural Theory Review, v. 20. n. 20 (2016): 1-16.
“Introduction” [with David Rifkind], Journal of Architectural Education, theme issue, “Building Modern Africa,” co-edited by Itohan Osayimwese and David Rifkind, v. 68, n. 2, (Oct 2014): 156-158.
“Prolegomenon to an Alternative Genealogy of German Modernism: German Architects’ Encounters with World Cultures ca. 1900,” Journal of Architecture, v. 18, n. 6 (Dec 2013): 835-874.
“Architecture and the Myth of Authenticity During the German Colonial Period,” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, v. 24, n. 2 (May 2013): 41-52 (Winner, Jeffrey Cook Award 2012).
“Pietism, Colonialism, and the Search for Utopia: Pietist Space in Germany and the Gold Coast.” Thresholds 30 (Fall 2005): 74-79.
“ ‘Never Expect Power Always’: The National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), Power Supply, and the Built Landscape in Lagos, Nigeria.” In Cities of Light: A History of Urban Illumination. Ed. Dietrich Neumann and Sandy Isenstadt (forthcoming 2014, Routledge).
“Architecture with a Mission: Bamum Autoethnography During the Period of German Colonialism." Invited contribution to German Colonialism Revisited: African, Asian, and Oceanic Experiences, ed. Nina Berman, Klaus Mühlhahn, and Patrice Nganang. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013, pp. 18-38.
"Demystifying Colonial Settlement: Building Handbooks for Settlers in the German Colonies, 1904-1930." In German Colonialism, Visual Culture, and Modern Memory, ed. Volker Langbehn. New York: Routledge, 2010, pp. 124-147.
Review of Michelle Apotsos, Architecture, Islam, and Identity in West Africa: Lessons from Larabanga (New York: Routledge, 2016), caa.reviews, forthcoming 2017.Review of Michelle Apotsos, Architecture, Islam, and Identity in West Africa: Lessons from Larabanga (New York: Routledge, 2016), caa.reviews, forthcoming 2017.
“Slavery at Monticello: Life and Work on Mulberry Row,” Multimedia Review, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, v. 75, no. 3 (Septemper 2016): 383-385.
Review of Urban Design, Chaos, and Colonial Power in Zanzibar by William Cunningham Bissell, International Journal of Middle East Studies v. 46, n. 3 (2014), 613-615.
“Werkbundaustellung 1914 with ‘Colonial Compound’ and ‘Congo Village’, Köln Postkolonial: ein lokalhistorisches Projekt der Errinnerungsarbeit, http://www.kopfwelten.org/kp/, (forthcoming, 2016).
I am interested in intersections between geopolitics and architectural discourse in a variety of contexts--historical and contemporary. My current work focuses on Germany at the end of the nineteenth century through World War I, and its relationships with a variety of societies in Africa and Asia.
I recently published a new book, Colonialism and the Archive of Modern Architecture in Germany. The book reassesses the history of modern architecture in Germany in light of Germany's colonial encounter and the country's broader embeddedness in turn-of-the-century processes of global integration. I posit the concept of the archive as one way to globalize the history of German modernism. By looking at four distinct moments at which colonial interests converged with progressive architectural discourse in Germany, I reveal that modern architecture not only cannibalized some of the forms and practices associated with non-Western cultures and those produced out of European encounters with them, but also, more fundamentally, that this convergence helped to define the conceptual shape of modern architecture.
A second book project investigates the effects of migration on the built environment in Barbados from emancipation to the present. I hypothesize that the landscape of incompleteness that characterizes the country can be understood in terms of 1) contemporary patterns of emigration, return migration, and flows of capital associated with these movements; 2) the tourism industry and its volatile economic system; and 3) patterns of land tenure and ownership that have their roots in the rigidly stratified plantation society of the past.
A third book project currently underway is a critical introduction to and annotated English translation the first German language specialist texts on African architecture.. This project grew out of research for my first monograph and my discovery of four forgotten nineteenth-century German texts on African architecture. The essays proved to be very interesting as primary sources for my research on German colonialism and its impact on modernism in Germany but also as scholarly works in their own right.
A longer term project explores the architecture of postcolonial development aid in West Africa in relation to colonial and modernist models, the critique of colonialism, nationalist movements, and the then-emerging rubric of development. Here, I am interested in a variety of international, pan-African, and national initiatives like the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, and the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, how their goals were translated into built terms, and how these earlier experiences differ from ongoing experiences with Chinese expertise and aid.
Finally, an article about one of Nigeria's first modern female artists, the textile designer and art educator, Josephine Ifueko Omigie, is underway.
Salomon Award, Brown University (2017)
Brown University Global Experiential Learning and Teaching Grant for Winter 2018 (2017)
Graham Foundation Research and Development Grant (2017)
SAH/Mellon Author Award (2016-2017)
Gerda Henkel Foundation, Germany, Publication Grant ( 2016)
Collaborator, Insight Grant, Social Sciences Research Council of Canada,
with Robert Jan van Pelt, University of Waterloo (2016-2019)
Visiting Scholar, School of Architecture & Planning, MIT (Fall 2015)
American Postdoctoral Fellowship, AAUW (2015-2016, declined)
External Faculty Fellowship, Center for the Humanities, Wellesley College (2015-2016)
Cogut Center for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, Brown University (Spring 2016, deferred to Spring 2017)
Humanities Research Fund Award, Brown University (Fall 2014)
Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Faculty Fellow (2014-2015)
Mellon Foundation Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative Grant (2014-2017)
Humanities Research Fund Award, Brown University (Fall 2013)
Jeffrey Cook Award, Int’l Assoc. for the Study of Traditional Environments (Fall 2012)
Academic Project Grant, Ithaca College (Spring 2012)
Summer Grant for Faculty Research, Ithaca College (2011)
I teach courses on the global history of architecture, modernity and architecture, the politics of the built environment, African and African diaspora architecture and urbanism, modern architecture in global perspective, architectural theory.
HIAA 0081 - Architecture of the House Through Space and Time. Spring 2015.
HIAA 0770 - Architecture and Urbanism of the African Diaspora. Fall 2014, Fall 2016.
HIAA 1181 - Prefabrication and Architecture. Spring 2015, Fall 2016.
HIAA 2050A - Architectural History's Future. Fall 2014.
HMAN 1972E - Architects and Planners as Transnational Experts. Spring 2017.